Can I eat this?

We’re overdue for a round-up of Can I Eat This? questions from Ask Metafilter. (As always, there are more questions linked under the “Can I eat this?” tag.)

Brace yourselves, folks.

the chicken or the egg

– I thawed a chicken in the refrigerator and it leaked uncooked chicken juice all over the shelf. The cardboard egg carton full of eggs that was also on the shelf is now fully saturated with raw chicken juice.

– Unintentionally left a pot of hardboiled eggs in ice water for six hours. Toss out, or save?

– I already am halfway on a double batch of chocolate chip cookies (in other words, there’s a whole bunch of butter and sugar already at stake). I added in an egg without looking at it and the egg white is universally pinkish reddish, still transparent, but definitely strange looking.

– We bought a rotisserie chicken from a grocery story this afternoon, and upon returning home, stuck it directly in the fridge […] It dawned on me that it may have been a bad idea when I pulled it out to start cutting it up and realized that it most certainly wasn’t cold.

– I bought a hot rotisserie chicken from the deli section at the local health food store today. I took it apart and packed the light and dark meat and some of the skin into glass mason jars. I am storing these jars in my fridge. How long can I expect them to last?

– Shooting for the weirdest food question of the year — how do I get the smell of varsol out of a chicken?

– I moved a frozen whole chicken from the freezer to the fridge on Saturday morning. It’s Tuesday — can I cook it for dinner, or do I need to chuck it?

– Should I eat this? #1,298: boneless/skinless chicken thighs, marinating 24 hours in the fridge. By the time I’m able to cook the thighs I put in the fridge last night, 24 hours will have passed. (I had planned to cook them later last night but I forgot!) Besides being very salty, would they be safe to eat?

– I purchased a two-pack of turkey soup. The soup is vacuum sealed in an airless plastic pouch. I accidentally left one unopened pouch out of the refrigerator for 12 hours in 70+ degree house. Still good?

pork pork pork

– Can I eat this bacon? I’m concerned about the black specks in the fat. Safe or not, what is it?

– Pre-cooked smoked sausages, sold vacuum-sealed in plastic. The sell-by date is not until November. The catch is, I opened the sealed package maybe two weeks ago, and put the rest of the sausages back in the fridge unsealed. Food or poison?

– I have been given a whole ham with no label, description, or instructions. […] Is it fair to assume that if I wash/scrub it well then heat it to an internal temp of 165 degrees that it’ll be reasonably safe to eat? Or should I just not risk it and just toss it out?

– I took ribs that were in the freezer out last Sunday and moved them to the fridge. They are vacuum packed and haven’t been opened. I’d like to rub them today and bake them tomorrow.

– I smoked a 13 lb pork shoulder all day Thursday. It turned out beautifully. We had substantial leftovers, which were refrigerated. Last night, the remaining meat, still on the bone, was left overnight in the (turned-off) oven, where we often store meat to keep our two large dogs from it.

– People who often eat meat filter: Did I just eat a raw sausage?

– Will I regret having eaten expired canadian bacon? What’s the worst thing that could happen? I think I’m experiencing phantom food poisoning symptoms, help!

– I meant to make MaPo tofu but didn’t, and now have 1/2 pound of ground pork in the fridge. It looks and smells fine, but given that I had previously frozen it before its 3 day stay in the fridge, I’m not going to eat it. Is it safe to cook it up, refrigerate it, and give to my dog a little at a time?

– I bought some serrano ham last night for a party and of course it was so good that I ate a few slices …just to try it out. Then I was super tired and forgot that I left it out.

chorizo, soyrizo

– I have some chorizo (the mexican variety, olé brand, if it matters), that I opened maybe two, three months ago. The chorizo is stored in individually wrapped sausage shaped holders. The sell by date on the package is June 16, as in next month. When I broke open one of the wrappers, the chorizo still smells divine inside.

– About 5 days ago, I left accidentally left packaged soyrizo from Trader Joe’s out overnight. It’s been in the fridge since, and I thought I’d poll the hivemind to see if my instinct that it’s totally fine to eat sounds correct.

meats, various

– I just discovered a bag on the counter. 2 packages of boneless beef short ribs, 1 package of thigh-leg chicken parts, 1 envelope of bacon. It’s been 2 hours.

– Tonight I took a pound of ground beef out of the freezer and put it straight into a bowl of slightly colder than room temperature water on the counter to defrost for an hour. It defrosted on the counter for an hour. Then I decided I wasn’t hungry and put it into the fridge in the still sealed package. Will it be safe to cook tomorrow night?

