I had an experience this week with Soy Sauce that I would not care to repeat. And I want to post about it just to get the word out there so maybe you won't have to go through the same thing.
No, Soy Sauce did not explode all over my kitchen and burn the house down. It didn't grow into a giant monster and sue us out of house and home. It was much more sedate than that, but still a big deal to me.
Two weeks ago I realized we were out of Soy Sauce. I had used up the last of the previous Great Value brand bottle. So I bought another bottle of Great Value Soy Sauce. I've gotten GV Soy Sauce for as long as I can remember. This was the first time with the "new" Great Value label (which I don't like, by the way). I don't know if the new label is an indicator that they've changed up their recipes or has anything to do with it, I'll probably never know.
On Friday I wanted to marinade a roast for Saturday's dinner (company was coming), so I mixed up the marinade and marinaded away. Friday was the day my head was all stuffed up, so when the marinade smelled "funny" I chalked it up to not being able to smell right anyway. It still smelled good, but just not quite like I remembered it from before (only the 2nd time I've used the recipe). It also had lots of other ingredients in it, so I couldn't pinpoint that it was one specific thing that smelled "off".
Saturday's dinner was delicious. The roast tasted great, the marinade juices tasted great, everyone raved over it. Monday I had a piece of the leftover roast for lunch and thought "you know, this just doesn't taste quite like it's supposed to." But I thought maybe I wasn't remembering right. It still tasted good.
Monday night I was very much in the mood for some stir-fry. The week before I'd gotten some thin steaks on markdown that were perfect for making beef stir-fry and I couldn't wait! I cut one of the precious steaks up into strips, pulled out the Soy Sauce and made the marinade. The more it sat there for 15 minutes, the more I just knew it smelled wrong. And since Soy Sauce is pretty much THE ingredient in that marinade, I got to wondering. But hunger was overpowering my wondering, so I started cooking the steak strips. When I poured the marinade into the skillet, the longer it cooked the worse it smelled. Almost to the point of stinking.
I called Daniel out to the kitchen and asked him to smell the skillet. He agreed that it smelled strange. He got the bottle of soy sauce out of the frige, smelled it and said "No wonder! This smells like alcohol!" (Not like wine or beer alcohol, it just smelled fermented/rotten.) We cooked the stir-fry a bit longer, but I just couldn't bring myself to eat it. Knowing how precious the steak was to me, Daniel tasted a tiny bite, and gave me a tiny piece, too. It just tasted gross. I wanted to sit down and bawl. Not only was I not able to eat right away (I was HUNGRY by then), but my precious meat was ruined!!! We opted to get carry-out from the Chinese place just up the road. It was very good, but a poor consolation prize for my wasted steak :( And not what I'd had my mind set on all day.
Yesterday I returned the 1/2 empty bottle of Soy Sauce to Walmart. I don't know if they'll check it out or not (I told them that it was bad, wasn't dated to expire until 2011, etc.). I didn't have the receipt anymore, so I could only exchange it. I did NOT exchange it with another bottle of Great Value Soy Sauce! No sirree, I got a bottle of Kikkoman!
When I was doing my other shopping yesterday at WalMart, there were some things I just couldn't bring myself to buy as Great Value anymore... even though I've gotten them many times. One was mushrooms. With the new label, I just don't know if I trust that brand anymore - for some things. I still got Great Value butter (butter is butter is butter... I hope), but I passed up the $.54 can of GV mushrooms for the next cheapest brand.
Some facts about that bottle of Soy Sauce:
All the seals were sealed.
It was dated for August 2011.
Out of the bottle it's color was really weak and watered down brown - not rich and black.
It smelled funny.
It didn't taste like soy sauce at all.
I don't want to scare anyone off from using Great Value brand if you like it and are getting along great with it. But I did want to put this out there for informational purposes.