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Can I eat it? Indian grocery edition.
February 27, 2014 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I bought some hot mango pickle at the Indian grocery store yesterday. It was packaged differently from what I've had before and I am concerned about its safety. When I've bought this same kind before it was in a glass jar with a metal lid, like other shelf-stable canned goods in jars. This time it was stored at room temperature in a glass jar, but the lid is plastic.

When I look at other jars in my kitchen, all of the other wide mouthed jars have metal lids that made a popping noise when they were opened the first time, but some of the narrow mouthed jars like ketchup or mustard in squeeze bottles have plastic lids, with an inner seal that had to be removed before use. The mango pickle jar did not have an inner seal. The mango sticks up above the level of the oil about 1/2 inch. It is Laxmi brand low salt and contains "mango, corn oil, salt, mustard, fenugreek, tumeric powder, asofoetida, and other spices." A printed band around the lid was intact, although I think the lid could be loosened without removing the band.

My general feeling is to throw out any food that I have a doubt about, however, I like this brand better than others I've tried.

Bonus question: I also picked up a small vial labeled "Korma essence". It was with similar vials containing rose and cardamom essences. I assumed I'd be able to decipher this one online, but all I've been able to find so far is that one might add a few drops to lamb or beef dishes. What is this?
posted by SandiBeech to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
 
If you take a look at drink bottles, they are more often then not packaged without a hermetic seal that you have to pull off. Instead it's built into the cap, it often looks waxy or lighter in color then the bottlecap itself. Does your jar have that?
posted by royalsong at 9:11 AM on February 27


Is it like the plastic lids they sell for mason jars? If so, it's probably fine.
posted by Neekee at 9:28 AM on February 27


I've bought many articles from South Asian groceries in the past with what sounds like similar packaging. Never gave them a second thought, my usual approach is to dive right in.

GIS for 'laxmi mango pickle' shows several brands using it, others using metal lids.
posted by gimonca at 9:30 AM on February 27


I'm assuming that this is the mango pickle, right? The storage directions just say to keep in a cool, dry place, so I think that you're fine, especially since the printed band was intact.
posted by MeghanC at 9:35 AM on February 27


I would guess your "korma essence" is kewra (pandanus) flavoring-- either natural or synthetic. Sort of flowery, sort of vanilla-ish, used in many desserts as well as korma.
posted by neroli at 10:08 AM on February 27


Those Indian pickles are traditionally made as a cottage industry and are designed to keep without refrigeration in subtropical temperatures. They're super salty and acidic and cured in the sun (I don't know about your particular ones, just saying how they're traditionally made.) Although now that I reread your post I see yours are low salt. But, Laxmi is a very reputable brand, I really wouldn't worry about it. Low salt is probably a relative concept, considering how salty they normally are.
posted by HotToddy at 10:30 AM on February 27


I'm sure it's fine. I'm south indian and grew up eating pickle almost every day. Since they are eaten in such small quantities, we kept opened pickle containers for many months. The large amounts of oil and spices in them keep them from spoiling.

Mango pickle is my favorite. Enjoy! :)

No idea what korma essence is however.
posted by ogami at 11:27 AM on February 27


To answer a couple of questions: It is the kind that MeghanC links to, except instead of the metallic lid in the picture, it has a white plastic lid. It does look like the kind that is sold for mason jars that are not used for actual canning, but are used after you've opened the seal on the canned goods. It does not have the waxy ring that royalsong mentions. I'd assumed that for large company with national distribution (US), even with salt and acid, it would have to be either refrigerated, or it would have to be canned in at least a boiling water bath. Thanks.

Ah, yes the korma essence might be kewra. All I have to compare it with is kewra water which may be from a different part of the plant.
posted by SandiBeech at 1:33 PM on February 27


We buy the kind of pickles you're talking about a lot. The glass jar + white plastic lid is very familiar to me, but every one I've bought has also had a plastic inner seal under the white lid. It seems heat-sealed because before you open it, it is tight as a drumhead. Based on this past experience, I would not eat that particular pickle if I were you. Brands might differ, but what you describe sounds like a previously opened jar.

Priya has been our favorite brand. Gongura FTW!
posted by werkzeuger at 7:34 AM on February 28


Post the picture,
but even otherwise the pickles in India are NOT stored in sealed or air-tight containers or in the refrigerators. They are stable under pretty difficult environmental conditions.
posted by zaxour at 5:04 AM on March 2


The whole point of pickle is to preserve food that would otherwise go bad. The plastic lid is fine.

Go very light with the kewra if you're going to put it in korma.
posted by bardophile at 3:54 AM on March 3


I went ahead and ate it. So far, I've survived!
posted by SandiBeech at 5:04 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


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