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Your back of the cupboard, out of date food stuff

Just cleaned out one of my kitchen cupboards. Found a jar of Lemon Curd, still sealed, best before November 2006.

Anyone else as bad?

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  1. I'm worse, but not as bad as I used to be! I have spices going back to the 1970s. There have been threads about this, I will try to find them for you. They are pretty funny.

    Here's one

    1. Not only am I just as "bad," but I would not hesitate to eat it as longn as it was not moldy and did not smell off.

      I just threw out two sealed jars of Romesco sauce that I had brought back from Barcelona and that had sell-by dates of 2005. But I could see that the color was off. Otherwise I might have tried them!

      3 Replies
      1. re: erica

        Agreed, I'm pretty bad as I tend to hoard things an then they go missing. As long as it smells OK, I'll eat it. I can't think of the oldest thing I've eaten because I rarely if ever actually look at the expiration date. I just open it and if it's off it goes in the trash no matter what the date so I skip that step.

        1. re: erica

          Same -- it takes a lot for me to admit something has truly gone bad, despite what the expiration date may say. I need mold (and more than just a little) or an off smell or taste to truly accept that something must be thrown out.

          This is one of those marital issues my husband and I will never agree on. Growing up, my family was classic Jewish -- my mom's side holocaust survivors and my dad's great depression -- and it was just unheard of to throw things out. You just did not waste food. Even things that were moldy, the attitude was "just cut the moldy part out."

          My husband grew up in a WASP home that did not have this kind of mentality, so he is totally squeamish about food that's been sitting for a bit too long. Even a day past its prime and he's all, "Are you SURE this is okay?" Even after smelling and tasting certain things that are totally fine, he will convince himself that they're bad.

          (....says the person who probably convinces herself things are fine when they're not).

          1. re: arielleeve

            If you've ever had food poisoning, you'd know it.

            I've had Listeria, and it isn't fun.

        2. Not these days, Philip.

          We check the cupboards over twice a year and skip the out of date stuff. Just did the pre-Xmas check a few days back. As always, it was a few jars of herbs and spices and a packet of pappads that went in the bin.

          3 Replies
            1. re: THewat

              They become less than fresh, in the way that most dried products can become less than fresh. Pappads are easily obtainable and extremely cheap, so it crosses no lines for me to skip them.

          1. Kahlua that I opened in 2004 (I marked the bottle). How would I tell that it's "bad"?

            My unopened lemon curd with a "best by" date of 2012 has been refrigerated the whole time and I do plan to use it.

            And reading coli's linked thread I just learned that cornstarch has an expiration date? hmm...

            7 Replies
            1. re: MidwesternerTT

              Oooooo - last weekend I found a bin in the basement of junky alcohol that I moved here 13 years ago… Some of that stuff poured out in clumps. Yikes!

              1. re: THewat

                My friend's dad died in 2011 and they held shiva (sp?) at their house. Not being drinkers, they had saved a dozen or so unopened bottles of alcohol received as gifts over the years. Many had Pennsylvania tax seals over the top (discontinued in 1976) with one bottle of Old Grand Dad, possibly from the 50s, inviting me to open and sample it. After sitting in glass with a dry-rotted cork for 60 years, bourbon gets much worse. Believe me.

                1. re: Chefpaulo

                  That's interesting. My mom passed away and we had to clean out the house. Found a lot of expired wine, but also some very elderly cheap scotch. Based on my experience with the wines and lack of knowledge about spirits, I actually asked on the Spirits board about the likelihood of it having spoiled. They all assured me that it should be fine.

                  I think I'll crack it open on Thanksgiving and see for myself.

                  1. re: 512window

                    Ruh roh!
                    Don't hold your vintage elderly/cheap Scotch as any kind of standard. You are playing with fire(water.) My dad was an organic chemist and told me all about esters turning into ketones (or was it the other way around?) that makes alcohol funky. Anyway, if not in an oak barrel, your Scotch may end up like the "vintage" Old Grand Dad tasting like watered-down furniture polish filtered through old wood shavings.

                  2. re: Chefpaulo

                    When my dad passed away a couple of years ago he left behind a huge liquor inventory. He stopped drinking a long time ago, but after years of buying wine & spirits by the case to give out as gifts he had amassed quite the collection.

