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Do all of these items actually go bad?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I was at my mom's yesterday and she gave me a carload of baking stuff that she (finally! yay!) determined she was never going to use. It is all stuff that has been individually wrapped in plastic bags and stored in plastic tubs in a cool house. My mom is a bit of a hoarder and so some of this stuff is frustratingly old and some is in frustrating quantities! I want to use as much of it as I can as I love to bake, but I don't want to waste my time using products that have gone bad. I took it all just to get it out of her house as that in and of itself is a type of victory.

So here goes...

Chocolate...Does it ever really go bad? I know that it can bloom and get a white film on the surface but in that case it is still good to eat. But some of the baking chocolate she gave me is hella old. Like from when I was a kid old (I recognize the box). Do you think its still edible? And there is other chocolate in quantity (chips, bars, blocks). What the heck am I supposed to do with all this chocolate? headscratch.gif

(On a side not it baffles the hell out of me that she can have this unused baking chocolate that is over twenty years old (!!) and still have bought eight new boxes of the exact same thing in the last few years).

Flour: I know that wheat flour goes bad pretty quickly as the oils go rancid (I tossed the 10lbs she gave me that had a 'good by' date of 2006) but what about unbleached or white flour? Should I put the extra (forty or fifty lbs) into the freezer or is it pretty much too late if its been stored at room temp for years?

Sugar: Does it go nasty? Again I threw away the powdered sugar that looked to be about ten years old (or more) grossedout.gif but there is plenty more that has a more recent expiration date. There is also about five or six pounds of brown sugar.

One last question. I make all my baked stuff from scratch. That way I know what it in there and there are no nasty surprises. Plus it just tastes better that way. But she gave me two big grocery bags of prepared mix stuff (bread, cake, brownie, jello, pudding etc...). I don't like to turn down free food, but I also don't really want to eat it. Would you just suck it up and eat it because it's free? Or should I freecycle it. Do you think a freecycle person would trust me enough to take food?

TIA! Going to mom's house is always problematic because there is nowhere to walk/sit/move due to all the clutter so I always want to help her get rid of stuff while I can. But having all this baking stuff show up in my small kitchen is kind of exasperating...especially given the condition of so much of it.
post #2 of 15

Not sure about the chocolate. If the packaging looked undamaged I'd probably taste a little bit and use it if it tasted ok.

 

The flour might taste stale and if it tastes stale raw it will probably taste stale cooked. Otherwise it should be ok.

 

The sugar should be fine.

 

If the packaged stuff was in date and undamaged then, yep, I'd donate it.

post #3 of 15

here's my best guess....

 

Chocolate--anything older than 5 years or that is crumbly, I would toss.  Baker's chocolate is going to be melted before use, so maybe you can evaluate as you use it--taste, smell, melt-ability, etc.  Air exposure is what is going to spoil chocolate, so the large the pieces the longer it should last.  As far as USING chocolate.....chocolate babka, chocolate pudding, chocolate ice cream, chocolate bread, mole.  I don't think you'll have a problem. :)

 

Sugar--as long as there is no bug activity, I would think sugar lasts forever.  Perhaps a week in deep freeze just in case.  If your brown sugar is rock hard, use it to make pancake syrup or carmel corn.

 

Flour--I would guess that  the flour is stale beyond belief.  Maybe bake a loaf of bread (just one loaf) and see how it tastes.  I would be very surprised if the flour hadn't gotten weevils at some point.  Stick it in the freezer for a week to make sure everything is deceased. 

 

Mixes--I am not a slave to expiration dates but I would toss anything more than a year past date. Don't feel compelled to eat it, just because it was free.  I think you could free cycle it in good conscience so long as you were up-front about it being older.

 

good luck with your mom. 

post #4 of 15
I can teach you to make chocolates if you like. Its a good way to use up a lot of chocolate.

Sugar doesnt really go bad.

If the flour doesnt smell off and doesnt have bugs, id test it and see.

As for the boxed food, there are plenty of food banks that would love it.
post #5 of 15

I wouldn't do the prepared mixes if they are more than a couple months out of date.  I can't remember specifics but there is something about the powdered eggs in them that makes them dangerous when old.  Sorry I can't remember details!

 

And I hear ya about the hoarding food.  We recently threw out 7 trash bags of expired food from FIL's house.  Made me so so SO sad to think of the waste.... but I didn't trust it, wouldn't feed it to my kids, and would feel like an arse giving it to the food bank as if poor folk should eat old food.  (We did keep 2 bags for ourselves of recent stuff)

 

What we discovered was that FIL would gladly give it to us if he thought we would eat it ... but wouldn't throw it away or let us throw it away.  So we just lied.  I think we will have to do that a few more times to keep that house from becoming a nasty hoard again!

post #6 of 15

For the chocolate, it depends on how high the cocoa butter content is.  The fat in the chocolate goes rancid when not properly stored.  If it's milk chocolate, I wouldn't use it.

 

The flour is probably stale.  Flour also absorbs flavors from its storage environment, so it will likely taste off... even if it tastes of the plastic it's been stored in for so long.  I store my flour in glass only.  I probably would do and inexpensive test with the flour first, but my guess is that it's off.

