By Bunmi Sofola
Have you ever eaten foods that were past their sell-by dates? Sometimes ago, leading super market executives from Britain’s Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-operative admitted they regularly ignore expiry dates at home. According to one of them, “The rule is: smell it”. Food is often edible past its sell-by date. You just need to exercise common sense and use your eyes, hands and nose to determine how far you can go. To save you tons of money, here are tips given by food experts on how to tell if food is still fresh enough to eat …
Tomatoes: For ripeness, you can’t beat a tomato a week or two past its best-before date. The softer and wrinkle the better; unlike most vegetables, tomatoes get sweeter rather than starchier with time. Even if the freshly insides look dark rather than yellow-orange, they are fine. Avoid them only if they become watery, grow mould or have a whiff of alcohol.
Fish fillets: Filleted raw fish such as cod, salmon and haddock, says edible up to four weeks after catching, provided it is kept refrigerated below five degrees. It stays safe, but will not taste good. Fish can take up to three weeks to get from the sea to the supermarket and because the date it’s caught doesn’t appear on the packaging, it’s important to take care.
White fish should look translucent and glossy skin, no smell and the fish should stay springy but firm when pressed. If the fish looks cloudy, leave an indentation when pressed or smells of soap, chuck it. The state ammonia smell comes from lactic acid in disintegrating flesh. If the fish looks green, avoid it like the plague.
Ice Cream: Even if kept in the freezer, ice cream has a surprisingly short shelf life. This is because it has a high fat content – thanks to all the double cream – so never fully freezes. I will lose its fresh flavour within three months. If ice cream darkens, tastes sour or of yoghurt or cream cheese, it’s time to bin it.
Eggs: Consumers have been known to eat eggs up to five weeks after buying, but mostly, it is wise to use them within three weeks of their best-before date. To test, drop the egg into a glass of water. If it floats, it’s gone off because as it ages, more air gets inside the shell through microscopic holes. At the same time, the moisture content begins to evaporate, so the egg dries out. If it sinks, it’s fine to eat.
Yoghurt: This can be eaten up to two months after the sell-by date. When it is made, it undergoes a lactic fermentation process, a preservation method that stabilises fresh milk to make it last. Throw away if you spot the faintest speck of mould – which on yoghurt can come in all colours of the rainbow. But if it looks clean and fresh, and tastes good, you should be fine.
Beef: Well-hung beef can taste fantastic after as long as five weeks and is quite safe if cooked well. You can easily stretch the best-before date by a few days. But if rotten and putrid smelling, then it;s a sign that red meat has gone off. Beef could really be date even if it has a few mouldy spots. Take a clean cloth and wipe it with vinegar to remove bacteria before cooking. Roast it at a high heat and the outer layer, which has the most pathogenic potential, will be well cooked and the bacteria killed. Cook until it is well done all the way through (which you always need to do if it’s past it’s best-before date) and there will be little or no bacteria.
Flour and spices: Grouped spices such as chili powder, paprika and cayenne can last for more than six months if they are labelled as ‘steam pasteurised’, ‘fumigated with chemical gases’ or ‘radiated’ – which means they’ve been sterilised to kill off mites. These microscopic insects live in dry foods such as flour and spices. You won’t be able to see them, but you might notice tiny pock marks where they’ve been burrowing down into food. Mites spread fungal spores and can cause rashes and itches, so bin anything you see with poke marks.
Chicken: Unlike fish, chicken deteriorates quickly. The faintest whiff of rotting flesh or sour milk means it needs chucking, but give it a rinse under cool water before smelling to double-check the smell isn’t coming from the packaging. Generally, don’t risk eating chicken more than a day or two after its use-by date. Often, after slaughter, the chicken is made easier to pluck by putting it in a simmering water bath to loosen the feathers, which accelerates the growth of bacteria.
When your sex life needs a boost
In any relationship, there are times when sex goes off the boil, assure experts. And although passion may have dulled, it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. These ideas they believe, should make sex intense and thrilling again.
Be Honest: A lack of sexual desire often stems from a hidden problem in the relationship. So if you feel taken for granted, over-whelmed by housework or anxious about paying the bills, talk frankly to your partner about how to make things better. When you’re communicating and feel happier together, sex naturally improves.
Ring the changes: When sex is predictable, boredom follows. Go to bed earlier, get frisky on the sofa or in the kitchen – anywhere there’s a difference to your usual. Experiment with sexual positions that’ll make your orgasm easier. Look at Netdoctor.co.uk for ideas …
Build Anticipation: This is a well-tested technique to revive your sex life. You and your partner agree not to have sex for a week. Instead, kiss and hold each other, and gradually move on to touching and stroking each other, and perhaps oral sex or masturbation – whatever feels right. But don’t allow orgasm. By the end of the week you’ll both be desperate for one.
Try the two-minute rule: Even if you think you don’t want sex, explore your body and the way it reacts, then tell your partner exactly what turns you on.
Sexercise!: Testosterone is not just a male hormone – we produce it in the ovaries too, and it’s essential for our sex drive. Levels drop after our 20s, but exercise increases it. So swim , run or get to the gym.