When Does Food Expire?

David Trammel's picture

While the push to have several weeks or more of food in your kitchen due to this crisis, its time to talk about when and if some of those purchases will go bad before you have a chance to eat them.

(Those of us who have a "deep pantry" of several months or more of food, for emergencies, have a better idea on this.)

The NY Times has a pretty good article (though maybe behind the paywall) on this

The Food Expiration Dates You Should Actually Follow

Most expiration dates on cans and packages are not there to tell you when the food can't be eaten, but to say when it loses its "peak" flavor. Most things can be eaten well past that date, as long as there is no obvious signs of spoilage. Practice sensible rotation, eating the oldest first.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Apparently in the case of Mountainmoma's garden rabbits shortly prior to consumption. ;-)

I saw that NY Times article and they were right. In my experience, most stuff lasts far longer than the label says, as long as it's stored correctly.

Cool, dry, airy, in the dark makes everything last longer.
Tight seals to ward off insects. Everything repackaged in plastic or glass jars for similar reasons.
Traps, traps, and more traps for the mice AND a good mouser.
A freezer can help control pantry moths: freeze EVERYTHING for a few weeks to kill those critter's eggs. This is especially true for flour and other grains products.

Those dates are to encourage you to throw out perfectly good food and buy new.

They're also there because the industrial-agricultural food complex doesn't know if you're going to store that box of hamburger helper (excellent training for complete novices and almost fool-proof) in the trunk of your car or in your vermin-infested toolshed.

I use those dates as part of my own rotation system of first in/first out. The oldest stuff, closest to expiration, gets used first.

Blueberry's picture

Wheat oats field corn as a whole grain in a number 10 can with a oxy pack 25+ years. If stored above freezing and below 80F (26C).