Welcome to 2016! Let’s take a good look at the stuff in your kitchen, edible and non-edible alike. You went out, found it and paid good money for it. And now, like anything past its prime, it’s expired, obsolete or a single-use item that’s never used, and it needs to go off into that dark night of your trash can. In the case of food items, you might not get sick from ingesting it, but it won’t do what it used to be able to do (and in the case of kitchen implements, you might accidentally cut your hand off). No, there’s nothing you can do to repurpose these items. Ask yourself some simple questions, be perfectly honest and prepare to let a lot of stuff go.
Does this box grater actually grate?
Many standard box graters (especially older/cheaper ones) refuse to grate dense, slippery things like root vegetables and softer cheeses like cheddar, jack and mozzarella. You can probably get a tomato or hunk of hard cheese through (other cheeses may start falling apart before you can finish), but that’s about where it stops. Rather than keep this dull clunker around, consider using a grating plate for your food processor, an ultra-sharp, ultra-versatile Microplane or. best of all, the Microplane box grater, the only box grater worth owning.
I’ve had this IKEA partially melted plastic-handled barely serrated knife since college, and I don’t want to let it go. I chopped my first vegetables with that thing.
That’s nice. While we’re reminiscing, remember that time right now when it’s so dull and useless you’d cut your hand off while trying to slice a sweet potato into fries? And not a clean cut, either.
This plastic measuring-cup set is always slightly greasy, is missing the 1/3 cup, rattles around and takes up a lot of space in the drawer. Ditch?
Yes, ditch. Pyrex makes a single sturdy measuring cup with all the liquid measurements you need. This means you don’t have to carefully ferry a small, unsturdy, filled-to-the-brim 1/2 cup from the counter to the stove, spilling some of its contents along the way. Also, you shouldn’t be ferrying wet ingredients in those — they’re for dry ingredients like flour, for which a set of four metal nesting measuring cups is useful. You did know you can’t measure flour in a Pyrex measuring cup, right?
Boy, this nonstick pan is scratched up. Probably should have used plastic or wooden implements when using it like Mom said to do, but stir-frying with a fork is so easy.
You know that $20 you were going to spend on three beers? Reserve $12 of it and buy a new nonstick pan. Yes, that is how much one costs — nonstick pans don’t have to be fancy. Fried egg celebration party at your place.
But what if I need to make a cherry pie?
You still don’t need a cherry pitter. Just use a sharp paring knife; the pit pops right out. People made cherry pies before there was a single-use gadget to make it somewhat easier. Besides, it’s more about the quality of the cherries than whether or not they were uniformly and quickly pitted.
When was the last time I used this?
Your two-year-old sesame seeds are rancid and bitter. Your three-year-old ground coriander is akin to sawdust. Your four-year-old paprika is akin to red sawdust. Isn’t it just a damn waste? It is, and it’s your fault. Why didn’t you make more of the sesame chicken, Indian food and deviled eggs you bought those things for?
Should I even be using this?
This applies to dried rosemary (a.k.a. dried needles that will neither rehydrate nor add rosemary flavor, only stab your mouth with their dry, pointy ends) and chives (a.k.a. flavorless herb confetti that will not add even the smallest memory of its flavor to anything).
Is it sticky?
If a plastic or glass bottle is a mixture of greasy and sticky, what’s inside is 99 percent for sure rancid and should be tossed. The exception: honey, which does not expire.
What the hell even is this?
Unlabeled plastic or glass jars of any sort of powder or flake that you cannot identify or place on a timeline are expired.
This jar or bottle’s top is crusty.
If the stuff stuck in the jar’s rim has had time to dry out completely and form a crust, odds are what’s below the crust is just as old and should be disposed of.
Is this good mold or bad mold?
Bad, if you have to ask. Good mold is what’s on the cheese that hasn’t been in your fridge for very long, or if you’re very lucky, on the naturally fermented salami you managed to track down (it’s getting more popular!).
How long will this tiny can of tomato paste with the jagged lid pushed slightly inwards last?
What about pickles?
Those are probably still good; bacteria, like many of us, don’t really proliferate in acid. That said, pickles don’t age gracefully.