10 Long Shelf-Life Canned Foods Every Prepper Should Consider Stockpiling

C. Davis
By C. Davis February 17, 2017 15:19

10 Long Shelf-Life Canned Foods Every Prepper Should Consider Stockpiling

Stockpiling food is a key part of being prepared. Even if you have the skills and space to grow your own, you can’t be sure that a disaster will leave your crops intact and edible. Sure, you can recover from that, but it’s always best to have enough to keep you going while you plant and tend the next crop.

A lot of attention goes to storing bulk carbohydrates like rice, grains and pasta, or home preservation methods like canning or dehydration. Don’t overlook good old shop-bought canned goods though. These can have an impressive shelf life, they’re cheap and a well-chosen stock of them can add variety and nutrients to your diet in the months or even years after the SHTF.

Related: The Best ORAC Foods to Stockpile

Everyone has different tastes, of course, and what canned goods you decide to buy will be influenced by that.

Here’s our Top Ten canned delicacies:

  1. hormel spamHormel Spam. Yes, really. Spam is reasonably priced and actually made from good quality meat. Unlike a lot
    of processed meat products it isn’t mechanically recovered scrap; it’s chopped pork shoulder and ham. Spam is surprisingly nutritious if you’re in a survival situation; it’s full of the things you need that wellness gurus hate, but your body craves when it’s working hard – fat, sodium and protein. Spam is also incredibly versatile. It can be eaten straight out the tin, or sliced and used as a sandwich filling. Alternatively you can fry or grill it, add chunks to a stew, make Spam kebabs or chop it up and add some spammy goodness to a pasta sauce or chili.
  2. Great Value Chunk Chicken BreastGreat Value Chunk Chicken Breast. WalMart sell this in 12.5 oz cans, and often have a special offer on a two-pack. What you get is a can of diced chicken breast with rib meat, fully cooked and packed in water. It’s ready to eat, so you can use it to improve a salad. Alternatively, add it to soups, stews, stir fry or curries. The water from the tin picks up enough chicken flavor to make a pretty good broth, too. This is a great source of protein. 
  3. great-value-beef-stew-20-ozGreat Value Beef Stew. Another WalMart staple; this is a 20 oz can of meat, potatoes and carrots and it
    costs less than two bucks. It’s fully cooked, so you can eat it cold if you have to, and it’s easily heated. It isn’t the most exciting stew in the world but makes a great base. Add seasonings, or mix in foraged greens; this makes the greens a lot tastier and adds nutrients to the stew. That’s not to say it isn’t plenty nutritious already; it has loads of fat, protein and energy. Yes, if you’re physically active these are nutrients. 
  4. Kirkland Roast Beef in Beef BrothKirkland Roast Beef in Beef Broth. Two dozen 12 oz cans of this costs around $90 at CostCo. It’s more expensive than the Great Value stew, but what you get is just chunks of cooked
    premium beef. It can be eaten cold, but where it really comes in useful is as an ingredient in stews and other dishes. It’s very lean, with just enough fat to add flavor. 
  5. kormel chili beansHormel Chili with Beans. This comes in 15 oz or 38 oz cans, and either way it costs about a dime an ounce.
    It’s also tasty and can be eaten right from the can if necessary. Otherwise it’s a great way to add flavor to rice, beans or even pasta – a 15 oz can and four cups of rice will feed a family. The chili itself also has a decent amount of fiber, as well as protein and energy. 
  6. Canned Tuna in oilCanned Tuna in oil. Tuna tastes great and has dozens of uses, from tuna salad to pasta sauces and soups. It’s
    a very good source of protein and essential fatty acids, too. Buy tuna in oil – olive oil if you like it, vegetable otherwise – because it lasts longer and preserves the fish’s nutrients. Starkist is a good value brand you can find most places, but any tuna will do. It’s best to go for plain old fish instead of a fancy seasoned or roasted variety; you’ll save money, and you can add the finishing touches yourself. Why pay an extra $1 for a 5 oz can just because there’s a nickel’s worth of garlic in it? 
  7. baked beans ozBaked Beans. These are a great side for breakfast or a whole range of meals. They can also be added to soups,
    chili, stew and even soups. They have loads of protein and fiber, they’re tasty and they can be perked up with your favorite seasonings. Most grocery stores have an economy brand that sells for not very much, so there’s no reason not to have a few cases of these in your store. 
  8. green beansGreen Beans. Greens can be hard to find in winter, and unless you’ve managed to get a crop in and can some you can find yourself craving them through the cold weather. Green beans are a simple solution. They’re cheap and can be used in a whole load of
    different ways. Steam them as a side, drain and mix with dressing or Miracle Whip to make a salad, or add them to soups and stews. WalMart will sell you a 14.5 oz can of whole green beans for 68 cents. 
  9. kernel cornCorn. Growing and canning corn is a lot of work; four 15 oz cans of it will cost less than $3. Like green beans
    this is a really versatile vegetable that can go in everything from salads to chili. 
  10. diced tomatoesDiced tomatoes. Get diced tomatoes instead of canned tomato sauce; you can turn them into sauce easily
    enough with a blender or by forcing them through a sieve, but you can’t turn sauce into tomato chunks if that’s what you’re looking for. Tomatoes need faster rotation than the other goods we’ve looked at because they’re acidic, but they’re so versatile that shouldn’t be a problem. Soups, stews, pasta sauce… you can add them to practically anything. They’re not massively nutritious, but they make your cooking taste a whole lot better. 

