How Long Will Canned Food Stay Good?

Canning season is upon us! At our house, we’ve already made apricot jam and pickled eggs. What about you? Have you started canning anything? Since we should all can with care, I thought we’d post some tips that the USDA gives about canned food.

Food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or frozen must still be stored with care. Follow these basic guidelines and you’ll have food safety in the bag (or can)!

  • Where: Store canned food and other shelf-stable products in a cool, clean, dry place. Never put them above the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes.
  • How long: In general, you can store high-acid food such as meat and vegetables, 2-5 years.
  • Care and cautions for cans: Discard cans that are dented, leaking, bulging, or rusted. Can linings might discolor or corrode when metal reacts with high-acid food such as tomatoes or pineapple–but as long as the outside of the an is in good shape, the contents should be safe to eat. Keep in mind, though, that the taste, texture, and nutritional value of the food can diminish over time.

Botulism Alert:

The greatest danger in canned goods is a toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Never use food from containers that show possible “botulism” warnings:

  • Leaking, bulging, or badly dented cans.
  • Cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids.
  • Canned food with a foul odor.
  • Any container that spurts liquid when opened.

Play it safe–and never taste it. Even a tiny amount of botulinum toxin can be deadly Double bag the cans and jars in plastic bags that are tightly closed. Then place in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside of the home. Keep out of reach of humans and pets

Common Sense:

If you’re not sure how old food is, or fear that it may not have been properly refrigerated or has been left out too long, don’t taste it! Instead, remember the “golden rule” of food storage: When in doubt, throw it out!

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*All of this information has been taken from the USDA Food & Safety Inspection Services website.

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