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The oldest expired food item you've come across?

I went through my parent's fridge yesterday in an attempt to make some room and toss out old items. They had many bottles and jars of dressings and condiments that had expired several years ago, but the oldest item I found was a bottle of squeezable sour cream that had expired in 2005. Surprisingly, it was a bit dry, but looked pretty normal otherwise, though it smelled a bit like paint. What's the oldest expired food item you've come across in your fridge or pantry?

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  1. I have some opened Panang curry paste in my fridge which probably expired in 2007, if it matches the equally expired unopened partners in my pantry. (The plastic wrapper, now missing, had the date.)

    But this thread reminds me of a joke I heard some time ago: "I've got a carton of milk in my fridge with a picture of the Lindbergh baby on it!"

    (Do they still put pictures of missing children on milk cartons anywhere?)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bada Bing

      Lindbergh baby. ~chuckle.

      I suggested to my guy that we ditch some foodservice size cumin hanging out in the pantry. He got all emotional and demanded a tastetest to prove the virility of said spice. Wait - is cumin an herb or a spice?

      I digress.

      Thus is the everyday happenings in the life of one married to a cheapskate, never -give-up, I got faith in ya baby kind of guy.

      Curry paste expires? I thought oil =stasis. Gasp! You learn so much on Chow.

      1. re: Sal Vanilla

        Ooh, I'm married to one of those. He can be very extravagant in some areas and a total Cameron-Scotsman in others. But he defers to me on anything food related.

    2. No, when I moved in 2007, I found some spices in the back of the cupboard which I had purchased in DC. I left DC in 1984!

      1 Reply
      1. re: jwg

        That one will be hard to top!

        Interestingly, my old curry pastes were also bought in the D.C. area before I moved from there. Some kind of D.C. effect shaping up here....

      2. I had a unopened jar of brined grape leaves in the frig for seven years, no expiration date on the jar that I noticed; opened them up one day and they were fine.

        1. when we were kids in the UK my dad bought canned evaporated milk (Carnation brand) in about 1962 which were kept upstairs in the roof space in case there was a shortage of milk I guess. Who knows, he also bought sugar. These cans sat up there for years - we moved out in 1977 and they were still there, apparently fine.

          1. We have a jar of Mint Applesauce, that was a standing joke in my parent's home. It was always buried in the back of the pantry. Every couple years, it would make its way to the front, we'd laugh about it and re-bury it. As kids we referred to it as GLD (green loose duty) because of its appearance.
            The jar is now more than 60 years old, it will probably never be opened, and ceratinly not tossed away until after my death.

            OTOH>>>I was in my mother's home in Florida last month, and found a package of Golden Cheese Blintzes in her storeroom freezer that has an expiration date of 1992.

            1. This isn't really the oldest expired food item, but a funny story between my husband and me. I was cleaning out our fridge, and found a fruit on bottom yogurt with an expiry date within a month. It didn't really click with me that the expiry date was from the previous year. By the time I realized how old that yogurt really was, my husband had eaten it. He said it was darned zingy! I didn't tell him how old that yogurt was until a couple of days had passed. He was fine.

              3 Replies
                1. re: earthygoat

                  Fermented yogurt! Sam would have liked it, maybe he did, he made his own.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Double fermented milk = fermented yogurt? Sam would have liked it.

                2. I can't beat smartie or bagelman01, but I was cleaning out a seldom-used shelf in the back room at work the other day, and I came across a can of Campbell's mushroom soup with a "sell-by" date of August 1994.

                  I'm sure it would have been just fine if one had wanted to eat it. If a can isn't bulging, rusted or dented, it's almost certainly still sealed and sterile.

                  In high school, a classmate brought us an unopened package of hardtack his great-grandfather had in his stuff when he died. It certainly had to be 50 years old, if not much more. We ate it, and are all still alive and thriving 23 years later.

