It’s that time again, everyone! Time for another round-up of “Can I eat this?” questions from Ask Metafilter. As always, excerpts retain original spelling and punctuation; any editing is noted in brackets.
[See more questions under the "Can I eat this?" tag.]
soups, stews, and savory simmers
I have four packets of Tasty Bites with an expiration date of July 30 (or in the case of the Trader Joe’s version, the even-more-vaguely-worded “End of July”)
I opened a store bought can of tomatoes and poured it into a pot of chili. Now that the chili’s simmering, the empty can smells like fish and I noticed a dent at the bottom near the seam.
I ran out of tomato paste and used an old can of tomato sauce. Just added a tablespoon or so and poured the rest out in the sink. It’s then that I noticed that the expiration on the tomato sauce was two years ago.
I made a pilaf with young hen-of-the-woods/maitake mushrooms on Monday night. It was delicious. This morning I nuked some leftovers for breakfast (it’s been refrigerated for the past 36 hrs), and the mushroom pieces are now shockingly bitter. What happened?
Asking for my sister: “Accidentally left the fridge door a crack open last night. Inside was a pound of ground lamb. When discovered this morning, a thermometer registered the meat at 50 degrees. Is the meat ruined, or still within temperature limits?”
Dish of fully cooked kosher chicken parts in barbecue sauce left on kitchen counter uncovered overnight (approx 12-14 hours). The apartment isn’t air conditioned, but it stays reasonably cool, so I don’t think internal apartment temp got up to the 80-some degrees the outside sdid last night.
The belly’s been sitting in the fridge for the past week. It smells fine. It feels firm. I am prepared to hot smoke it tomorrow, and now I’m panicking because of a bunch of smoker/BBQ posts I’ve read that say I’m dooming myself and my family to botulism. Am I?
Is it ok to mail a jar of “bacon jam? that I made? [...] the recipe says to refrigerate, but is it ok to spend a few days in transit to Hawaii? It’s cooked bacon with a healthy dose of vinegar in the recipe – would it go bad before it got there?
Have I ruined my 7 lb turkey by leaving it uncovered at room temperature for 12 hours?
Organic ground beef, purchased at Trader Joe’s on Friday and opened Friday evening. [...] It’s turned brown in the meantime, not surprisingly. More concerning, the meat has an odd smell to it. Not a routine bad-meat smell, but smells sort of like vinegar.
Help needed on my first tenderloin. My apples touched my pork! Now what?
Can I Eat This Filter – Christmas Breakfast Emergency Edition: Last night I made a breakfast casserole that was supposed to cook overnight in the crock pot. I set it on low but forgot to plug it in. There’s a dozen eggs in it. If I cook it this morning, will it poison us all?
I have been soaking cod outside the fridge (my first mistake?) for a little over 4 days now. Are we going to get sick if I cook it?
The jar was opened 7 days ago and has been in the fridge since. The ingredients are octopus, canola oil, vinegar, spices and salt. It says “No preservatives. Keep refridgerated” and the expiry date is in July 2013. Does the vinegar mean it’s pickled and good for an extended period? Would I just know by tasting one?
The brined, rinsed smelts sat out for about ninety minutes – maybe as long as two hours – in a room that was about seventy degrees. I finished step two, but now I am afraid to eat them. I thought due to the brining it might be OK. Can I eat it?
I’m trying to find technical information on why refreezing seafood is bad. [...] Bonus points if anyone can also point me to something that explains the problem with long term freezer storage of shellfish, again, specifically what nutrients break down and how.
My husband ate a small jar of opened caviar that has been in the fridge an undetermined amount of time (longer than several months).
Do I have to throw out fish stew left overnight by mistake?
I bought some fresh yellow sweet corn about a week ago, shucked it and stored it in a plastic bag in my fridge. Tonight I boiled it for supper and when it came out of the pot, several kernels on each ear had turned brown. Some are light brown, some are a bit darker and some are nearly black. The corn looked and smelled fine when I put in the pot. Why did this happen? Is it safe to eat?
A friend of mine recently brought back a bag of crushed red pepper from her home city in China. I had the idea of trying to plant some of the seeds in my plot at a local community garden and seeing if they’d grow. My concern is whether this would be safe and legal to do.
Last night, around 9:00 pm, I sliced up some yellow and red onions, threw them in a crockpot with a stick of butter, set them on low (timer set to 8 hours) and went to bed. (this a faux-carmelizing technique I’ve done before). Bad dreams about the onions and leaving a crockpot going overnight. [...] They were not refrigerated overnight. They sat in a warm crockpot with butter all night. They smell delicious. Is it safe to serve them to guests tonight?
The contender: a pouch Farmhouse Culture Smoked Jalepeno Sauerkraut, left out overnight on its side. Package says “keep bag upright” and “perishable, please keep refrigerated,” but it’s still cool to the touch.
