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I recently opened a container of store-bought dried apricots and they smell vaguely of fermentation/alcohol. I've never noticed this before.

They taste fine, but should I be concerned? Do they need to be used soon?

Worst-case, would I end up sick, or just tipsy?

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As @JanC hinted at below, I'm probably smelling some sort of yeast byproduct, not the alcohol itself. – mskfisher Jan 11 '11 at 12:41
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've had apricots that smell vaguely like alcohol before, especially the ones that are not completely desiccated but are still plump and only dried to about half or so of their original volume. I've never had problems eating them and haven't had them go bad.

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Many fruits start to ferment a bit, some even while still on the trees. For example orange juice normally contains a small amount (normally < 0.1 % vol.) of alcohol too. And some berries that grow in the dunes here in Belgium can make the birds who eat them tipsy when they are ripe (the birds fly a bit erratic during that season...).

The "smell" might also be something you associate with alcohol because you often smell it while sensing/using alcohol (technically you can't "smell" alcohol, as it's odorless, but you can "sense" it in other ways).

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+1 for "can't smell alcohol", good point. I'm smelling some of the yeasty fermentation byproducts, I think. – mskfisher Jan 11 '11 at 12:40

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