When in doubt, throw it out. ~Author Unknown
ONLY THE GOOD FRIDAY
On this Friday, meant for discussion of only the good, inspired by This Eclectic Life, I’m going to talk about the bad to keep everyone safe when eating, which is always a good thing.
THE WARNING:¬† EXPIRATION DATES
A friend told me about a post in Snopes about the importance of getting rid of pancake mix (or any other pre-made food products like biscuit, brownie or cake mixes) if it is past the expiration date.¬†¬† Mold can begin to grow inside the box, and eating it can trigger an allergic reaction causing anaphylaxis.¬† Anaphylaxis can occur in response to any allergen like drug and food allergens and insect stings or bites.¬† According to the National Institutes of Health website:
Anaphylaxis is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical that has become an allergen.¬† After being exposed to a substance such as bee sting venom, the person’s immune system becomes sensitized to it.¬† On a later exposure to that allergen, an allergic reaction may occur.¬† This reaction happens quickly after the exposure, is severe, and involves the whole body.¬† Tissues in different parts of the body release histamine and other substances.¬† This causes the airways to tighten and leads to other symptoms.
This type of mold is not visible to the eye, nor is it killed by cooking.¬† It will probably change the taste of the food, but for someone with a low sensitivity to taste (or someone very hungry for those pancakes or brownies) the taste peculiarity may not be evident.¬† Those not allergic to mold will not have the severe reaction – or any reaction- but there is a first time for everything.¬† And, as is typical for brownies and cupcakes at school and church bake sales, you never know who is going to eat your baking efforts.
THE GOOD NEWS
There is good reason for that old, ubiquitous quote, above.¬† And a better reason for making things from whole ingredients.¬† I’ve never heard of real foods like flour, sugar and baking powder developing mold spores.¬† A general-purpose food like flour is apt to be used up more quickly than a more specific food product like pancake mix.¬† Baking Quick Breads – includes anything using baking powder/soda as leavening agents rather than yeast, like cakes, brownies, pancakes, etc – from scratch is not as difficult as many think, and has many advantages:
- You know exactly what you’re eating.
- It is a better food value, containing less refined ingredients.
- It is a better economic value, giving you the best buy for your money.
- It contains no¬† chemicals or artificial additives like flavorings, colorings, enrichments or preservatives.
- It contains no allergens that can be disguised by other names, like the many things that contain gluten.
- With a little practice, it takes no more time to bake from scratch than from a mix.
- It gives you a real sense of authentic cooking, and inspires innovation and experimentation.
- It does not grow mold that can cause allergic reactions.
Flour left unsealed for a long time on the pantry shelf can harbor little bugs – and sugar attracts ants – but they are visible to the eye and do not cause life-threatening allergic reactions.¬† For the sake of safety and longevity, keep flour in the refrigerator and sugar in a glass jar with an air-tight (rubber or silicone) seal.¬† When first opening a box of confectioner’s or brown sugar, fold down the inner packaging bag with a paper clip, and place the entire box in a grip-lock bag before returning to the pantry.
A well-developed sense of taste is important, not only for the enjoyment of food but, with it the body can help detect unwanted things lurking in food. Mold often has a metallic flavor or, in the case of strawberries, a taste of dirt.¬† I’ve also noticed that, in leftovers kept in the refrigerator, just at the point where it is beginning to go bad, a noticeable absence of flavor.¬† If something I’ve made has no taste to it, I know that it is going bad.¬† But I love leftovers, so I try to use them quickly.¬† And that is good.
Today’s preparation is for Carrot Cake, which I will post later on today, to prove that baking from scratch is a cinch.¬† In the meantime, check out other quick breads:¬† Beer Bread, Chocolate Pancakes, Corn Bread and Cranberry Nut Cake.
SEE SIDEBAR FOR PREPARATIONS & INFORMATION