Canned goods have a long life, but to extend that as far as possible it’s vital to store them correctly. Incorrect storage can shorten the life of your food, and even risk dangerous food poisoning.

Check all cans before storage. If there’s any sign of damage, don’t risk it; throw the can away or, if you know it got dented when you dropped it taking it out the car, use it immediately. Dents and dings create weak spots that rust can attack.

Like most other foods cans do best in a cool, dark place that doesn’t suffer from major temperature changes. Freezing temperatures might not obviously split the can, but they could open up tiny gaps that let air and microbes in.

Related: Homemade 72 Hour Emergency Food Supply Kits

How long you should store canned goods for

  • Meat, fish and low acid foods (soup, vegetables) – 3 years
  • High-acid foods (tomatoes, pickles, fruit) – 2 years
  • Fruit juice – 1 year

Rotate your store periodically; add a few cans to your weekly shop, put them at the back of the shelf and use the cans from the front. That way you’ll keep your stockpile as fresh as possible, so its shelf life is at a maximum when you really need it.

You may also like:

surv md banner13 Myths and Facts About Canned Foods

An Insanely Effective Way to Build a 5 Year Food Stockpile (video)

22 Ingenious Hacks to Make Food Last Longer

What Should You Do With Your Canned Foods After the Expiration Date?

How to Make Delicious Biltong with 1 Year-Shelf Life

Please Spread The Word - Share This Post
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
C. Davis
By C. Davis February 17, 2017 15:19
Write a comment

92 Comments

  1. DAH February 17, 16:54

    FINALLY, an article NOT trying to sell something, but instead passing on information useful to all. I also buy containers of MuscleTech Whey Protein, each scoop has 32gr. of protein. I mix 1 scoop of powder in a Shaker Cup with 20 oz. of coffee every other morning. The container lasts approximately 60 days and I keep 6 on hand (1 year’s worth)

    Reply to this comment
  2. Don February 17, 17:31

    KIppered herring or herring snacks last for almost 5 years and tastes great on crackers. Potted meat cans cost sometimes .50 cents makes a great sandwich meat and can last up to 5 years.

    Reply to this comment
  3. TSgt B February 17, 18:21

    Another one I like is kippered herring, aka “kipper snacks”. Great source of protein and omega-3s, plus they will store for a LONG time.

    Reply to this comment
  4. EFortin February 17, 18:31

    I don’t see any non-GMO labels here. Better to can your own.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 17, 18:43

      EFortin: In an end of the world situation I am quite confident that you will not be reading the labels on any food you run across. You will be quite happy to eat rat cooked over an open fire. If you get hold of some Cheese Whiz you will be escstatic to scarf it down. During the siege of Stalingrad the Russians boiled their belts and drank the fluid that came off the belt. They probably ate the belt too. The took the tongues out of their boots and shoes and boiled those. They scraped wallpaper off the walls and then scraped the paste off the back of the wall paper and made a mush out of that. Read about the famines in the satellite countries of Russia in the 30s when the Communists were trying to organize the farms and factories. The urge for self-preservation is the strongest of all of our factory-installed drives and starvation will make you eat stuff you would only touch with rubber gloves now.

      Reply to this comment
      • TD February 17, 22:25

        Ha! Good one! How many of you enjoy seedless grapes or seedless watermelons? How about broccoli or kale? So many things we enjoy and assume are “all natural” weren’t found in the garden of Eden folks.

        Reply to this comment
        • MMG February 18, 04:15

          @TD So true! There’s not an apple, or any other piece of fruit that anyone has eaten that wasn’t genetically modified…yes even the “heirloom varieties” are GMO’s.The same for grapes for wine. Also, every dog you’ve owned, own or will own is a GMO. So the only way to get away form GMO’s is to ‘shed your mortal coil’. I want GMO info labels..so I can buy those products!

