[update: there’s a second April 2011 installment of Can I eat this? questions here, and don’t forget the archives!]
It’s been a loooooong time since my last round-up of Can I eat this? questions from Ask Metafilter. Let’s dive in:
nuts and grains
– Is a green foam on steel cut oats normal?
– “Should I eat this?”-filter. Left a jar of peanut butter open on my counter and went out of town for 5 days. The house usually stays pretty cool. Safe to eat?
– Should my freshly opened bag of Hammons Black Walnuts taste like bleu cheese? I ate several, am I going to to suffer or die?
– There’s a live moth living in a package of unopened, spinach. Should I cause a stink with the packing company?
– I bought a pumpkin a couple weeks before Halloween, and never did anything with it. Is it too late?
– Is my basil okay even if it’s now a different color?
– What kind of fruit or vegetable is this? And more important, can I eat it? […] They’re growing on the fence itself. They’re orange with red fleshy seeds like pomegranates or something. So are these things edible? Is that what the skunks are eating? And, on a related note, can I eat them as well?
– SO what’s this OTHER thing growing on my backyard tree. And more important, will I soon be able to eat it?
– I use a lot of Iceberg lettuce. And I usually don’t wash it if I’m making a sandwich. […] Am I doing a stupid thing by eating it without washing it first?
– Is my cauliflower still edible? It spent 2 nights in the trunk of the car, and probably froze and thawed twice. The cauliflower is now a rubber, water-saturated mass that stinks to high heaven. But it stills like cauliflower, just stronger – so it doesn’t exactly smell nasty.
– I roasted some butternut squash about a week ago, but haven’t yet used it. It’s been in the refrigerator the whole time. Think it’s safe to eat? How long might it last before it goes bad?
– A friend gave me some freshly picked porcini (boletus) mushrooms. Some of the bigger ones which looked fine on the outside, were almost hollow and full of bugs inside.
– I tried to microwave some asparagus and it started sparking. What is going on?
– Can I eat the grapes (?) that are growing on my building?
– When putting away our Christmas Groceries my husband overlooked putting the cheese in the fridge. A container of Parmesan shavings and two hunks of soft goat cheese were left out all night. Should we toss or keep?
– Should raw milk raclette smell like this? I bought a wedge of raw milk raclette tonight at Whole Foods. I have never tried a cheese I haven’t liked, but the internet suggests raclette has a pleasant smell, and it’s sweet/nutty/etc, whereas mine definitely has a strong sweaty sock smell.
– Someone ordered me a nice selection of Spanish cheeses for my birthday. It was shipped on Monday, according to the packing slip. It reached my office during business hours on Tuesday, but I was out that day and yesterday. The box sat there until today, when I brought it home. I opened it just now, and found 4 vacuum-packed cheeses in a little styrofoam cooler with a cold-pak — but everything was at room temperature. The box was labeled PERISHABLE. The cheeses themselves are labeled KEEP REFRIGERATED.
– Duck(?) laid an egg on my balcony. What do I do now? […] I don’t want to leave the egg out there without it being taken care of. I don’t know enough to tell if it’s fertilized, either – if it is, can I expect that the parent duck will come back to incubate it? Will the fact that I picked it up affect anything? Can I eat it?
– Can-I-Eat-This-Filter, Thanksgiving edition. Assembled an apple pie tonight, planned to bake it tomorrow morning, but accidentally put the egg white wash on the top crust tonight. If I keep it in the fridge all night and bake it tomorrow morning, it won’t kill anyone, right?
– Raw egg white shakes from my own chickens? Would I be safe or would I be playing Russion Roulette?
– What’s the 411 on home grown eggs? A guy at work has some chickens and is sharing the bounty. Don’t laugh, I was raised entirely on hamburger helper, microwaved chicken and green beans from a can. I am just venturing out into this strange world of ‘fresh’ food.
– Why shouldn’t I eat a goose from Central Park?
– I accidentally switched the oven off part way through roasting my chicken and left it off for 30-45 minutes. Can I put the oven back on again and end up with a safe-to-eat chicken?
– Food safety-filter. Was this cooked, frozen chicken breast mishandled, or am I giving in to my own hypersensitive food safety guidelines? […] My family thinks that because the chicken was precooked, it didn’t matter that it was left out for several hours in the heat, then placed back in the fridge, then to be cooked again tomorrow. I say that bacteria doesn’t care if chicken is raw or cooked.
– We have some raw bratwursts from a local co-op. They look good but the casing looks kind of papery; the best I can describe is like thin reddish-colored newspaper; it tears like paper, but it’s on the sausages tight. Do any bratwurst experts know what this might be? Does this have to be removed, and if so, at what stage?
– Food Safety Filter (sorry): Is this stew meat safe to eat? We just bought it today. Sell by date is October 6. Meat is deeply brown-red, with areas that are brown enough to look cooked already.
– Should I eat it? Seared beef cubes, put in crock pot, forgot to plug it in … Timeline: Yesterday afternoon: seared all sides of about 20 stew beef cuts and put in small crockpot with our usual flavorings (salt, pepper, oregano, cumin). Poured boiling hot water from frying pan into crockpot to cover. Forgot to plug in crockpot. This morning: 18 hours later (probably one or two hours less), remembered. Out of curiosity I plugged it in and went to work. This evening: It smells delicious.
– Newly pregnant, ate a small bite of prosciutto. I would like to finish it. Can I?
