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Bill Spohn

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What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Bill Spohn » Wed Oct 05, 2022 8:03 pm

Aside from the cook, that is.

Many foods including dried ones and herbs and spices age out eventually (and often lose potency before finally giving up the ghost).

My oldest component is a bottle of Angostura Bitters, something that I use only rarely in stews etc. (or less rarely, depending on weather, in pink gin in the hot summers). My bottle has lasted many years given that a few drops are all you use.

Next runner up is probably togarashi spice (shichimi togarashi). The sesame component gets dull but the heat and the seaweed seem to last a long, long time.

PS - offering up a component that is a simple chemical compound that never changes is cheating - thought I'd get that in before someone popped up with 'salt'! And hundred year eggs are really usually months, not years old.
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Oct 06, 2022 12:54 am

Oh, gosh, that's hard to say without pulling out a bunch of boxes and jars that are way, way way in the back of various cupboards.

I know I have some whole cardamom that are 10 years old (because I used some the other day while candying kumquats). They were a gift from a friend of spices sent to him by his grandmother in the old country (India, I think). When I first got them, the entire cabinet smelled of cardamom even through four ziplocs. So, they are now in one ziploc in a tightly-sealed glass jar. They no longer knock me out of my shoes but they are still better than pretty much anything I can get around here.

I have some black raisins that were salvaged from my father-in-law's kitchen. The box has an expiration date of April 2010 on it.

I have some extra vecchio balsamic condimento that was aged 25 years when it was bottled. I have had the bottle for 10 or 15 years. It's basically too good to use! (Yes, I'll fix that some day.)

I have a can of "emergency soup" -- something in a pull-top that can be heated-up during a blackout (I have a gas stove) -- that is dated in 2009. Perhaps I should eat that soon?

I know I have some old Jell-o packets and gelatin sheets. Do they go bad?

Ooh, I have a packet of microwave popcorn that says, "Best before Mar052015". Pop that, Orville!

That's probably most of it. (I used to have some very old baking chocolate because a friend and I purchased a 20# block of Valrhona but I finally used it up. It held just fine for 10 years.)
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Karen/NoCA » Thu Oct 06, 2022 10:46 am

I have a package of a dried soup bean mix from Purcell Mountain Farms that must be over 10 years old. Not sure if I should even try to use it. It has some lentils in it, as well.
I also have a package of miniature marshmallows that I was going to make Spiced Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats with. I made one batch and basically ate the whole thing myself, so decided I was not going to make anymore for some time. Just spoke with a neighbor about it yesterday, and told her the marshmallows had gotten a little hard. She told me to put them into a microwave for a short time to see if they softened. I may do that.
I buy spices from Penzey's in bulk. I keep them in the original package, then into a zip lock freezer bag and keep them in a cabinet, where they stay out out light and are cool. They last for a very long time. Each time I have to refill a spice jar, I smell and check if they are still viable and am amazed at how long they last packed tightly.
I have dried cranberries, and currants that have been in my cabinet for a long time. Now I am feeling guilty about not keeping my pantry in better check!
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Karen/NoCA » Thu Oct 06, 2022 10:50 am

"I have some extra vecchio balsamic condimento that was aged 25 years when it was bottled. I have had the bottle for 10 or 15 years. It's basically too good to use! (Yes, I'll fix that some day.)"

Jeff, that reminds me of a good friend of mine whom I introduce new things to her like 25 yr. old balsamic, special vinegars, and other expensive items. She will buy it, and when I ask her how she likes it and how has she used it, I usually get "I haven't used it much, it is too good to use!" Drives me nuts...
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Paul Winalski » Thu Oct 06, 2022 11:35 am

I have an ancient bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.

Popcorn works because the starch in the kernels has a lot of water bound to it. When heated this water gets released and forms steam with enough pressure to pop the kernel. Popcorn can dry out over time, and less bound water in the starch means more dud kernels when popped.

-Paul W.
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Ted Richards » Thu Oct 06, 2022 1:48 pm

Wine is food, right? So technically, it's a Harvey's 1844 solera bual Madeira in the fridge that I opened for my birthday. Since it was bottled in 1962, it varies between 60 and 178 years old.

Like you, I have a bottle of Angostura bitters that I think I bought sometime in the 1980s. Next would be a bottle of chive-blossom vinegar I bought in the early '90s, then a Capirete 20-year-old sherry vinegar (plus a year or so since I bought it), and a bottle of 18-year balsamic vinegar.

P.S. never mind "salt", the trace of hydrogen in the air is about 13.77 billion years old. :D
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Oct 06, 2022 2:57 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:"I have some extra vecchio balsamic condimento that was aged 25 years when it was bottled. I have had the bottle for 10 or 15 years. It's basically too good to use! (Yes, I'll fix that some day.)"

Jeff, that reminds me of a good friend of mine whom I introduce new things to her like 25 yr. old balsamic, special vinegars, and other expensive items. She will buy it, and when I ask her how she likes it and how has she used it, I usually get "I haven't used it much, it is too good to use!" Drives me nuts...


