January 19, 2011

expiration date debate

I know some people who will go ahead and toss a product that has reached its expiration date, regardless of whether or not it's still edible. This causes me great pain because in many cases, the food in question is perfectly fine and just as delicious and usable as the day it was made.


Take, for example, sour cream. Folks, it's sour cream--it's already soured. So until I see green stuff growing on it, I deem it acceptable for use. The same goes for yogurt and cheese. I don't shy away until mold rears its ugly head (although I clearly do my best not to let it reach that point!). Incidentally, the one exception for me is milk. When that expiration date is reached, I very tentatively sniff the stuff, and if I pick up even the slightest whiff of sourness, the stuff's not going anywhere near my cereal. Period.

Whether or not you subscribe to my way of thinking and whether or not your sour cream is fresh, these muffins are amazing. We can argue about many things (nature vs. nurture, Team Jacob or Team Edward, cats or dogs), but we can't disagree that individual portions of moist coffee cake topped with crunchy, sugary streusel is absolutely delicious.


I sincerely hope that your opinion of me hasn't diminished since you've learned of my reckless and devil-may-care ways with food. However, it's important to note this fact: I haven't been poisoned yet.

Knock on wood.

Spectacular Streusel-ized Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins
(based on these beauties)

Streusel:
1 1/2 cups pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3
tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Muffins:
8
tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1
tablespoon lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup plus 2
tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2
teaspoon baking powder
1/2
teaspoon salt
 

For the Streusel: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. In a large bowl, mix the pecans with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, making sure to break up and incorporate all of the brown sugar. Stir in the butter. Set aside.

For the Muffins: Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin. In a mixer, combine the butter, lemon zest, and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the egg, and then the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed until just combined. 


Fill the prepared muffin cups with batter so they are about 1/3 full.  Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of streusel over the batter in each cup. Divide the remaining batter among the cups, and sprinkle the muffins with the remaining streusel.

Bake, rotating the muffin tin halfway through, until the muffins spring back to the touch, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Turn out the muffins onto the rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

66 comments:

Pam said...

I have the exact same standards for using expiration dates on food. Also, must add eggs...those things just keep going and going! These muffins look delish!

Angie's Recipes said...

I am totally with you! I just finished a packed of hard cheese, which was actually expired last week. :-))
These muffins look gorgeous with sugary crumbly topping!

FOODESSA said...

Being logical and observant has served me well with no regrets so far.
Although, the few things I make sure to use before the due date are things like poultry and other proteins...won't take chances on those. The one exception would be eggs...they last a lot longer than we think.

Grace, there's no shame in admitting what you believe to be and you're absolutely right about sour cream...no green...still good. LOL

Now, I'll have a muffin to go please ;o)

Flavourful wishes,
Claudia

WorkingChef said...

I'm the same way. Just because the industry says it's bad (so you have to buy some more) dosen't mean it is. They do have to put something though, or else some people would keep things wayyyyyy past when they should.

shaz said...

Right on Grace! I'm with you the whole way, right down to the milk. I definitely think, hey it's sour cream, how much sourer can it get? I usually do the sight and sniff test, if it looks ok and smells ok, then it's fine with me :) Knock on wood, still healthy too.

And ooh those muffins are tempting, especially the streusel, mmm, streusel.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I am the queen when it comes to eating stuff that have passed the expiration date. ;-P I rarely through away food.

What beautiful muffins!

Cheers,

Rosa

bellini valli said...

When my daughter comes over she starts throwing things away in my fridge until I stop her. I think it toughens up my stomach so I can travel to exotic places without Montesuma's revenge rearing it's ugly head:D In the meantime lets eat muffins!!!!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Oh Grace, why must you tempt me with these scrumptious beauts? I can't eat until noon today due to an upcoming doctor's visit so it's a good thing this is just an image cause I'd surely gobble the muffins right up if they were actually in front of me. I agree with you about keeping those products until there's a sigh of spoilage that we can detect with our own senses. Can you imagine all the packages going to waste at grocery stores? The ones that aren't purchased by the sell-by date that I assume are dumped unopened. Breaks my heart :-/.

Barbara said...