                  It tasted just fine!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dmd_kc

                    I'm not sure if this counts (as I'm not sure that the product in question can "expire") but a while back (couple of moyths) someone picked up a bottle of Gutig (it's an Argentinian sparking water) for me and when I looked at it I noticed the bottle looked a bit odd (like the logo was wrong) so I seached for the bottling date. Assuming I'm reading that date correctly that bottle was bottled in June 1984! I don't even want to THINK how something could stay on the shelves of a store THAT long. Needless to say I didn't try and drink it.

                  2. I still have a small jar of Romanoff Iranian Caspian Sea beluga caviar I got for Christmas in 1974. It's looking a little skanky.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I once found a Gatorade energy bar in the very bottom of my swimming/triathlon bag a good five years after Gatorade stopped making the product. Guess I'd picked through a race 'goodie bag', transferred it into my backpack and then it got shoved down into the bottom of the bag totally forgotten about since the wrapper was tough enough to maintain structural integrity for half a decade.

                      1. We were at a friend's house in the downstairs kitchen area a few years ago, no earlier than 2005, and we came across an unopened box of cereal (I don't remember what kind) in the lazy Susan that had a promotional box cover for the movie "Toy Story" (the original movie, not the sequel). That movie was released in 1995, and I believe the expiration date was something like 1996 or '97. We managed to find somebody adventurous enough (or drunk enough) to try it, and he said that it tasted fine. Next to it was another box of cereal that was substantially newer (only expired for about five years), but it had been opened. He said that tasted fine, as well, but it had the consistency of taffy.

                        1. We cleared out cupboards at the parents-in-law last year (prior to them getting a kitchen refit). Found a packet of a dried herb with a 1978 expiry date.

                          MiL isnt the world's best cook. Oh? You guessed that already?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Harters

                            I was looking through my parents spice cabinet and found spices from the store we used to go to when we lived in Boston. Where we haven't lived since 1974. No thanks!

                            1. re: Catherine C in NYC

                              There was a monster thread about mom's spice rack and I think there was a woman whose mom beat out my mom's 70's spice with one from the 60's. I was in awe.

                              When I was moving my mom a couple years ago I found an old Clabber Girl tin. I thought she might be hiding something in it. I opened it and it was still baking powder. I asked her how old it was and she said "Oh I have had that since before you....". Well that certainly explained the biscuits.

                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                I gave my MIL a spice collection from my favorite spice store (World Spice) for Christmas around 1999-2000. Although I gave her pretty basic stuff, much of it is still unopened yet proudly displayed on her counter (at least when I visit).

                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                  I don't know, when my Clabber Girls finally runs out, I'm not throwing it away BECAUSE of the biscuit recipe that is always on it!! :)

                            2. How is this for old? I can't name the date, but my mom had a box of VEGETABLE flavored gelatin in her cupboard, so old it still had a stamp in an inked circle of however many cents the box was way back whenever...let me know when vegetable Jell-O was last made and we can figure out the date. HA HA!

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                Wow, katty, last I personally saw vegetable-flavored jello in stores was back in mid 60's. Assuming your mom may have bought it later than that, still makes the stuff possibly 40 years old.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  Madness, isn't it?! Madder still--what on earth would you use it for? I should ask.

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    Back in the day, the vegetable (celery flavored) jello was for molded salads, usually containing a mix of chopped, diced or minced veggies, carrot, celery, red or green peppers, shredded cabbage, maybe some chopped nuts, sometimes fruit like diced canned pineapple or fresh diced apple or all of the above. Very popular, I might add, although not so much in our house. I was always curious about the stuff when I'd see it in the supermarket but my mom refused to buy it; it was the color for me, I was into lime Jello as a kid. My gammy would make molded salads with it, though. It's not a "thrilling" as it sounds.;-(((

                                    Check this out, from Wiki:

                                    "By 1930, there appeared a vogue in American cuisine for congealed salads, and the company introduced lime-flavored Jell-O to complement the various add-ins that cooks across the U.S. were combining in these aspics and salads. By the 1950s, these salads would become so popular that Jell-O responded with savory and vegetable flavors such as celery, Italian, mixed vegetable and seasoned tomato. These savory flavors have since been discontinued."

