Canned food safety question, old commercially canned food

Discussion in 'Preserving the Harvest' started by Jennifer L., Oct 24, 2016.

  1. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not sure if this is the right place to ask this or not but maybe the best canners are on here.

    I've found way on the back of the pantry shelves, about 20 cans of condensed sweetened milk. The expiration date is 2010. Over half of the cans go from slightly bulging to definitely bulging. The other eight cans seem fine. One can was kind of in the middle, had a little give, but almost in discernibly so, so I put that one in the bulge category. The eight that seem OK have no give when I pinch the top and bottom between my fingers and seem fine.

    If this were any other canned product, say a vegetable or a meat, it probably wouldn't be any good, anyway, and it would be easier to get rid of it. But this is 50% sugar, and probably is in better shape.

    And if this were something I'd canned myself, I wouldn't question the seals on glass jars if they were tight, even for very old jars, but these steel cans don't behave that way, they go at the seams from what I can tell.

    Of course, the easy answer, and most likely what I'll end up doing, is tossing everything.

    But, if these were pressure processed at 15 pounds (those cans that seem OK) for 30 minutes, would they be safe? What if I did the same thing at 75 minutes? Essentially it would be the same as boiling home canned food for ten minutes after opening a jar.

    If the jars did not pop their seams during this reprocessing, then would it prove they were still OK before the reprocessing? Seems like a compromised can would not be able to take the pressure?

    Just curious what others think. At the least, I've learned to keep track of the pantry shelves!
     
  2. arrocks

    arrocks Well-Known Member

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    Opening a can and noting the color and any odor will likely give you a clue about saving it or not. Odds are against any quality worth saving. But if you choose to try to save it pressure canning the cans won't provide you with any safety guarantee.

    It would seem to fall under the 'no canning of dairy products guideline' so even if you wanted to open the good cans, heat it all up to boiling, boil for 10 mins, and then re-process it for an unknown amount of time in clean jars you'd still have the issues of fats and separation to deal with.

    At 6 years beyond expiration and with obvious issues with most of the cans, is it really worth trying to salvage it?
     

  3. Belfrybat

    Belfrybat Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I recently opened a can of evaporated milk (not condensed) dated 2011. It was lumpy and a bit discoloured, but didn't have an off odor. I fed it to the cats. The lumpiness would have made it unfit for cooking with.
     
  4. Murby

    Murby Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know, botulism has no off taste or smell.

    You don't risk it.. throw out bulging cans.
     
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  5. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I opened all of the bad ones today in order to recycle the cans, and decided to let the others go as well. Honestly, I think the ones that look OK probably are OK, but might as well bite the bullet, save some work and let them get trashed as well.

    Yes, I understand about not canning dairy, but I do pressure can regular milk and not worry about it (using directions that the USDA provided years ago before they decided you shouldn't do it). I wouldn't water bath milk, which I understand some people do. That seems playing a little fast and loose. :)

    Murby, there is no way in the Hot Place that I would fool with bulging cans. I was only talking about the cans that appear still normal. Wish you could tell for sure on steel cans whether they are sealed or not.

    Anyway, thanks, everyone. :)
     
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  6. terri9630

    terri9630 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What are the directions? I'd love to keep milk for the pigs without filling up my freezer. 3 dairy goats provide far more than I need and the pigs LOVE milk.