I treated myself to a long leisurely shower this morning ( I did not set the timer! and must have had 7 minutes) and listened to a Radio 4 discussion on ‘use by dates’ and the pros and cons of them. I personally ignore them completely. I have eaten yogurt that is weeks past its sell by date was fine and vegetables often have yellowing and curling outer leaves taken off for the compost bins and we eat what’s good. I’m in the process of making Sunday lunch and have made apple crumble for dessert. I went to the pantry and found some of mum’s Blackberry jam, which as you can see, was made in September 2009. It must be very high in sugar as there was not a single trace of mould on top.
The addition of the jam has now made this a blackberry and apple crumble, I also didn’t add any sugar to the apple as the jam will sweeten it enough.
I trust my own instincts and sense of taste and smell to check if something is good to eat. I always freeze meat and don’t take any chances as it’s so expensive that I just can’t afford to waste it. I cooked a roast chicken today and didn’t have any big brown onions left, but found in the veggie drawer a pack of shallots, they were from November last year! They have been kept cool and in the dark and have gone quite nicely into the roasting pot along with garlic, potatoes, carrots and thyme. If they were off they would be spongy or dry, but they were hard, still pink and as difficult to peel as if they had just been pulled out of the soil.
There is of course a bonus to ‘best by dates’. I buy some products from Approved Foods, which sell products close to or past their ‘best before dates. I have crumble mix, and I didn’t have enough, so I used another AF product of the pastry mix and I bulked it out with a few rolled oats and a spoonful of dark sugar that I’ve had left from the Christmas cakes, that I made as gifts. This company wouldn’t have goods to sell and I wouldn’t be able to benefit from the cheaper goods.
I still stand by my own money saving advice to myself that ‘best before’ does not mean unusable and poisonous after a certain date. It’s up to you, but I ignore them and trust my nose.