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The Clean Cabinet Project


jm chen
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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

In a fit of organizedness, I have finally gone through all our kitchen cabinets and thrown out the things that we brought with us when we moved in two years ago.

The record for Oldest Labeled Can was set by some Mexi-Corn from 2002. I'm sure some things in the cabinet were older than that, but for some reason, canned tuna has no expiration date. Nor does microwave popcorn. Or perhaps these things were simply produced before expiration dates were invented.

:P

Anyway, I highly recommend it. Opens up space for new food purchases, and gives you ideas for what to cook, based on the stuff that hasn't expired yet.

Jael

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A quick search prompted by this thread uncovered a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup dated May 2000...

Cleaning out another cabinet a few days ago led to throwing out some random dip/spread mixes that had been purchased at a long-ago Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. The exact year has been forgotten, but I'd wager a guess that it was pre-1995.

Not sure which is more embarrassing - that I actually bought this crap or the fact that I kept it for so long! :P

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Most of my spices probably need to be thrown out for age. Bought the majority of them at my first place three years ago, same with some canned veggies.

Also have a can of Manwich that has probably moved with me at least once, and probably twice.

I suppose you'll be wanting my badge and gun...

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My in-laws moved 3 or 4 years ago after being in the same house for over 25 years. She had a bottle of paprika that cost 19 cents that I threw out. Against her will, I also threw away 3 boxes of Shake and Bake for pork that were at least 15 years old. There was much evidence that my husband lived through a childhood rife with bad tasting food.

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I don't know that it was full of bad food. My mom NEVER bought fresh herbs. It just wasn't done; wasn't how you cooked. Everything was made with dried herbs and I loved the way my house smelled when she cooked. Of course, those very same herbs perhaps have no taste some thirty years later. She still has them. You don't throw something away just because it's old now!!

She's never sharpened a knife, all of which she still has. Never bought a new veg peeler til I threw her old one away. Bought her an oxo. I have her 50 year old egg scrambler and flour sifter hanging from my pot rack. It's precious.

Edited by monavano
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While visiting my aunt last August, I decided to make her some fresh bread. "Of course I have some yeast" she answered to my query and proceeded to hand me an envelope of Fleishmann's with an expiration date of 1981! (I did actually proof the yeast to see if by any chance it was only mostly dead, but it was totally dead.)

But I am not much better... I have an unopened bottle of Chinese red vinegar in my cupboard that was purchased at least seven years ago. It has moved with us from Maryland to California and then back here again. :P

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I wasn't going to admit it, but alas here it goes: I recently found a brick of brown sugar in my cabinet and have no idea when it was bought. It was hiding behind the big tin can of matzo meal that my mother promises me will never go bad. Fortunately for me, the apple cake recipe I was making didn't call for any of the brown stuff!

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I wasn't going to admit it, but alas here it goes:  I recently found a brick of brown sugar in my cabinet and have no idea when it was bought.  It was hiding behind the big tin can of matzo meal that my mother promises me will never go bad.  Fortunately for me, the apple cake recipe I was making didn't call for any of the brown stuff!

Not to worry. I believe sugar is one of those things that never "goes bad,"

at least from a health standpoint, though I'm sure some bakers could chime in about how its baking properties change, etc.

Am I wrong?

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Most of my spices probably need to be thrown out for age.  Bought the majority of them at my first place three years ago, same with some canned veggies.

Also have a can of Manwich that has probably moved with me at least once, and probably twice.

I suppose you'll be wanting my badge and gun...

Yep. And you'll get them right back, flavored with ALL your old seasonings.

Rob

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i have a 32-oz. jar of toigo orchards bourbon peaches. the ingredients are sugar, water, bourbon and ascorbic acid. it has been sitting on the shelf since the autumn of 2004. they still look good. do you think that they are?

Vacuum sealed fruit in syrup should last for at least two or three years. Toigo peaches in bourbon syrup would taste mighty good right about now.

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Welcome to this hour's installment of "Questions about packing and moving a kitchen" number six in a series.

1. Does preservative-free salad dressing go bad if it's still sealed (with a cork, though some has leaked out it seems). It's pretty old. There's a film of 'stuff' on top, but it doesn't look like mold. Tastes ok (In fact, it's good stuff...I really should have tried it by now! Chinablue-type dressing). Would botulism toxin or like...the hantavirus affect the taste?

2. How quickly does white truffle oil lose potency if it does? (None of this "I don't know, I've never had it last that long :):lol: " business, thanks)

Tune in later for another 'questions about packing and moving a kitchen'.

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Welcome to this hour's installment of "Questions about packing and moving a kitchen" number six in a series.

1. Does preservative-free salad dressing go bad if it's still sealed (with a cork, though some has leaked out it seems). It's pretty old. There's a film of 'stuff' on top, but it doesn't look like mold. Tastes ok (In fact, it's good stuff...I really should have tried it by now! Chinablue-type dressing). Would botulism toxin or like...the hantavirus affect the taste?

