What food can you eat past the best before date?
We all find a dust-covered can of soup or a baking product you only used once at the back of the cupboard from time to time.
However, next time, don’t be so quick to shamefully giggle and throw it away. Products like these will usually still be perfectly edible!
✔ Canned food
Canned food goes through an extremely high heat process to kill bacteria and sterilise the contents. This makes canned food safe to eat years after the best before date.
Fun fact: Back in 1974, canned food found in the wreck of a boat that sank in 1865 was tested and although the food content had deteriorated in appearance, scientists said it was still safe to eat!
✔ Frozen food
Most food deteriorates in quality when frozen, but it will still be safe to eat after the best before date.
If you store your bread in the fridge you can use it for up to two weeks past the best before date. Even if it tastes a bit stale for a sandwich, it will be great for toast.
Biscuits were a favourite of sailors due to their ability to be stored for a long time. If they're unopened, you can eat them for weeks after the best before date.
Keeping your eggs in the fridge may increase their usability by up to three weeks past the best before date. You can do a quick test by putting the eggs in a bowl of water. If they sink, they're still good to eat. But if they float, don’t use them. Looking for egg-cellent ideas to use up your good eggs? Read some of our favourite recipes here.
✔ Dried pasta
If it's been kept in an airtight container, you can eat dried pasta for three years after the best before date.
✔ Hard cheese
Spores from mold often pass through soft cheese quite quickly, but with a hard cheese like cheddar, you can cut off the mould and eat the rest.
Pickles have been preserved so they can last for a long time past the best before date.
As long as it hasn’t been opened, it should be fine several weeks past the best before date. Do the sniff test and if it smells OK, it should be fine to eat.
✔ Soy sauce
Soy sauce is full of salt which is a natural preservative. If kept sealed, it should be fine years after the best before date.
If it’s kept in an airtight container, sugar should last indefinitely.
✔ White rice
As white rice is refined, the preservatives mean it's unlikely to decay if kept in an airtight container.
The natural crystallisation of starch in rice can lead to a stale taste over the years, but it's safe to eat. Do watch out for rice weevils - tiny bugs that can appear in your rice or flour. If the rice appears to be moving - throw it away!
Brown rice doesn’t keep as long as white rice. It can become oily and smell bad when the fat reacts with the air.
Vinegar is used as a natural preservative, so you can ignore that best before date.
✔ Bicarbonate of Soda
You can use bicarbonate of soda for years after the best before date, although it might lose some of its power as a raising agent. If your scones start coming out a bit flat, use the bicarbonate of soda as a household cleaner instead.
As long as it looks okay and doesn't smell, lots of packaged food is safe to eat well past the best before date. So next time you find a dusty tin at the back of your cupboard - open it and use it - you're a true Waste Warrior!