Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Using Old Stored Food

"Before using old storage, determine the safety of the food. When in doubt, throw it out. Do not taste any food which may be unsafe.

1. Food was not processed properly. If improper processing times, methods, and/or recipes were used for home canned vegetables and meats, the jar may be sealed, but the product deadly—DO NOT TASTE—discard. Use only scientifically approved recipes for home canning.

2. Look for the following signs of spoilage—DO NOT TASTE—discard:

a. Bulging lid—lid must be definitely concave; seal cannot be lifted with fingers.
b. Milky appearance to liquid—as food ages the liquid will become more cloudy and a residue will begin to form in bottom of jar—this is the food sluffing off, but the appearance should not be milky.
c. Mold growth of any kind .
d. Slimy appearance or texture.
e. Rancid odor—especially in foods which contain any amount of fat, like dehydrated protein.
f. Corrosion on inside of can, especially along seam (particular problem with canned foods older than 10 years or more.
g. Rust—especially on seam or seal of can.
h. Frozen can or bottle— freezing produces hairline fractures in seal and allows spoilage to begin.
i. Off-smell—food generally changes in odor as it ages, if the smell has developed to the point it is undesirable, discard.
j. Food stored in non-food grade container— the container was not meant for food or once contained a non-food product (garbage bags, garbage cans, cleaning bottles or buckets, kitty liter, etc.).

Discarding Old Food
If safety is not in question but quality and nutrition are undesirable, discard by placing in compost pit, spread over garden, feed to livestock, or discard in the landfill. If the quality is such that you will not to eat it—do not give to food banks, it will not be any more acceptable to them. But, if the food is desirable to eat and safe, food banks are always in need of donated food. If food safety is questionable, discard in a closed container then inside trash container. Do not feed to pets.

Using “Acceptable” Older Food
The longer food is stored the more the flavor, texture, color, and odor will change. If the food is safe (use the check list above), then the following may be used to create tasty dishes. Coverup strong flavor with spices, herbs, or other flavorings (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, Italian seasoning, creole seasoning, etc.—the stronger the flavoring the greater the coverup). Hide softening texture by pureeing, or mixing with other foods. Color will not be as noticeable if added to other foods."

(Source: Utah State University Food Storage Cooking School—Low and Hendricks, USU Extension, Salt Lake County, 1/1999, pgs. 78-80. Copies may be made for individual and non-profit use as long as Utah State University Extension credit appears on each page.)

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