Ha ha. I agree with you! The bottle is about 2/3 empty so I have gotten some use out of it. Now that I'm more aware of it, I'll find some way to use it. Do you have any favorite ways?
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Karen/NoCA » Fri Oct 07, 2022 10:56 am

I feel that Balsamic, the really good one is like a secret ingredient. I discovered long ago when I make soup and while it is good, I want it to be excellent. I add a small amount of my good balsamic and bingo, what a difference. Kind of like adding fresh lemon juice to something.
I really love drizzling it over roasted veggies just out of the oven. Very delicious. I also like using it on roasted tomatoes chunks when I don't want to turn them into tomato sauce , but eat them as a snack. I have several Balsamic, but the 25 year old ones, I keep for special things. Yesterday, I was given some Dave's Bread by my hair stylist. A vendor had stopped by her shop and given her a few dozen loaves. She shared with her clients.

This morning I am layering what is left of a frittata I made a day ago on a toasted slice of this bread, topping with a tomato slice, putting under the broiler for a minute or two, adding a slice of Fontina, under broiler again, then the balsamic drizzle. Will see how that comes out.
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Jeff Grossman » Fri Oct 07, 2022 12:14 pm

I think I've used a good bit of it just drizzled over chunks of parmigiano reggiano, mozzerella, or tomatoes.

A grilled cheese sandwich might be a good vehicle...
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Bill Spohn » Sat Oct 08, 2022 12:54 pm

I end up with little remainders of ingredients bought for a specific recipe that I rarely revisit. Fortunately some ingredients last quite well without degradation.

My miso (which I use to simmer Hakurei turnips in along with a couple of other ingredients) seems to last forever (we generally only use it in turnip season).

Kim chee last a long time as does sauerkraut, although both will slowly ferment in the fridge.

I looked up some old but still edible food. They include a fruitcake from Scott's Antarctic expedition over 100 years ago, although that is nothing compared to the 3200 year old cheese found in an Egyptian tomb (they detected Brucellosis bacteria in it s no one tasted it) and dried grains last almost indefinitely - want to try some popcorn that originated 3000 years BO (before Orville)?
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Jeff Grossman » Sat Oct 08, 2022 2:48 pm

A slice from Queen Victoria's wedding cake -- 1840 -- has made the rounds at auction: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-jersey-37373425
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Bill Spohn » Sat Oct 08, 2022 3:40 pm

Doesn't look particularly toothsome, does it? Ditto for the knickers - some people will collect just about anything!
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Jenise » Tue Oct 11, 2022 3:05 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
My miso (which I use to simmer Hakurei turnips in along with a couple of other ingredients) seems to last forever (we generally only use it in turnip season).


Somebody needs to report you to the Miso police; you're seriously under-using this ingredient! Thin with citrus juice to create a paste for fresh fish, pan sear. Add to broth and make a soup for tofu cubes and fresh croutons. Add to salad dressings. Blend with butter to spread on buns which will be pan-browned and filled with shrimp, lobster or ginger-pork patties or even foie gras. There's so much you can do with it!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Rahsaan » Tue Oct 11, 2022 7:15 pm

Agreed. Miso is salty umami that goes in all kinds of dishes in my kitchen (well beyond 'Japanese' dishes), and of course different misos for different applications.
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Jenise » Wed Oct 12, 2022 12:29 pm

Here we are in mid-October and I'm still picking tomatoes every other day in my garden--I'm in heaven! We are literally eating tomatoes every single day--I'm going to go through severe when this comes to an end soon. Last night's dinner was going to be an Asian chicken and rice bowl, and this thread (compounded by lack of lettuce on hand) encouraged me to Asian-ize a dressing for yellow tomatoes: grated fresh ginger, miso (enough to provide the salt component), vinegar, neutral oil and a pinch of sugar. DIVINE.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Barb Downunder » Thu Oct 13, 2022 2:46 am

Bill Spohn wrote:
I looked up some old but still edible food. They include a fruitcake from Scott's Antarctic expedition over 100 years ago, although that is nothing compared to the 3200 year old cheese found in an Egyptian tomb (they detected Brucellosis bacteria in it s no one tasted it) and dried grains last almost indefinitely - want to try some popcorn that originated 3000 years BO (before Orville)?


Fascinating about the Egyptian cheese Bill. You had me off down the rabbit hole. Found reference to jars of fatty cheese like substance in one of the definitive works Food: The Gift of Osiris, uWilliam J. Hardy et al Academic Press 1976 (thought I’d sent all my Egyptology books off to Monash Uni. this needs to go as well)
Then checked Prof gOogle and found a 2018 reference from the Beeb which mentioned the Brucellosis
.wow, I need to do some more internet digging to find out how they identified that.
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Paul Winalski » Fri Oct 14, 2022 12:41 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:I looked up some old but still edible food. They include a fruitcake from Scott's Antarctic expedition over 100 years ago


There is a persistent rumor (that I'm inclined to believe is true) that there is only one Christmas fruitcake in the world that circulates from family to family.

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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Jeff Grossman » Fri Oct 14, 2022 3:31 pm

Pumpkin has thrown the raisins away.
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Re: What is the Oldest Food Item in your Kitchen

by Bill Spohn » Fri Oct 14, 2022 3:39 pm

Jenise wrote:
Bill Spohn wrote:
My miso (which I use to simmer Hakurei turnips in along with a couple of other ingredients) seems to last forever (we generally only use it in turnip season).


Somebody needs to report you to the Miso police; you're seriously under-using this ingredient! Thin with citrus juice to create a paste for fresh fish, pan sear. Add to broth and make a soup for tofu cubes and fresh croutons. Add to salad dressings. Blend with butter to spread on buns which will be pan-browned and filled with shrimp, lobster or ginger-pork patties or even foie gras. There's so much you can do with it!


I would use more miso but SWMBO is not a fan (at least she has good taste in men).

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