When space food goes bad


NASA sent me some space food a while back that I made a Space Pod on:

I still have the food two years on. Most of this food was destined for the ISS and had a shelf life of somewhere between 6 months to 1 year depending on the item. Here’s what happens past that time.

The strawberries are the worst. I think the seal on the bag got a hole in it and water seeped in. They look kinda slimy.

The muesli bar and crackers actually look fine.

I kinda almost want to open them up and taste them… does anyone think that is a good idea?


Proceed with caution but i have eaten ww2 rations and the like with no ill effect. I would definatly give the strawberries a skip.


Please don’t eat that… We’d like to keep you around, MiniStoj, at least until after you’ve helped solve the hypersleep problem.
However, this would be a perfect experiment for Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut. He probably eats this kind of crap all the time :joy:


When vacuum-sealed food ‘blows up’, it’s gone bad. Chances are, the strawberries have fermented, and what is blowing up the bag is belching yeast. I wouldn’t eat it.


Be a nice idea to have foods that simply evolve into something else edible over time. Space milk becomes cottage cheese, yogurt, and maybe even…space cheese! Ridiculous, but might actually work on some kinds of foods. They don’t SPOIL per se…they just get better with time!


It looks like your strawberry bag is still holding pressure, so I doubt the seal has been broken. Lyophilization doesn’t remove 100% of the water, so there will always be some water in there. Most of what you’re seeing is probably natural chemical decay, which is creating some kind lower vapor point gas, perhaps CO2, formaldehyde, acetone, or ethanol. You could probably safely smell and taste it, but I wouldn’t eat it if I were you.

The cereals should all still be good (especially if they were stripped of their bran); they take a long time to go bad. If any of them had raisins though, I’d give it a pass: berries and such go bad faster. The nuts will have a definite “off” smell and taste if they’re too far gone.

I will say though, all of those foods should have been wrapped in foil. Plastic is not an oxygen barrier.


I think we need this mindset in order to live long-term away from Earth. Fermentation, and food preservation is going to help us stockpile nutrients, just like when people set off in ships for 6+ months. In those days, salting and pickling saved lives.

It’s kinda neat that we might have to do things the old-fashioned way in our futuristic space habitats


One package I didn’t show here was the thermostabilized (heat-treated?) pack of black beans. They’re sealed in a foil pouch so I can’t see if they’re still good without opening it. I think they’re probably still okay, but like you mentioned above, natural chemical decay may have taken place.