                    My sister and I sat down to inventory all of it, and when I finally got around to checking the little bar cabinet in his home office I couldn't believe what I found. There was a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20-year-old that he had opened at some point, barely used, and never closed properly. It was probably sitting like that for years, and unfortunately the oxidation killed it. Dad never cared much about money or material things, but I imagine he might have been a teeny bit upset about this one - a bottle of the very same bourbon just sold at auction for nearly $1200 last month in NYC. Ouch.

                    But back to the OP, aside from the occasional bottle of wine that turns on me when I forget about it (gee, I wonder where I get that from?) the turnover rate is pretty high in my kitchen. I organize the refrigerator, freezer and cabinets regularly, and I do a major cleaning of them a few times each year to get rid of/use up anything that's been languishing. It also helps that I move a lot - the less I have to pack up, the better.

                    My parents' house was another story - when I tackled their kitchen and pantry I unearthed things that had been sitting there for DECADES.

                2. re: MidwesternerTT

                  I doubt the Kahlua went bad. My parents have some that is at least 20 years old and it was fine when I poured a bit into my coffee last visit. Destressor!

                  1. re: tcamp

                    With that much sugar the preservative properties should be pretty darn high! I love Kahlua but am careful not to drink any before having my glucose tested.

                3. I went looking for an aspirin the other day and couldn't find a bottle that hadn't expired in 2011. Three bottles. Otherwise I found an opened half-and-half in the back of the fridge that expired in March. It's not exactly 7 years, but I must get extra points since it's a perishable.

                  1. Last week I found a little container of ground nutmeg with a best by date of 2007, which means I probably purchased it a year or two (maybe more) before that.

                    The last time we cleared out the booze cupboard, I know there was 15+ yo bottles in there.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cleobeach

                      In general there's no reason to toss booze.

                      1. re: JonParker

                        In general, I would agree but one had lost its top years back and others were random bottles of homemade fruit schnapps that may have been a fire hazard.

                      2. re: cleobeach

                        I still use whole nutmeg I bought at a spice market in Singapore in 1995. It's still very fresh.

                        1. re: sandiasingh

                          I'm going to say my whole nutmeg is twice as old as yours.....when it's whole, it doesn't lose as much over time.

                        2. re: cleobeach

                          LOL I'm with you on the alcohol. I've got an old bottle of Drambuie from the early 60s. Old school label.

                          It used to belong to my grandmother. I don't drink Drambuie, but haven't thrown it out because just the sight of it brings back memories from over the years when grandma was still alive.

                        3. Found a half full bag of Bomba paella rice best before end 2009 the other week. Made a paella and had no ill effects so put it back in the cupboard for the next time.

                          1. Tuna Can. Has been with the household since Husband went to College. His parents got it for him. He's allergic, and I consider canned tuna inedible (yes, I'm finicky).

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Chowrin

                              Maybe we can sell out stuff to this new store, which plans to sell expired food:


                              1. re: erica

                                no, no! the tuna can is now kitchen mascot!

                                1. re: Chowrin

                                  Do you dress it in different outfits for the holidays?

                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                    We have a kitchen mascot, too! My mother, plagued by Alzheimer's, pickled her last beets in 1996. The last quart jar, dated and labelled with her script, has been knocking around in our pantry cupboard ever since. It's both sentimentality, and devotion to science experiment, that keeps it around. The beets are paling up top, and ruby-red on the bottom. Every time we clean out the pantry cupboard, we stick that jar back in the corner. Just because. No, I am never going to eat the pickles. But I do want to see what happens, as they're still firmly sealed.

                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                      I have something similar and just about that old. My mother came to visit circa 1997 and made a big pot of stuffed cabbage. She portioned it out into several containers and into the freezer they went. She came for one short visit after that in 2000 but didn't get a chance to cook, and hasn't been back since (her health declined and now is in a nursing home). I ate almost all the stuffed cabbage afterwards and now there is just one container left in the freezer (it survived the transition to a new fridge about 10 years ago). I keep looking at it, but can't bring myself to open it, much less eat it. I expect it will remain there forever, or until I move somewhere far enough away that I will have to defrost and consume everything edible, since I won't be able to transport it. And yes, the container is rock solid, frozen thru to the core, I'm sure. If I do eat it, it will be thru my tears, giving thanks for my wonderful mother, a very old-fashioned cook who made so much from scratch (tho while we were growing up, she did love Hamburger Helper).