– I bought 2 tubs of salt beef (aka navel beef, beef in brine, etc.) to make Jigg’s dinner after a recent trip to Newfoundland (b’y!). I opened the tub and the blood is all brown and so is the meat. I recall seeing the meat and blood coming out really pink before. Did it go off? I threw it out anyways, but if the second one looks the same, maybe it’s supposed to be that way?

– My local supermarket’s best steaks are hung for 21 days apparently, and are red and fresh. However, when I used some the other day, and put some uncooked leftover back in the fridge, it went brown and started rotting within a couple of days.

Week old beef broth, kept in the refrigerator. Safe to use? I’m making a slow cooker recipe with it.

SEAFOOD!

– The fish I bought at the grocery store yesterday came out of the fridge with inflated plastic wrap. I don’t think the air pressure dropped considerably since yesterday. Is it safe to eat?

– Can I eat this? Pre-cooked frozen jumbo shrimp left in my bag at room temperature for 3-4 hours, then thrown back in the freezer last night. When I put them back in the freezer, they were still very cold to the touch.

– She made pasta with scallops and broccoli soup with (week-old) sour cream. […] She got extremely ill in the middle of the night – I was completely fine. We’re going to throw out the sour cream, but would you eat the pasta with scallops? It’s SO good and we have several servings left.

– My roommate made fishcakes last night (around 7 pm, 23 hours ago), and a tray of them was left in the over overnight.

– Central Texas heat: Canned sardines — okay in the glove box of my pickup or will they go south or explode or ???

dairy

– I often eat mini Babybel cheese – the kind that come in a little wax package. Today I opened one, and didn’t realize until after a bite and a half (most was spit out) that there was something brown on the bottom that I hadn’t seen.

– I forgot to put some mozzarella in the fridge after I got home from the grocery store. […] It stayed out on the counter for about 18 hours, then went into the fridge, where it’s been for the past couple of days.

– Sour Milk, Soured Milk, and Spoiled Milk. Is there an effective chemical difference?

pasta, pizza, grains

– I made baked orzo with veggies and cheese yesterday morning, thinking I had lunches covered for the next couple of days. […] The power was out for about 10-11 hours, and no one was home to open the fridge for most of that time. Please tell me it’s okay to eat?

– We left a frozen pizza in the trunk of the car (Amy’s pesto pizza, no meat) for about 2 hours (with an outside temperature of 85 or so degrees) and in the backseat of the car for maybe 30 minutes (never directly in the sun). The pizza is now back in the freezer (we didn’t open it up to check how much it had thawed).

– I have a package of quinoa from Trader Joe’s with an expiration date of 3/2011. I’ve decided I’m going to try cooking with it as long as it’s not rancid. I’ve never cooked or eaten quinoa before though so how do I know if it has gone rancid?

lettuce

– While washing lettuce (from an organic CSA), I found a fluffy feather. I am 100% fine with finding bugs in my lettuce — it happens most of the time — but the feather has me a little unsettled, as it seems a more likely vector for nasties. Is it safe to eat?

– Farmer’s market lettuce left in a hot car for (up to) a few hours – is it safe to eat?

beans

– I noticed tiny white sprouts coming out of some of the lentils after I cooked them fully (they’re clearly sprouts, not anything else), but the lentils looked normal before I cooked them. I didn’t soak at all. I was hungry, so I ate half a bowl (making this perhaps a redundant ShoudlIEatThis post), but are we cool?

– So I made split pea and pesto with pork soup two nights ago and I made too much. It also sat on low for a bit too long and is now a thick green paste. What do I do with it? Is it still safe to eat? Can i do anything to it besides adding water and making more soup? How best can I use these leftovers?

– Yes, I’m a little ashamed. Yes, it’s a can-we-eat-this question. This time: vegetarian chili left in a slow cooker. New-ish slow cooker, so we thought it would stay on “warm” indefinitely. Instead, it turned off at noon and I didn’t notice until I got home at 6:00.

– I shouldn’t have eaten it filter: I ate a couple of handfuls of raw soybeans. Afterwards, I googled for things to do with raw soybeans. That’s when I learned that you really should not eat raw soybeans. Am I in any danger?

jalepeños

– I typically only use a few of these at a time. Unfortunately I can only find 26oz cans locally, so the unused jalapenos and their pickling juice go into a covered glass jar in the fridge. How long should these last?

