Highly likely?... Whiskey?
That's pretty normal right? Many foods are aged for many months or years.
And consumption of such foods aren't frowned upon. Cos it's normal?
So once again, who defines normal? Society? Practicality?
Just cos everyone does it, does that make it right? If not everyone does it, does that make it wrong?
I mean, no one eats rotting food cos you will get sick...
But theoretically, anything which isn't bad can be eaten. Regardless of how old it is.
Most of our long dated foods are typically due to preservation methods.
Humans needed to keep food for long periods cos historically, food used to be scarce and yearly produce might not be as predictable as now.
So there are things which are preserved for days, months, a few years, decades.
Like we keep stuff in our chiller, that preserves food for around a few days or weeks.
Then there's the freezer, that can keep stuff edible (edible, not necessarily very fresh) for months.
Kimchi could be fermented for years.
Dry aged meats could be cured for months.
Freeze dried instant coffee, canned foods, etc... all can be kept for years.
Ok, I'm talking about sealed stuff in their packaging. Not those already opened and half consumed. If it's already open then the preservation period drops significantly.
So let's look at canned food. No one bothers that they are eating cooked beans 2 years old. Just as long as it's within the expiry date.
Do you know what that sounds like?
Think about it again... what if there were NO expiry date concept when you were young.
So maybe your mum knows how to can stuff at home properly, and she cooked a pot of beans and you ate that for Christmas dinner and she canned the rest. And 2 years later, she takes out a can and says, "Hey!! Remember! We ate these beans for Christmas 2 years ago!!!"
Ok... she never labeled it. But you know that 2 years ago, you ate those beans for Christmas. There's no expiry date cos... duhz your mum did it.
The question is... would you eat it now 2 years later? And why?
So some people may think... Eww that's gross... cos it's home cooked and those are like leftovers kept for too long a period.
On the flip side, other people will say, that's no different from what happens in the canning factory.
For the folks who don't want to eat it, fine, that's your choice.
For those who say just eat it, there's no difference between home cooked and factory, as long as it's done correctly, what do you do? Just open and just dig in and finish the whole can?
No right? We open it, smell it, taste a bit, then if it's pretty ok, then we eat it. Duhz.
Like bread which hasn't expired but has mold... No one eats that right? So I think humans are smart enough to recognize food that has spoilt or not and make a decision regardless of the date.
Ok so let's say we ate the 2 year old can of beans and it didn't taste perfect, I mean, 2 year old beans would probably be mushy and all that. But should be safe enough to eat...
But 1 year later... your mum opens the cupboard again and "HEY, I missed out a can last year. I have one left. Shall we eat it for this years' Christmas?"
So now... what do you do? It's been 3 years... these are 3 year old beans, there is NO expiry date, cos mum canned them.
So what do you do? Well... once again, some people will drop out, some of those who thought that 2 years was ok, 3 years is pushing it...
Then there are the people who are left... who... once again... open the can, smell it, taste a bit and if it seems ok... well, they just eat it...
Fast forward 2 years... it's been 5 years since she cooked that first pot of beans... and what do you know... a can of beans appears in the cupboard that somehow no one has noticed for the past few years...
And mum, once again, suggests... "Let's have it for Christmas!"
Ok... this has come to a point of... do you even NEED to eat it. Like... let's just make some new beans. Seriously... 5 years is kinda pushing it...
And mum says... "Let's try..." and so... some folks will drop out, even those who thought 3 years was ok... 5 years is kinda...
But there will be some people who are willing to eat it, so... they open the can, smell it, taste a bit, and if it's fine... they eat it...
There's no expiry date so it doesn't say when it can't be used. So any logical person IF they wanted to eat it for whatever reason, they would smell it, taste a bit, test it a bit, then consume it if everything seemed fine.
Does a printed number mean so much?
The only difference between the cans from the factory and mum's cans is probably the label and extra printed material, which also includes an expiry date.
So... anyway... it's been 5 years since the last time you ate mum's beans, and it's time to move house... and... "WHAT THE HELL!!! Mum!!! There's still a can in the cupboard."
Now it's been 10 years... Ok we're really pushing the limit here.
Do we even NEED to eat these beans???
So the story repeats itself, less people would be willing to eat the beans... Duhz.
But the idea is the same, ARE the beans still good for consumption? The willingness to eat it is a different matter.
So same thing, open, smell, try, taste, blah blah blah...
None of us think twice about drinking whiskey, aged for 12 years, 18 years, 21 years. And when manufacturers label the whiskey, the age is the MINIMUM age of the whiskey in the blend (for blended whiskeys). Which means, they take a bunch of whiskeys from their stash and mix them to produce a drink and bottle it, and the 12 year label means that the whiskeys in the mixture all have a MINIMUM of 12 years, some are even older.
