Expired food? Not so fast

?taste test

My well meaning children treat my refrigerator like they would a sick and dying relative.  Every time they visit, the first thing they do is check the fridge thermometer; then they go through my stuff and dump things I was planning to cook for dinner!

I couldn’t wait to tell them about the new product guidelines which basically say anything refrigerated is still good if it passes the sniff test.  If your cottage cheese has begun to turn black, bid it farewell.  Milk with chunky stuff in it is overdue for burial.

Marie and I learned the hard way that a fine wine we opened on Super Bowl Sunday and took to a party three weeks ago, had turned to vinegar.  But hey, vinegar is good for you, so we held our noses and toasted our health.

 

eat me first

A sell by date is not the pitch date;  It lets a store know how long an item should be displayed for sale. Sell by dates are generally assigned to perishable items such as dairy, meat, poultry and fish. It’s a good idea to purchase items before the sell by date, but chances are they’ll keep for a few days to a week after said date. Milk will generally stay fresh for longer than meat.

The use by date is applied to shelf-stable products — those that don’t require refridgeration after opening, including canned and jarred goods. These products can be stored for a longer period of time, as long as they are unopened and stored in proper conditions.

Here are a few others which surprised the heck out of me.

Beer

Unopened: Starts to lose flavor after 110 days.
It’s best to store bottles in boxes, and then in dark place.
Stronger alcohol and higher levels of hops might extend the shelf life of a beer. One example is Michelob Craft Specialty beers, which are often at their peak with 180 days.

Brown sugar

Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moisture proof container in a cool, dry place.

Chocolate (Hershey bar)

1 year from production date

Coffee, canned ground

Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 1 month refrigerated

Coffee, gourmet

Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
Ground: 1 week in sealed container

Coffee, instant

Unopened: Up to 2 years
Opened: Up to 1 month

Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)

Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected.

Dried pasta

12 months  (I have some that I purchased when I moved to Starkville 15 years ago.

Frozen dinners

Unopened: 12 to 18 months

Frozen vegetables

Unopened: 18 to 24 months
Opened: 1 month

Honey

Indefinite shelf life but I have some which has turned into a grainy glop in six months. Still tastes pretty good

Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)

Unopened: 8 months from production date
Opened: 7 to 10 days

Ketchup

Unopened: 1 year (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Maple syrup, real or imitation

1 year (I have some at least 10 years old – been saving because I like the bottle and hoping it might have morphed into white lightening.

Maraschino cherries

Unopened: 3 to 4 years
Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

Marshmallows

Unopened: 40 weeks
Opened: 3 months

Mayonnaise

Unopened: Indefinitely
Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Mustard

2 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Olives, jarred (green with pimento)

Unopened: 3 years
Opened: 3 months

Olive oil

2 years from manufacture date (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Peanuts

Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated
Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

Peanut butter, natural

9 months

Peanut butter, processed (Jif)

Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

Pickles

Unopened: 18 months
Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

Protein bars (Power Bars)

Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.

Rice, white

2 years from date on box or date of purchase

Salad dressing, bottled

Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date
Opened: 9 months refrigerated

Soda, regular

Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected

Steak sauce

33 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Tabasco

5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

Tea bags (Lipton)

Use within 2 years of opening the package

Tuna, canned

Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

Soy sauce, bottled

Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 3 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

Vinegar

42 months

Wine (red, white)

Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines
Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked

Worcestershire sauce

Unopened: 5 to 10 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
Opened: 2 years

2 thoughts on “Expired food? Not so fast

  1. What about a bag of Navy Beans that have been with me since I left Tulsa and that was in 1982 ?

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