          Reply to this comment
          • Lucy February 18, 06:50

            These comments made me curious, so I just looked up the scientific use of the term “genetically modified,” which is not the way we commoners might use it. This is from Wikipedia:

            “Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes. Inserted genes usually come from a different species in a form of horizontal gene-transfer. In nature this can occur when exogenous DNA penetrates the cell membrane for any reason. This can be accomplished artificially by:
            attaching the genes to a virus.
            physically inserting the extra DNA into the nucleus of the intended host with a very small syringe.
            using electroporation (that is, introducing DNA from one organism into the cell of another by use of an electric pulse).
            firing small particles from a gene gun.
            Other methods exploit natural forms of gene transfer, such as the ability of Agrobacterium to transfer genetic material to plants, or the ability of lentiviruses to transfer genes to animal cells.”

            It sounds like a different process from what is called “selective breeding,” the age-old way of choosing the best traits in animals or vegetables.

            Reply to this comment
            • MMG February 18, 06:56

              @Lucy When you graft a Texas grape cutting onto a French Grapevine and come up with a new species of grape, never seen on the planet before, you have accomplished genetic modification, Whether in a lab with a pipet..or in a field with gauze..you have a GMO.

              Reply to this comment
              • Graywolf12 May 8, 18:42

                I*f you graft a peach tree on to the root stalk of an Oak you still harvest peaches, and they do not resemble or taste like acorn.,

                Reply to this comment
            • Nola February 18, 13:10

              Thank you. Genetically modifying something means forcing something that is not there naturally and cannot be put there naturally into something that never required it in the first place. Not a good thing.

              Reply to this comment
              • MMG February 18, 15:48

                @Nola I don’t understand the difference that folks seem to profess when dealing with, for example purposely splicing a tomato plant to grow a ‘never before seen’ tomato that cant resist cold better, VS doing the exact same thing in lab. What is the difference? and why is that bad? I think folks have seen to many movies..attack of the killer tomatoes or some thing. 90% + of everything you touch every day has “not been pout there naturally” whether your bed, your car, your kitchen stuff… and all the food you eat. I support GMO technology and innovation.

                Reply to this comment
                • MMG February 18, 15:50

                  Please excuse the spelling errors : can vs can’t , put vs pout etc..

                  Reply to this comment
                • Nola February 18, 20:14

                  MMG, Thank you for your response.
                  What I mean is having read about putting something from a fish into a potato to (supposedly) make it not bruise so much in transportation, keep it from sprouting (although the gas they put of all produce to keep it from going bad so fast should cover that), and also prevent using something you get from the supermarket to grow your own.
                  My problem with the potato issue is that in the report I saw the man working on it admitted that potatoes are as good as they are going to get, nutritionally. So WHY add something that has no value to the consumer. Potatoes are easy to grow, even if they do take up a lot of room. And if GMO is so wonderful why can you not save the seeds and grow the same crop again, as you can with open pollination/heirloom seeds?
                  Sorry, I prefer to KNOW what I am eating, and believe in the 100 mile diet.

                  Reply to this comment
                  • Lizza April 29, 15:27

                    LOL NOLA what the heck are you missing? I’ll be sure and tell you my tomatoes are GMO when tshf and you starving and staring at my tomatoes! LOL I grafted a couple tomato plants from 2 heirloom plants. I played with these for about 4 years. I got a plant that was producing plate size tomatoes! The first one was just huge…I was stupid enough to think I was only one watching it grow! I finally turned it around and said time to eat! LOL there was my husband and my son! HMM But i’ll be sure and NOT share with you

                    Reply to this comment
                • robin March 15, 15:06

                  GMO is an ill defined, catch all term unfortunately…something from one tomato into another tomato is a fast way to intentionally select traits (the historical way of producing new varieties) ….introducing an insecticide, or genes from a different species is what the anti GMO people don’t want ….primarily because then that added info is passed along organically to future crops…..no way to control pollen floating across the miles or insects sharing it. GMO will ruin a century of careful intentional breeding. Very stupid act to introduce GMO into the natural world.

                  Reply to this comment
              • CMT February 20, 07:00

                It can actually be a very good thing! It can cure diseases, make medicines, and feed people. Just like the flip side, buying only “organic” foods is ridiculous. People should rather starve than eat anything not grown organically. Of course it’s usually the people who can afford to buy organic and only miss a meal every now and then due to the inconvenience of not being able to find “organic.” I put the quotation marks around “organic” because the farms have to be certified organic because if you test the food, there is no difference in nutritional value or toxin levels (i.e. Pesticides, hormones, etc) between “organically” grown and non-organically grown foods, veggies, meats, dairy, etc. The “organic” industry has hoodwinked people into believing that commercially grown foods are evil and toxic. What a joke! 85% of the population can’t see through snake oil when it bites then on the nose. And in this case the snake oil you are being sold is the dangers of GMO’s, that “organic” is better…BS! Just because a farm is certified “organic” they are still allowed to use fertilizers and pesticides. And even if they didn’t, how do you think they can prevent the drift of the pesticides and fertilizers coming over the fence from the next farm? There is a lot of BS talk about how commercially grown food is not as nutritious as “organically” grown because the soil had lost the proper nutrients so the plants don’t have them either. I hate to break it to you but plants won’t grow and thrive if they can’t absorb the proper nutrients from the soil, just like people won’t grow if they don’t have the proper nutrients in their diet. Plants are able to make a lot of the nutrients they need with just sunlight and water. Am

                Reply to this comment
            • NY Oathkeeper February 27, 19:10

              Nice job lucy.There is a great difference between crossing life forms that can cross naturally and ones forced by gene manipulation that could never occur in nature.Key words here never occur in nature…Watch the doc Seeds of Death. good info for ya.