                                    No kidding. Well, times change.

                                    I just can't imagine what the Italian flavor was!?!

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      Dear god--Italian Jell-O? I will see what else I come up with. In the meantime, these VINTAGE Jell-O salad recipes (for real!) are funnier than those wacky Weight Watchers cards:


                                      Green Grotto Salad sounds like a recipe for torture in my book! Meantime, please, if anyone knows what Italian flavor Jell-O is, chime in!

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        Those ads are great katty...makes me wish I'd saved all my Mother's Southern Living mags -dang!

                                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                          LOVE--all caps LOVE. What a fantastic find, Miss Sal!

                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                            I thought the 'Jello Breast' was a fried egg. The rest of the pieces were amazing though!

                                    2. re: kattyeyes

                                      I remember seeing a show somewhere about a person who collects all things Jell-O. If you still have that box, you could probably make a collector very, very happy.

                                      1. re: Mestralle

                                        I'm sure it's long gone now, but I wish!

                                      2. re: kattyeyes

                                        When we were cleaning out the family cabin, we found more than a few packages of things with the stamped prices. Our best find was a jar of Postum that had been there since the grandparents died....in 1970. And don't start me on the whole canned chickens we tossed!

                                        1. re: mtngirlnv

                                          My grandparents had Postum, too!!! I guess as a coffee substitute because of high blood pressure?! Oh, Nanny and Poppy, why the heck didn't you just drink decaf? ;)

                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                            I've had Postum...it's actually not bad at all. They still make it, don't they?

                                            As you suggest, probably not a real substitute for coffee but pretty good as a thing unto itself. I've certainly had stranger things than Postum...

                                            1. re: The Professor

                                              Postum was great. It was developed as a product during those years where Post and Kelloggs were developing cereals as a health food.

                                              Based on roasted wheat, it was discontinued recently. Shelf space was needed for the cardboard containers of sugar loaded cereals.

                                              I had it in the 70's via the health food/commune culture. Two groups that continued to carry its flag were the Mormons and the Adventists, those scary groups of healthy eaters who eschew caffeine and live a long time.

                                              R.I.P Postum.


                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                Ah, so we can turn the old ad phrase on its head: "Goodbye Postum- hello Mr CoffeeNerves!)

                                      3. Hold on to your chairs, chow dudes. I have in my hand a jar of S.S.Pierce Red Label Orange Slices in heavy syrup w/ a purchase date on the top, in my deceased MIL's hand, of 12/67!!!! Christ I was slogging around Viet Nam! She was a survivalist and the cellar is filled w/ shelves and shelves of No. 10 cans of expired freeze dried foods. I can't figure a way to get rid of them, so I feed them to the cat, dog and birds. It is prohibitively expensive to take them to the transfer station. Right now the ground bird feeder is filled w/ diced scrambled eggs, peaches and corn. The dog has a mix of dried beef, chicken and noodles, peas and spinach. I cook up a batch once a week and it doesn't taste half bad. Crack for the cat is freeze dried tuna, reconstituted. Now for the kicker, all is dated 75/76!!! The animals are all healthy and get kibble as well.
                                        We have 4 chemical warfare suits and nuclear decontamination suits. I just couldn't throw away the Israeli gas masks w/ German filters. I'm not making this up. Truth is stranger than fiction. I'm having trouble uploading photos w/ my camera or I'd include photos.
                                        edit: I am about to go make 2 quarts of yogurt from '76 powdered milk. I tastes great!

                                        8 Replies
                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Survivalists from the 70's certainly have their place in the hall of fame of food storage.

                                            That freeze dried stuff sounds pretty good.

                                            Civil Defense rations for the 1950's need to get a nod... those olive green 5 gallon square tins of hardtack or lemon candies to keep people alive in the communal bomb shelters. There's a good vacuum hisss associated with opening the monster cans.

