Loving Foods has joined the Look, Smell, Taste, Don't Waste campaign to help their customers understand when they can continue to safely eat our products instead of throwing them away. Every year, 6.6 million tonnes of household food is wasted here in the UK. Out of that waste, almost three quarters is food that we could have eaten - 4.5 million tonnes. That's a lot of food. Reducing food waste has always been integral to what we do here at Loving Foods. Our ancestors started fermenting their food with the principle aim of being able to store surplus food produced during the winter. The process of fermentation preserved this excess food, allowing them to store it for the summer months - long before refrigerators were invented.
About Our Food
All of our products are fermented naturally, which is essentially a process of preservation. Once jarred and bottled, they are protected from pathogenic bacteria via two methods:
1) The acidic environment (pH < 4) prevents bad bacteria from growing in them, and
2) The presence of good bacteria out-compete anything that should not be there
So, properly fermented foods are extremely safe and last a very long time - even outside of the fridge. Just a quick note regarding refrigeration - although our products are safe to keep at ambient temperature for long periods, the kombucha and jun-kombucha bottles will eventually explode and the jars of vegetables can leak due to the ongoing fermentation from the live bacteria. So if you've had an unopened jar or a bottle out of the fridge for a while, don't worry, it will still be safe to eat or drink providing it looks, smells and tastes OK. But for long term storage (over 3-4 weeks), we would definitely recommend keeping them in the fridge - and always in the fridge once opened.
I have an unopened jar or bottle that is past its best before date - can I still eat or drink it?
Almost certainly. If you have been keeping them in the fridge, they should be perfectly safe to consume. With our veggies, open them up and take a look. If they have any yeast or mould growing on the top, either discard the top layer, or the whole jar if you would prefer. If it looks, smells and tastes OK though, it's safe to eat.
With our bottles, if they're sealed, they're fine long past their best before date. Kombucha and Jun-Kombucha can turn more vinegary over long periods and will even turn slightly alcoholic, but both these things would further prevent any possible pathogenic growth. So, providing you like the taste, they're safe to drink.
I have an open jar or bottle that's been in my fridge for a while - can I still eat or drink it?
If it looks and smells OK, have a little taste. With our veggies, it's best if you can keep them pushed down under the liquid when storing for longer periods, and it's also good to try not to introduce any unwanted bacteria into the jar by always using clean utensils. But if they look, smell and taste OK, they'll be fine to eat, and can last for many weeks in the fridge, even once opened. If there is ever anything wrong with our veggies, you will see white yeasts or moulds growing on the top surface that has been exposed to the air.
With our drinks, they can be safely consumed long after they have been opened, as the product is generally protected from any bacteria in the air. Sometimes you'll see mini SCOBYs growing on the surface and in the bottle. A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It forms as Kombucha and Jun-Kombucha ferments. They can look like gelatinous lumps or stringy material, either on the surface, at the bottom or floating in the liquid. They're completely harmless and actually quite good for you in fact. But feel free to filter them out if you're not keen.
My jar leaked a little in transit. Is it still OK to eat?
Absolutely. We know it's a little unusual to have jars that leak if you're not used to live fermented food. All that is happening is that the bacteria are releasing CO2 during transit and once enough pressure has built up in the jar, it will escape through the lid's seal, sometimes along with a little liquid. Don't worry though, our jars aren't vacuum sealed and they are still safe to eat providing nothing has smashed. In fact, you can open and close our jars to your heart's content, and it won't affect the best before date. Remember - look, smell, taste, don't waste.
I've heard some people scrape the yeast or mould off fermented vegetables and eat what's underneath. Is that OK?
It's true, some people definitely do that. The worst that can happen to properly fermented and properly stored veggies is that they can develop a layer of white yeast or mould on the top surface, when exposed to the air for long periods. You can usually scrape this off and the stuff underneath will be just fine as it's been protected from the air. It's not for everyone though, so if you're unsure, best to dispose of it and get yourself a new one.