I thought I would talk about how to take care of the different kinds of food you serve in your galley or kitchen. There is so much information I have decided to break this article into 3 parts. In this first part, I will be discussing bread, dry and baked goods.
I’d like to share a couple thoughts on canned goods. Cans will often get bashed around on a vessel when improperly stowed. Is it safe to use food from dented cans? According to the USDA, “If a can containing food has a small dent, but is otherwise in good shape, the food should be safe to eat. Discard deeply dented cans. A deep dent is one that you can lay your finger into.”
What about “sell by”, or “best if used by” dates. Don’t worry. These dates only refer to a guarantee of quality and taste, not edibility. I have opened cans that were perfectly fine 6 months past the “best by” date. However, I once opened a can of evaporated milk that came out solid and instinctively threw it away. If the can is rusty or otherwise damaged, get rid of it. With proper stock rotation, this shouldn’t be an issue.
What about my other dried goods? I have always believed in rotating the stock regularly. Rotating stock means that you make use of your oldest ingredients and not let them sit going to waste. One reason is weevils. Weevils may infest flour, cereal, rice, pasta, and oats. Flour, for instance, has a shelf life of around 6 months. Once you exceed it, you may start to see weevils. Temperature matters too. Freezing flour for 4 days has been shown to kill weevils and their eggs. Keep your dried goods below 60 degrees F to discourage weevil reproduction. If you find weevils in your cupboard, you need to dispose of everything dry. If there are cans near the weevils, wash them. Thoroughly clean the shelving with a bleach solution. Don’t throw the stuff away in the galley, get it outside. If you are halfway through that bowl of cereal and see something crawl, don’t worry. Although weevils will gross out your crew, they aren’t poisonous or toxic. So rotate your stock and when possible put dry goods like flour in airtight containers.
A “guaranteed fresh” date on bread just means after that date it may not be as good. If you need to keep bread longer than the date on the bread, you can freeze it. If you are baking your own bread, let it cool before wrapping so it isn’t damp when it thaws. If you freeze store bought bread in the original bag, it probably won’t keep very long as it will dry out. If you vacuum seal it it might keep up to 6 months. I have wrapped bread in Saran Wrap and then put it in a one gallon freezer bag for up to 2 months with no ill effects. Is that moldy bread safe to eat? Although you may only see a few green spots the mold could run deep. Throw it away!