              Reply to this comment
            • Crotalus Maxximus March 15, 15:08

              Thank You for the clarification. There is a difference between selective breeding and inserting glow in the dark genes from a jelly fish. I always try to buy heirloom food products when ever possible. Roundup is not a desirable trait in food. I believe CWD may be attributed to GMO crops. Are we next?

              Reply to this comment
            • DG-WTF May 12, 15:34

              True — the GMO that we all fear is the Monsanto round up proofing of crops so the Monsanto farmer can flood the crops with pesticides and the crop will still grow with all the pesticides sucking into the root system — Things like Strawberries and Potatos are flooded with pesticide and fertilizers

              Reply to this comment
      • Elehcim February 18, 15:53

        I am also concerned about GMO’s and avoid it. The only reason why I would avoid getting too much food that is not Non-GMO Certified is if I will not eat them items before they go bad. Or I don’t purchase more than I’m willing to throw away. I do, however, have hundreds of pounds of wheat, rice, oats and beans that are canned to last 30 years. I doubt they’re non-gmo, but I consider it worth the investment.

        Reply to this comment
      • JJ February 18, 20:41

        Amen to that brother!!

        Reply to this comment
        • Jj February 18, 20:45

          oops–this comment to chuck.
          Folks have NEVER been hungry. and there will be those when TSHTF.

          Reply to this comment
          • Nola February 20, 16:53

            jj – not only have I been hungry, I have used the catsup packet from fast food restaurants to make a cup of soup. Of course, it had only been 8 days since I had a meal and I got sick from it so maybe I really wasn’t hungry.

            Reply to this comment
    • DG-WTF May 12, 15:25

      Now that Venezuela? is in deep Do-Do because of liberal socialism, their government workers and police and military are ALL dumpster diving for food

      Reply to this comment
  5. left coast chuck February 17, 18:33

    Canned fruit is also a good storage item. Canned pineapple has less shelf life than canned fruit cocktail or canned peaches or pears. They add that luxury to an otherwise bland meal. I can tell you that canned fruit cocktail was the most sought after C-ration. You could trade a can of fruit cocktail for multiples of other C-ration items. Even more sought after than cigarettes. Yes in the bad old days you used to get five cigarettes in a little box in every day’s rations. Canned peaches were a close second and, of course, canned pears were always in demand. After a delicious meal of sausage patties in gravy(read congealed grease) a can of fruit cocktail washed the nasty taste away. And on a hot summer day nothing refreshed like a can of fruit cocktail — wow, that stirs up some memories. I’m going to have to go out to the garage and grab a can and open it right now.

    Reply to this comment
  6. VEE3 February 17, 20:26

    Just wondering about the seafood, with Fukishima leaking.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Lucy February 17, 20:58

    In addition, Crider makes canned turkey in 10-oz. size, like canned chicken for $1.20 a can. Matzo balls in glass jars keep for years, and remind me of Grandma’s dumplings to top a stew or soup. You can get great deals after the Jewish holidays (October, I think) when the merchants are trying to get rid of leftover stock. Actually, I am eating some out of the jar right now, comfort food. Canned salmon and mackerel make tasty patties with an egg to hold them together.

    Tomatoes and all kinds of tomato sauces come in glass jars, and keep much longer than tomatoes of any kind in cans, and they taste better without that metallic taste!

    Reply to this comment
    • Lucy February 17, 21:01

      How could we forget corned beef, and either corned beef or roast beef hash! The best-by date is 5 years out, too.

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 17, 21:45

      What else do you put in the patties Do you scramble the egg and dip the patty in the egg? I am interested in canned salmon recipes other than just eating the salmon out of the can. Any suggestions or references? Simple is better. Not really interested in 20 ingredient all day prep.

      Reply to this comment
      • Lucy February 17, 22:12

        Even easier! Just dump the canned salmon into a bowl, break it up a little if the clumps are big, crumble in a piece of bread — stale is best — and crack a fresh egg into it and stir. The egg is the binder. I like to throw some chopped onion in, but a dash of onion or garlic powder is good, too. Or not! If you have some fresh herbs, like parsley or dill or whatever you like, throw a palmful in. Stir it all together, and plop spoonfuls into a greased skillet and cook. When one side looks done, turn the patties over and cook the other side until they look browned a bit. Eat them on bread, with cooked rice or noodles, or just a fork!

