What’s the oldest jar in your pantry?

There was much fanfare and celebration the other day as I finished a jar of Chinese 5-spice powder before the best-before date.

I’d never had that wonderful experience before, instead usually finding it stuck in the back of the pantry along with the Tobasco, curry powder and whole cloves. Usually it’s the section of the kitchen that just gets tipped straight into a garbage bag before I move house. You know, the whole back row of ingredients with the use by date of 2006.

So, ‘smug’ is probably the word I could use to describe my sense of joy as I scraped the dregs of it out from the bottom of the wee glass container. “I am a proper, hardcore COOK.” I thought to myself. Actually I probably said it out loud. I save all my most stunning and witty comments for myself, when I’m alone during the day.

What about you? What’s your ingredient that sits frustratingly forgotten? Do you even own a jar of 5-spice? If I was a proper foodie I’d be whipping up my own batch of it, but I’m a mum and as you all know we’ve got about 8,000 more important things to do rather than concoct our own mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel.

Luckily for me, my kids have always devoured all Chinese flavours, loving the salty hook and if your cupboard is bare of this spice mix then I recommend you buy some and try out one of these 5-spice dependent recipes.

I never take an easy, tasty and popular meal for granted!

Pork stir-fry

vegie smugglers plum sauce chinese-style meatballs

Chinese-style meatballs.

Pork & rice balls – recipe in 'Vegie Smugglers 1'.

Pork & rice balls – recipe in ‘Vegie Smugglers 1’.

For more Chinese flavours (without the 5-spice), try the Fish Congee, Ma Po Dofu or Sang Choy Bao.

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24 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    bec said,

    So had to giggle, can totally relate, I had the same conversation – with myself, about my jar of ground ginger (it’s not all gone yet but getting close and only expired in may!). I thought that was clever, i’ve been using ginger in everything since they began labelling jars with health benefits such as ‘antioxidant’, it does makes a nice addition to pumpkin soup!

  2. 5

    Melanie said,

    You could make your own 5 spice mix in your whizz bang fancy pants thermomix in 2.3milliseconds, I’m sure! πŸ™‚

  3. 7

    Gen said,

    I decant mine into other containers so I’m not sure what the best before dates are. However my oldest by guessing would be some whole nutmeg – pretty sure I bought it when I got the matching spice container set in 2008! I don’t even have anything to grate it with lol. I think I bought it because I was told that the flavor would last longer that way…lol perhaps I’m just testing that theory…

  4. 11

    Amanda said,

    I remember my Mum having the same tub of baking powder for about 20yrs… She always tells me that ‘Best Before’ isn’t the same as ‘Use by’!!

  5. 13

    Danielle said,

    That is gold! I recently moved and there were spices that expired in 2004 in my pantry. I was probably using them too. Well, no probably about it, I made a goulash with 2004 paprika only days before the move. How gross is that!

  6. 16

    susievenkat said,

    Went to Zanzibar on my honeymoon in 2001 and brought spices back that I still VERY occasionally use (once a year or so, if that). I occasionally find ‘tea masala’ in the back of my tea drawer and think “Oh yes, that tastes lovely in tea”. Was given Indian spices by my Indian in-laws possibly before the wedding – so say – 2000 – which I still have kicking around in my cupboard. That’s not wrong, is it?

  7. 20

    Claire Bailey said,

    I figure with spices as long as you can smell it you will taste it.

    The oldest thing in my pantry cupboard would be some bottles of hot chilli sauce I bought my husband (I did a pantry clean out recently, well, within the last 6 months, and tossed out of date herbs and spices). I have tried to get rid of them all but he says no, he’ll gradually get through them then he makes spag bol when we are away visiting my mum, but then he always forgets. I wonder if he would notice if I just tossed them when he’s away one time…

  8. 22

    Natural New Age Mum said,

    MIne are all up to date after a big clean out the other week and yes, some things were years old!!!

  9. 23

    Sarah said,

    This reminds me of when I cleaned out my fiancΓ©s pantry before our wedding with his mum – we found lots of things from the 90’s and even something from 1989 – ewww!

  10. 24

    Jo said,

    A can on sweet and condensed milk from WWII in my mum’s pantry.. seriously o_o


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