Can I Eat This, January 2009

For the first time this year, I bring you Can I Eat This, a catalogue of almost entirely revolting, occasionally reassuring, oftentimes hilarious questions regarding food safety, from the users of Ask Metafilter. The following are quotes from actual user’s questions.

– “Can I keep re-using the same cooking liquid over and over forever and ever amen?”
– “How do I tell whether beef or chicken stock/broth, that has been refrigerated, has gone yucky?”

the ever-popular poultry
– “Turkey brining fiasco – Is my turkey that has been sitting in cold tap water for the past 18 hours still good to cook?”
– “I bought a Value Pack of chicken thighs at Safeway, like the frugal shopper I am… and then promptly left them on the kitchen counter for 3 hours, like the absent-minded bumbler I am.”
– “Can I cook a chicken with the giblet bag in?

the car is not a refrigerator
– The other day I bought a package of a popular brand of vegetarian breakfast link ‘sausage.’ I bought it in the late morning and I forgot it in the cab of my truck for about seven hours on a day that saw temperatures reach the mid-60s.”
– “I got a fully cooked ham from my employer, put it out in my car trunk during the day, and forgot about it when I got home. Over the next few days, I didn’t remember it at all.”

condiments, spices, & accoutrements
– “What’s wrong with my Szechuan peppercorns?
– “Will an infused oil I make today, still be edible come Christmas?
– “Can mold grow on food packed in oil?
– “How long do condiment packets last? Recently I have opened duck sauce packets that had thickened to silly putty consistency and ketchup that had turned almost black. Also, are they dangerous to eat, or just gross?

an emergency!
– “Emergency should-I-Eat-This! Burger King Apple Fries showing discoloration.

– “I found a bug in my pistachio. 😦

boozy bread
– “Did I just make alcoholic bread? Can I eat it?”

dried sausage
– “If I have a big piece of dry summer sausage that’s developed mould, do I have to throw it away?”

thermos safety
– “Is it OK to keep tea+milk in a thermos for 24 hours before drinking?”

– “There is some absolutely delicious palak paneer that I had been saving for today because I didn’t finish it at the restaurant last night. When I got home from the restaurant I put it in the refrigerator with the intention of taking it to work this morning. I took it out of the refrigerator this morning and left it in the vicinity of the front door, but I forgot about it. So the question is, can I eat it when I get home?”

suspect fish and shellfish
– “Aw crap, I left some salmon out overnight. Is it still safe to eat?” (Elsa’s note: it’s worth directing you to this response, too, if only for a rare example of justified use of the usually grating and unnecessary blink tag.)
– “Should I eat it filter: Can of Bumblebee whole baby clams. Dumped them into my chowder only to notice that they looked a bit green.”
– “Bought a bag of frozen shrimp (cooked, tails on) on Saturday night. Husband defrosted about half of it by running it under water, then changed his mind and cooked something else for dinner. Shrimp has been in the refrigerator since (in sealed tupperware). Is it still OK to eat? Will it be OK tomorrow (i.e. 3 days since defrosting)? How about Wednesday?
– “I boiled about a half cup of quinoa with powdered vegetable broth yesterday at lunch time, then mixed in a can of tuna and two cans of salmon… Mixture was left unrefrigerated for ~20 hours… So, can I eat it?

warm mayo
– “I bought a sandwich from a deli 14 hours ago (ham salami cheese and mayo) and left it out unrefrigerated. Can I still eat it and not get sick?”

slow cooker, slow cleaning
– “For various reasons I’d rather not go into, none of them particularly good, the ceramic cooking portion of my Crock Pot was filled with soapy water and beef stew remains, but also various muck like laundry detergent and Comet. When I poured the mixture out, there was a slimy blue residue at the bottom. I used dish soap and rather hot water to clean out the nastycrap, and soaked and washed it like three more times, and now I’ve got some water in there cooking on the high setting to try to get it to boil.”

cat litter, mmm
– “Let me be clear here: I have no intention of actually eating cat litter. But! We recently switched to the laboriously named Swheat Scoop-brand cat litter (which works quite well), which appears to be made of nothing but dried, cracked wheat.
Could I, say, cook this stuff up in some hot milk or water, add a little butter and brown sugar, and enjoy a piping hot kitty-litter breakfast? If not, why not?”

poison mushroom? no — poison ivy!
– “One of my favorites. Chicken of the woods. It has both the taste and texture of chicken. On the way home I spotted it on the side of the road. I told my wife and then after her night class, she stopped and harvested it. When she brought it in I noticed bits of poison ivy poking out of it. Mostly stems but also a few leaves and berries. I’m sure this was poison ivy.”

3 thoughts on “Can I Eat This, January 2009

  1. Only slightly?
    While collecting the questions, I’m always surprised at my range of tolerance for food spoilage and pollutants. Some of these seem completely innocuous and shrug-worthy. (A bug in your pistachio? One pistachio? Yup, that’ll happen.)
    Others strike me through with vicarious panic. (You want to eat a wild mushroom that has bits of poison ivy imbedded in its mass?!?)

  2. In fact, it has the potential to make me very sick because I have one of those super sensitive noses, so were I confronted with any of these items in person, I’d be retching in the corner. Reading about them isn’t so bad.
    The mushroom/ivy thing actually made me say, “Oh, NO. No, no, no.” out loud when I read it.

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