Have you ever wondered why canned food lasts so long? You’ll even find that many canned foods don’t have a best-before date because the canning process ensures a long and stable shelf life. Here are some reasons why canned food lasts so long.
Why Does Canned Food Last So Long?
The Food Is Heated Inside The Can Or Jar
During the canning process, the food is heated to around 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) or even higher. This effectively kills any bacteria or other microorganisms that might spoil the food. This makes the food inside the can or jar completely sterile.
The Can Or Jar Is Fully Sealed During The Canning Process
As well as being heated to high temperatures, the can or jar is also completely sealed during the canning process. This means that air is expelled, and a vacuum is created so that air cannot get back in. This alleviates the possibility of the food being spoiled because it is not exposed to any airborne particles that may include bacteria or other microorganisms.
A Canning Fluid Is Added To The Food To Help Preserve It
Before the food is heated and sealed, a canning fluid is added to help the preservation of the food. This could include salted water, commonly referred to as brine or fruit juice that is naturally high in sugar. Both salt and sugar are useful in preserving food.
What Types Of Canned Foods Last The Longest?
Generally speaking, canned foods that are low in acid such as canned meats or vegetables will last the longest. These can be stored safely for around 2 to 5 years or even longer.
On the other hand, high-acid foods such as tomatoes and pineapples have a somewhat shorter shelf life and should generally only be stored for around 12 to 18 months.
How Do You Select Canned Food To Store For Long Periods?
When buying canned foods at the grocer or supermarket, you need to ensure that the can or jar is in good order and undamaged. Never purchase canned food in cans that are dented or have bulging tops.
Similarly, make sure that the jars of food that you purchase don’t have any cracks or bulging tops. You should also avoid buying cans or jars that are overly dusty because they may have been sitting on the shelf for an extended period of time.
How Do You Store Canned Food To Stop Any Chance Of Spoilage?
Always store your canned food in a cool, dry place, such as your pantry or food storage cupboard. Ensure that you keep canned foods away from heat, such as from your stove or a furnace. Similarly, keep canned foods out of direct sunlight.
You also want to ensure that the cans are kept dry because moisture can cause the metal lids to rust. If the lids or other parts of the can become rusted, this could mean that bacteria are allowed to enter the contents and spoil the food.
When purchasing more canned food to add to your supply, make sure that you place the new purchases at the back and move the previous purchases to the front. Always consume the older purchases first.
Inspect Your Cans And Jars Before Consuming The Food
To be on the safe side and ensure that the contents of the cans or jars are safe to eat, inspect your cans or jars before opening them. If there are any dents in the cans or you notice some bulging, throw it out and don’t consume the food inside.
Similarly, if the seal on top of a jar has popped or is bulging, it’s best to throw it out because it’s quite likely that bacteria has tainted the food inside.
How Store Foods Safely After Opening The Can Or Jar
Once you open a can or jar of food, the food is no longer protected from airborne particles or bacteria. Therefore, any leftover food not used immediately has to be stored correctly and only for a short period of time.
Food that is in cans needs to be placed into an airtight container, either plastic or glass and stored in the refrigerator. This food should be consumed within two or three days.
On the other hand, food in glass jars can be put straight into the refrigerator and foods such as tomato sauces and fruits should be consumed within five to seven days.
Which Canned Foods Should You Stock Up On In Case Of A Disaster?
It’s common these days for people to stock up and be prepared in case of a disaster whether man-made or natural. One of the best ways to ensure that you and your family don’t go hungry and still get plenty of nutrition is to stock up on canned foods. But which ones are best?
Canned vegetables and fruits are great as are supplies of canned meat and fish. Canned beans also provide a nutritional serving of nutrients and protein. Don’t forget to add some cans of fruit juice and a few cans of soup, stew and chili.
Interesting Facts About Canned Foods
Did you know that the metal or tin can was first invented in 1810 and the patent for preserving food in tin cans was received by Peter Durand in the same year? Since then, it has become one of the most significant inventions when it comes to food preservation. Here are some other interesting facts you might not know:
- Around 302 billion cans of food and beverage are manufactured each year (Featherstone, 2014).
- The canning of food is a sustainable practice as it produces low greenhouse gas emissions.
- Canned food retains its nutritional value because it is processed fresh.
- Cans are 100% recyclable.
- Canned foods are good budget alternatives when fresh food is out of season or too expensive.
- Foods that are canned have similar nutritional value to fresh and frozen foods.
- Most canned foods do not contain preservatives.
- There are over 1300 different types of foods that are canned as well as many variants.