– Can I eat peppers that have been gnawed by squirrels, or will I die of rabies?

– I am planning on making jars of pickled jalapenos to give as gifts to people for xmas. But I realize my method may not be safe.

roots

– Are second year parsnips good/safe to eat? […] Are they okay to eat after they’ve flowered? Are they better now that they are a year old?

– Should-I-Eat-ThisFilter, gardening edition: while cleaning my garden after months of neglect, I found a ton of gorgeous fingerling potatoes. The bad part: they’ve been in hot soil all summer. I didn’t even know they were there.

– I baked a potato (skin rubbed with olive oil and kosher salt before cooking), and stupidly left it in a cold oven for a few days. Looks ok (kind of shriveled, but not bad). Is it safe to reheat and eat?

– I cooked some near-rotten potatoes and they offered a flavour far surpassing other potatoes. I long to taste it again.

– (Can I eat this? Filter) I had a bag of frozen potato pieces which was moved from the freezer to the fridge 3 days ago. It hasn’t been opened yet. Are the (now thawed) pieces safe to bake and eat? Actually, I have ALREADY EATEN THEM.

fungus

– Today I bought a tray of shiitake mushrooms from a Korean market. They look nice, but when I got them home I realized they smelled strong, very pungent. Not quite unpleasant – somewhere between funky cheese, stale beer, and old onions.

– I have a dessicated black truffle from last October or November stored in arborio rice in the fridge (sealed glass jar.) I forgot it was in there! Risotto with the perfumed rice is obvious. What can I do with dessicated black truffle?

backyard fruit

What is this fruit-bearing bush in the yard of my new house, and can I eat the fruit on it (when it ripens)?

– This apple tree (or what we think is an apple tree) is growing in my girlfriend’s yard. […] Can anyone identify this kind of apple tree? It doesn’t look like crabapples to my inexperienced eyes. More importantly, can we eat it? Will it kill us, or make us ill?

– Can I eat peaches from a tree that has some sort of leaf curl blight?

– Can I eat these nectarine-plum cross fruits from my back yard? […] But to someone used to commercial produce, they’re weird.

– ParanoidFilter: I chewed up a small orange berry in Ontario, Canada. It was very bitter and I still taste it about an hour later. Is there any chance it was dangerously poisonous?

– Container garden: Plastic storage bins… is the plastic safe for food?

macerated fruit

– The pan of delicious smelling mincemeat is currently cooling in a large pot on top of my stove. I just noticed that the recipe says “remove from the heat, leave to cool, pack in sterile jars. Will store one month in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.” Well, I don’t own any glass jars, just tupperware.

– A bag of sultanas at room temperature: fine. A bottle of rum at room temperature: fine. The mixture, marinating with pthalates and plasticides and whatever?

– So I have some bags of cranberries in the freezer… that have been there since last year. Can I use them in making cranberry sauce without courting death or intestinal discomfort?

– I’ve made some delicious red currant syrup (currants+sugar), but I left it too long in the fridge and it fermented. What can I do with it? Vinegar? Wine?

– I was going through my liquor cabinet, and came upon an old bottle of cherries in bourbon. I know they’re at least two years old […] I wouldn’t normally hesitate with alcohol soaked items, but the cherries are a unpleasant brown-gray color. Additionally, when I was researching making brandied peaches, all the recipes stated that they should be kept in the fridge unless canned.

drinks

– Silly question but, is it ok to drink green tea I brewed yesterday and left in the fridge overnight? It’s kinda weird – dark and bitter.

– I drank some coconut water that has been left out for a long time. Probably weeks. Should I be worried?

– Homemade fruit rum safe to drink after 1.5 years? […] Obviously we would toss the berries (which are looking pretty gross), but I’d love to taste it and see if it’s any good.

– What is going to happen to this fermenting apple cider while I’m out of town?

– Chum-Churum (19.5% alcohol made from sweet potato with added sugar and hfcs). Open, unrefrigerated bottle for 24 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated. Safe to drink? I’m saying it’s totally fine. My friend has grave doubts.

– So I’ve had some vodka and sprite this evening and I’d like to drink more, but all I have left is a can of Pina Colada “Joose” (12% alcohol) and a can of Jeremiah Weed “Lightning Lemonade” (5.8% alcohol) that I probably bought around June, and three cans of Bud Light Clamato Chelada, which I probably bought around May.

