Can I eat this, NaBloPoMo 2008 edition

Once again, it’s time to visit the odd, unofficial category of questions that forms my favorite subset of the Ask Metafilter archives. Yes, it’s the “Can I eat this?” category! (Previously on macbebekin.) In this round, we see such subjects as:

cheese, a perennial favorite in Can I eat this? territory
- “[T]his particular block of Swiss cheese… has been in my fridge for 2 years. Yes, 2 years. It was a joke that’s not funny anymore. Anyways, is the cheese safe to eat? The visible discoloration is worrisome.” Mmmmm, worrisome!
- “I left my blue cheese in the fridge for a month – will eating it kill me? It’s moldy already, right?”
- “… a mozzarella block, loosely wrapped in plastic with an exposed end, a block of parmesean (same wrap situation), and a tub of fresh mozzarella in olivine. It was left out for approxamately 20 hours. Is any of it recoverable for tonight’s pizza?”

vegetables
- “…instead of tasty yellow artichoke hearts, I have thorny stuff and furry stuff.”
- “There is a small pile of garden zucchini that has been sitting on the kitchen counter for about two months, right between the sink and an always-open window (to let in the Cleveland summer). Should I eat it?”

poultry
- “Can severely freezer-burned chicken be ‘rescued’?”
- “How long can chicken be frozen and remain good (as in not dangerous) to eat?”
- “So I know you aren’t supposed to brine a butterball turkey, but I’ve already bought the turkey and all the brining stuff, what’s the worst that can happen?”
- “Has my turkey expired? Should i not deep fry this bird?”
- “Would it still be safe to make a soup today from Christmas turkey leftovers?” It boggles me how many people think suspect leftovers are rendered safe in a soup, as if boiling the hell out of spoiled meat destroys the toxins. PSA: It does not. Typically, the toxins in spoiled food are a by-product of bacteria, and not vulnerable (as bacteria is) to heat.
- Happily, the responders to this question knew that. The poster describes how he made a pot of chicken stock on Monday, then “forgot about it. Yesterday (tuesday) came and went, and it is still sitting on the stove. Today is Wednesday. If I boil it again for a bit of time, will it be ok to eat?” The overwhelming response? Oh my sweet lord, no, and one poster kindly linked to the wikipedia entry on heat-stable enterotoxins, which survive up to 100 degrees Celsius.

smelly pork
- “Bad pork or just a bad smell? Opening the bag, the pork smells horrible, sorta like rotten eggs. Rinsing it off reduced but did not eliminate the smell.”

fat
- “For how long does fatty pig skin stay good in the fridge?”
- “How long will an opened tin of goose fat last in my fridge, assuming that I cover it with cling film and treat it with the respect that it so richly deserves?”

sauces and savories
- “How does pesto go bad? Will it silently kill me?… Will I just get some gas? Hallucinations? Or should I put on my coat and start walking to the mortuary while I can still get there on my own?”
- “[T]he label on the olive salad recommended that the jars be kept refrigerated even before opening them. [But] I didn’t have a refrigerator in my hotel room for my 7 day stay in Vegas.”
- “BotulismFilter: Should I eat this? I put some sun dried tomatoes in a jar and covered them with olive oil… My friends suggested that it might be a bad idea to eat them because they’ve been sitting in a jar in my pantry for six months. I think that the olive oil makes them safe. Somehow.”

luxury foods
- “Is there anyway that I can refridgerate [this $40 appetizer of pastry-wrapped baked brie with truffled crabmeat] and re-cook it tomorrow and still have it be awesome?… Is there any chance for bacteria build up from the crab if i do try to reheat it?

sweets and snacks
- “Does anybody know the shelf life of altoids? I have a container thats probably several years old, if not older.”
- “Okay. I just finished this box of Pocky and there was this little prize in the box. I ate it. What the hell was it? … Was it incense? Candy? A bouillon cube?”
- “What is this black, salty, bug-eggy powder that I find in about 1 of 10 peanuts when I crack them open?” I’m just guessing here that a) the “black, salty, bug-eggy powder” is, y’know, bug eggs, and b) you shouldn’t eat enough to know it’s salty.
- “I just ate a few bites of trail mix before noticing that the bag was infested with weevils. WILL I DIE??”
- “What’s with the white spots on these Medjool Dates? … Being adventurous, I’ve eaten a few and they haven’t made me sick or killed me – they actually taste perfect. But I’m still curious what these dots are (and if they’ll kill me a few weeks from now).”
- “Is it safe to cook with over-ripe strawberries?”
- “I’m making raspberry preserves. I want to use half-pint jars instead of the pint jars the recipe specifies. However, I’m a little paranoid.”

eggs
- “How long will deviled eggs keep in the fridge before they go bad?”
- “I completely forgot, and left a sealed box of Egg Beaters on my counter for about 5 or so hours. Are they still safe to use?”

beans
- “Do dried lentils go bad? I have a bag of red lentils in an airtight container and they have been there for a while. What’s weird is that they are no longer red.
- “What is going on with my beans?!”

misc. dinners
- “[The package of stuffed pasta shells with egg and prosciutto] does say on the packaging ‘Keep Refrigerated’ (before cooking, I assume) but what it DOESN’T say is, ‘If you were drunk last night and left it on the kitchen counter because you forgot to put it in the fridge, don’t eat it because it will already have spoiled even if you cook it.’
- “Bonehead left his chinese food out… Pork fried rice. Hot and Sour soup (with beef). My kitchen is likely to hit the mid-to-high 80′s for several hours today. Has my lunch grown enough microbes to make me sick? Even after reheating?”

water
- “Should I filter my well water? [... It] leaves a blue tint in the tub and shower.”
- “omg I drank charcoal! my brita filter leaves little bits of charcoal in the filtered water. are these harmful in any way?”
- “I know the water is great in NYC, but after the city cleaned some pipes near me, the water has been coming out darker.”
- “Will using ice that melts and is then refrozen over a couple of weeks (thru a portable icemaker) make me sick?… Is there a risk of getting sick from some bacteria growth or legionnaires disease or something?”

drinks
- “I have an 8.45 ounce bottle of Sam Adams Triple Bock, ca. 1994… Safe to drink? Keep aging? Bury in a landfill?”
- “Assuming there are no signs of spoilage, is it safe to drink 10 year old grape juice that I canned myself?”
- “Is congealed milk solids the norm for glass-bottle milk?”
- “What are the metallic looking spots that float on top of my iced tea?”
- “I made a jug of iced tea from juice crystals about 2 weeks ago and it has been sitting in the fridge (uncovered, if that matters) ever since. Is it safe to drink?”

kitchen equipment
- “What has been indelibly burned into my skillet? Should I go to the emergency room now or should I save time and just start start organizing my affairs?”
- “Is it safe to clean the loose dirt off mushrooms using canned air?”

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2 thoughts on “Can I eat this, NaBloPoMo 2008 edition

  1. My Great Aunt found a can of guacamole in her pantry that was at least four YEARS past the expiration date. So she opened and tasted it. Like you do.
    As that was 25 years ago ans she is still alive and well, I guess it wasn’t lethal but it sure was disgusting. Then again, I have a super-sensitive nose so I worried the smell might kill me at 10 paces.

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