Can I Eat This? Shallot and Anchovy paste left out overnight
June 18, 2020 5:25 PM   Subscribe

I made the NYT carmelized shallot & Anchovy pasta paste, put half of it straight from the pan into a jar, then left that jar out overnight. oops. I put it in the fridge in the morning, and have opened the jar since (the lid popped! and it smells okay... I would cook before eating, but is it okay?
posted by wowenthusiast to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With fishiness, I'd give a hard hell no.
posted by vers at 5:49 PM on June 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

I love that recipe, but no, I wouldn’t eat anchovies left out overnight.
posted by holborne at 5:55 PM on June 18, 2020

If you hadn't said the lid popped, I would have said, give it a try. I'm on the lax end when it comes to these questions, something I inherited from my mother, and I've never had food poisoning, though maybe I have just have tough microbes in my gut. But even for me, the lid popping suggests something funky going on, so alas, I'd pass.
posted by swheatie at 6:03 PM on June 18, 2020

The lid popped, presumably, because it was hot when it went in the jar and then cooled down. Which seems better than going in cool.
posted by alexei at 6:18 PM on June 18, 2020 [7 favorites]

This is a highly salted paste yes? I’d generally eat it after reheating thoroughly* The pop and the smell are good signs. People here are quick to note that the smell test is not proof of safety, but nobody has yet shown me an odorless and harmful micro-organism that can invisibly grow to dangerous densities overnight in a salted paste medium overnight. The distinctive taste of allium species is due to antimicrobial compounds, fwiw.

*we are in the midst of the deadliest pandemic of our lifetimes; that has changed my calculus a bit, ymmv.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:33 PM on June 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

The lid popping is just a side effect of the contents of the jar cooling after the lid was tightened. The anchovies came out of a shelf-stable can, right? If so, they're definitely good; I'd eat this without a second thought (except that I don't like anchovies very much, but other than that..).
posted by tapir-whorf at 6:36 PM on June 18, 2020 [9 favorites]

i would toates eat that.
posted by stray at 6:53 PM on June 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Chiming in to say, yep eat it for sure.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 6:56 PM on June 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty risk-averse with these things, and I'd eat this. Maybe not right before a long flight, but at home I'd go for it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:59 PM on June 18, 2020

Just an anchovy I'd probably say whatever, but I'd be worried that the shallot volume would have dropped the salt ratio below preservative levels.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:33 PM on June 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Was the jar you put it into sterilized? (say by steaming it together with its lid, and then putting the lid on before it cooled).

If so I'd eat it, but if not it would have been an ideal culture medium for whatever organism was in the jar, but not killed by the hot food when you put it in.
posted by jamjam at 9:26 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: Addendum to mine above: I have very spotty reading comprehension and was under the impression the anchovy and shallots were in a prepared condiment that was left out overnight.

My answer should’ve been a strong fuck no.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:04 PM on June 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ugh, sorry, I hate when that happens.

The amount of oil and garlic here would be a real red flag for me. While garlic does have antimicrobial properties, the fact remains that cooked or raw garlic stored in oil at room temperature has caused several outbreaks of botulism in the US. (As a side note, if you did grow any botulism bacteria in there, right now is an especially bad time to be on a ventilator.) Of course, botulism is a rare, worst case scenario, but much more common anaerobes like Clostridium perfringens could also easily grow in there during that time frame; that would be pretty mild on the food poisoning scale, but still not a fun experience.

If you haven’t decided already, I’d pitch it. There are other ways to reduce food waste.

(If you were going to intentionally ferment or cure fish at room temperature, you would probably be following a pretty specific recipe. It can be really dangerous to just wing it, or even to make minor changes, unless you really know what you’re doing.)
posted by en forme de poire at 1:25 AM on June 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

If it was thoroughly cooked, then sealed in a clean jar while still hot... yeah, I'd eat it for sure. If the jar was sterilized and the lid popped, I'd eat it twice. I should say, though, that I'm usually comfortable getting the risk down to 0.001% rather than 0.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 3:53 AM on June 19, 2020

I'd absolutely eat it.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:41 PM on June 19, 2020

For reference, since the ingredient list is badly ordered, the contents are: 6 ears shallots, 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, 1 can anchovy fillets (drained), and 1 can tomato paste. I think I have to decline to answer the question as stated because a lot depends on the ratio of anchovy to tomato. If this is a 4 oz can of anchovies and an 6 oz can of tomato, cooked down so there's very little water, plus you have the red pepper acting as preservative defense in depth? I would eat it if I had an occasion to sometime in the next week. Botulism in oil is a real and deadly problem, but that's because you have moisture, low oxygen, and no acid. Similarly, it's possible to have that problem when canning fresh tomatoes that are too ripe and sweet. But tomato paste is very acidic, and we're not talking something canned.
posted by wnissen at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2020

It would never even occur to me not to eat this.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:39 PM on June 19, 2020

Response by poster: lol for the record i ate this a long time later and it was delicious
posted by wowenthusiast at 10:03 AM on September 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

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