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Jul 11, 2012 09:44 AM

HUGE can of San Marzano tomatoes PAST expiry date!!! AHHH! [moved from Home Cooking]

What should I do!? I just realized that the 'best before' date was March 22/2012. Two questions:

1. Are they still safe to eat, and how can I tell?

2. What am I going to make with it?


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  1. Canned tomatoes will be fine for years. Don't sweat the date, it's completely arbitrary on an item like this.

    Feature them in a basic tomato sauce; In olive oil, saute some sliced garlic and a little crushed red pepper, add tomatoes, bring to a simmer, toss in some fresh basil, serve over pasta, top with good italian Parmesean.

    1 Reply
    1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

      So simple but sounds so delicious! Thanks :)

    2. Best before dates are to protect the manufacturer.
      If you use it after that date they're not responsible for whats inside.
      Open the can, if they smell and look ok you can use them but I would
      only use them in cooking. Heat them up in a separate pot and check them again
      (taste once heated to a healthy simmer). If they taste ok them add them to whatever your
      making and enjoy. Dont add till you test the taste just to make sure you don't spoil a
      large batch of something.

      1. No. At midnight on March 22, 2012, the manufacturer remotely initiated, via an embedded chip, a chemical reaction that rendered those tomatoes so dangerous you really should dispose of them with a gloved hand and warn your neighbors of an impending explosion.

        Kidding. I ate some yogurt that "expired" two weeks ago. It was fine. Make your sauce and enjoy it.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Isolda

          Roast them...after roasting they will store pretty much forever in a jar in the freezer, and you can just tweeze a few out for pizza toppings, pasta add-ins, or mix-ins for goat cheese spread, cream cheese spread, soups, sauces...wherever you want to add a roasty tomatoey flavor. Drain them well, (make yourself a bloody mary with the tomato juice you drain off), arrange cut side down on a sheet pan, , pour over some olive oil and sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and a small pinch of sugar...roast at about 375 for half an hour, turn them over, and roast for about 20 minutes more. When they have noticeably darkened in color and look a little leathery they're done. You can sprinkle them at the the end with some minced garlic or basil or oregano if you would like.

          1. re: Isolda

            The tomatoes are absolutely safe. I would, and HAVE, staked my life on it. If a few YEARS have passed after expiry, there might be a bit of a metallic taste but still nothing dangerous. Toss any cans that bulge or that have rusty seams. I once "lost" an unopened yogurt in the back of the fridge for well over a year. It was fine and tasted like it was bought the previous day. As a friend said, sarcastically, "What's going to happen to yogurt - souring?"

            1. re: greygarious

              I can't remember how long I had the canned artichoke hearts .. when I opened it it was BLACK inside. Of course, I threw it out but have wondered if air got inside or if this what happens after a couple of years.

            2. re: Isolda

              hahaha your comment made my day!

              1. re: Isolda

                And do call the manufacturer's hotline. They'll confirm the impending danger and recommend that you discard ASAP and buy replacements.

                1. re: Isolda

                  Two coworkers regularly eat yogurt that is 3-8 months past the buy-by date. They're still alive.

                  1. re: LindaWhit


                    So do I.

                    Like any dairy product, by its nature, it will let you know visually and odiferously that it has turned. :-)

                    In the summer I buy whole milk vs. 2% or 1% as the milk fat levels keeps teh shelf life of teh whole milk good far longer if you have heat flucuations in your kitchem which affect your fridge at all.

                2. I would definitely use them to make a lovely marinara sauce with lots of fresh basil and parsley from my garden. Serve over penne and top with more fresh basil and some cubes of fresh mozzarella. Yum!

                  1. THIS is something that bugs me. A "best if used by" date does NOT mean contents are BAD after that date!! How BIG of a can? Like restaurant size or normal big can for everyday family use? When it comes to stuff in cans, about the only thing I look for are dents or bulging (even slightly) tops/bottoms. Made mistake of trying to open one that was only SLIGHTLY bulging and contents spewed all over the place. Now an EXPIRATION or sell-by date... another story... that's what you'd find on meat/poultry/fish in the supermarket. When I'm buying dairy, I'll look for containers with day the farthest into the future. The date you see on a carton of milk... if your milk goe BAD in less than 5 days or so... I'd return it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kseiverd

                      I bought it from Costco and it is big, definitely bigger than the ones that they sell in regular grocery stores. I don't know how I could have forgotten about it back there, but I'm glad you guys have reassured me! I'm usually really careful about this stuff because I feed my 1 year old and 2.5 year old almost everything I cook, so I like to make sure it is 100% safe.