My mother kept food in her fridge way beyond reason. Leftovers even. How we all survived I'll never know. (In fact how did we all survive handling chicken the way we did? Nobody used to care about that.)
Now cheese, who cares? Cut off the mold and get on with it. Ditto sour cream. Milk is another thing entirely. It starts to smell ugly.

These muffins are fabulous and moist. Sour cream does that...and I like the lemon addition. Cinnamon streusel on top? Dump it on!

Di said...

I totally agree with one exception. I do use milk at the expiration date in baking (unless it's visibly soured).
I can't wait to try the muffin recipe. Thanks!

Barefoot Belle said...

Love, love, love. I need to go make my favorite coffee cake now! These muffins are beauties.

I totally agree with the mold expiration rule. It generally works...except that my brother and husband both ate a mold-laden chocolate cake during Christmas, thinking that those white specks were powdered sugar (evidently they ignored the blue specks).

Faith said...

The muffins look fantastic! And I agree with you, expiration dates are really more of suggestions than anything else! By the way, I used to throw out soured milk too...but my neighbor just recently gave me a recipe for muffins to use it in...I figure, it's really not so different from buttermilk, right? Who knew! ;)

jose manuel said...

De esto no dejaba yo ni las migas, que rica que se ve.

Saludos

Pam said...

You never cease to make me drool woman!

I am with you, especially about milk, I only like very fresh milk.

vanillasugar said...

HA! i don't think i've ever had a case of bad sour cream. like it sits in the fridge in this house....please. LOL!
you know i do love that fresh WHOLE milk (yeah I said whole) from whole foods, the one in the glass containers. god that shit is good, perfect with chocolate cake.
Your muffins remind me that i haven't made squat of a muffin in ages. Looks good girl! ^5

lisa is cooking said...

I often wonder about expirations on sour cream. Good to know I'm not alone. And, these muffins do look amazing!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I view expiration dates as a suggested time of use...haha. If it doens't smell bad or have mold it's good.

Now these muffins....I would eat them all. Then I would gain back all the weight I loss...haha.

Kathy - Panini Happy said...

Oh man, I think you guys would all be pretty frustrated with me in my kitchen! I stick pretty close to the expiration dates and run scared from anything with fuzz on it. I guess I've just watched one too many news pieces about foodborne illness, I don't trust myself to know what's okay and what's not. With little kids in the house and all I'm especially cautious.

That said, I love the muffins. :-)

Mimi said...

I've had things spoil before the use by date, so I use the sniff test, regardless of the expiration date on the package. If I ever lose my sense of smell I could be in big trouble.
Lovely muffins, I can almost smell the cinnamon and lemon zest!
Mimi

grace said...

I'm sad to say that I'm one of those people who toss carelessly. And it pisses off everyone I live with. However... I've had a container of sour cream in my refrigerator since December and I think I know what I can use it for now..(after I check for mold) =D

oneordinaryday said...

You, crazy lady, you! :) I'm glad you live on the wild side, if these yummy muffins are the result!

Valerie @ Love through the stomach said...

I use everything that hasn't molded or visibly deteriorated or smells way way way off. And I take things a little easier when heating something through all the way than when I'm using something raw. (Like milk, when I'm not 100 percent sure about it, I'll still use it for baking, but not for drinking.)
Haven't poisoned myself this way yet (sure I've eaten bad things before, but that actually wasn't stuff that was past the expiration date, but something that was apparently bad before the expiration date had happened.)

I saw a tv show a while ago, where a bunch of past-expiration-date products were tested scientifically for heath hazards. Some things were a full year past expiration and were still completely harmless, they just lost some of their taste.

Merut said...

My fiance throws out stuff all the time. He suspiciously take things out of the fridge (and I'll admit, he has a right to be suspicious). Then he reads the date, and if the date has passed then he throws it out. And then I salvage it and put it on his dinner. Sneaky sneaky. These muffins look awesome!

Lynda said...

Can't wait to try these muffins Grace-they'll be great with our morning coffee, or an afternoon snack. Your Your pictures are always so addictive looking!
I'm with you on experation dates-food can keep longer than we think. I am careful about milk though.

Julie M. said...

