Keeping your Meat Safe

Keeping your Meat Safe

The other day I was getting the dinner ready and as I went to pick up some carrots I noticed that one was oblong shaped. In all my tender years, I have never seen a flat carrot, I don’t know about you. It was like a long rectangle, tapering to a normal round shape at the end, but the rest was flat. It looked most peculiar when I cut it up as we’re all used to seeing round carrots, but mine was flat. Hubby thinks it was squashed between two rocks when it was growing which flattened it. I’m not sure about that as I would have thought that commercial carrot growers would have rock free soil, maybe I’m wrong!

I did wonder why I hadn’t taken a picture of it to show you, but I think my mind was occupied with wondering what the EU lawmakers would have said to my flat carrot. I bet they would have sent the carrot police out to condemn it, as it was the wrong shape!

Sell by, Use by, Best Before

Talking of carrots and veg, don’t you think that all these sell by dates that we have now on food can sometimes go over the top.

For example, a bag of potatoes or carrots with a short sell by date when they will ‘live’ a lot longer than that. I certainly don’t get rid of my stuff like that if it’s not in the sell by date.

  • ‘Use by’ dates are for perishable foods, which should be used by that date, or they might go off.
  • ‘Best before’ dates are for you to use it by that date, but it is OK afterwards if you want it. It’s just at your own discretion, it won’t poison you it’s just that the taste might deteriorate a bit.
  • ‘Sell by’ dates are for the shops who are selling the food, not dates for us, the general public, which I think is interesting.

Myself, I use things that aren’t quite ‘in date’ rather than throw them away. A lot of common sense needs applying, because out of date chicken, meat, fish etc could be bad for you. Whereas even some fresh food I would eat a day or two out of date, and I’ve not been poisoned yet!

Keeping your Meat Safe

I think of when I was young and sell by dates hadn’t been heard of. You certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of getting rid of food unless it was ‘high’. That’s what we used to say to describe rotten food. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever smelled it!!

Nobody had a fridge in my youth, instead we had a meat safe. It was a square box with open mesh on the front to keep the flies out. Imagine that, it sounds quite barbaric doesn’t it.

Tesco, Flat Carrots and Sell by Dates
Meat safe, photo from eBay

Milk was always warm, and today I couldn’t bear the thought of warm milk, but we didn’t know any other so we drank it. We kept butter in a butter dish and when the weather was warm it almost turned into oil. All of our food was kept in the pantry. It was a small walk-in cupboard, built into the space under the stairs. Against an outside wall with a concrete floor it was quite a cool place (thankfully).

The other way of keeping the meat safe…

We kept all the food we were using regularly on the shelves that were easily accessible, and the top shelves were the home of tins of boiled ham and corned beef that we kept for ‘just in case’. Canning was the other way of keeping your meat safe enough to eat.

Tinned food never had a sell by date on it, we just kept it forever, and when those once-in-a-flood visitors turned up, out would come the tin of boiled ham! Nothing had a date on it showing when it should be used by so if it was OK it got eaten. Whatever age it was, none of us ever had food poisoning.

And can you remember when the old fashioned tins had a key on them that you had to turn to open them? They were awful to use and if you snapped the key or the sliver of metal that it unwound you’d had it. Then the tin was really difficult to get inside, you’d usually resort to various knives and pliers!

The good old days

It seems that when we buy food now, we’re all squinting at the small dates. Checking when the food has to be eaten or used by. Then most of us dive to the back of the shelf in the supermarket for the newest date. Well I do anyway. After all, who wants older stock, not me I’m afraid.

We didn’t have supermarkets back in the good old days. My mum used to have to go to the shops every day to buy whatever we were having to eat that day. With nowhere to keep food cold there wasn’t much choice other than to shop daily. This is my grandma. When I think back to what life was like for her when she was alive it’s enough to make me shudder.

My grandma
My grandma

I remember when we persuaded my mum to have her first fridge. She strongly resisted it because she didn’t like change at all. Once she got used to it she loved it.

It’s strange to think that new generations haven’t a clue about being without the appliances we so take for granted. We must sound as though we’ve come from Victorian days with the workhouses! Well maybe that’s a slight bit of exaggeration. But it must be odd to think of not having washing machines and tumble dryers. Fridges, freezers and dishwashers and the many things that are so normal now.

It intrigues me to know what will have changed in another 50 years or more. But I won’t be here to find out, what a shame!

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