Nutella white spots

Nutella White Spots – Is It Still Safe to Eat?

Nutella White Spots? What is it and is the Nutella still safe to eat? She recently found an old, sealed container of Nutella at the back of her cupboard. It was getting on a bit because she reckoned it was well over 18 months old. Looking over the jar carefully, she noticed white bits of material inside.

Calling me up for advice, she told me that they did not look like fungus or mold, nor were they spores, in her opinion. I guessed straight away that they were granules made of oil that had separated out the mixture in some way? I allayed her fears, told her what to do and what to watch out for, just in case, and off she went, a happy camper.

The thing is, if you’ve opened up your jar of Nutella and you’re faced with a similar conundrum as the lady above, what do you do? Toss the jar into the trash can, bash it around for insubordination, or just eat the cotton pickin’ thing with your fingers firmly crossed?

Nutella white spots

The white spots in Nutella are blobs of palm oil that have separated out from the rest of the mix. Nutella that has separated out and formed globs of palm oil is perfectly safe to eat, but you might still want to give it a miss because it tastes perfectly awful.

Nutella White Spots
Nutella White Spots

Rancid Nutella

Nutella can, and does, turn rancid. Rancidity in Nutella occurs in one of two ways. The first is when the oils and fats in Nutella oxidize (get broken up by oxygen in a bad way, although that said, there is no good way for these things to get broken up by oxygen in a jar of Nutella). The second is when those oils and fats hydrolyze (get taken apart by water).

You might have noticed that in both oxidation and hydrolysis, the common operation is “broken up” or “taken apart,” which amounts to the same thing. The point is when oxygen or water has wreaked havoc on oil or fat, what is left behind is ‘rancid,’ unsightly, foul-tasting, and possibly–but not necessarily–unhealthy.

Quick aside: If you are interested in the chemistry of rancidity, your fascination might be piqued by this unique piece of knowledge: rancidity caused by water (hydrolysis) produces a horrible odor. Rancidity caused by oxygen does not. With this snippet of information, you can surmise what type of rancidity, if any, has occurred in your Nutella jar. It doesn’t matter one way or another, but at least you can be a smart aleck about it.

Nutella with white spots it perfectly safe to eat
Nutella with white spots is perfectly safe to eat

Indications your Nutella has “gone off”

Your Nutella smells bad

One sign your Nutella is a goner is, as discussed above, it stinks! Even if you’ve never smelt Nutella that has gone off before, I assure you that you’ll know its contents are no longer kosher when you put that jar to your nose. It must be something in our so-called “lizard brain,” but as long as your nose is working, believe me, it will tell you in no uncertain terms not to mess with this jar of nutty delicacy, and you know what? If I were you, I’d listen to my nose.

When Nutella smells bad it is an indication that it has gone bad
When Nutella smells bad it is an indication that it has gone bad

Your Nutella is moldy

Another sign that your Nutella is no longer fit for consumption is the unmistakable sign of mold or bacterial growth. Now, this is dangerous. It presents a considerable health hazard, and you shouldn’t eat anything from a jar of this. No, not even a little, unless you’re volunteering to pay for your doctor’s next Caribbean vacation?

If Nutella becomes moldy it has to discarded
If Nutella becomes moldy it has to discarded

Your Nutella has a hard, crumbly texture

A third and final sign that your Nutella is DOA is its texture. Rancid Nutella is grainy and separated, but far more separated than just having white spots. Basically, it looks like a long-term experiment in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (which in its simplest form states that in the end, everything turns to crap).

Nutella’s ingredients–cocoa, hazelnuts, palm oil, skimmed milk, and sugar, aren’t natural best friends forever, and as soon as they’re left alone to their own devices for a longish time, they do the natural racist thing and practice their own form of segregation. Looking into a segregated jar of Nutella is like looking into a murky cesspool, and just as when your nose smells a stink, it knows there’s something wrong, your eyes do a very similar thing and tell you immediately that “this here’s a jar of summit-ain’t-right.”

If Nutella is hard and crumbly it should not be eaten anymore
If Nutella is hard and crumbly it should not be eaten anymore

When Nutella smells and looks okay, except for those pesky little white globules

So, you open up your suspect jar and smelt it. It smells okay. You closely examine its contents from all sides, and it looks okay, but the white blobs you’re worried about. Well, now it’s time to man up, ese. Grab a teaspoon, scoop out a bit, and taste it. I’m betting it will taste stale because that is what it is, stale Nutella. It probably won’t wow you. Why should it? You’ve left it sitting there for yonks; you can’t just roll up and expect everything to be copacetic.

Anyway, you’ve tasted it, and it tastes alrightish. So now we know what has happened, and better yet, we know how to fix it. What has happened is that your delicious delicacy has gone stale, and its ingredients have separated. The good news is, fixing the problem is a bit of a snip, and anyone can do it, even–believe it or not–you.

Nutella should not be refrigerated
Nutella should not be refrigerated

Fixing your dodgy Nutella!

To fix your dodgy Nutella, simply remix its ingredients. Do this with an electric mixer, having first allowed the Nutella to soften a little by bringing it to room temperature. However, do not try to warm up the Nutella by leaving it in sunlight, putting it into hot water, or any other scheme which involves forcing the rate of warming.

Nutella gets rancid when it oxidizes and when oils and fats hydrolyze
Nutella gets rancid when it oxidizes and when oils and fats hydrolyze

Frequently Asked Questions About Nutella White Spots

Should I refrigerate Nutella?

Nutella should not be refrigerated. Refrigerating Nutella will only harden it and quicken the pace at which its ingredients get ornery and separate. If Nutella has hardened just put it into a microwave for a few seconds if you find it has hardened because someone stored it in a fridge.

Does the sugar in Nutella make the white spots?

The sugar in Nutella (which is considerable, by the way, well over 50% of Nutella is pure sugar!) has absolutely nada to do with the white spots. Don’t worry about the sugar because it can form white spots in Nutella. Worry because sugar’s got a boat-load of calories ready to leap onto your body and pack it with unhealthy fat.

Can I extend the shelf life of a jar of Nutella?

You can try to extend the shelf life of a jar of Nutella. The jar will have a ‘best before’ date which the manufacturer has calculated from the data of thousands of experiments, so it’s asking a lot to want to find a way of simply storing Nutella, which the manufacturer would have missed. That said, store unopened Nutella in a dark, cool place, keeping it well away from sunlight and heat. One thing, though. Once you open the jar, the clock starts ticking, and all bets are off. You’ve only got a week or two before the stuff goes wonky and loses its zing.

Afterword: Nutella White Spots

Stored properly, Nutella will keep for more than a year, but just the same, if you’re not conducting some weird experiment in Nutella longevity, don’t you want to eat the stuff? I mean, why did you buy it? The white spots in Nutella are probably palm oil globs that have separated out of the mixture, and unless there are signs of rancidity (see above), it’s okay to remix the admixture and chomp away at your ‘restored’ Nutella.