Have you ever wondered about how strictly you need to stick to sell-by dates and expiry dates? Check out food expert Jane Curran’s dos – and don’ts.
The truth about eggs
Use eggs within three weeks of their best-before date. If in doubt, drop the egg into a glass of water. If it floats, don’t eat it; if it sinks, it’s fine. The Safe Eggs company has developed a technology to pasteurise eggs in their shells to kill salmonella-causing bacteria. See safeeggs.co.za to find their stockists.
Be sausage savvy
With processed meat, like sausages and pâté, don’t risk more than a day past the sell-by date, as processed meat will have been exposed to bacteria like campylobacter, E.coli or listeria, which grow quickly, even when refrigerated.
The rule about yoghurt
I’ve eaten yoghurt up to three weeks after the sell-by date. It undergoes a lactic-acid fermentation process, a preservation method that stabilises the milk to make yoghurt last. But, throw away if you spot any signs of mould.
Make the most of beef
You can easily stretch the best-before date of beef by a few days. But if there’s any sign of bacteria, deterioration, or a bad smell, ditch it.
Know your fish
Cook raw fish as soon as possible after buying it. Raw white fish should look translucent, with glossy skin and no smell. The flesh should stay springy, but firm, when pressed. If it looks cloudy, leaves an indentation when pressed, smells of soap or smells too fishy, chuck it.
Don’t keep ice-cream
Too long ice-cream has a surprisingly short shelf life because it has a high fat content, so never fully freezes. Eat within three months, but if it darkens or tastes sour, bin it.
Be spice aware
Ground spices, such as turmeric and cinnamon, can last for more than six months if they are labelled as “steam cleaned/pasteurised”. We like those from the Natural Herbs and Spices range.
Be cautious with chicken
Chicken deteriorates quickly, and the faintest whiff of rotting flesh or sour milk means it needs chucking, but give it a rinse under cool water before smelling to double-check the smell isn’t coming from the packaging. Generally, don’t risk eating chicken more than a day or two after its use-by date.
Clever tricks for leftovers
Whip up crème fraîche
- Mix with cheese and mustard to make a cheese sauce for cauliflower or leeks.
- Make up a creamy pasta sauce to keep in the freezer.
Use up hummus
- If you have too much, freeze it for later use.
- It’s great to thicken up stews, casseroles, curries and soups (especially carrot).
- Mix with chopped onion and red peppers, dip in egg and flour, shape into patties, then shallow fry for vegetarian burgers