                                            I've had the candies, and they're good. I've had the hardtack, and it's not. It was put to highest and best use as burro feed at a camp I worked at in the 70.s.

                                            However, a possible winner in the Hall of fame should be the food left at the base camp of Scott's ill fated expedition to the south pole just over 100 years ago. The site is left undisturbed, a shrine, a holy grail, with cans and bottles still arrayed on frozen shelves.

                                            With the pic, notice that Coleman's mustard hasn't really changed its can in more than a century.

                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                              Thanks, FF, I would have forgotten, we have an unopened case of Civil Defense biscuits dated 1963 up in the attic!
                                              PS My in-laws had an air raid shelter in the back yard in Mass before they move up to Maine in '73 to better survive the conflagration.

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                That hardtack could be a great "bring it alive" example for your students when studying extended maritime rations. A classroom serving line of a hardtack biscuit, split pea porridge, a lime, and 2 ounces of greasy salt pork. Perhaps you'd leave out the ration of grog, unless you're also studying the Rum Triangle trade..

                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                  And soften the biscuit in the original "clear" chowdah (no milk).

                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                    Think Spartan, Passa... Think deprived of fresh resupply, in the field, on the seas. The "easy out" of Rehydrating the hardtack in contemporary chowder brings them back into the texting generation.

                                                    Instead, the original ration. Life was tough, and the hardtack often got dampened to allow infusion of maggots. But we can't allow that in the classroom, or you'd get sued for being real.

                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                      Nah, not up here, we're still in the 50's w/ MacBooks. More men were killed in the Spanish American War from bad meat & mosquitoes than Spanish bullets. And TR charged up Kettle Hill.

                                            2. re: Passadumkeg

                                              your MIL and my mother must have been related. When I last went to visit her she gave me 2 Israeli gas masks and 4 German filters. Tried to refuse... So there they sit in my garage (kind of embarrassed to tell DH what's in the boxes.)

                                            3. I had a college summer job as a gopher- driver in the 70's for an elderly couple who lived in a sprawling old Chestnut Hill (MA) mansion. I had many occasions to be in the basement, and a door in it captured my curiosity after about a month, and I forced it open. It led to a smallish wine cellar, with neat oak racks, with about 100 bottles. All were from France, and all had labels hand done in India ink. Many had dates, all in the 1800's. Even with what appeared to be good storage conditions and the lead seals around the corks, most bottles seemed to be about 1/4 empty. I suppose with enough time, water will evaporate through anything. I felt like I had discovered a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, replete with century old stale air. I shared the exciting news with the owners at dinner that evening, thinking they would be excited and nonplussed. Wrong. They couldn't have cared less, and asked me to dust off the bottles as part of the week's chores, I guess to get them ready for the next 100 years.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                WOW. I love forgotten stuff like that, it's the hoarder in me.

                                              2. didn't achaeologists find honey in Tutankamun's tomb? :)

                                                1. I dIdn't think of this before when I posted, and am not sure if beer qualifies as food...but I have several unopened bottles of Burton Ale (essentially, a strong barleywine) made by Ballantine that were brewed in 1946, aged in wood, and not put into bottles until 1966.

                                                  Two weeks ago, I drank one of them.
                                                  It was pretty remarkable, considering it was made 6 years before I was born and packaged when I was 14.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                    We have an unopened 16 oz bottle of Carling and another of Pabst.

                                                  2. About five years ago, we took the family vacation cabin and updated it (ya know, luxury items like double paned windows and heat!). I found cans of tuna that were so old they didn't have the nutritional info on the label!!!

                                                    1. Back in the early 70s my folks bought an old farmhouse. Soon after we moved in, my Dad found an unopened bottle of applejack hidden behind a beam in one of the sheds. Neighbors told us there had been a still on the property during prohibition. Dad tried it and said it was good - with a helluva kick!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: pasuga

                                                        Try C/Rations from WWII found some in my father things.

