How To Keep Your Food Items Fresh And Edible Even When They Have Supposedly ‘Expired’

The common understanding of the term "expiration date" is that it signals spoilt food items. While this isn't incorrect, experts say that that is a misconception and that the "best by" date doesn't indicate the time you should throw out a food item. Below, we have outlined different food items and how you can keep them safe for consumption even after the expiration date.

By Cookist

Food wastage is a far-reaching problem worldwide because of its tremendous repercussions on the global economy. If there's anything you can do to save food or alleviate this problem, we admonish that you do so.

Aside from that, there is the common pet peeve of discovering that a particular food item you have been saving for a special meal has expired. Worry not; experts say you may still be able to eat it!

First of all, take note of these few expert tips to keep your food fresher for longer:

  • Stop interpreting the "best by" dates to be the "throw out on this date." Experts say that unlike the common opinion, the "best by" date on packaged foods means that the food "may taste best before this date." However, if you do notice signs of spoilage or feel doubtful, dispose of the food.
  • Keep a close watch on the temperature in your storage room if you want to keep your food items fresh and long-lasting. Jackie E. Ogden, family, and consumer sciences agent at the University of Georgia Extension, says the appropriate temperature of a kitchen cabinet should be between 50 and 70 degrees.
  • For the fridge, make sure the temperature is 37 degrees and the freezer, zero or below.
  • Make sure to keep your foods in an airtight container when storing dry foods. This limits moisture and resulting bacteria growth.
  • Always label containers and bags with the date you wrapped and refrigerated or froze them.

Below is a compilation of everyday food items and how you can keep them fresh:

1.  Bread


Don't refrigerate baked goods as it quickens the spoilage process. Instead, freeze the bread wrapped in foil or a plastic wrap, and it will keep for three months.

2. Eggs


If you're planning to eat or cook with them within three to five weeks after purchase, the fridge is generally sufficient. However, if there are too many cartons to go through, freeze them using the appropriate methods. Frozen eggs can last for about a year.

3. Greens


The storage methods for vegetables varies. While there's very little that can be done to keep lettuce fresher for longer than a week, spinach can last up to ten months when frozen! Ogden says:

"You blanch it — plunge it into boiling water — to stop the enzymes that break it down, then cool it quickly to stop the cooking process, dry it thoroughly and then freeze it in an airtight container."

Other vegetables that can be stored this way include broccoli, cauliflower, corn kernels, or okra.

4. Bananas


Ripe bananas should be kept in the fridge as it helps slow the ripening process. Although the peels may darken, the fruit inside will remain fresh. Of your bananas are already overripe, peel and wrap them tightly and store in the freezer to use for baking or in smoothies.

5. Flour


Keep your flour free of bugs by keeping it in an airtight container and then refrigerating. Refrigerated flour can last up to two years. You can put the flour in the freezer for longer storage; they can literally keep forever in there!

6. Broth


Non-cream soup or sauce: Pour half-used cans of these in an airtight freezer container, leaving extra space at the top for expansion, and freeze it.

7. Pasta


If unopened, dried pasta can last about two years, even past its "best by" date. However, refrigeration won't extend its usable life. If opened, the packaged pasta remains good for up to one year.

On the other hand, fresh pasta lasts for a mere four to five days in the fridge, but up to six to eight months in the freezer.

8. Butter


Refrigerated butter lasts one to two months but can also be stored, tightly wrapped in an airtight container in the freezer, for six to nine months.

9. Milk


Depending on how it has been transported and stored, a carton of pasteurized milk may or may not be okay a few days past the date on the label — you can tell by a sniff. But if you freeze it, the milk will be usable for up to three months, Ogden says. "It may not have the same texture, so you may want to use it for cooking rather than drinking."

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