2. How quickly does white truffle oil lose potency if it does? (None of this "I don't know, I've never had it last that long :):lol: " business, thanks)

Tune in later for another 'questions about packing and moving a kitchen'.

If the salad dressing is oil-based you should be okay if it isn't that old.

One tip on moving kitchens from someone who has done it at least 27 times in my 30 years, wrap your open bottles in saran, put your spices in plastic zip locks and put everything in plastic tubs with lids if you have them instead of regular moving boxes. Broken bottles of balsamic can be a very big mess!

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I'm a ruthless pitcher-outer.

Every year, in the fall, I weed out unopened cans, boxes and jars and take them to the Food Bank, as long as they haven't expired. If there is no expiration date, into the trash. Also, things I bought in bulk but didn't like, like the case of mango juice and the case of Asian pear juice.

The local food bank has a heavy Asian and Latino population, this stuff will be appreciated.

Foods in the freezer, if they have freezer burn, out. Bags of vegetables and fruits, if they feel heavy with ice, into the compost pile.

I hate the taste of rancid food and have a mortal fear of food poisoning.

Thus, the oldest foods in the kitchen are things that don't seem to ever go bad, like dry rice stick noodles, baking chocolate, and tightly jarred whole spices like nutmeg and cloves.

The winner is whole cloves in a bottle with a very tight stopper that I've had for maybe 20-25 years. They're actually still good.

Welcome to this hour's installment of "Questions about packing and moving a kitchen" number six in a series.

1. Does preservative-free salad dressing go bad if it's still sealed (with a cork, though some has leaked out it seems). It's pretty old. There's a film of 'stuff' on top, but it doesn't look like mold. Tastes ok (In fact, it's good stuff...I really should have tried it by now! Chinablue-type dressing). Would botulism toxin or like...the hantavirus affect the taste?

This is exactly the type of thing I'd throw away. It's leaking so air is getting in, and the oil doesn't stop food poisoning, for that you need an acid like vinegar. Remember the people who got botulism from home made garlic oil!

When in doubt, throw it out!

(Dump it out and recycle the bottle.)

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It IS a vinaigrette...does that help, or still throw it away?
I would quote Dirty Harry: "I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky?....Well, do ya?" :)
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What about liquor? Does it ever go bad? And I don't necessarily mean unopened bottles of stuff that are perfectly capable of preserving themselves, but specifically, what about liquor from the Bailey's family? I have a bottle Brendan's (smells OK) that's been around since college...the first time around...
My guess is that even the manufacturer couldn't tell you whether it's "safe." It starts with Irish whiskey which would probably last forever if properly bottled, but then they add cream -- which is protein and fat, and an ideal medium for bacterial growth. Will the alcohol kill the bacteria? For how long?

Maybe I'm wrong. Send them an email and ask.

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My guess is that even the manufacturer couldn't tell you whether it's "safe." It starts with Irish whiskey which would probably last forever if properly bottled, but then they add cream -- which is protein and fat, and an ideal medium for bacterial growth. Will the alcohol kill the bacteria? For how long?

Maybe I'm wrong. Send them an email and ask.

I did! We'll see what they have to say, but I suspect that Dirty Harry is going to have his way with my "vintage" liquor :)

To add to the outpouring of confession, I have some random Chinese canned goods that have made it through several moves. Orginally, my mom sent them with me to college, so I would have something from home (Boston) to eat in the wilds of Virginia. I've since moved to New Hampshire and then back to Virginia, and now I'm on my second apartment here...It's probably time to let them go...

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I had always thought anything you bought in a can, was safe from ever leaking. Not true. I had an old can of pureed pumpkin that at some point burst in my cabinet, and left an awful sticky mess (including trapping other cans/bottles like super glue).

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I just found two tins of curry paste WAY in the back of the cabinet with expiration dates of October 2000. Maybe instead of pitching this stuff, we can start a time capsule or something.
It can join the three large bottles of fish sauce, the pomegranite molasses from 2001, and the 2 bottles of stale sesame oil I found before we moved this weekend. Egad.
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I was just home this weekend and my mother still has a few jars of spices from IGA. The IGA by our house closed in 1977 and I sincerely doubt she bought those that year.
There was a McCormick's ad in Sunday's paper that gave new meaning to the term "Old Spice."

Basically, the spice pictured is almost old enough to drive...

post-226-1158021442_thumb.jpg

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I did! We'll see what they have to say, but I suspect that Dirty Harry is going to have his way with my "vintage" liquor :)

OOh, I've actually seen curdled Bailey's. I'm not sure how long it took to get that way, but my grandmother, to whom the offending bottle belonged, never drank it herself, and just kept it around for visitors.

