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What is the Shelf Life of Canned Goods or Can I Still Eat This?

fr1853The shelf life of canned goods depends on a lot of different factors.  Did you buy the can?  Or did you can it in a jar yourself?  How hot is is where you’re storing your canned goods?  Did you leave the proper head space?

There are several factors that limit the shelf life of canned goods.

There’s lid corrosion. In all foods, but especially in high-acid foods like canned tomatoes, natural chemicals in the food continually react with the container. Over several years, this can cause taste and texture changes, and eventually lower the nutritional value of the food.  Which is why it’s important the leave the suggested head space.  So the food doesn’t touch the inside of the lid.

High temperatures (over 100 °F) are harmful to canned goods too. The risk of spoilage jumps sharply as storage temperatures rise. In fact, canned goods designed for use in the tropics are specially manufactured.

Store canned foods and other shelf stable products in a cool, dry place. Never put them above or beside the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes. Temperatures below 85 °F are best. Check your pantry every few weeks and use canned goods you have had on hand for awhile.

Clostridium_botulinum_01If you have something that you know had a good seal when you put it up and now the lid has popped off, or if you store your goods with the bands on has started to bulge, DO NOT EAT IT!  I cannot stress enough how bad it is to eat food from a can that has started to bulge or with a lid that isn’t flat anymore.  That is caused most of the time by a very bad bacteria called Colostrum botulinum.  That is what they make Botox out of .  You know how it paralyzes your face.  Well if you eat it you can paralyze your whole body even your heart and lungs.

So you see there are a lot of things that can affect the shelf life of canned goods.  They do not last forever.  Most of the time you won’t have this problem because you’ll eat all your good stuff within a few months to a year.  But if you’re like some people and you put up gallons of tomato sauce every year you might have stuff lingering around for a while.

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