                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                        Sometimes we just have to save some things, right? My dad's recent death makes me look at all the venison he hunted for my freezer in a different light. I know it has to be used, and will be, but what's the harm in letting some old parcel of tenderloin racket around in the chest freezer just for the memories, no? Enjoy your memories.

                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                          No harm at all.

                                          At a family gathering a year or two ago, we ate frozen sweet corn (off the cob) that was the last batch my grandmother froze. She died in 2005. As my aunt said "it's time." And it tasted just fine.

                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                            I bet it did taste fine! I love those preservers that have actually preserved memories for us eaters. Post-mortem, some of those things take on extra meaning, don't they?

                              2. I recently found a can of baking powder from 1999. It was way in the back on the top shelf of my spice cabinet.

                                1. DIDn't experience use of many herbs & spices growing up and learning to cook from my Grandmother. BUT she insisted a Bay leaf of 2 was CRUCIAL to soup. I was a family joke that you won the "prize" if leaf ended up in your bowl. Wasn't until I was an "old married lady" (of 22) when I bought my own and found out they actually DO have a flavor!?!

                                  Have WAY too many canned good for one person. Cannot resist a good sale on about any tomato product... they get used up fairly quickly. Only canned soups I remotely like are a some varieties of Progresso & Wegman's. Seriously gonna whittle down that shelf.

                                  Once found a can of "something" that was slightly bulging on ends. KNEW that was not a GOOD thing. Walked it outside to trash like I was a member of the bomb squad!!

                                  I usually do a reorganization of my pantry (2 metal shelving units in garage) at least 2 times a year... I will rotate stuff by date, but rarely toss anything, no matter what the date. One time, found a can of sauer kraut that seemed GLUED to shelf?? Took a little soaking of warm water to loosen it... it was pretty much HOLLOW!?! The kraut had apparently eaten thru the can and just evaporated and dried up?!? NO smell to make me even go exploring... and it ate the PAINT right off the shelf;)

                                  Personally, think what "they" say about replacing herbs/spices is to sell more herbs/spices... especially if they're supposed to go after only 6 months or a year. If dried herbs still have a nice aroma when rubbed in palm, see NO reason to replace. BUT with holiday cookies not far off, will buy new container of baking powder & baking soda... and reluctantly toss old one... they're CHEAP to replace.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: kseiverd

                                    I've read somewhere that you should replace your BP and BS when the clocks are changed to and from Daylight Savings Time. That may be *another* form of BS but as you say, it's cheap. I think the soda lasts longer than the powder.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Great tip, gregarious - easy to remember, too. When I move the (aged) baking soda out of the food pantry, I move it to the laundry room, where I find that it's still quite serviceable to boost your laundry detergent (add 1/4 cup per load)

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        I've used 5 yr old baking powder to good affect.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          I just test whether its still effective using vinegar or water. http://bakingbites.com/2011/03/how-to...

                                          I get a lot longer out of it than just 6 months.

                                      2. It bummed me out to find a really old bag of pine nuts in the back of the pantry stuck under a bag of really old brown sugar and they were stuck to each other. One rancid and the other hard as a boulder.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          My hubby looked everywhere to find Dom Peppino Pizza Sauce and finally found it a few years back and we called the company and found out the date was like 6 years old but we still have the can cuz its cute and its the only one we found.. BTW, you have now inspired hubby who is about to bake up our Manischewitz cale mix left over from last Passover... Also, the answer to the original question, is pretty much most of whats in my mom's cupboards and fridge.. Anyone else have trouble getting it through to their parents that expiration dates are a moot point once the product is opened? :)

                                          1. re: chompie

                                            Yes. My dad was a food hoarder and loved shopping at the surplus warehouses. I didn't Have an issue with the expired dates but he would open jars and leave them sitting around the house. Aged food plus lack of refrigeration concerned me.

                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                              My 88 yo uncle is the opposite. He throws out frozen meat cause it's been in the freezer too long, like 2 months is too long. He threw out an unopened container of Lloyds BBQ pulled pork in Sept because he bought it in the summer, but the expiration date was December 2013.

                                            2. re: chompie

                                              I "hoard" matzah. It's great for dips (particularly pickle dip), so it gets used up... by next Passover or so.

