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"Old" mincemeat - will I kill any one?

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I'm making mini mincemeat tarts tomorrow morning. I dug out from my pantry a jar of "ready made" mincemeat and a box of the kind that you reconstitute. Now, I knew I'd carted this stuff through two moves, and that it was pretty old. So, I called the Crosse & Blackwell 800 number on the jar, read them the printed code number and they told me it had been prepared in 1999 and that they say the shelf life is two years.

I opened the jar and had a big spoonful. I reconstituted the other, boiling it and, when cooled, had a big spoonful. Both tasted just fine. Mixed them together, added some Old Overholt Rye, tasted again (big spoonful), yummy. Five hours later, am experiencing no after effects.

So - safe to serve people? This isn't the main dessert - going to someone's house, making a Tarte Tatin as well, but figure it's not Thanksgiving without mincemeat tarts and hard sauce.

Any thoughts - thanks - and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. You are fine. Make your tarts. Most good mincemat is well aged like good fruitcakes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      If it was properly packaged and sealed, it will be fine. One year I made it from scratch - made a pie each year for the next 6 yrs, no problem.
      Yes canned stuff does degrade gradually, but it would be a taste and consistency problem, not a health problem. If it tastes fine, go ahead.
      (I always throw in chopped up apples, walnuts, a couple spoons of rum and some melted butter - will freshen the taste a bit.)

      1. re: jen kalb

        Jen, I too have done the same thing.
        It is not that the stuff is unsafe, it just is not as flavorful but as you said, add to it.
        What is amazing is that we can make home canned stuff and it be good for so long.
        It is preserved and that lasts, especially the dried version.

      2. re: Candy

        Thanks! I thought it ought to be okay, but wanted a second opinion ....

      3. The fact that you feel fine five hours after eating questionable food is not a reliable indicator of whether or not you will eventually get sick or die of food poisoning.

        While I happen to agree that you probably aren't in any danger here, why would you take MY word for it? I'm not a scientist. The basic premise of asking complete strangers on the internet about life/death food safety questions seems a little crazy to me. If you're even slightly worried about killing someone with your food, I'd definitely err on the side of caution and toss the stuff out.

        Link: http://meglioranza.com

        3 Replies
        1. re: Tom Meg

          What really amazed me was not asking about it on the board. What amazed me was she tried it and waited to see if it would kill her. If I ever become a dictator I would hire this person to be a food taster.

          and if Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without mincemeat pie, then why was this stuff sitting on the shelf since 1999 ... big sale on mincemeat that year and she stocked up?

          My own opinion was that enough booze in it and hard sauce on top would kill anything dangerous in the pie.

          So far no reports on the news of murder by mincemeat. I assume everyone survived dessert.

          So, how long does it take to die of food poisoning?

          1. re: Krys Stanley

            The shigella bacterium, just for one example, can strike anywhere from seven hours to seven days after exposure.

            Old food is still unappetizing to me even if it is rendered inert by alcohol. You could boil poop unti you killed all the harmful bacteria, but it would still be poop.

            Link: http://meglioranza.com

            1. re: Krys Stanley

              So far, we are all alive. Mincemeat on hand for so long b/c I haven't cooked for a Thanksgiving dinner since 1999, must have stocked up then and a little mincemeat goes a long way.

              This shouldn't need to be said, but if I seriously were worried about killing someone, I would not have tasted the stuff, would not have posted about it, but would have pitched it. If it had smelled bad or had mold or looked funny, I would have pitched it. Perhaps I was engaging in hyperbole. I had already consulted with one dependable source - Mom!