        Reply to this comment
      • Arlene Johnson February 17, 22:57

        If I were you, I would place the egg in the bowl first and beat it up in Lucy’s recipe. Then, add the salmon after. Trying to combine an egg with the chunks of salmon would not enable you to combine them very easily.

        Reply to this comment
      • Kathy T. February 17, 23:41

        Salmon patties- drain the salmon from the can, remove the “backbone and discard. I personally discard the blackish skin and discard. Then I add egg, onion and sometimes crushed saltine crackers. Consistency of meatloaf. Form into patties and fry. Season to your taste. Growing up there was 13 at home and canned salmon was cheap, made a great meal extender side dish.

        Reply to this comment
      • ASH February 18, 01:57

        With the salmon you can remove the bones or not your choice. Drink the liquid if you want to or give it to your dog or cat. I like to add 2 eggs crumble up half a doz crackers mix well and then fry to a golden brown in coconut oil. I often add chopped up onions and garlic both for taste and health benefits. makes a great meal any way you fix it.

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck February 18, 02:31

          Thanks all, for the suggestions. I have been wondering how to make salmon patties. I now have a good handle on a couple of methods. Appreciate the various suggestions. Growing up Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks was about all the further we ventured into gourmet fish preparation.

          Reply to this comment
        • Donna B. May 23, 16:42

          the bones crush easily, and you don’t know they’re in there! Both of my parents partially raised us kids during the depression. My dad was born in 1909 and my mom in 1914. We didn’t discard anything! We ate salmon stew, and salmon patties. They both had the skin and the bones! Use your hands and just mush it all up together! You won’t know it’s there! And BTW flour wasn’t the only thing that came in fabric sacks. Feed did also. And I wore lots of feed sack dresses. We were blessed, because in later years my dad worked for a company that sold Purina Chow feeds. We even saved the string from the top of the sacks to tack quilts with!

          Reply to this comment
          • Graywolf12 May 24, 15:02

            When we went to the feed store or grocery store my mother gave us a swatch of cloth from a feed bag or flower sack. We were to look for that pattern and buy if we had some money. DO NOT loose that swatch. That was almost a capital punishment crime. It was a lot different from today, but we had fun, enjoyed life, and I guess it did not hurt us too bad as I’ll be 81 in Oct.

            Reply to this comment
      • honeymom February 18, 16:41

        you can make salmon cakes with flour, 1 egg & mix & stir. fry in pan with little bit of oil-doesn’t matter what type of oil. you can use any kind of spice you want.
        good luck

        Reply to this comment
    • Katie T February 17, 23:55

      Our local Dollar Tree has canned chicken Bologna, and canned luncheon meat. The luncheon meat is in cans about the size of spam cans and the Bologna is the size of large tuna cans and they are a dollar each. Pretty good tasting for a buck a can. Good cold, fried, chopped for seasoning in green beans, etc. usually grab about 5 cans each time I go in to restock and rotate.

      Reply to this comment
      • hillbilly girl February 18, 15:24

        You should eat the bones in salmon, etc. This is good calcium. Also, I store Spam instead of bacon. It’s really good with breakfast. Plus, no refrigeration needed!
        The ‘store’ canned meats are great in BOB’s. Add veggies and serve. Big Lot’s used to have canned chicken in gravy that was wonderful. Haven’t seen it in several months.

        Reply to this comment
    • JJ February 18, 20:49

      Yep–I have those 5 oz. cans of canned turkey, ham, chicken, and tuna–great for making salad for sandwiches.
      Just right for two folks.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Kdonat February 17, 21:18

    I would add canned greens not just green beans (turnip or mustard greens, spinach, collards) and a variety of beans. But your list is a great one for those that are just starting on getting supplies.

    We use the beef stew as a base for pot pie by topping with biscuit or cornbread batter. Add more vegies and seasoning variations to help improve the flavor or to extend to feed more folks.

    Reply to this comment
  9. OldMarine February 17, 21:20

    Be vigilant of canned potatoes. I had 2 cans go bad before best by date- no obvious damage. Leaked soylet green goo onto my shelf and smelled horrible. We have had vegetables from ’09 that were still good and had good color. We experiment with different types of canned goods to see how long they keep. We store ours downstairs in a dark corner and it stays about 65 degrees year round. Best to find out this now and buy the longest lasting brands, than waiting until shtf to find out.

    Reply to this comment
    • JJ February 18, 20:56

      I have canned potatoes (whole and sliced) for 8 years now–one of the first canned goods I stored for beef/veg soup.
      I haven’t noticed any abnormalities.
      Thanks for the warniing.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Kdonat February 17, 21:31

    Armour dried beef that comes in jars. Great for SOS (creamed chipped beef). Stores a very long time past the Best By date. In a pinch, beef jerky can be re-hydrated and mixed into other dishes, but doesn’t store as long as the chipped beef.

