What Are The “Best Before” Dates In Your Pantry?

My friend V. asked if I could show her how to make a scone, I said, “of course…  it’s quick and easy and your family will think you are the greatest.”  Well, life got in the way and months went by without seeing each other…then, via a chance meeting she attended that my sister happened to be at…we reconnected via text messages and finally calendared the time to make scones together –with lunch– at my house.  We invited a few other friends we had been “meaning to get together with for awhile too”,  making a girlfriend’s lunch out of it.  We’d catch up, bake, eat, and relax over a cup of tea.  It turned out to be totally fun with non-stop talk while chowing down roasted chicken salad, savory and sweet biscuit scones, jasmine pearl tea, and awesome Dove Chocolate peanut butter cookies made by our friend, A.  — we vowed to do this again in a few months.

I had everything prepared before my friends arrived except the scones.  Those we made together.  It took all of 15 minutes for two batches, savory and sweet.  I always make petite scones using a small cutter (1 ½” round) – and serve them hot out of the oven with various accompaniments.  That way, you get to have more than one and vary the topping…yet don’t feel like a little piggy while gulping three or four down 🙂

While my friend A. watched me demonstrate how to make the first batch, showing how I barely touch the dough to bring it together, ensuring a more tender product after baking…she exclaimed, “oh, that’s what you mean by dont overwork the dough’‘, mine always come out like hard little lead balls”…she went to say she uses my recipe from Tea With Betty and has this happen every time she makes scones (which she does often).  Well, being the conscientious cookbook author that I am, I probed as to what she actually did …and questioned her about the recipe …and worried over this for a few days until my sister and I were over at A.’s house for a quick cup of tea (for me) and wine for them the other day…sleuthing a bit, this is what I found out about her scones….

A. had made my cheddar chive scones for a lunch she had the day before.  She pulled out a few leftover ones for a snack with our tea and wine… they looked like little doughy leaden hardballs…and these she made AFTER participating in our joint scone making the week before.  I asked laughingly “what the heck did you do to these?”  She said she followed my instructions completely (and she is meticulous about things like this so I fully believed her)…I kept looking at these things she called my cheddar chive scones with puzzled exasperation.  My dough comes out pillowy …like this…

Biscuit scones ... petite cut into 1 1/2" size

Biscuit scones … petite cut into 1 1/2″ size

Flaky, petite scones

Flaky, petite scones

I asked how fresh her baking powder was, she said, it is fresh.  She bakes all the time and I believed her.  We sat down to our  beverages, but I couldn’t get this lumpy ball she called a scone made from MY recipe out of my mind.  I probed more and asked, “where do you keep your baking powder?” ( The doubting Thomas side of me emerging)…I went to her cupboards opening doors…found her baking powder…her fresh baking powder (so she claimed) and here is what she was using…remember, we are in the year 2013….. hers was dated best before 2009!

Her scones were dense, hard, chewy,

Needless to say, I confiscated this can and A. has purchased new baking powder. Amazingly, her next batch came out spectacularly light, flaky, and delicious!!

Check your code dates folks…FRESH, quality ingredients make a huge difference…while this story is something she will laughingly share with others for ages…or at least my sister and I will…A’s guests who experienced her old scones will be pleasantly pleased with the new batches.

Here is how flaky and light my biscuit scones should look…rustic, reflecting layers.

Enjoy with a cup or two of freshly steeped whole leaf tea….the best!


  1. Good reminder!

    • Yes, and I know this from running into the problem from my own experience 🙂

  2. Your scones look amazing! It wouldn’t have occurred to me that the baking powder might be out of date, that was an excellent bit of sleuthing on your part. I’m so happy for your friend that she can now make lovely fluffy scones, it must feel like a huge relief to her.

    • Yes, she is relieved…primarily she is relieved I did NOT give her full name 🙂 Actually, she is a good sport and I did ask permission to share this story before going to print. I had a similar experience some years ago regarding a code date (I think on dry yeast), since then, I check the dates on everything and once a year do a purge of anything close to code. Also…those little biscuity scones are delicious. I will share the recipe soon…I think it is in an earlier post, but will check and let you know.

      • Great, I can’t wait to see your recipe!