 

Sugar lasts forever.  Even if it has hardened into a lump, it's still good.

 

Like you, I only bake from scratch and would not bake from the mixes.  If someone else wants to use them, I would certainly rather them not go to waste, though. Just my thoughts on it.

 

The thing about a stockpile of food is that you are supposed to store what you eat and eat what you store... and rotate it.  If you buy 20 containers of mustard and don't really use that much mustard, then it's hoarding.  But if you buy 20 containers of mustard and you put it on everything, going through one each week, then it's a good deal.  It sounds like your mom had plans, but didn't really bake much in practice.  It's tough to not want things to go to waste, but you don't need to use it up to the detriment of your family's health.  I am on the fence of giving away this kind of food because on the one hand, you would like someone to put it to good use, but on the other, if it's not "good enough" for your own family, why should people who are less fortunate get poorer quality food?  That's a tough one for me and an ethical dilemma I struggle with myself.  Good luck!

post #7 of 15

Personally I'd keep the sugar and ditch the rest. I've used stale chocolate chips before, and yeah... you can tell. I might keep a box or two of Jello mix - we eat it rarely, but if it was free, well, DH likes it! The rest of the mixes I'd try to give away - if they're not expired, you could donate them. Or, yeah, why not Freecycle? There are very few items in existence that SOMEONE on Freecycle won't gleefully snatch up. :p

 

I believe you can soften rock-hard brown sugar by putting it in a container with half an apple. Never tried it, though... If the white sugar's gone hard and lumpy, maybe whizz it in the food processor?

post #8 of 15
If it were me, I would toss it all. My mom is the same way and there is no way I would eat anything that came out of her house that had been there for over a year.
post #9 of 15

I would toss it all, too. There is no way I would eat stuff that was that old. Seriously... 20 year old chocolate - no way!

 

And I certainly wouldn't give it to anyone else (especially children which is where it may end up going if you give it away) in good conscience.

 

Just be glad that your mom cleared out some stuff. 

 

Since you say you make all your baked stuff from scratch that way you know what is in it and there are no nasty surprises.... I would certainly not use this stuff. And we're not talking about a lot of money here, either. These staples go on sale for very reasonable prices around every holiday.

 

Better to be safe than sorry!

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post

As for the boxed food, there are plenty of food banks that would love it.


Ick, really??  If I worked in a foodbank and saw someone hauling in boxes of expired food, I would think it was extremely rude.  Can they even give expired food away?  I would expect they would have guidelines preventing that.

 

Personally, I would try a batch of something using the chocolate to see how it tastes.  (The box from your childhood though?  No.)  I would sift through the sugar and if it looked ok, I would keep it.  

 

Other than that?  Toss, baby.  And don't feel any guilt.  YOU aren't wasting food.  Someone else already did that part.

 

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

The boxed stuff wasn't expired, just things I would never make from a box.  Like tiramisu and jello.  I freecycled it no problem.  The box of chocolate though I might pass off to an antique shop eyesroll.gif.  My grandma does this too...she has food and spices from the 1950's in her kitchen cabinets.  No joke.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katico View Post




Ick, really??  If I worked in a foodbank and saw someone hauling in boxes of expired food, I would think it was extremely rude.  Can they even give expired food away?  I would expect they would have guidelines preventing that.

 

Personally, I would try a batch of something using the chocolate to see how it tastes.  (The box from your childhood though?  No.)  I would sift through the sugar and if it looked ok, I would keep it.  

 

Other than that?  Toss, baby.  And don't feel any guilt.  YOU aren't wasting food.  Someone else already did that part.

 



 

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katico View Post




Ick, really??  If I worked in a foodbank and saw someone hauling in boxes of expired food, I would think it was extremely rude.  Can they even give expired food away?  I would expect they would have guidelines preventing that.


Well, she never said the boxed goods were expired, but in fact, with the extreme need in some areas here, there are food banks that will take expired boxed goods. My grandmother works for one. Recipients have to sign a waiver that they understand some of the food may be out of code, but if its that or hunger, which do you think they'd prefer? I know they get shipments from large stores like Wallyworld of stuff they can't sell for various reasons (damaged pkg, out of code, returns, etc... And not just food, they get things like sposies and Kotex too). And since the need has increased exponentially over the last few years, they can't afford to be picky.
post #13 of 15

If you don't want to eat the flour but it doesn't smell bad, you can always use some of it for playdough and other crafts.  

post #14 of 15

I have noticed the old powdered sugar gets a funky stale taste to it.

post #15 of 15

I was going to suggest playdough for the flour too. Though if it smells "off" then the playdough will too (yep, been there, done that yuk!)

 

I wonder if you can find non food recipies for the other stuff too. A lot of finger paint recipes have sugar and I think I;ve seen some with jelly too. Hmm maybe some science experiments.

 

Personally I don't think I'd eat it, I usually go by smell/taste rather than dates but a year or so past expiry and I try to find another use.

 

Could it be added to a compost heap? Would anyone want old packaging as play props or something?

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