    Reply to this comment
    • SJ March 4, 23:22

      Where do you find jars of dried beef or even tomatoes? Most everything I see is in cans.

      Reply to this comment
      • Lucy March 6, 17:04

        The dried beef is in smallish glass jars in the same section of the grocery store as the tuna, corned beef, canned chicken, sardines, etc. Around here, they don’t carry many jars, so you have to poke around or ask someone who works there. The dried tomatoes are most likely in with the Italian foods, or sometimes with canned tomatoes. I just called my local grocery store, who looked it up for me and said they have them either in glass jars or foil or plastic packets, in three different places in the store!

        Reply to this comment
  11. Red Baron February 17, 21:47

    I’ve read some articles that claim that canned food can last up to 15 years or more. Indeed, I knew this old man, a WWII survivor, he kept a pantry full of canned goods and some were well over 10 years old. One day I happened to be visiting and he opened a can of tuna to eat with some crackers: the tuna was tasty, just like any ‘ole canned tuna, and I didn’t get sick. The expiration date on the can was 12 years old. Any comments on this?

    Reply to this comment
    • OldMarine February 17, 22:13

      Tuna is usually dated about 2 years out for a best by date I think. But, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t keep for 2 or 3 times as long. Just check for rust on cans. We have had the best luck with green beans and such, haven’t tried anything real acidic like stewed tomatoes. That is my next project.

      Reply to this comment
    • Lucy February 17, 22:25

      Well, it probably depends on how cool and dry things are stored. My cellar is dry and purty darn cold, about 47 degrees. I would get on just fine with your WWII survivor! I have no problem with so-called “out of date” canned foods. A lot of respectable websites out there say that canned foods will last years longer than the “Best by” date, which is an arbitrary date chosen by the companies themselves, not by the FDA, by the way. They said that the only food that is required by law to have a stipulated “Use by” date is infant formula! These sites also say that, as long as the can is intact, you can eat it just fine, that the food quality will degrade over time, but not become toxic. If they were properly canned to begin with, and all the bacteria were killed in the processing (which it should be!), no bacteria can grow in the jars or cans. The high acid foods will last longest IN GLASS, but not in cans, because the acid will eat through the metal. Still, if you are wary of eating foods past those arbitrary dates, best to let someone else eat them. It would upset your stomach because of your concern!

      Reply to this comment
      • Rick Fortune February 19, 18:45

        If you home can high acid foods, obviously use glass jars, but make sure you use a non-metallic lid like Tattler. We had some tops corrode through years ago, salsa, peppers, etc. And the best part is if you take care with Tattler tops, they will reuse as long as your jars!

        Reply to this comment
    • ASH February 18, 02:08

      In Army basic training in 1974-1975 for AIT we were feed C-Rations dated 1942. They tasted just fine for C-rations. Depending on the box you got and how hungry you were they could be pretty darned good. I do not know of even one case of anyone getting sick from them.

      Reply to this comment
      • Homesteader May 12, 16:32

        Wish they still made C-Rats. I think they tasted better than today’s MREs. I’ve personally witnessed several cases of people not drinking enough water with their MRE and ending up in the hospital. Not pretty. You didn’t get that with the C-Rats.

        Reply to this comment
  12. Betty February 17, 23:32

    This is one article that goes in my “favorite places” and I thank you. We have food that lasts 25 years and I’m glad for it, but this is much less expensive and useful. I can use the food and just replace it as I go always keeping a good amount should we need it. We have hurricanes that put out power and this is just good sense to be prepared. And, if the unspeakable happens, it would be a life saver. Again, thank you for the list and for all the suggestions that followed.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Kathy T. February 17, 23:47

    I, too, am thankful for a very informative article that isn’t trying to make a sale. So many sites give the hook, then go on and on about how great the information is, thinking it’s something you can “make” for yourself, only to have to buy something. Ugh!!!

    Reply to this comment
  14. Chris G. February 18, 00:12

    Not long ago, we practically lived off our pantry stocks. Canned fish…tuna, salmon, kippers, undrained,.. makes a lovely baked dish. I make up the fish just like any tuna or salmon salad, we add mayo/miracle whip, chopped pickles, and spice. then add a raw egg or two and a baking mix…the boys favorite is Corn bread muffin mix, the spouse likes bisquick. Bake to the corn bread loaf instructions. Sometimes I’ll sub.the pickles with frozen vegs. Add 20 minutes if the vegs are pea sized, and cover with aluminum for the first half of the time then. Thaw vegs out if they are larger, and add only 10 extra minutes.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 18, 02:39

      That’s an interesting recipe, Chris. Thanks. My mother used to make tuna salad with hot dog relish (well, relish, I always eat hot dogs with relish so have always called it hot dog relish). I am crazy about capers, so make my tuna salad with capers instead of relish. I never thought about making a casserole with tuna fish salad. I will have to try it.

