Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension
Many people have questions about the storage of canned goods and since February is Canned Food Month, now is a good time to address some of the most common questions.
You want to start with a good quality product. If you are purchasing canned goods, choose those that are not rusted, dented, scratched or bulging. Home-canned foods should only be made using research-tested procedures, equipment and recipes from sources such as USDA or University of Missouri Extension.
Store canned goods in a cool, dark, dry area away from furnaces, pipes and other places where temperature changes occur. Store metal cans off of the floor because moisture may lead to rust.
Be sure to label the can with the purchase date or the date it was made. It is recommended that unopened home-canned foods be used within one year. Commercially-canned low-acid foods, like meat and vegetables, should be consumed within 2 to 5 years. High-acid foods, such as tomatoes and fruit, have a shorter shelf life of 12 to 18 months.
Always use the FIFO (first-in, first-out) method when it comes to using foods from storage so that you are sure to use your oldest cans first. If you see that a can or jar has a broken seal or it is rusting, bulging or denting, it should be discarded. If any food does not look or smell right, throw it out.
During storage, the minerals in canned foods should remain the same. Most of the vitamins should have close to the same level as fresh. Vitamins A and C, however, will decrease quickly during the canning process, but once the product is canned the loss slows to 5 to 20% each year.
When buying canned foods, choose low sodium or no-salt-added products and choose fruits packed in their own juice or water instead of syrup.