Shelf life of canned foods

Discussion in 'Survival & Emergency Preparedness' started by Belfrybat, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Belfrybat

    Belfrybat Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Since I've just canned venison and chicken, I looked on the web for suggested shelf life of the food and came across this article which tested canned foods that were 46-100 years old. The results were very good news for those of us who have stashes.

    http://www.grandpappy.info/hshelff.htm

    My research showed me that 3 - 5 years is a reasonable estimate on home canned meats, although a couple of articles stated they could last much longer.
     
  2. paintlady

    paintlady Well-Known Member

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    You may lose a bit of quality on canned goods that are older such as veggies becoming softer or losing color but it is still food and can be made into soups. I am not sure about canned meats but if they were processed correctly ( under pressure) they should be edible as well.
     

  3. Belfrybat

    Belfrybat Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Several articles I read stated that meat keeps longer than veggies/ fruits. In the article I linked to above, a can of meat 100 years old was still good and hadn't lost too much of its nutrients. Pretty amazing.
     
  4. manygoatsnmore

    manygoatsnmore Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thank you so much for posting this. It's what I keep saying, that as long as the seal is intact and the food was correctly processed to start with, the food is safe to eat. It's even more encouraging to see that most vitamins and other nutrients are retained, as well.
     
  5. silverbackMP

    silverbackMP Well-Known Member

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    I've heard of people testing out/trying 80 year old fruits and preserves found in cellars and it didn't kill them. I don't think I would try this with meat though.
     
  6. JuliaAnn

    JuliaAnn Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I'll confess.

    Back in 2002, I went to my grandmother's house for a weekly visit. She informed me that I could have all her canning jars. However, there were about 50 that still had stuff in them, and the earliest were dated either 1973 or 74, can't recall which. Most recent dates were in the late 80's, which was when she stopped canning. Blackberry jam, canned peaches in light syrup, pie cherries in water, and corn. All the jars were still sealed, looked ok overall except maybe kind of faded looking, especially the cherries, and the corn was a little darker than normal. I cooked the corn-- no abnormal odor, no foam, no problems. Boiled for the requisite 15 minutes and ate some. Didn't die. It tasted fairly good, maybe a bit starchy and chewy, but definitely edible. The fruits were all softer than what I would think normal, and maybe not as fruity as they would have been had they not been nearly 30 years in a jar, but again, definitely edible.

    I didn't keep most of the jar's contents because I needed them for canning my own stuff, but I did keep a few of the jam and cherries and eventually used them all.

    My mother just cringed when I told her about it....
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  7. ChristyACB

    ChristyACB Well-Known Member

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    There's been plenty of testing of jars and the food over time. I think the only reason we don't see guidelines that give us these long shelf lives is because of the variability in how well a person cans, the conditions they keep the jars under and the possible problems with the weak point of the process; the lid.

    A good canning person using high quality food and who keeps their jars in a nice dark, cool and not too humid place should be able to reasonably expect they can eat their food, no matter how long it's been there, without dying. Sure, there will be failed seals and some failures, but a good canning person will maintain a provident watch on them.
     
  8. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    Is there any way to test a spoon full of the contents . . .???
    might be a dumb question to some . .but what the heck . . .. .
     
  9. JuliaAnn

    JuliaAnn Well-Known Member

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    I would think it would depend... was it water bath canned food or pressure canned? When I cooked the corn, which had been pressure canned as usual, I made sure the seal looked intact, center of lid still sucked down in the center, and when I pried the lid off I made sure it still had a vacuum on it. A few black speckles on the underside of the lid, but that is normal in canned foods and not necessarily indicative of spoilage. The corn smelled ok, so I cooked it, and watched for all the things I've read about when heating low acid, pressure canned foods like meat and vegetables---bad or odd odor, junk floating in the jar, foaming, etc. Brought it to boil and reduced heat for 15 minutes at a simmering boil to destroy any possible toxins, and ate some.

    The fruit/jams I knew were acidic, so I just made sure the lid was still sealed, still had a vacuum, opened, looked, smelled, and tasted.

    Don't know what else to tell you. I guess if you're in doubt, throw it away because you likely wouldn't eat it anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  10. Trixters_muse

    Trixters_muse Well-Known Member

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    A few months ago I was helping grandpa clean out some cupboards in the kitchen and stuck way to the back we found 2 jars of grandma's fig preserves and two jars of her stewed tomatoes. Grandma has been gone almost 8 years and she stopped canning about 5 years before that so they were several years old. The tomatoes looked fine, the figs were a bit darker but all jars had been kept cool and dark and there were no signs of spoiling. The figs tasted as good as they always did with no change in taste or texture. The tomatoes were a bit softer than usual but still good, I boiled them well and served them over white rice. We still have one jar of the figs, can't being ourselves around to opening them for silly sentimental reasons.
     
  11. Pigmy712

    Pigmy712 New Member

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    This is an old blog but I notice no mention of canned fish. My wife got food poisoning once and is paranoid about expiration dates. I just about had her convinced that those dates have more to do with quality than food going bad.

    Then a few weeks ago we opened a common brand of canned salmon and could not get passed the smell much less taste it. I checked and it was 2 years past the date on the can. Was this a fluke? Anyone successfully keep canned fish for years?
     
  12. Pouncer

    Pouncer Well-Known Member

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    We don't keep smoked salmon in a jar more than a couple years. Ok, the truth is it never lasts longer, lol But plain canned (jarred) salmon is good for a long, long time. But I am meticulous about sanitation, handling, and processing so I would not have a problem eating a jar of my own home canned salmon 5 years after processing.
     
  13. doodlemom

    doodlemom Well-Known Member

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    I tried to donate cans of clam chowder to the soup kitchen 6 months before expiration on the can, but they said they won't take clam chowder indicating like something goes wrong with it. I eat canned veggies past the date, but am usually good about rotating stock so that doesn't happen.
     
  14. dlskidmore

    dlskidmore Well-Known Member

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    "significant amounts of vitamins C and A were lost."

    C breaks down very quickly when hydrated. Many shelf stable foods have expiration dates based on the half-life of vitamin C. The FDA allows the sale of food between 80% and 120% of the listed value of vitamin C. Coming out of the factory it has 120% of the listed value, and the expiration date stamp is for when they expect it to reach 80% of the listed value.

    So just don't live exclusively on ancient canned foods. Get some Vitamin C elsewhere.
     
  15. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    I keep vit c pills just in case. do those store Ok?
     
  16. meddac

    meddac Well-Known Member

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    This is a kind of a seat of the pants real world experience forum Canned goods shelflife - AR15.COM with tons of replies. Basically I have no reservations of keeping canned goods (my own or store bought) for at least 10 years. I do store them in a room that never exceeds 64 degrees for all my prep stuff.
     
  17. dlskidmore

    dlskidmore Well-Known Member

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    Just don't let them get damp.