      Reply to this comment
  15. TK February 18, 09:33

    Store canned goods in your extra refrigerator to extend their shelf life indefinitely.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Nola February 18, 13:05

    I do purchase some of these, but I only get them if they have to be opened with a can opener. I found out that once a pop-top can is dropped, it is kind of like a used motorcycle helmet…the structural integrity is damaged. So unless you are going to use it within a few days it can become hazardous to your health.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Jenn February 18, 18:05

    On the chili, I prefer to buy chili WITHOUT beans-then you are basically buying ground beef in chili sauce…Which you can stretch w your own cheap dried beans or serve as is over rice/potatoes/noodles, or even toss into broth w veggies to stretch it into soup.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Large Marge February 18, 19:05

    We work with the lab in Corvallis at the university. We also work with the Oregon state medical examiner. We are accredited with national and international certifying organizations.

    A client engaged us to test several cans of food estimated to be from about 1870 or so. Over a hundred years old.

    Our analysis indicated the contents == cow meat, peaches, apples, cod == were edible but contained significant amounts of mercury and lead.

    HOWEVER…

    The nutritional values were off the scale compared to baseline 2017 foods. Apparently, soil depletion from an additional century of farming leaves today’s food with the appearance of old time food, but only a tiny fraction of its original nutrition.

    Accordingly, we either need to supplement to compensate, or we need to eat more.

    Reply to this comment
    • Red Baron February 18, 20:16

      Large Marge – Exactly my point from an earlier comment. I would guess the heavy metals came from the canning process, back then they soldered the seams with lead-based solder, and probably contained mercury as well. Heavy metal pollution in our food chain is a modern phenomenon, after we started using those metals indiscriminately around the turn of the century.

      BTW, I restrict my intake of tuna to a minimum, those fish are apex predators and concentrate large amounts of mercury, I don’t care what levels the FDA approves.

      Not sure what methods you used for your analysis (gas chromatography?) and what levels of those heavy metals you encountered, but with modern canning techniques and materials, going back to my point, we should see no reason to consume food canned for over 20 years. In a pinch, canned food is the ultimate survival food.

      Reply to this comment
  19. papajim February 18, 20:07

    When all else fails eat your neighbor. We’ll maybe not, depends where you live!!!!!!! yummy

    Reply to this comment
  20. JJ February 18, 20:32

    •Meat, fish and low acid foods (soup, vegetables) – 3 years
    •High-acid foods (tomatoes, pickles, fruit) – 2 years
    •Fruit juice – 1 year

    This isn’t for everyone, but I have meat, sardines, tuna, and veg soups stored for over years now.
    I have diced and whole tomatoes still in cans shelved for over 6 years also, and canned fruit, not pears.
    Pickles?? I’ve had those for about 8 years.
    And these are commercial cans–my home canned foods in glass jars?? Good for twenty years at least.
    These are water bath canned items.

    I have two rooms I don’t heat, but do cool in summers.

    Reply to this comment
    • MLG February 20, 14:40

      Do you can meat and vegetables? I don’t want to can tomatoes, cucumbers or fruit. I must not be You Tubing the right videos because they say we can’t safely do it in the kitchen like they can do commercially. I’d really like to do a vegetable stew and can that myself. A friend of mine does, but everything I read says I can’t do it safely. Are you able to?

      Reply to this comment
      • Nola February 20, 16:48

        Of course, you can put up your own meats and vegetables! It is like any other skill. You must take the correct precautions, you don’t want your pressure canner (not cooker) to blow up in your face or not use the recommended times, pressure, etc. If you have any qualms at all, go to your county extension office and get their information and find out if they offer or know of any classes regarding the information you want. Our community college offers many classes on food preservation, cooking, meal planning, etc. There are also many classes on line about this as well. The LDS church (I am not Mormon) have all kinds of information available and you don’t have to join their church.

        Reply to this comment
        • MMG February 20, 23:46

          Nola,

          What is a ‘county extension office’? Thanks.

          Reply to this comment
          • nola February 21, 18:24

            MMG,

            A “County Extension Office” is where you find the person and information that assists the farmers and ranchers in a given area. Usually the County Courthouse can get you in contact with the Extension Officer in your area. If that doesn’t work, try the City Offices or State Agriculture Offices.

            Reply to this comment
      • Ruth March 29, 15:55

        You are able to can meats or stock with veggies as soups as long as you don’t add flour as a thickener. You then add flour to thicken when you use it. Can it as long as the meat and you will be fine. Chill too, just add masa to thicken or flour when you use it.