Do I have to wash the inside of my romaine lettuce?
A naive shopper sent to the Chinese market to buy dried tofu ended up with something labeled as dried tofu but it is not really dry and it is long and skinny. It smells a bit funny even in the packaging.
grains, pasta, legumes
I found a few boxes of steel cut oats in the pantry that I’d completely forgotten about. They expired in February 2013. Are they safe to eat or should I toss them?
How would you handle finding a worm in your pasta, especially given that I can’t be sure if it came from the sauce or noodles? Also, any idea on what type of worm this might be so I can research it more and figure out if it’s invasive or not? I threw the worm, the jar of sauce, and box of noodles away so far.
I have a bag of “black rice” and after six weeks or so the black color has flaked off the outside of the rice grains.
I have a recipe for cold beans soaked in oil and vinegar that I make all the time. Could I can these beans, so that I don’t have to prepare them every day?
I use this product in my smoothies that I eat quite often. How concerned should I be about aflatoxin?
Is eating peanut shells on a regular basis a bad idea?
Does old peanut butter make these delicious cookies … OF DOOM?
cheese and dairy
I bought some goat, gruyere, fontina, blue, and fancy cheddar cheeses from a gourmet cheese shop last night and left it in my car overnight (it only gets down to about 70 degrees — if that — at night where I live). Can I still eat it?
My SO and I were having some italian-themed chicken wings, and had some fresh-grated parmesan cheese on the side in a copper bowl. After our meal, we were cleaning up and transferring the leftovers to the fridge for storage, and the cheese on the bottom of the bowl had turned a light blue.
We’re hitting -25C here for the next few days, so I thought I’d indulge in an experiment — putting 2.5L of cheap kit Shiraz into a food-safe container with a loose-fitting lid outside and fishing the ice out at the end of every day. What should I expect? When should I stop?
I bought three bottles of Veuve Clicquot. They are thank you gifts after a big project. One bottle went into the fridge to be shared out in person. The other two I left in a room to be sent home with two different individuals. The room was then sealed off for 8 off the hottest days of the year with no open windows or a/c. Oops. Have I ruined them?
Is this green film at the bottom of my Keurig water tank going to kill me?
I would like to serve my guests bread prepared with fermented wild yeast (wild wheat yeast+spring water, fermented). Are there any safety concerns I should be aware of? My guests include older people, people taking medicines, children and nursing mothers.
I have a large bathroom/shower room. It is a Japanese bathroom where the whole room gets wet and has a drain in the middle. I am looking for edible plants that like that type of wet/humid/warm environment. The room has a large northerly facing window but does not get any direct light. Maybe some kind of tropical fruit?
Another one of metafilter’s favorite topics. Fridge left open since 7am (CDT) this morning. Just discovered 20 minutes ago, so approximately 5 hours ago. It was only left open a crack because one of the drawers was part way open. Is everything a totally loss? Some things are still cool to the touch.
Unfortunately, we just took a trip to the grocery store last night, so our frig is full. Most with yogurt, fruits, veggies, milk, and condiments. My partner and I accidentally left our compact frig open an inch or so, and I’m wondering about whether the food within is still okay to eat?
My power has been out for almost 48 hours. I’m assuming all processed foods in the fridge have to be thrown out, but I hesitate with a couple items because they feel somewhat cold through the plastic, look fine, and haven’t been opened.
Either my fridge is dying or I’ve forgotten how to shut the door properly. Twice in the last two or three days I’ve opened the fridge to a whiffy smell and a noticeable lack of cold.
can I juice this?
Is anyone here in the hive aware of there being an affordable home testing kit for pesticides/toxicity? Something that will allow me to see what I may be consuming. My other question is if I am juicing this quantity am I putting my self at greater risk of poisoning?
can I spit this?
I accidentally left an unopened plastic bottle of mouthwash in my car for 3 weeks in high temperatures. Is it still safe to use?
can I spoon this?
Can I use found wood to make spoons for cooking? How can I know whether it is food safe or not?
can I stone this?
Did I just ruin my pizza stone? I washed it in water and was then told that was a big no-no…so how bad is it and is there a way to recover from it?
can I sink this?
Is bathroom sink water any different than kitchen sink water? I have a sink in my room now, so I’ve been drinking out of that faucet.. but before, I’ve always felt a little skittish (maybe based on cultural norms).
can I can opener this
The can of soup hissed at me so I tossed it. Can the can opener be saved?
and finally, can I brew this spew?
My dog ate nearly a pound of coffee beans. The vet gave him some drugs to get him to vomit them up. (He’ll be fine.) The beans came up largely whole/intact, and they… bagged them up for us. If we were to rinse the beans, grind, and brew them, what’s the worst that happens?