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The Outer Limits of Keeping Herbs & Spices

 I read your answer re: The Shelf Life of Herbs and Spices. However, on Thanksgiving my mother-in-law made dressing using a seasoning that was at least 43 years old! No, I am not kidding. After dinner, when we discovered this, she claimed it was "just fine." Flavorful or not, I can't imagine this is acceptable or healthy. What do you say?

 We are opposed, as you know, to wasting food. But even we often draw the line at 20 or 30 years or so. At the same time, don't archaeologists occasionally stumble upon 250,000-year-old nuts, and honey in ancient Egyptian tombs, that are still edible? And don't get us started on those explorers who found a woolly mammoth preserved in ice for 30,000 years, and served up mammoth steaks.

As long as the seasoning was kept dry for all those 43 years, we see no reason that it should present any safety risks. Acceptability is another question, however, and we would not consciously use a food that was anywhere near that old.

Maybe this is just your mother-in-law's subtle way of telling you that you should host Thanksgiving dinner next year….

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