Safe to eat?
September 2, 2008 9:41 PM   Subscribe

There is a small pile of garden zucchini that has been sitting on the kitchen counter for about two months, right between the sink and an always-open window (to let in the Cleveland summer). Should I eat it?
posted by waxboy to Food & Drink (20 answers total)

I don't know why. But don't do it. It doesn't sound right.
posted by ASM at 9:43 PM on September 2, 2008

Is it moldy? Is it soft and mushy?

I can't imagine zucchini would still be good after two months of sitting out without refrigeration. Common sense will lead you in this, sir.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:47 PM on September 2, 2008

If you can manage to get it in your mouth and swallow it without heaving....go right ahead.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:50 PM on September 2, 2008

I imagine that the palpability of the zukes on the bottom of the small pile will answer this question for you.
posted by bjork24 at 9:59 PM on September 2, 2008

Whole vegetables pretty much show their badness in a very obvious way. If it's not visibly or texturally rank, go ahead.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:07 PM on September 2, 2008

Are there other foods that you'd leave on the counter for two months and still consider eating? If so, go ahead.... but I find it unlikely that those zucchini or any other foods are going to be good after that long.

They're cheap enough - and easy enough to grow.... you might consider just getting new ones to be safe!
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:11 PM on September 2, 2008

Yes. It's zucchini, it comes with its own packaging... if you can stick it in your mouth, it's probably all good.
posted by pompomtom at 10:11 PM on September 2, 2008

If it is still firm to the touch it is fine to eat.
posted by arnicae at 10:12 PM on September 2, 2008

Does it pass the sniff test?

If so, you might be okay.

Really, though, you should grate that stuff up and just freeze it for zucchini bread and muffins later if you can't eat it right away. I would probably toss it if I were you.
posted by Ostara at 10:36 PM on September 2, 2008

I would really, really not.

And this is the person who just left a chicken sitting in the oven overnight and was still picking bits off the carcass before making it into stock.

Two months, unless it's a preserved item, is just a wee bit too long.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:39 PM on September 2, 2008

I notice that you ask "Should I eat it?" rather than "Can I eat it?". You are halfway to your answer already.
posted by longsleeves at 10:41 PM on September 2, 2008

Vegetables reveal their edibility in obvious ways. If it still looks, feels, and tastes like edible zucchini then that's what it is.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:56 PM on September 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

If there isn't anything obviously wrong with it, then what are you afraid might go wrong if you eat it? Vegetables don't secretly turn into poison after a set period of time. I'm sure you'd happily eat a winter squash, close cousin to the zucchini, that was much older than two months.
posted by ssg at 12:08 AM on September 3, 2008

Eat it. By the time they get to the shops, most vegies are more than a month old anyway. I can't imagine a few more weeks will hurt. But if they're brown on the inside when you sclice them, they will taste reallllly bad. Thus spake The Voice of Experience.
posted by indienial at 2:20 AM on September 3, 2008

Two months, unless it's a preserved item, is just a wee bit too long.

If you've ever bought a McIntosh apple in April, you should know that it's 6 or more months old -- it was part of the same fall harvest as the ones you bought in October. Apples harvested in September/October that are intended for sale before Christmas aren't even put in the special atmosphere controlled holding room used for the ones to be shipped later, just basic cold storage.

Fruits and vegetables with thick skins are self-preserving to a remarkable degree. They'll go off quite quickly if there are any blemishes in that skin, but if you can't see any blemishes either now or when you cut into it, it's incredibly unlikely to be secretly harboring food poisoning.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:55 AM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it's mushy and leaking a thin noxious liquid, follow your nose and avoid.

Otherwise, they're fine. Summer squash can't be stored as long as winter squash, but they store better than many veggies. And it's not milk -- it doesn't need refrigeration to keep from spoiling.
posted by desuetude at 6:09 AM on September 3, 2008

Have you never eaten zucchini before? It's hard to imagine it wouldn't be obvious from touching one (is it firm, or soft and mushy?) or sniffing one. How hot has it been in Cleveland? There's a difference between stuff that's been shipped and stored refrigerated, or kept in cool dry containers in a dark storeroom versus something sitting out in the peak of summer heat, sun, and humidity for two months. (I personally can't imagine it would still be good, but fruit and vegetables do sometimes surprise you.)

Also, if it turns out it is bad and you still want to eat fresh summer veggies, just start asking around - someone you know is bound to have a garden right now producing more freakin' zucchini and tomatoes than they know what to do with.
posted by aught at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2008

Squashes (including zucchini) are safe at room temp. As long as they aren't squishy or brown, eat up.
posted by Citrus at 9:16 AM on September 3, 2008

I would recommend against eating zucchini this time of year. Reason being, gardeners sense people who are willing to eat zucchini at, as the time that zukes overflow gardens rolls around, they are likely to accost you and force ever larger zucchini upon you. Eventually, and I've seen this far too many times, you will be unable to leave the house lest you come home and find every available surface covered with zucchini. Fear this.

Other than that, you should be fine.
posted by stet at 9:49 AM on September 3, 2008

I've got a few big zukes stashed in the cupboard, they've kept fine for a while, so I'd add my voice to the "if it's not oozing and soft, it's good to go"
posted by glip at 10:38 AM on September 3, 2008

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