Ignore those best before dates.

 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.


24 thoughts on “Ignore those best before dates.

  1. Hi Froogs,

    I agree with you about the best before dates. Most foods are in perfect condition even after a few years, especially if you preserved them yourself.

    Gav x


  2. Hiya…so glad I found your blog :0) I was having a big debate about 'best before dates' last night…I have placed an order with approved food but not sure everyone is convinced with my actions!! but I tried to argue if there was a big chocolate cake which was past its best before no-one would chuck that in the bin!! So I won my battle in the end :0) can you point me in the direction of any good recipes for cakes? keep smiling hunni..have a lovely day! xxx


  3. Love the look of that crumble, I can smell it already (at least in my mind). Like you I tend to trust my senses, especially smell as to whether I use something past the date. Hope you have a relaxing day, look forward to tomorrows entry. xxx Teresa


  4. As we say in our house “it doesn't explode” on that date! What did we do before “sell by” dates? I use past the dates within reason – if it smells OK it must be OK! I also don't tell anyone that the sell/use by dates has gone by when I've cooked something!
    Julie xxxxx


  5. I grew up in a house of “eat it unless it's mouldy”, but in this house we never have leftover food as it is all used, frozen or turned into something else: I wonder if that is the bonus of being vegan? The stew I'm making today will also be the base for a soup and a curry in the week. Thoughts? FMx


  6. How I agree, yours and my minds run on the same wavelength….I buy from Approved foods too…..I also use stuff thats past its sell by date, if it smells and tastes good it get eaten. I have just made a tray of cranberry muffins using a muffin mix from AF and a tablespoon of cranberry sauce.

    We are off out for a jolly in a sparkling clean and polished car. Well cleaning and polishing it has kept OH happy for 2 dsys!!

    Enjoy the rest of your day…..


  7. The first time my brother was left at home on his own while my parents had a holiday (he must have been about 18), he went in their freezer and spotted some of the dates on the frozen foods……and chucked all the ones away that were past their Sell By dates. That was most of their food gone then!! They came back to an empty freezer.

    They had been freezing nice fresh food bargains for future use.

    He's still very pernickity about 'dates'.

    Like you I always trust my senses, especially my sense of smell when it comes to food, and I hide packs away from his eyes when he stays with us!!

    Sue xx


  8. Too true! I often buy fruit and veg on it's date and it's not even ripe yet. And loads of perishable things are good. My old cat used to be the ham tester; he wouldn't touch it if it was off!


  9. Froogs-I so agree with you. Other than milk, cream and some dairy products like sr cream, yogurt, I don't recall any use by dates when I was growing up. Now they are everywhere-even on laundry detergent and toothpaste. Ridiculous.
    I like the idea of using jam for a fruit crumble (we call them crisps over here in the US). Sugar has become very expensive, easily $5.49/5 lbs for a brand name, slightly less for private label. I still have quite a bit of my homemade preserves on my canning shelves down cellar, which would make lovely desserts: plum, plum-rhubarb, strawberry-rhubarb, gingered peach, gingered pear, gingered mango, jumbleberry (a mix of blueberry/raspberry/blackberry). Fresh produce is very pricey this time of year, the gardens are only now having a few things planted, it's just too cold/wet. I also take advantage of marked downs, how else could I have purchased 6 tomatoes for under $2 this past week?


  10. We had a funny thing the other week when my daughter poured out of date cream all over my husbands pudding. It had been opened about 2 weeks previous and had been lurking at the back of the fridge. He had already began to eat the pudding when we discovered the mistake but he said it tasted ok and he has lived to tell the tale.We have just found some tortilla chips at the back of the cupboard BBE Nov 10 which he is going to eat as a movie snack with melted cheese over next few days.


