Keep or toss expired tomato sauce?
September 27, 2013 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I have an unopened glass jar of store-bought vegetarian tomato sauce that has an expiration date on it of 2010. Other than being a little dusty, it looks brand new (no rust, no bulging on the cap, etc.). Is it safe to eat?

Anecdotally, I also had a 2011 unopened glass jar of a different brand of tomato sauce that I opened last night, and then became nervous about it and ended up tossing it, even though it smelled fine and the spoonful that I tried tasted fine.

I saw this thread, but that was for (1) a 2-year-old expiration date and (2) canned sauce, not jarred.

Thanks.
posted by lea724 to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Good lord, just toss it.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:46 AM on September 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


Is it the last jar of that type in the world? Then save it a few more years and sell it on eBay.

Is it the last jar of any foodstuff in your domicile and you have no means of getting any other source of calories? Sure, go ahead and eat it.

Otherwise, toss it.
posted by Etrigan at 7:50 AM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Normally, I'm listening to the click when I open a jar. Click=good. Swoosh-spray = well you know that...

On the other hand, this is what - three long years over date! Three years of uncontrolled exposure to light, temperature changes and whatnot. Even if the sauce is still technically edible, what's your culinary gain here?
I find this way too old.
posted by Namlit at 7:50 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's probably fine, but this is one of those situations where the risk/reward just makes no sense. I will send you the 6 bucks to buy a new jar if you're really on the fence about it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:50 AM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


StillTasty says 12-18 month shelf life with canned or bottled pasta sauce. Bin it.
posted by inturnaround at 7:55 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clean out your pantry.

Sure those dates are arbitrary, give or take a few months. Years? Tomato Sauce?

Just get all the old shit out of your house.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:08 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am such a post-expiration-date consumer that my kids' friends have made a game out of loudly checking dates on things in my kitchen. But by late 2013, a 2010 expiry is too yucko even for me. Toss it.
posted by headnsouth at 8:20 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't even consider it. It may very well be fine but I have had one to many bouts of food poisoning. Absolutely not the risk. There is no tomato sauce emergency serious enough to make the risk worth it.

And agreed with above - clearly time to do a major purge of your cupboards. That way when you look in your cupboards you'll know that everything in there is edible. If something ISN'T expired and you know you won't eat it, donate it to your local food bank. Expired stuff and things you're never going to use are just clutter and wasting space.

Whenever I go to visit my parents and look for something to eat I always complain that there is nothing. They say "The fridge is full!" which it is, but it is full of condiments, most of which are expired. I don't know how many half opened crusty jars of Maille mustard there is in there.... Massively annoying. And because they have all those stupid condiments they always see their fridge as "full" so they never put REAL food in it because they think they are already well stocked. ALSO, often times the new/edible food they buy gets lost amongst the expired condiments so that it too expires and joins the collective of fridge clutter.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:20 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a simple metric: Would I be embarrassed to have [X] as the cause of death in my obituary?

For me, X = "Ate obviously expired food." would be that kind of thing. Toss it.
posted by tommasz at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2013 [22 favorites]


I'd eat it, but I've got a strong constitution and don't waste food.
posted by koolkat at 8:35 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't worry too much about it and would eat it if I really wanted to, since it's pretty unlikely to harm you especially if it smells/tastes normal, but tomato sauce is also, like, $1. Too little to spend this much effort worrying about, especially if it's going to make you anxiously contemplate your digestion for the next 24 hours. Peace of mind is worth something.
posted by randomnity at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2013


Read this. "Properly canned foods can be stored unrefrigerated indefinitely without fear of their spoiling or becoming toxic." Expiration dates are about taste and texture, not contamination. In other words, it's not going to kill you. It just won't taste as good as something fresher. You might consider doing a side by side taste test with a fresh can, just to experience the difference.
posted by beagle at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Seconding Beagle, dates on canned goods are set to insure a certain quality level, not food safety. Hunts wants to be known for tomato sauce that meets a certain standard of tastiness, and their experiments have determined that after X amount of time, Y percentage of tasters have told them that it's not quite so tasty anymore. Getting you to not consume the product helps maintain your high opinion of the brand. That's what those dates are about.
posted by jon1270 at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2013


I'm with beagle on this one as well. This would probably make a lousy sauce (straight more or less from the jar) for a plate of pasta, but could probably be resurrected with the addition of some fresh tomato, tomato paste, a splash of wine, some fresh herbs, etc.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:47 AM on September 27, 2013


I'm with beagle on this one as well. This would probably make a lousy sauce (straight more or less from the jar) for a plate of pasta, but could probably be resurrected with the addition of some fresh tomato, tomato paste, a splash of wine, some fresh herbs, etc.

If you're at the store buying fresh tomato, tomato paste, wine, herbs, etc., you have the ingredients for homemade tomato sauce sans the bottle of (probably) four- or five-year-old sauce. Or skip that and pick up a new bottle.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:00 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


A jar of sauce is what, $2? It's three years expired now. Throw it out.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:20 AM on September 27, 2013


If you open the jar, and the contents go black when exposed to oxygen (like some very old lentils I once opened), don't eat them.*

Otherwise - seconding the comments that best before dates on canned/bottled goods are about freshness and taste, not safety. Food wastage is a really bad problem in the first world, and one of the major causes is that people don't understand the meaning of best before/sell by dates. (recent news item)

*That said, I did eat some 25-year-old pickled watermelon from a jar which also went black a few minutes later, and didn't have so much as a stomachache. Had to try it, of course - it had been put down by my grandmother in the year of my birth. She had a bit of a hoarding problem.
posted by jb at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


On any tomato product, I pitch any can with a bulging top, or anything that puffs out gas when I open it. I'll get Botox for the lines between my eyes, but not for my stomach.
posted by KRS at 3:14 PM on September 27, 2013


Too much risk for too little payoff --- toss it.
posted by easily confused at 4:04 PM on September 27, 2013


In re. many answers about "risK" -- the only risk here is that the flavours might be slightly dull.
posted by kmennie at 8:35 AM on September 28, 2013


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