I'm actually the same way with everything you said only, depending on the cheese, I may actually just cut the mold off and eat the good piece. (shhh, don't tell anyone) Cheese is made from mold anyway, right?

Love your muffins, they look like a perfect breakfast treat!

Oh, and CATS.

Melanie said...

Hmmm...I'm a thrower-outter...can we still be friends? Although I submit that coffee-cake like muffins can most likely solve hefty issues like world peace, so surely it can bring all of us throwers together with those who devour expired foods.

aionaccount said...

Agree with what you've said, we usually don't throw up anything unless as you said molds is within sight also, it depends on the nature of the expired product.

BTW, my logic have been dissolve at the sight your heavenly looking muffins. Want to grab that out of screen.LOL

Dana said...

You got me at the streusel topping, but muffins with sour cream in them tend to be so very moist. I bet these are killer.

We're much the same way in our house, and being the person with the most sensitive sense of smell, I'm the designated sniffer when it comes to, "Hey Babe, do you think the milk is still good?"

I just hate to waste, so I try to watch things in the fridge and use them up before they are in need of sniffing.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

LOL I love your logic when it comes to soured items! I think Mr NQN thinks the same! :P

Kay Heritage said...

That is exactly how I feel, Grace! I love a woman with good common sense! Love the muffin! :)

Felicia Sullivan said...

Thanks for linking to my muffins, Grace! Your version is equally DELISH. xo, Felicia

AManda said...

Love the cake, and I am SOOOOOO with you girl!! I go by how it looks and smells usually... THEN check the date! ;)

5 Star Foodie said...

The expiration date is usually when the store has to sell it by anyway :) The muffins look so scrumptious, yum!

Cara said...

haha, I think it's hilarious how overly cautious some people are about food. Like, "I left cream cheese in my car for 12 hours by accident. It's 35 degrees out. Is is spoiled?" Dude, that's colder than your refrigerator. And eggs - in Europe it's pretty common not to refrigerate at all!

Speaking of eggs, I'd also like to mention that I've never been poisoned by raw cookie dough. *oink*

kat said...

Those look so good! I tend to go by the 7 days after the expiration date for most of my dairy products

Joanne said...

I am exactly the same way! If there's no mold, then I feel that it's good to eat. End of story.

These muffins...I would devour them. WIthin minutes. The whole batch.

foodhoe said...

I'm with you on the sniffage! although I do note official expiration dates, which definitely motivates me to use stuff, like to make these muffins, which btw sound so delicious!

Emily said...

Grace, I completely agree with you!

What do you think about yogurt, though? I tend to throw that away.

I love streusel-y muffins! These look great!

Carolyn Jung said...

We definitely get too paranoid about expiration dates in this country. I know people who will throw out a carton of eggs once the date on the side comes around, even though the eggs are perfectly fine for another couple of weeks. What a waste.

culinography said...

Same here... everything but milk gets A LOT of leeway in my kitchen. My husband, on the other hand, the exact opposite - he'll pitch anything that SAYS it's expired, but somehow always managed to drink the spoiled milk. ;)

These look a-mazing.

~~louise~~ said...

Oh dear Grace, I have had such a undeniable craving for coffee cake the last few weeks. It's been unbearable. No, it isn't because I'm dieting (although I should be) It's because I just haven't been able to pinpoint the "perfect" recipe. I do believe I have found it. I can "feel" the aroma from here. Hopefully, I will get the energy to "whip" these darlings up. They look heavenly!

Thank you so much for sharing...

tasteofbeirut said...

We live in a society that has an abundance of goods available and so we are used to throwing things away; in other cultures , they are more careful and most items do not even have "an expiration date'on them! So people use their judgment, which i find perfectly acceptable and yours is common sense to me! Great muffin by the way!

Lucie said...

I'm pretty much like you, Grace. The only things I get doubtful of are milk and eggs--I can't see inside! How am I supposed to know if they're ok?
On another note, I have a ton of sour cream in my fridge at the moment...the call of the muffin has started!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I'm with you... except for bags of salad.
What's up with that? The go bad at 12 noon on the expiration date!
Now~ I'll take one of those muffins :-)

cooking rendez-vous said...