                                              1. re: chompie

                                                Oh, yeah. Parents. Expiration dates. Have mercy.

                                            3. Not food, but daughter was home from college a couple of months ago, and asked for hydrocortisone cream for an ant bite. DH gave her some. A few minutes later she comes out laughing. The expiration date on the cream was 1991. She was born in 1992!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. Not quite as bad, but after reading your post I was motivated to hunt for a box of beignet mix I brought back with me, once upon a time, from the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. The unopened box is sitting beside me now; the top of the box reads, "Use before Nov 1 1999." Maybe it's time to sort through the contents of my pantry.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                  I had one of those boxes too, I probably procured it about the same time as you; but when we were moving about 10 years ago, I got motivated about using stuff up. I think I used it as a batter for fried fish. But then again, it wasn't like I looked to buy any more after that, so don't take that as a recommendation either.

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    Coll: "But then again, it wasn't like I looked to buy any more after that, so don't take that as a recommendation either."

                                                    Oh that's precious!! I won't be expecting Cafe du Monde beignets if I ever come to visit you, Coll! You crack me up.

                                                2. We bought a house this spring. In the otherwise empty kitchen cabinets, we found a can of Mazola cooking spray with the expiration date 1992. Rather odd thing for the sellers to leave behind, let alone keep in the first place.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: shaja

                                                    Maybe used to "oil" cabinet hinges?

                                                  2. I purchased some Fleischmanns Instant yeast in a 1 lb vacuum packed package and stored it in the freezer in a zip lock bag with a clothespin holding the rolled up foil bag shut within the zip lock bag. I had opened and used some.
                                                    Somehow the yeast got pushed to the back of my freezer in the garage and I found it about a year ago. The lost package has an expiration date of 2006. It still worked fine in my bread machine and baked good bread that rose properly. I don't even proof it, just added it dry to the bread machine.
                                                    So if you store yeast in the freezer, sealed airtight, its good for at least 6 years.
                                                    I continued to use the 6 year old yeast until it was gone (about 1/2 the pack was left).
                                                    If stored properly in the freezer, I guess yeast lasts forever.

                                                    1. this thread motivated me to clean out my cabinets. Unfortunately most of it was open so the rancid peanut butter, chewy stale cereal, and caked up spices mostly went in the trash but I did find some wonderful bags of tea.

                                                      1. Just yesterday found a box (opened, half full) of Cream of Wheat, "best before 2008." It was dry, looked completely fine, but I couldn't bring myself to keep it just because of the age. Except for salt, maybe sugar, it seems that anything from nature will deteriorate eventually.

                                                        1. Mooncakes.

                                                          From the Ming Dynasty. The early years of the Hongwu era.

                                                          1. Oh, you're still in the kiddie pool. Welcome to the realm of the deep-enders, as evidenced by the other "vintage" food threads.

                                                            Your lemon curd will probably be bad. Egg yolk goes rancid.
                                                            There's a Stonewall Farm store not too far away that has a periodic sale. I once bought lemon curd there only to find it rancid. The use-by date was on the plastic safety seal around the dark-green lid, so it was virtually invisible. Turns out it was slightly outdated. I called the company, which sent a replacement, freshly-dated, that was ALSO rancid. I noticed that the fine print on the label calls for refrigeration, and not with the "after opening" caveat. Apparently not even the Stonewall Farm warehouse knew that.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                              Good to know as I just received (unsolicited) a five dollar off coupon for any Stonewall Farm Product . . . was going to "spend" it week

                                                            2. This isn't exactly an answer to your question, but last year we bought flax seeds for the first time and were unaware you had to store them in the fridge or freezer. I was adding them to oatmeal in the morning and they had this awful fishy flavor to them that made things almost inedible. I thought maybe it was just one of those weird health-food items that doesn't taste so good on their own but can be added to strongly-flavored dishes to make them more healthy, and that maybe I just needed to come around to the flavor. Finally when I couldn't take it any longer I googled it and realized that they had clearly gone completely rancid from being stored in the cupboard.

                                                              A mistake I'll never make again.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: arielleeve

                                                                In my pantry cleanout yesterday I found a bag of flax seeds which probably have been there for 3 or 4 years. They didn't smell off to me but I might grind some to find out. The peanut butter which was not even as old was rancid so I imagine that they are as well.