        Reply to this comment
      • Lizza April 29, 15:35

        Here let me find you a link…YES YES you can safely can Also if you are on facebook please join safe and smart canning recipes and food preservation HOLD on lol http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_05/chicken_rabbit.html Also get the big ball book …latest edition of pressure canning…You must have a pressure canner not a pressure cooker…For tomates u can use a water bath but NOT for meat!

        Reply to this comment
  21. JJ February 18, 20:33

    This isn’t for everyone, but I have meat, sardines, tuna, and veg soups stored for over 6 years now.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Dan February 20, 23:54

    One should purchase a good “pressure canner” with which to can foods. Pressure cookers are NOT the same in terms of pressure and therefore temperatures for proper food preservation.

    Reply to this comment
    • Nola February 21, 18:26

      And stay away from those electric cooker/canners. Most of them have a warning that they are NOT safe for canning foods.

      Reply to this comment
  23. John S February 27, 18:15

    I have a unique way to store food that I first used in 1999 in prep for Y2K. My ‘goal’ was to feed one meal a day to twenty people for three months. Beyond that???
    Anyway, you men who repair air conditioners and have a vacuum pump can do this. I bought three new, 30 gallon barrels (bbls) with the removable lids. I installed an air conditioning schrader valve in each lid. This valve is like the valve on car tires. I am not a cook. And my wife thinks that the whole preoccupation with food storage is nutty. So there wasn’t any help coming from her in doing this. I went to a local food store that caters to restaurants. I bought 20 lb bags of rice, black beans, packages of noodles, spaghetti, powdered milk, seal salt, flour, etc., and filled these bbls. The final cost was about $700. to 750. With my vacuum pump, I was able to draw the bbls. down to 20 inches of vacuum. Any bugs interred were promptly dead. I went to the local welding gas supply house and bought a cylinder on nitrogen. I injected the nitrogen into the bbls. That ended oxidation. Then the bbls were stored under the house in a crawl space. In 2012 I opened one of the bbls and ate the spaghetti. It did not taste any different than a package of spaghetti bought the same day.The one friend that I had in doing this recently passed away. But two other people have had me make up bbls for them. And I am now using the 16 gal bbls. with removable lids instead on the 30 gal ones, just to cut down on the weight of the barrels. The 30 gal bbls need to be moved with a hand truck (dolly) because of the weight. One thing that I should mention in closing here. When I opened that bbl. from 1999, there was not even a hint of rust in it even though the interior was bare metal, unpainted and uncoated. I have wanted to make a you tube video of this but do not have the technical knowhow to put it together.

    Reply to this comment
  24. Lucy February 28, 18:48

    John S, I hope you find someone who will help you make that video! It sounds pretty straight forward, and really handy!

    Reply to this comment
  25. Lucy February 28, 18:55

    We’ve been talking mostly about highly nourishing, essential foods to store, of course. Except for left coast chuck’s mentioning pineapple, fruit cocktail, etc., we haven’t talked much about the “luxuries.”

    Sometimes I want a little something, but don’t want to prepare or even just break open that either takes work or will need to be refrigerated. One answer: Baby food in those tiny jars! Judging by how hard they are to open, I would guess they would keep a really long time, too. I am still snacking on both little and medium jars of organic applesauce and pears I bought at Big Lots 6 years ago for 25 cents a jar. Sometimes I mix in an equal amount of yogurt, or put one into my oatmeal.

    Reply to this comment
  26. D S from Ill March 22, 19:39

    How long does salt in the original container last. Should it be re packaged in mylar

    Reply to this comment
    • ElizabethR April 11, 20:51

      Forever – as long as it doesn’t get wet. Even then, once it dries it can be pulverized into granulated salt again. Salt is a mineral: sodium chloride. It doesn’t “spoil.” That’s why it was used to preserve fish and meats – salt-packed fish and slat-packed beef in particular.

      Reply to this comment
      • Lizza April 29, 15:39

        Thank you ElizabethR I just went out got my bag of canning salt that was hard as a rock and stuck it in food processor LOL its now granulated!

        Reply to this comment
  27. nighthawk May 5, 09:03

    canned foods will last a hundred years. If the can is not swollen or puntured the item inside is edible. Has been proven by science with 100 year old canned food. The taste might be off but the item is still “good to go”
    Heck, in service I ate C rations that were 12 years old. and they were delicious

    Reply to this comment
  28. Lisa May 8, 18:33

    Home canning home grown meat is a good hobby, and lasts a long time. If you invest in a pressure canner get an AA (All American) they do not have a rubber gasket and will work on a campfire. Some people I know buy on sale and can, helps the rising price of food. yes, this list is a good start. We all need to move our stocks forward.

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*

FOLLOW US ON:

  • facebook
  • Pinterest
  • twitter
  • Google +