‘The disturbing items I discovered giving my pantry an intense clean-out’

Mar 05, 2019
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The spices were so out of date they'd lost their aroma. Source: Pexels

This week I decided to clean out my pantry and the freezer. The pantry needed to be done first as I could barely see into the shelves. What a surprise, I did not think it had been that long ago since I last cleaned it, but it must have been. There was stuff in there that was older than Methuselah, probably it had been left over from the Ark trip. I know some things are okay when they are past their use by date, but really, how far past is safe?

First, I found some canned coconut cream hiding in a back corner. The use by date said 1999. Into the rubbish bin with that one. Pasta, tinned tomatoes, brown sugar so hard one could use it for a brick without any fear of it collapsing. Peaches and pineapple in tins, all pre-2002. I stopped for a moment to reflect, it is now 2019 and that stuff has been hiding in the pantry for more than 17 years.

I cannot even donate it to a charity as it would be sure to make someone unwell. Quite possibly could kill them, especially the sugar if it hit them on the head.

There was wine, white and red. As I do not drink either it made me wonder how that even made it’s way onto the shelves.

Soy sauce of every description, thick, thin, black and brown. Most of it well and truly out of date.

Spices, hundreds of different kinds. A quick smell told me they were no good. They actually had no aroma, that is how old they were.

I really do not need such a wide array of things in the pantry now. All my children have left home and I tend to cook basic, no-fuss meals using fresh ingredients. When I do need to cook in large quantities, like at Christmas time, I think I will just buy what I actually need and not stock up on extras.

Next chore, on to the freezer. This freezer is huge, about 500 litres. I know you’re wondering why anyone needs a freezer that big.

I live a fair drive from the nearest town and also had three sons with huge appetites, as well as a couple of foster children. Back then — early 1990s until around 2004 — they all lived at home. The lads were carnivores and also enjoyed their eggs on toast in the morning. Once a month I would get a whole cow and several sheep slaughtered, so I needed that big freezer to fit the meat in. I would also buy multiple loaves of bread, and ice cream in 10-litre cans.

Tackling the freezer was not quite as bad as the pantry. Yes, there were a few pieces of shrivelled up stuff that was probably once meat. A few iced up loaves of bread and quite a lot of fruit from my orchard. I used to stew the fruit and freeze it. None of this was any good though as it had been in there far too long.

The neighbours chooks had a ball eating all that leftover fruit, bread and veg. The shrivelled meat, I buried in the veggie patch. It was too far gone to even think of giving it to the dog. Meat makes good fertiliser for citrus trees and other vegetables, so really it saved me buying fertiliser for this year.

Bags of ice by the dozen also lurked in the depths of the freezer. Solid as a rock, it would do to water some plants as it slowly thawed.

I have made up my mind now, do not buy in bulk, never ever buy in bulk, no matter how cheap an item is. If I do not need it, I will not buy it.

Luckily it was bin day next day, and it was full. I told myself it was quite a waste, I must never let the pantry get like that again. As for the freezer, well it will be sold, so that will no longer be a problem.

When was the last time you cleaned our your pantry or freezer? Were you surprised by the things you found?

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