When it comes to personal health, eating contaminated food is never a good idea. While this fact may be obvious to most people, contamination isn’t always understood. For instance, we know that milk goes bad relatively quickly if it’s left unattended for an extended period of time. Freezing milk or half and half, however, is completely fine.
What Does An Expiration Date Actually Mean?
An expiration date is usually printed on food products that must be refrigerated. This date should be the final date that the food product is used. Depending on what country you live in, expiration dates for the same product can be different.
Some food products can expire in what feels like an exceedingly short period of time. It’s helpful to know what these products are so that you know when to use them after purchase.
5 Foods That Expire Within Just A Few Weeks
1. Raw Chicken
- Keeping a raw chicken breast or thigh in the fridge to cook later may seem reasonable enough, but chicken should only be stored for up to a week. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, raw poultry should be used in two days to prevent bacteria from forming.
- Although beer is fermented, it does not last forever. Although bacteria is not likely to grow, flavor can change depending on the brand and type.
- Berries of all kinds do not have a long shelf life. Generally speaking, raspberries last approximately two days before mold can begin to grow.
4. Corn On The Cob
- Corn usually lasts approximately four to five days in the fridge. Pre-husked corn can dry out even faster. Cooking corn in boiling water and then freezing it will make it last much longer.
- Milk can expire exceedingly fast if it is only stored in the fridge. The expiration date for a carton of milk is extremely important because if it has gone bad, spoiled milk can make someone very feel very ill. As a rule of thumb, milk is past its prime after one week. This is also true for half and half. Unless it’s frozen.
What Is Half And Half?
Half and half is not the same as milk. While it is frequently used in coffee or dessert drinks, it cannot be substituted for milk when cooking. This is because it is only half milk while the rest of it is heavy cream. Cream, while delicious, has a slightly thicker texture and can change the consistency of food if it is used as a substitute when baking.
One of the perks to using half and half for coffee is that it still tastes richer than milk, but has less calories than using straight cream. Rarely will store-bought half and half separate when used for coffee.
What Is Half And Half Used For?
- While half and half is not a substitute for milk, it can be used in a variety of different ways. Ice cream, scrambled eggs and even pasta can all benefit from using half and half. By adding a splash of cream with milk, food can benefit from extra flavor as well as texture.
How To Store Half And Half
Since half and half is part milk and part cream, this dairy product should be refrigerated. Usually a carton of half and half is relatively small since many people only use this product for coffee. When cooking with half and half, many prefer to buy the larger sizes regardless of how quickly they plan on using it.
Half and half can be refrigerated for approximately one week before the expiration date. If you need to store half and half for a longer period of time, freezing it is another option.
Freezing Half And Half
While storing dairy products in the fridge has a relatively short shelf life, freezing them has its own set of rules. Many people that use half and half choose the freezing method so that they can use it for cooking at a later date. Just because cream and milk spoil quickly in the fridge, does not mean freezing has the same outcome.
3 Steps To Freeze Half And Half:
- Freezing half and half is best done before the carton is opened. By freezing this product in its original packaging, no oxygen has made contact with the inside contents. Although it can be freezed in an air-tight container, professional sealing is preferred if possible.
- Once you plan on using the half and half, transfer it from the freezer to the fridge. It is best to defrost the product in an area that is already cold, but not as chilly as the freezer. Half and half is usually thawed after several hours in the fridge depending on the amount that is used. Large cartons of half and half may take a little longer to completely thaw.
- After half and half has thawed, the consistency may be slightly different than when it was originally bought. To make sure it is the right texture for baking or cooking, you can use a whisk to smooth it out. It is normal for frozen half nad half to clump because of butterfat. This is not the same as when milk expires in the fridge.
After using thawed half and half, it is generally not a good idea to re-freeze. If you are someone who prefers to buy in bulk, try thawing only a portion of the half and half in the fridge so that you can save the rest for another time. This may involve repackaging the half and half, but if it is done in air tight concealers, the product will remain fresh for a long period of time. Air tight containers do not need to be glass. As long as the lid can be securely sealed to the bottom of the container, re-freezing can be successfully accomplished.
Staying Healthy With Expiration Dates
Expiration dates are important to pay attention to, especially when using dairy. Although they should be followed for the well-being of your health, these deadlines may vary depending on how a product is used. Freezing a food product can keep contamination away and allow food to stay fresh for a longer duration. It’s one of the best kept secrets of cooking.