Last Tuesday's article on food waste raised an interesting question (it came up in the comments) that I wanted to ask to the entire Casual Kitchen audience.
When your food passes its expiration date, do you throw it out?
This is my blog after all, so I'll go first. Here's my answer: Never.
The milk we buy, for example, is almost always good for several days after the sell-by date. I use the sniff test. When it comes to meat and other dairy products, we do the same thing. Visually observe and smell. If it's still good, why waste it?
With eggs I'll go even further. We've eaten eggs that were weeks past their sell-by date and never had a problem (and if that idea scares you, why don't you take a look at this provocative post on eating eggs stored for four months without refrigeration).
Produce is another story, I suppose. Usually there are no expiration dates. And the amount of time that can pass between field and grocery store for many fruits and veggies, combined with the varying treatment of the produce (example: some produce might get bruised or bumped during transport, hastening spoilage), essentially means you have to check out the merchandise carefully before you leave the store. Even then it can be a crapshoot.
But then again, once in a while you get lucky. Two weeks ago, I found some potatoes buried in the back of our fridge that had to have been more than (shudder) four months old. They predated our departure to Chile! But they looked fine, smelled fine, handled fine and tasted just great in a batch of Yellow Split Pea Soup. You just never know.
Finally, with cookies, chips, granola bars, frozen ice cream and other "shelf-stable" food products, I have to admit, I never even look at the sell-by date (another shudder), I just eat them.
Readers, where do you stand? What do you do when your dairy, meat or other food products "expire"?
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