February 09, 2008


People can say what they will about the evils of processed foods, but sometimes they serve a very good purpose.

A case in point is sauerkraut. I usually get the Boar's Head brand, which comes in a nice little refrigerated bag.

One year, after a bountiful cabbage harvest, I considered making my own homemade sauerkraut. Sadly, I never got past looking at the directions in the cookbook because I couldn't wrap my mind around the whole fermentation process.

Leave shredded cabbage at room temperature on the kitchen counter for days and weeks? Isn't that considered compost? It's not gonna happen. And this is Texas. We're air conditioned 24/7 even in February. It's likely that my kitchen is as cool as my refrigerator. It's still not gonna happen.

Here's part of the problem: I'm one of those people who's extremely influenced by the expiration dates on food. The food companies love people like me. I won't eat or use anything past it's expiration date. Out it goes. Off to the store to buy new.

Just this evening I noticed that they started putting an expiration date on the cans of PAM. Just what I need.

I know it's all in my mind. Before eggs started getting their death date printed right on the carton, I would use them for months if that's how long they were in the refrigerator. Who knows how long my previous cans of PAM had been in the cupboard before they were eventually used up. Even canned goods have the actual dates stamped on them now instead of some mysterious code that I previously could cheerfully ignore because I didn't know what they meant.

I was buzzing along in blissful ignorance. I want to know what's in my food and where it comes from, but I don't want to know when my elbow macaroni expires.

So, back to sauerkraut.

Tammy over at Food on the Food started a batch of her own last month and I've been waiting to see how it would turn out. She did an update yesterday and I have to say, I'm quite impressed.

Since she's now eaten some and lived to write about it, I'm almost convinced that it might be a doable thing for me. At least she's given me the courage to perhaps start the project. We'll see about actually tasting it when the time comes.

I may be a little weird about the expiration date thing, but I want you to know that I do exercise risky behavior in some cases.

  • I've been eating cake and brownie batter from the beaters, bowls and spoons ever since I was a kid.

  • One of the best things about my first apartment was that I was finally able to nip pieces of raw cookie dough out of the refrigerator without feeling guilty about it or having my mother tell me not to do it because it was bad for me.

  • I'll take butter out of the refrigerator to soften before making cookies and not actually make the cookies until days later.

  • There's nothing wrong with Steak Tartare. I like my steaks and roast beef cooked very rare.

  • I have used expired milk in my mashed potatoes and dumplings in the past because I was too lazy to go to the store.

  • I use a wooden cutting board for my meat and my vegetables.

We'll save my issues with dairy products for another day.


At 9:18 AM CST, Blogger T.W. Barritt said...

In some ways, I think the expiration dates stamped on everything have made us overly sensitive. I've just gone through a similar process with a container of milk. I prefer to think of it as a suggestion. If the product is the appropriate color and smells fine, then go for it! By the way, I would love to sample homemade sauerkraut!


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