– Is it safe to eat meat that has thawed and been in room temperature for about 6 hours, and then refrigerated again?
– Being a former vegetarian, I’m unfamiliar with cooking beef. I wanted it thawed fast and don’t have a microwave, so I put it in a sink of HOT water. THen I started reading up online, and apparently hot water is a big no-no, can cause bacterial growth…
– [This one’s not a can-I-eat-it but a can-you-name-it.] Mystery Meat. My aunt gave me this meat a month ago. I can’t remember what she said it was. I vaguely remember the word “breakfast.” What kind of meat is it and how should I prepare it?
– Can I eat it, oyster edition: I left a jar of fresh yearling oysters at room temperature while I went snowboarding. I was gone for approximately 10 hours, and when I came home the temperature in the apartment was 66°F, but it was around 70°F when I left. The jar is labeled “Perishable” and “Refrigerate”, but the sell-by date is April 17th. I plan to season and cook them in some way tomorrow and use them as the filling for a French omelette. Will I die?
– [sushi at home] can i do it without poisoning myself?
– I defrosted farmer’s market catfish in the refrigerator 48 hours ago. It’s still sitting in the fridge now. You know what’s coming, don’t you? Is it safe to eat?
canned goods, condiments, seasonings
– Will I paralyze myself and everyone I know with these pickled beans?
– Should I add more liquid to my refrigerator pickles?
– Opening a can of tomato paste, the contents spewed out. Can I eat this? I actually tossed the first little can that did this, but the second did it, too. There was no bulging of the can ends. I can’t find a decipherable expiration date anywhere. I bought them recently.
– Paranoid filter: I ate one bite of a pumpkin butter that was given to me as a Christmas gift last December. Should I fear botulism?
– Is it OK to store my spices in a shipping container for 2 weeks?
spirits and wine
– Why is my homemade walnut vodka infusion FIZZING after its first night? Am I going to die?
– Wine Question: I’ve got a bottle of 2003 Radford Dale Gravity, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Is it still “good”?
– How long does champagne last? I received a corked/boxed/sealed bottle of 1996 Dom last January, and I’ve been saving it… I just don’t know how long it’s safe to keep.
– Is our bottle of Kahlua still good? We opened it four years ago (on St. Patrick’s Day, actually) and promptly forgot about it. It’s sat on a high shelf at a fairly constant temperature. It’s about 80 percent full. It still smells OK. Wasn’t going to taste it without input from the hive.
– There are some floating solids in my small bottle of Rhum. Is it still drinkable ? I received the complimentary bottle of Rhum in early 2010 from an Air France flight.
– I bought this bottle of rum at a flea market. It says Geseco bay rum on it. and at the bottom says the Goodman Chemical Co., Bush Terminal, Brooklyn NY. Is it worth anything? Is it safe to drink? Whats the history behind it?
– I have both unopened and opened bottles of liquor. Can you tell me if these are okay to serve or does this sort of thing expire? Should I toss them out?
– unopened bottle of vodka, several years old
– unopened bottle of red wine, a couple of years old
– opened bottles of whiskey and rum and gin and others. They were opened several years ago.
– [Can-I-eat-this-filter] I left a piece of chocolate in a plastic wrapping on a place where it got too hot. The chocolate in it melted completely, the plastic did not. However, another piece of plastic, lying beneath it, started to melt. The chocolate reached maybe 60-70 degrees celsius. Are there any harmful toxins which may have migrated into the chocolate at this temperature?
– Why did all my jam “fall” to the TOP of the jar? I got some store-bought jam, used it once, then put it in the fridge. The next time I went to use it (about 2 weeks later), all the jam was moved to the top of the jar, up against the lid, as though it had been stored upside down. At the bottom of the jar was an empty gap. What caused this?
– Three christmasses gone, my wife and I bought some fudge. I’ve just found it in the back of the cupboard — can I eat it? It’s basically just sugar, that never goes off, right?
– Wedding filter: An acquaintance and her husband recently sampled their anniversary cake (the one that spends the year after the wedding in the freezer). The groom got violently ill from the cake. Is there any mythology surrounding this tradition that will allow this possible omen to be interpreted correctly?
– Marital Discord filter: After a 30+ hour power outage I open the freezer and touch the ice cubes and discover the ice cubes are still completely frozen on top with no moisture. I declare all the items in the freezer safe to eat. Is this correct?
– Glass bottles that were in hot water with some dilute generic store brand WD-40, so they got some residue on them. I need to make them safe and clean for flavored vodkas for human consumption. Please help!
– A mouse may probably took a shit in my well-seasoned wok. How thoroughly must I clean it?
a new pet!
– There’s a fuzzy blob in my fridge! We named her Squishy Honey. What is she?
– I would like to know if other people commonly feel that food they have bought needs to be thrown out because it is somehow contaminated, or whether I’m actually too hyper about this. Often — more than once a week — I throw out food because something seems to be wrong with it.
– Several of my housemates will throw things out the moment they reach the ‘sell by’ date and it’s sort of been a running joke that I’m the one who’ll drink juice a month past it’s expiration date if it doesn’t taste bad or scrape mold off the top of jelly and eat the rest (I only did it because it was really really delicious homemade jelly). Recently, my bio-chem studying housemate took it up a notch by telling me that I’d only do something like that because I don’t understand the molecular-whatever-whatever of mold on food/ all the sightless, odorless bacteria lurking in my expired food.