                                                      2. Sam Fujisaka and I used to joke about what it would be like to open up a shipwreck-preserved amphora of Mediterranean "garum", the Roman progenitor of today's fish sauce.

                                                        Expiry date of today's fish sauce is relative.


                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                                          At a London pub near the British Museum, the have a mead that was developed from the remains in a jar in a pharaoh's tomb.

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            That beats the heck out of an 1850's San Francisco artisinal sourdough. Wimps.

                                                            Does their kidney pie have a good nose-feel, or would I be prompted to grab a bucket and clean their windows with the excess ammonia?

                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                              It was a long time ago and I'm trying to remember if it was in or near The British Museum. My 30 year old son was 10.

                                                        2. When my kids were living at home, PB&J was a staple. I, however never liked peanut butter. My son was visiting a couple of weeks ago and rummaged through the pantry for something to eat. He found a jar of peanut butter, opened it, and although it looked okay, he noticed the jar was only about half full. Knowing that it hadn't been eaten by me, he asked me how long the jar had been sitting in there. I had no idea, so he checked for an expiration date. The date on the jar was October 2002!

                                                          1. I just found a "can" of Black Pepper Corns with an expiration of 1986 on the bottom. I'm sure there must be more somewhere! Scary!!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: boyzoma

                                                              Those peppercorns may still be ok, believe it or not; peppercorns have a pretty hard husk. Grind up a few and check the scent before you toss.

                                                            2. When we moved mom out of her house after dad died, bro and I were aghast at the stuff we found; both in pantry *and* in the fridge. A jar of exotic caper mustard from when I was age 18! (don't recall what the expiration date was but suffice it to say it was purchased in 1977 and we cleaned out the house in 2006!).

                                                              Mom had a bottle of Spice Islands vanilla beans that she'd moved from her first apartment. She must've bought them in the late 1950s. I remember her making vanilla pudding with a bean from that old-school-style jar when I was about ten. Guess what we found in the pantry in 2006? The (ancient) bottle with two shriveled-up old beans left in it.

                                                              When we bought the restaurant we currently have, ten years ago, one of the few things that I saved from the previous owners were huge one-gallon plastic jugs of Worcestershire sauce. Well, I've got three of them left...

                                                              In my office I have a jar of Crosse & Blackwell mincemeat that was given to me by a friend who came back from a trip to England. In 1989.

                                                              1. My aunt used to work for what is now Novartis, but back then was Sandoz, a Swiss company. I mentioned to her that I was looking for a fondue set, and she told me she had a brand new one that was an employee Xmas gift from Sandoz. Never opened.

                                                                I get it home and open it up, and inside the fondue bowl was two wrapped packages of those 'round with six wedges' of Swiss cheese. They had to be thirty years old!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: johnlockedema

                                                                  Did you open one? I bet they were just as they were made.

                                                                2. My boyfriend had a carton of 4 year old eggs in his refrigerator. I broke one open.... it had completely dehydrated into a little hard lump inside. He also had a bag of jumbo marshmallows in his pantry. I don't know how old they were... but they had turned brown. And just for fun, just now I walked to his pantry, opened it, and pulled out the first thing that caught my eye.... A "Malt-Nut Power Bar" It says it is best used by "Mar 1994"

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                                    I have a big bowl of Ukrainian style decorated Easter eggs, done by my mom & aunt in the 50's and 60's. The yolks roll around inside like little balls, if handled.

                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                      the worst part was after I found them.... and took the carton outside to crack one open.... he insisted the rest go BACK into the refrigerator.....

                                                                  2. I have been making lots of baked beans in the past year. But the recipe only calls for a tablespoon of molasses. This weekend I used the last of the 12 oz. jar. I was horrified/amused to see that the expiration date was Mar 08, 07! But, it still added great flavor to my beans!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: heidip732

                                                                      My MIL was a Bostonian. Along w/ all the survival foods are a dozen jars of molasses and cans of brown bread from the 80's. We use them.

