You might want to tape this infographic to your fridge the next time you're stalled in front of your fridge trying to decide whether the milk is still good. You know the game: It's Sunday, you're about to go shopping, and you know it's time to clear out the fridge to make room for new food. Is the milk good? Maybe? It's past its "expires on" date but Grandma always said that was just a suggestion, right? She lived to 101 and raised four kids, so clearly she had to have some idea what she's doing, but the questions still linger.
Well, wonder no longer: Milk will live happily in your fridge for five to seven days. Eggs for upwards of a month, and bacon for a couple of weeks. On the other hand, this chart reveals that putting something in the freezer isn't like suspending it in carbonite. We're fairly certain we aren't the only ones who have kept steaks in the freezer for more than eight months.
Some additional things to keep in mind when using this infographic. The data is culled from a number of sources, listed at the bottom. Much of that data comes from the USDA or FDA. As such, they're the rules that businesses have to comply with, and they tend to be much more strict than what the rest of us "civilians" would think is reasonable.
For instance, anyone who has done a spot of baking knows that you can probably leave eggs on the counter for more than few hours before they go bad. What the USDA/FDA/etc. are saying is that, past a couple of hours on a countertop, the chances that your eggs might go bad starts going up. Maybe that's only a 1 percent increase in the chance that a bacteria could find its way inside the egg to start breeding. For home cooks with a half-dozen eggs, those are pretty long odds. But if you're a major commercial egg farm that processes a million eggs a day, a 1 percent increase in salmonella contamination means you're sending 10,000 contaminated eggs out to grocery stores every day. And that's why USDA/FDA regulations tend to seem overly paranoid, they're generally designed for producers and business rather than home cooks. That said, if you want to be absolutely safe, it might not be a terrible idea to keep things in the fridge anyways.