Tips on whether to keep canned food

Both commercially canned and home canned food needs your attention to maintain quality and safety.

Cleaning always has its benefits. At least a few times a year when you are cleaning, be sure to pay attention to your canned foods.

Have you looked, really looked, at the canned foods in your kitchen cupboards, pantry and basement lately? Is it time to bid some canned foods a fond farewell? Should they be moved to a better location? How do you know if your canned food is still of good quality and safe to eat?

Michigan State University Extension offers the following storage tips for safety and quality of commercially canned and home canned foods.       

Canned foods:

  • For the most nutritional value and best quality of canned foods use them within 1-2 years or the “best if used by” date on store bought cans. 
  • As far as food safety: canned foods are safe indefinitely if the product was originally properly canned. But the longer it is kept the poorer the quality.
  • Every so often take the time to check your stored cans of food to look for cans that may be bulging, rusty, or that have broken seals.
  • Do not use badly dented cans dented on the top, side or bottom seams or cans with loose or bulging lids.
  • When opening cans throw out any can that spurts.
  • Keep canned foods in a cool dry location where the temperature is below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing temperatures and temperatures over 100 degrees F are harmful to canned foods. Always store canned foods inside your home and not in a garage or other outdoor building.
  • Surface rust on cans or metal lids is not a problem if the can or lid is still in good shape, but cans with deep rust spots or areas should be thrown out. When the rust is deep, tiny holes open in the can or lid that let bacteria in.
  • High acid foods react chemically with the metal in the cans and over several years this can cause change in the texture and taste of the canned foods.
  • If you don’t use all the food in a metal can remove the unused portion and store it covered in a dish in the refrigerator. High-acid foods may leach metal or metallic flavors from cans. You would not have this issue with a glass canning jar.
  • Once opened canned foods may last between a day and a week depending on the food, but never longer than a week for both food safety and quality.

If you haven’t done so lately take the time to look over your canned foods. Wasted food is wasted money. You also want to get the most nutritional value out of the food you eat and one way to do that is to pay attention to your canned foods.

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