                                                                    2. Does a bottle of 1982 Beaujolais Nouveau count?

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                        Beaujolais Vieux? Maybe in a salad dressing?

                                                                        1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                          You just made me go down the cellar to check; a 16 oz. Pabst Blue Ribbon, pre- twist off cap and 12 oz. Rolling Rock & Carling Black Label cans of beer w/ the old style "stepped on a pop top, blew out a flip flop, 70's style pop tops. We threw out the wine and a bottle of rye. All the patrimony of my in laws. A half bottle of Cointreau.

                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                            My gynecologist called and left a message that the Pabst beer was fine.

                                                                        2. ho ho, are you sure we don't have the same parents?! I don't know, offhand, what is the oldest item in their frig or freezer. I do know that last time I visited, I wanted a snack in the afternoon, and my mom offered to cook me either some taquitos or some crab cakes that were in the freezer. Now I know that you can keep items in the freezer beyond the expiration date, but for me that means maybe six months to a year, at most. I checked the taquitos, and they had expired in 2007. I told my mom that was too long to keep them, even in the freezer, and so I would have the crabcakes. My mom said "never mind, if you won't eat the taquitos, I know that the crabcakes are even older" so I'll bet they go back at least to 2006. She put both things back in the freezer.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Kathleen M

                                                                            I'm with your mom, frozen is frozen. It stops time.

                                                                          2. I have a bottle of Evian water from 1992 still in my fridge (I don't know if this "counts" because I've kept it on purpose since it's so old).

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: john333

                                                                              At a local high school, the science teacher has kept a Twinkie on the shelf since 1976!!!
                                                                              It still looks good!

                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                Now that's interesting...I wonder if the chemical makeup is different now. Probably two or three years ago now, I tested that with a box of Twinkies. Less than a month after the expiration date, they were growing some nasty looking mold...

                                                                            2. My uncle found a jar of jam made by his mother in 1966/67, not sure which year exactly. I think it was blueberry, that's what it looked like anyway. The funny thing was, I think we were all gathered together for some family event when he found it. The next morning at breakfast, he brought it to the table, and just like it was nothing opened it up, stuck in a spoon and tried it. He thought it was great, and I think ended up eating the whole thing eventually. It was a few years ago now, and looking back I wish I'd tried it. Think of what those blueberries had seen!
                                                                              Also, I always think about how food has changed in the past century. That jam was probably made from blueberries chock full of antioxidants, and sugar made from real cane! I think I'll stow away some jam for future generations...

                                                                              1. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have to look too hard to find items with 2005 expiration dates here, but it's unlikely there's anything much older than that since that's when I moved into this place and stocked the shelves initially. I know that my parents used to have a #10 can of peas dating most likely from the mid-to-late Eighties in the pantry for quite a few years, but it eventually got thrown out.

                                                                                1. When my parents moved out of their house, they came upon a 40 year old bottle of Gewurztraminer. My parents do not drink but remembered that wines improve with age. They brought it over to my house and presented it with great pride.
                                                                                  The cork was still good but it had absolutely no flavor whatsoever.

                                                                                  1. i remember posting about this experience a few years ago - i was cleaning out my parents' cupboard, and i unearthed an open package of dill dip mix that had expired 10 years before...and then discovered an open box of cornstarch that had expired in 1988. it wasn't even partly closed - the box and inner bag were just gaping wide open, as though they had long ago given up trying to protect the sad, forgotten contents that were way beyond salvation.

                                                                                    1. Another recent cleanup of the parent's fridge yielded a frozen block of mozzarella cheese that expired in 1997.

                                                                                      1. Top this! Two years ago I found a small "tin" can of mushroom slices in my mom's pantry. Label looked a little RETRO, so I read the label. No expiration date, but the can was sealed in 1957! The funny part was Mom protesting that it shouldn't be thrown out, that she was saving it for a special occasion.

                                                                                        So, what prize do I win?

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                          What prize? Well, you would certainly be a contender for the Darwin awards if you open and eat those shrooms.