I'm with you too! Exactly on the same products. On dairy products, as long as the smell is good and the taste is fresh... Even for fruits, you can easily use brown bananas for sauce with apples and pears. My grand mother used to call this "the good use of the leftovers, you should not waste"...

Juliana said...

Grace, I am totally with you...I am very skeptical with milk all the other dairy I am very flexible :-) This muffins look delicious specially with the yummie pecan topping.

Marjie said...

My second son will announce on the day any product expires that it is "rotten", and toss it. This causes me to go absolutely bat-s**t crazy. I too subscribe to the "if it ain't green, it's fine" theory of life, and with milk, if it smells a little questionable, it's time to use it in baked goods before it becomes chunky. Oh, and an expiration date on cereal or canned goods? Rubbish. Your muffins look delish!

kimberleyblue said...

Agreed! Sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk...they all stay with me past the expiration date. Milk and eggs? Won't even try!

I love a muffin with a streusel topping, especially when it includes pecans. I love that photo with the little pecan chunk hanging on - gorgeous looking muffins!

Mobile Disco said...

I agree its like lettuce and carrots the Mrs wants to throw them away and I remind her there is nothing wrong with them but she still wont eat them.. Lettuce have about 10 days on them but can last for up to a month.

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

Ditto. I like to check when I purchase so I am not buying something close to the expiry date. But it all depends upon the storage and care taken. I don't like wasting. Mold can be cut off cheese and it is just fine. I learned that in my Food Safety class.

scrambledhenfruit said...

I also agree that the expiration dates on some items allow for some flexibility. Regular milk never stays in my refrigerator long enough to go sour. Buttermilk, on the other hand, I've found lasts way longer than its expiration date. :) Won't take chances with meat though. Those muffins look absolutely scrumptious, expired sour cream and all!

pierre said...

sometimes I look at tha date and sometines I do not !!!
And I am not dead ..yet !!!
Pierre de Paris

Leslie said...

TEAM EDWARD!!!! But I love Jacob too. I just watched Eclipse for the 5th time yesterday!
I do the smell test on everything. If it smells gross I toss it.

Cheryl said...

I am with you sista, I ignore the date and use my nose! p.s. I am team Jacob! Whoo Hooooo the pervy old woman I am!

Emily said...

I'm with you, cheese and sour cream only get better with age! These muffins sound divine! We're heading out on a snow shoe adventure next weekend and this will be my breakfast contribution!

MaryBeth said...

I think it depends on what it is and if it smells bad, most things however are still good way after the expiration date. These sounds divine!

Kerstin said...

Yum, love that streusel on top! I feel like sour cream keeps a long time, but it's nice finding yummy recipes like this one to use up that last bit at the bottom of the tub.

Catherine said...

I'm the exact same Grace, and I definitely wouldn't turn my nose up at those gorgeous muffins!

I remember my first boyfriend's dad scraping mould from a piece of bread before toasting it, saying "it's penicillin, it's good fur ye." I wouldn't go as far as that though haha!

Sandy @ RE said...

I fudge on the dates all of the time ... even yogurt and sour cream ...

Hi Grace! Miss you, girl!

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm a fanatic about dates. Unless it's something I'm really craving. :)

WizzyTheStick said...

if it's for the kids or guests I err on the side of caution and throw it out...for myself I'm less fussy

marla said...

I too don't go batty on expiration dates - but I also cringe at the sniff test. These sour cream coffee cake muffin streusel treats look like they could cure any exposure to a bad sniff test ;)

Foodycat said...

I very much believe in looking at it & sniffing it before chucking. Except milk - the 2% that I buy sometimes goes chunky while still smelling perfectly fine. So I only find out when globs of yoghurt hit my coffee.

Deborah said...

I am so with you!! There was actually a cheese specialist on Rachael Ray the other day that said that you should never throw cheese away just because it's reached it's expiration date. And these muffins look amazing!

Heidi said...

How delicious do these muffins look!!!!! I'm fairly lenient with expiration dates with cheese, but most dairy I tend to be strict with. If I see "best before" however, i always assume that I know best :)
Heidi xo

Joy Juicer said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I'm ready to eat.