How not to give your friends food poisoning: nine easy tips! Part 3: Well the sour cream is already sour, so…. The rules of dairy

We cleaned out the fridge this weekend at casa de Starter Kitchen, and WOW. Four twenty-somethings sharing a fridge means no one is responsible for that five-month-old package of cream cheese, or the yellow milk, or the mysterious cheese in a Tupperware container that may not have been blue cheese to begin with, but is now. Apparently, dairy products simply flock to our fridge when they reach retirement age, like our own little sour cream Florida.


My father always claimed that the sell-by-dates were just friendly suggestions – as long as they were purchased by that date, they were good for another month, or until his taste-test revealed that even he of the iron stomach and dead taste buds couldn’t stifle the reflex to spit out the offending food. So when does dairy food turn? How can you tell? And what the heck is that smell anyway?


Milk and cream: The time it takes for milk to spoil depends largely on its fat content. Skim milk is much higher in lactose, which turns to lactic acid as the product ages, and lactic acid promotes spoiling. The general rule for skim milk is no more than five days after the expiration date. It might still be safe to drink – but it might not. One percent milk buys you an extra day, 2% can stretch you to day seven, and whole milk and creams, if they have been kept in closed containers in the fridge, should be dumped after day eight.


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