please help resolve my tofu troubles
June 25, 2009 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Can I eat this expired (but frozen) tofu/tempeh/tofurky?

I just moved into a new apartment and my new roommate's old roommate left behind some food in the freezer. At first I was delighted to be inheriting free food, but now that I've checked the best by dates, I'm not so sure. Details:

Tofurky: "enjoy by" 08/23/08
Yves Meatless Deli Ham: "best before" 02/13/08
White Wave Baked Tofu: 09/02/05 (date has no qualifier before it)
Sunergia Soyfoods pesto tofu: 04/22/06 (also no qualifier)
SoyBoy Tempeh: April 26 (says that it can be "sold frozen for 6 months after date" but, the date doesn't have a year after it and considering the other fake meats, I wouldn't bet on it being 2009)

I do not know for how long any of this was frozen, nor can I contact new roommate's old roommate to ask.

So...can I eat any of this? If it were anything else, I'd probably just throw it away, but I do love fancy tofu products (and very rarely buy them myself due to their fancy prices) so this would be a free food grand slam.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My understanding is that food safety is not an issue with prolonged freezing, as long as the freezer's temperature has remained constant, but quality is - as in, it'll probably taste weird and have a weird texture if it's been in the freezer more than a year.

If the freezer hasn't had a constant temperature, the food would have fuzzy frost on it. Don't eat it if it does.

No one can guarantee that she froze it before it went bad, but you could use eyes, nose and tongue on that one.

For each thing, assuming no fuzzy frost, I'd probably defrost it, see what it looks and smells like, taste it, and then decide if I wanted to eat it. Oh, and it looks like you can heat all that stuff in a frying pan for further safety.
posted by palliser at 7:55 PM on June 25, 2009

It'll be fine. Bon appetit!
posted by torquemaniac at 8:15 PM on June 25, 2009

I recently ate tofu that was six months past its "enjoy by" date --- and it was only refrigerated! It was fine.
posted by jayder at 8:22 PM on June 25, 2009

If it were me, I would eat it with relish.
posted by serazin at 8:25 PM on June 25, 2009

Your nose is your friend here. Smells OK? Try a bit. Tastes OK? Eat it.

Maybe don't eat all of the expired meat at once though. Spread it out - what's another few weeks past the expiration date? Might be easier on your stomach in case something is bad that you didn't detect via smelling/tasting.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 9:07 PM on June 25, 2009

palliser has it, the expiration date on frozen food is for quality, not safety. It may taste less than ideal, but if it's been frozen the whole time it should be perfectly safe.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:17 PM on June 25, 2009

Stilltasty says if it's been frozen at 0'F the whole time, you'rebasically golden. Texture will be another issue, though.
posted by Decimask at 9:21 PM on June 25, 2009

It'll taste funny, but it should be fine, safety-wise.
posted by lekvar at 10:00 PM on June 25, 2009

Best answer: Yeah, but what if "White Wave Baked Tofu: 09/02/05" wasn't actually put in the freezer until 2007?

Just how much do you trust this "old roommate"?

Sorry, someone had to unfreeze the seeds of doubt! :)
posted by orme at 4:33 AM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: Your (former) friendly neighborhood health food clerk here:

As long as all the items are in the original package, unopened, and were frozen before or within a week of the date on the package, you should be fine from the "likely not to die" angle.

White Wave Package Dates and Soyboy Dates are "Best By" dates. The other tofu is most likely the same. Many products you find in the refrigerated/dairy section of your grocery store are like this. It gives you a little leeway. As long as it was frozen within 7 days of that date, it's fine. And as someone who's lived off of the expired food and dented cans at the health food store (and regular grocery stores too, actually)... you'll most likely be fine.

Here are some things to consider though:

The texture on all of this is going to be vastly different than if you went and bought it at the store today.

Tofu actually can be frozen indefinitely, but once it has been frozen, the texture changes dramatically. Tofu dries out in the freezer and it's going to be crumbly as all get out... so use that to your advantage with the pesto tofu and the baked tofu. Spaghetti sauce or pizza toppings perhaps?

A lot of Tempeh is actually sold frozen, so the texture on this isn't going to be as bad off... but still, it will be far drier and more crumbly than you're probably used to. Tempeh won't crumble as easily as tofu, but it'd probably be best to take a cheese grater to it (Slightly frozen still, it'll be easier.) and make it into some mock ground beef and use it accordingly.

The Tofurkey? It'll be fine. Just don't save it til Thanksgiving.

The Yves Meatless Ham... this is the one I'm eh on. And not because I'm worried that they might kill you. It's just highly likely that these have frozen into a giant mega ham slice and probably won't peel apart that easily, even after you've defrosted them. Defrost it, don't worry about peeling it apart, slice it up and use it on a Chef's salad or in an omelet if you're lacto/ovo or a omnivore who doesn't mind soy.

Just remember that this will not be the best tasting tofu eating experience. The texture is going to be off and the items are likely to be freezer burned inside the packaging. It won't kill you, but it won't taste like brand new, fresh product either. Now is not the time to try and sway meat eaters into soy products.
posted by aristan at 5:28 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by IAmBroom at 1:10 PM on June 26, 2009

Response by poster: I will eat away and report back (unless it kills me)!
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 3:15 PM on June 26, 2009

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