– Just opened a new bottle of Godiva white chocolate liquer and it came out of the bottle in lumps. Anyone know if it can curdle?

desserts

– My buddy at work Jake is visiting his family in Portland, OR, and has promised to mail me couple of bacon maple bars from Voodoo Donuts. Pips says that after going through the US Mail they won’t be safe to eat. I say they’ll be fine.

– I made white chocolate chip cookies with almonds. These are the first cookies I’ve made in years and they taste really good, apart from this side effect. After the first cookie, the inside of my mouth and teeth felt kind of rough, as if it were very dry (it wasn’t, and the cookies were nice and soft, too).

– Mr. Blues (!) and I got married on Sunday. After all the festivities were concluded, the caterer presented us with the top layer of the cake in a standard cardboard pastry box. We were kind of exhausted and didn’t think to ask the hotel to refrigerate it. The next day we spent the day hiking and sightseeing, and then drove home, arriving around 2 am- a total of roughly 36 hours unrefrigerated.

miscellaneous

– Can Apple Cider Vinegar or any vinegar, go bad with time so you can’t use it as food?

– Should I Eat It: Battle Lime Juice! I left the lime juice out overnight and just noticed it. It’s pretty hot today, around 85ºF inside. The bottle says “refrigerate after opening”. Verdict?

– My boyfriend and I broke up about two weeks ago. […] Anyway, I kept a bottle of Log Cabin pancake syrup for when we’d make pancakes for breakfast during his weekend visits (this is not a euphemism). […] Part of me is saying. “But what if someday we get back together and he wants pancakes and I’ve thrown away perfectly good Log Cabin syrup???” The other part of me says, “omg, throw it away, psycho.”

– Is coconut oil safe to cook with? Literally. [..] I’m talking about literally cooking with coconut oil. Is it safe, or am I just not properly cooking with it? Whenever I lightly fry meat (salmon, or bison usually) in coconut oil, there are is a large quantity of oil droplet shrapnel discharging from the pan.

equipment

– Are there unpleasant compounds in plastic (specifically Britta filters) that are soluble in pure ethanol that I don’t want to drink?

– The Mister cleaned an aluminum Bialetti Mukka Express espresso maker with bleach and the inside of the bottom section turned black. Is it still safe to use?

– Rookie Mistakes with New Cookware Filter: I was so excited to use my shiny new enamel Le Creuset oven pan that I forgot to wash it before using it to roast some vegetables. Aside from probably getting some warehouse dust in my food, is this in any way dangerous / unsafe?

– My pressure cooker used to gradually build up to high hiss. Now it’s silent for a long time and then pops to high hiss. Do I need a new pressure cooker?

– Stupidly used a huge and expensive stainless steel stockpot to do some home fabric dyeing with a cheap powder dye […] After finishing I saw both that the pot was stained and that the dye packet said “DO NOT USE POT FOR FOOD.”

6 thoughts on “Can I eat this?

  1. It’s funny how different people have such wildly different responses to these Can I Eat This? questions. The squirrel question doesn’t even ping my ick-meter, but the Christmas jalepeños question dropped my jaw. I don’t even know if that method is dangerous, but I’m all “YIKES, CASUAL CANNING!”

  2. In a day of chaos I left frozen turkey breast I sliced off the thanksgiving bird (I put the left overs wrapped into the freezer within 2 hrs. After it was cool) in the microwave over night?
    About 12 hrs ago and just remembered I never turned it on to defrost?! With family here I got side tracked and the frozen turkey sat in a large measuring cup to thaw on its own. It was already cooked but I wonder?

  3. I looked high and low for info on whether I could eat an expired fully sealed jarred brined truffle mushroom. Its never been opened, sitting happily in brine, and it says on the jar that it expired 7 months ago….I really want to eat it but don’t want it to be the last truffle I eat. Is it okay? Should I do a sniff test?

    • You may have noticed that I collect Can I eat this? questions from Ask Metafilter; I’m not a food safety authority and I don’t give specific food safety advice. You might see if the FDA has an answer for you.

      That said: generally, expiration dates for still-sealed shelf-stable canned or jarred foods are intended as best-by dates rather than dates of spoilage. A commercially jarred food can be safe to consume past its best-by date—but even if it’s perfectly safe, once a food is past its usage date, the decline in quality can be unpleasant.

      • Thank you Elsa…I’ll check the FDA’s advice, and see what happens. I appreciate your expertise, and love this resource/blog 🙂

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