  11. Whats a use by date. we dont have them in our house, if it smells ok then we eat it. thank you for reccomending Approved Foods, they are brillant, we are eating well on a shoestring, with a bit of imagination. tqa xx


  12. I agree, sell by and best before dates are only a guide. If it looks ok and smells ok then its fine. We eat lot of stuff OOD, we have an AF style shop local and have shopped there for years. Last week I bought potatoes, carrots and swede OOD and they were perfect. The day before they would have cost £3.49 and I paid £1.34
    🙂 I still have some left for this week and probably the potatoes will last the week after too.

    Your crumble with the jam sounds delicious.We had one yesterday with apples and pears from the freezer which were free from my friends garden.

    So glad you are feeling ok after the last few traumatic days.

    Karen x


  13. Yep, I trust my instincts and my nose too. Husband, however, has been known to drink 'gone off' milk….he said it smelt fine to him! (Clearly tasted alright to him too….strange man!):-O
    He now asks me if things smell alright….lol

    Sooze x


  14. I agree wholeheartedly. I too use my 'nose' and instincts to judge freshness. I got my first Approved Foods order last week. Over £140 worth of food for just over £40 including delivery. I now have nough soy sauce, dijon mustard, tomato puree, scone mix, cookie mix, muffin mix, savoury couscous, and other bits and bobs to last for months…I mean 10 pkts of Parsley sauce mix for 99p!!! I certainly couldn't make it myself for 10p. I made some gorgeous scones yesterday just adding water to the mix, and the other sweet mixes will keep the family happy for weeks. I'm certainly a convert and its hard now to persuade myself I have to use up what I've already bought before I do another shop because I so love a bargain!!!


  15. I agree with you too. I've eaten fruits and veggies if they're 4-5 years old if I've canned them myself. I trust my eyes and nose too. All bought tinned goods are dated, and if the cans are not rusted or bloated and smell ok, we eat them. I love the idea of using jelly and jams to sweeten fruit crisps. Last year I threw most of my apple peels and cores in the compost bin when I made apple sauce because I didnt think a lot of apple jelly would be eaten. Now I have another use for it.


  16. Hi froogs..we do the same..if its mouldy then it goes..if it smells ok then we use it..
    like kc said what did we do before the supermarkets started putting best before dates on ..my dd works at sainsbugs..and often brings me meat that, in the shops eyes is out of date..but its not..its fresh,smells ok and looks ok..so i freeze it..never poisoned anyone yet..
    love to you and yours


  17. Hi FQ
    When I was young, no such thing as BB4 or SBD's, no fridges or freezers only pantries and cold stores, I am very careful to use quickly or freeze chicken or fish, but if jam or cheese develops a bit of mould it is removed carefully and the rest eaten, salads will crisp up in cold water, and root veggies will plump up if put in cold water too. Keep on educating, you are doing a great job.


  18. I have home made jam I'm still eating that I made in 2007. It's still nice, I use it mostly with dried fruit in pastry.

    I totally ignore best before and use by dates. They are meaningless as stuff can go off before that date anyway, I always have a good look and also use my nose to decide whether something is still edible or not.


  19. Ifturpin-If you peel and core your apples before making apple sauce, save the peels and make your own pectin, which you can homecan or freeze. I stick with organic apples to do this. HTH


  20. Froogs,
    I forgot to ask: when you were mixing up this crumble, did you use the whole, what looks to be a pint, jar of jam? How much jam to how many cups of cut up fruit? Thanks!


  21. We have a fabulous shop here in Adelaide called Rite Price,they sell mostly out of date product's or the packaging is slightly damaged,i went there last week,and spent $54.oo,which would have cost me twice that in our major supermarket,and i alway's smell thing's when i open them up,the store gave me a free box of Maison non-alcoholic wine,for spending over $50.00,and that was a bargain in itself,worth about $40.00 for the dozen bottles,i get so excited when i go there,knowing i am saving so much,i buy lot's of cheeses,and put them in my freezer when i get home,and there is never anything wrong with them,and i have never been ill,thank you for another great post,xx


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