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Dec 8, 2008 05:17 PM

Cooking with milk that "expires" today

So I just made a pot of clam chowder and only after finishing did I realize that the milk carton had a use by today date.

I admit that I am a real OCD about not using dairy products past their expiry date but I know there is no way we'll finish this soup and I hate the thought of throwing out the leftovers. So fellow hounds I ask: How long can I safely keep and use the leftovers?


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  1. If it isn't sour, use it. Those dates are a rough guideline and ultimately depends on the care that has been taken.

    1. the dates on dairy are often "sell by," not "use by" dates...and even if it was a true expiration date for today, the dates are typically pretty conservative. as long as it was properly refrigerated, you're fine...the leftovers will keep as long as they normally would.

      i'd say you would have "known" if it was bad, but it depends on your sense of smell. i can tell if something's even on the verge of spoiling, but i know people who have unwittingly consumed spoiled dairy because they didn't notice the odor [which is beyond me, but hey...]

      1. I agree with Sarah. Expiration dates for dairy products are not hard and fast, and as long as the milk smelled fresh, then your soup is fine. Put leftovers back in the fridge, and use up the soup in the next couple of days.

        1. Assuming that you cooked the chowder , and also assuming that you handled it properly after cooking, there is absolutely positively no chance that anything could be wrong with it. Once you've brought the milk to a simmer, you've done away with whatever bacteria were present in it - if any.

          Having said that, I think that these "best before" dates are making us into a society of lunatics. Throwing away cheese and yogurt and other perfectly good dairy products because we're afraid that on a certain date they will automatically spoil. Think about it: you buy a quart of milk with an expiry date two weeks away and you leave it on the counter on a hot day. Voila - spoiled milk well within the "safe" dates. Conversely, you store it properly in the coldest part of your fridge and it could remain good well past the drop-dead date. Learn to detect spoilage with your personal senses and you can stop being neurotic and wasting food.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            I've eaten yogurt 2 weeks past it's expiration date with no ill effects whatsover.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Amen, Nyleve! I am old enough to remember when packages didn't come with expiration dates and we actually relied on common sense to determine when it had gone bad! I once discovered an unopened container of yogurt in my fridge that was over a year past its stamped date. Now, what's going to happen with old yogurt? - it's already sour! It was absolutely fine. Now, if it had been opened, it would have gotten moldy within a few weeks but with the seal unbroken, no problem. If OP's milk had gone sour, it probably would have made for curdled chowder which wouldn't have tasted great, but neither would it be harmful. Plenty of recipes use soured milk. In general, it is a shame that so much food goes to waste when a little trimming or heating would take care of minimal spoilage, restoring it to palatability and safety. Like mom always said, "think of all the starving children in China" - not PC these days, but what's saved on food costs can go into the charity kitty, and THAT, these days, is more important than ever before.

              1. re: greygarious

                My favourite stupid incident was a couple of years ago when we had a rather bad summer storm and a wide area lost electricity for between 6 and 24 hours. Stores were freaking out and dumping cheese when their refrigerators had been off for only, maybe 8 or 10 hours. And most of this cheese was of the unopened vacuum-sealed-in-plastic variety. I was horrified. What a ridiculous waste - there was nothing wrong with that cheese. But, health regulations being what they are, it all had to be dumped. They could have given it away or used it in cooked dishes but no - it had to be dumped. It makes me mental. We have gone way beyond food safety - we're now in the food-phobia zone.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Stores have a liability issue so they don't want to take changes. Must have been a good day for freegans.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    I realize that. It's just that this mentality has created a monster. People are losing the skill of understanding their food - how to tell if something is spoiled; what's really dangerous and what isn't. Not every case of "spoilage" is equal. I've cut off the moldy part of cheese and safely eaten the rest, but I've also quickly disposed of a package of sliced turkey that had been sitting at room temperature for an hour on a hot day. It has nothing to do with expiry dates and everything to do with learning about food safety. Just another case of the nanny state creating a society that never grows up.

                    This isn't a personal attack on you Bazel. It just upsets me when I see what has happened because we have grown to trust labels more than our senses.

            2. I think dairy dates sometimes vary from state to state with local regulations. But the general rule I've heard (and have had work just fine in most cases) is that milk should generally be good at least a week after the "sell by" date. The only variation I've had with that has been skim/nonfat milk. That sometimes doesn't last a full week after the date. But higher fat milks (and certainly half & half or cream) sometimes last significantly longer. I'm with the other posters who have said you'd have known if there were a problem! If in doubt sniff or taste! It doesn't take much to know.