And what happens next for whiskeys? Do you drink it immediately after you buy it? Likely no right? Most people buy it from the DFS, then they keep it in the cupboard for years then they keep buying from DFS and hardly consume it. And it may sit there for the next 10 years. So we're talking about drinks of maybe 20-30 years or more. And no one would think twice about the condition of the drink...
Cos... the alcohol in the drink makes the drink unsuitable for bacterial growth. So the drink doesn't turn bad if kept properly.
No one asks... do you even NEED to drink a 12 year old whiskey which has been further kept on the shelf for 10 years.
No one would say, why don't you buy a FRESH 12 year old bottle from the shop and dump the old bottle.
The thing is... these days, no one really NEEDS to drink 18 year old whiskey, no one NEEDS to eat a 1 year old can of beans, you can make fresh beans any time, and sure as hell, no one NEEDS to eat a 10 year old can of beans.
It's all a choice.
Why settle for canned foods when you can have fresh food? Convenience?
Why eat fermented kimchi when you can eat fresh food? Some people like the taste?
And I'm sure preservation methods have improved throughout the years. So if manufacturers don't put a label on the can, 2 things may happen.
1. People won't throw away the old food and continue to consume it, meaning less sales for the producers,
2. People are now insecure of how long to keep it for and due to this uncertainty, they decide not to buy the can or throw it away even earlier.
So where am I going with this?
Yesterday, Daniel Tay of the freegan community gave me a pack of dried sharks fin and 2 bottles of birds nest in the original film wrapped sealed box. I know he likely dumpster dived and managed to retrieve these items.
From the look of it, the items looked like they were part of a new year hamper and someone kept the items in the cupboard for too long and just decided to throw them away.
The expiry date on the box of birds nest was in 2006. I forgot the month, I've thrown away the box. But when we're talking about a 12 year period... the months don't really matter.
I initially got the birds nest for my wife, but she rejected it... 12 years is kinda testing her limits...
Think about it... woah 12 years ago is the year of the dog too!!!
And I looked the the birds nest myself. And I thought to myself... do I really DARE to drink this thing.
12 years is also seriously testing my psychological limits. I use the term "psychological limits", cos... to me, if the product has been kept in a good condition, then the product should be safe to consume, unless it tastes wrong. But mentally, was I willing to drink it?
I've eaten a lot of stuff as I was growing up, so my perspective of what is edible is pretty flexible. Whether I like it or not is a different matter.
So I have no issues with pigs/duck/cow blood, liver, kidneys, intestines, snake meat.
I don't like celery, raw garlic.
Somehow, I couldn't eat pigs brain soup. I saw the brain in the soup. I drank the soup, but somehow mentally, I couldn't get over the idea of mashing up the brain and eating it.
So even fresh stuff, I might not be willing to consume...
Back to the 12 year old birds nest... anyway. I opened a bottle, took a little sip... well, it tastes like the other bottles of birds nest I have in the cupboard, a bit more bitter than normal cos the slice of ginseng has been soaking for many years.
That was last night, no stomach issues, so I think the 2nd bottle is fine as well. I'll likely finish it today or tomorrow. There's no reason to keep it for any longer than necessary.
The idea is simple... if the bottle was produced in sanitary conditions sealed in an air tight container, then no bacteria or pathogen could get into the bottle to contaminate the drink. That is what preserving food is about. The number of years is irrelevant.
This is similar to the 12 year old whiskey. It is fermented in sanitary conditions for many years and the alcohol prevents spoilage. But if you leave a glass of whisky out in the open, the alcohol will evaporate and eventually, the whiskey will turn bad.
So the storage conditions are very important.
Next is the sharks fin... I suspect that those are likely 12 years old as well. Can you imagine, all those poor sharks which died, and even worse, they died for NOTHING! The sharks fin was almost fated for the landfill.
I think most of us know how cruel sharks fin is... the fishermen get the shark, slice off the fins and just dump the shark back into the sea to die a miserable death.
Some people care about the sharks and stop eating sharks fin, others don't care... I'm not going to get involved in this discussion...
For me, this pack of sharks fin was bought, packed, the sharks have already died, and it was due to go into the landfill. By some stroke of fate, Daniel managed to find them and was willing to pass them to me.
Well, I know someone who can make a nice dish out of that and I'm going to enjoy it in a couple of weeks/months time. It's the only thing left that can be done to honor the sharks that died for this packet.
So this is really interesting...
I would love to hear your comments about this...
Would you consume a 12 year old expired product. Maybe birds nest, maybe a can of abalone.
Why? Or why not?
I've drunk the 12 year old expired birds nest with no issue. So food safety should not be a concern. I understand that many people would not want to consume a 12 year old expired product.
But is it all just a mental thing?
I'm not saying consume spoilt food. If the food was spoilt, I would not eat it either. Rather, if the food has been preserved well, but usually not consumed past expiry, (whiskeys are usually consumed after many many years), but maybe a can of abalone could be safe to consume but already past expiry for 10 years.
Is the expiry date just a mental illusion?
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