Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Old food

I don't pay much attention to advice about how long to keep food before throwing it away. If it still tastes ok, I say it's ok to eat. I don't take drugs or smoke, I don't drive fast, and I have no dangerous hobbies, so I figure if I eat some really old food once in a while I can live on the edge a little. Here are some treasures from the pantry, fridge, and freezer.

Rosewater, approximately five years old. Why did I buy it in the first place? Don't remember.

Sourdough starter, been in the back of the fridge untouched for about six months, and before that was being used and fed regularly for about six months. As long as the liquid part doesn't turn pink and smell acrid, there are still good microorganisms in there waiting to leaven bread. Hang in there little fellas, I'm coming for you soon.

Sichuan peppercorns, sometimes hard to find, about three years old. Is there another food that pleasantly numbs the tongue?

Orange peels I dried myself two years ago, approximately, to use in stir-fry dishes. Still use some now and then. Don't waste your orange peels--they keep great in a tightly sealed jar.

Kaffir lime leaves from the freezer. No idea how old, but probably two or three years. I'll admit they no longer look very healthy, but they're still mighty fragrant. I'll also admit I don't recall ever using them. But one of these days I might make a Thai soup and I'll be glad I didn't dump my kaffir lime leaves.

This jar of curry paste is half empty and it's been in our fridge for about five years. But it's older than that--some friends gave it to us when they moved away and we don't know how long it sat in their fridge before migrating to ours. Still makes a mean curry. I like it with okra and tomatoes.

Finally, this is the end piece of a fruitcake I made last November. It's an annual tradition now, though we don't celebrate Christmas, to make fruitcakes around the holiday season and give them to friends and family. I use a Fanny Farmer Baking Book recipe and it's chock full of delicious dried fruits, nuts, and spices, with just enough cake to hold it all together and a lot of brandy to keep it well preserved. It sat in our pantry all summer long and I unwrapped it this evening to see if it still might be edible. I feared it would look frightening and smell putrid, but I wasn't about to throw it away before taking a peek.

I was pleased to see that there were several layers of plastic wrap under the foil.

And when I peeled them back, the boozy fruitcake aroma that I love wafted up. I'm going to eat some of this almost year-old fruitcake later tonight, and I plan to live to tell the tale.

UPDATE: The fruitcake was delicious. I ate a slice of it toasted and buttered just now, at 11:34 pm, and if I didn't know that it was baked way back in 2004 I would never have guessed it.


Blogger Sebastián J. Echeverría said...

El único MZN soy yo...

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:34 PM  
Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Very interesting post. Once in a while I find something rather strange lurking in my fridge or freezer too, although I am rather a compulsive de-clutterer. But a few things get past me.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently helped my friend clean up the fridge in our office the other day. She opened packets/jars/containers and I sniffed the contents and decided their fate. Now how did I end up the sniffer?! :-P

When I first moved out of home my housemate and I forgot about a half-empty box of custard powder in the back of the cupboard. When we found it, it had weevils living it up in the powder. It was gross but fascinating to watch them jumping around in it.

4:41 AM  

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