In the holiday between Christmas and New Year the stillness of short dreary days is punctuated with bracing walks and meals. Perhaps its more accurate to say that this is the time to run down the contents of the freezer and eat the left over Brussel Sprouts between strolls. At what point though, are leftovers beyond consumption?
I usually palm off my leftovers on the Right Hand Neighbours. They aren’t squeamish but this year, they’ve declined. Could they be approaching their sell by date or have I approached mine?
The sell by date seems to be fast on the way to expiring. The notion of “best before” is under threat as mountains of perfectly good food ends up in the bin. This is where I like to think I’m ahead of the curve. Only in my late twenties did I realise that “best before” dates on jars or tins existed. Since they are invisible to me I ignore them. I applied common sense in the form of the sniff test. If it smelt OK and it tasted OK, then it probably was OK.
The BF did not share my world view on expiry dates. In 1997 she went through my cupboards and threw out a perfectly good jar of Worcester sauce which declared itself best before November 1986. Since the premise of Worcester sauce is that it is rotten in the first place, I suggest that this bottle was well on it’s way to Christies. The BF has never made recompense for her actions although she has come round to my way of thinking, which is that if it’s growing penicillin its for the bin, but otherwise you’ll probably get another serving out of it.
Herbs and spices are exempt from this rule. They simply turn to dust. You may as well hang on to them. You’ve got nothing to lose.
The Christmas pudding that didn’t get eaten this year has been in my cupboard for years. It’s now in the fridge and will be served up to resistant friends for weeks to come. There are tins of sardines in the larder that have been there before the Son left home. Only opening them will reveal whether or not they may prove terminal. The Best before date has long since passed.
Generally speaking, anything that comes wrapped in plastic which has ballooned to bursting point probably deserves determined inhalation before tasting. I don’t worry about spores. That generally comes after its begun to stink. Its that whiff of “offness” I’m looking for.
One proviso is worth a mention. If you, (that is I who cannot see these things), happen to serve strawberries nestling in a coat of mouldy fur, someone is bound to mention it. Be prepared for criticism. I can evidence this.
Anything that comes unwrapped can probably be turned into soup once it’s past its best. I plan to apply this approach to myself. Once I am past my own sell by date, I can be turned into soup in the hope of providing a nourishing aid to the vegetables that feeds the nation. Woe betide anyone who does not apply the rules of blind food management and doesn’t ignore the “best before” date on the broccoli that I will grow when I’m soup. It won’t be an upset stomach, that comes back to haunt you.
When it comes to food waste, the blind amongst us have led the way. While the sighted majority have worried that “best before” dates are yet another way in which we cannot safely manage life, we know they are talking nonsense. Being blind to the “best before” date, and applying blind sense is where the future lies.