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How long does miso keep? I have some white miso in my fridge that's been there about a year and a half. The color is a way more beige than white now, but it smells fine. Pitch it, or...?

Miso (Chinese, Korean and Japanese whatever) has more than a thousand year history and people keep the miso urn in their backyard under the shade to maintain constant temperature.

Usually miso package is neat to keep in the fridge for long time. I always buy a PET cased one (so you can close the lid) with the smallest size I can get. It is fine as long as it didn't get mold.

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Not a can, but any thoughts on how long past the exp. date (6/28/06 in this case) I could keep bread machine instant mix? I know it's got a packet of yeast included, but there are handy instructions on their website on how to test the yeast if it's still good. Any thoughts on if any of the other stuff in the box would go bad/grow bugs/etc?

Thanks.

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This whole thread has got me thinking: just WHAT, exactly, needs to be refrigerated when opened? I've got this bottle of Thai Fish Sauce in the cupboard. At this point, if it needs to be chilled, then it is too late. But, it doesn't say that anywhere on the label. Likewise, I have never refrigerated opened bottles of vinegar, Lee & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, or any of that other stuff.

Is there something to tell the difference?

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Not a can, but any thoughts on how long past the exp. date (6/28/06 in this case) I could keep bread machine instant mix? I know it's got a packet of yeast included, but there are handy instructions on their website on how to test the yeast if it's still good. Any thoughts on if any of the other stuff in the box would go bad/grow bugs/etc?

Thanks.

My guess is that the date on the expiration date of a dry mix, hermetically sealed, really means "best if sold by/used by", not "you will die if you use this in September, 2006."

Not knowing what's in the mix, if it's flour, powdered milk, and powdered eggs, these things kept sealed have a shelf life of years.

Cans last longer than packages, foil packages last longer than paper or cellophane.

The biggest risk in food poisoning, botulism, grows in conditions where there is no oxygen circulating, like cans and bottles full of wet stuff.

For powdered food in a package, I would say, "if it smells good, it is good."

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This whole thread has got me thinking: just WHAT, exactly, needs to be refrigerated when opened? I've got this bottle of Thai Fish Sauce in the cupboard. At this point, if it needs to be chilled, then it is too late. But, it doesn't say that anywhere on the label. Likewise, I have never refrigerated opened bottles of vinegar, Lee & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, or any of that other stuff.

Is there something to tell the difference?

An article on about.com says that fish sauce must be refrigerated after it's opened. It does have a lot of salt, so maybe it's safe if you don't, but I'd refrigerate it because I am uptight about food poisoning.

Link.

I am sure that vinegar and worcestershire sauce (main ingredient vinegar) don't need to be refrigerated. Vinegar is a preservative, it kills bacteria, mold and fungus.

We keep all condiments in the refrigerator except vinegar, worcestershire sauce, syrups and spices. Even though you don't need to refrigerate soy sauce, hot sauce, mustard, etc., they stay fresh and wholesome longer if you do. I'd refrigerate worcestershire sauce, too, if we didn't use it up so fast.

Interesting anecdote about food poisoning: in New Orleans, it is a widely held belief that Blue Plate mayonnaise doesn't need to be refrigerated, and, in fact, if you refrigerate it, then you will get food poisoning. Oddly enough, people don't die. But I refuse to test that theory, myself.

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I'm searching my cabinet for items I could donate to a food drive. It's kinda scary: cans of peas that look like they will explode any second; never opened can of olives from Greece (was more interested in the unique can than the olives); pudding mixes (it must have been a comfort food stage); Pasta Roni (I have no idea why).

What intrigued me most were the expiration dates. The can of peas dated back to 1999 (which is the year I moved), while the puddings expire in 2008. And, I know I bought the puddings at least four years ago.

Take a look around. What is the oldest thing in your cupboard? Wines don't count! What has the longest future expiration date? And, just for added fun: has a can ever exploded on you? Did the contents look like the label? Or, were they transformed into a high school science experiment?

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An article on about.com says that fish sauce must be refrigerated after it's opened. It does have a lot of salt, so maybe it's safe if you don't, but I'd refrigerate it because I am uptight about food poisoning.

Link.

I checked my bottle of Golden Boy (one of the more highly recommended brands that doesn't taste of artificial ingredients) fish sauce last night since this was news to me. The label includes text in English that advises against refrigeration since the cold temperature results in crystallization.
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I regularly purge our pantry and cabinets of stuff we have not used and is beyond its due date. We try not to let that happen, but it does.  Also, some things may *say* it is not beyond its due date, but you can always smell it (it it is something you can store at room temperature after opening (like breadcrumbs)) - if it smells bad to you, chuck it.

I actually landed on this thread because I was curious about cleaning the exterior of kitchen cabinets. It occupies a lot of my time since we have black cabinets, cook a lot, and have cats. So keeping the damn things remotely clean takes a lot of attention - or blinders/ lol

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