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 Shelf life of home-canned products

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EliseT

  • Total Posts: 2849
  • Joined: 7/11/2001
  • Location: L.A, CA
Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 5:05 AM (permalink)
I'm cleaning out the pantry!

I read that home-canned pickles had a shelf life of around 6 months. But I remember my aunts on the farm keeping that stuff forever. As long as the lid didn't pop up, it was fine.

What's the real story on:

Pickles with salt and vinegar

okra with salt, vinegar, hot pepper

chutney with fruit, spices and lots of alcohol

??????
 
#1
    Michael Hoffman

    • Total Posts: 17826
    • Joined: 7/1/2000
    • Location: Gahanna, OH
    RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 12:23 PM (permalink)
    Six months? I guess that means the cucumber and zucchini pickles I still left from 1974 shouldn't be eaten. I wonder if that's true for the tomatoes from that year, as well.
     
    #2
      xannie_01

      • Total Posts: 1481
      • Joined: 10/18/2005
      • Location: albuquerque, NM
      RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 12:34 PM (permalink)
      uh...excuse me for sounding stupid, but if you have pickles and tomatoes from 1974 that you haven't eaten, what makes you think you will anytime in the future?
       
      #3
        Michael Hoffman

        • Total Posts: 17826
        • Joined: 7/1/2000
        • Location: Gahanna, OH
        RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 12:45 PM (permalink)
        quote:
        Originally posted by xannie_01

        uh...excuse me for sounding stupid, but if you have pickles and tomatoes from 1974 that you haven't eaten, what makes you think you will anytime in the future?

        I don't. But every year, when folks start talking about canning their stuff I think about maybe going down to the basement to check out the tomatoes and pickles -- and then, of course, I promptly forget about it till the next year.
         
        #4
          UncleVic

          • Total Posts: 6025
          • Joined: 10/14/2003
          • Location: West Palm Beach, FL
          • Roadfood Insider
          RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 7:26 PM (permalink)
           
          #5
            ann peeples

            • Total Posts: 8317
            • Joined: 5/21/2006
            • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
            RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 9:26 PM (permalink)
            What fun threads-but who really cares........
             
            #6
              Cakes

              • Total Posts: 562
              • Joined: 9/11/2003
              • Location: Sarasota, FL
              RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 9:53 PM (permalink)
              quote:
              Originally posted by annpeeples

              What fun threads-but who really cares........

              I don't understand your comment. Fun? Have you ever canned anything? Did your mother can something that you wonder if it is safe to eat?

              Maybe somebody cares if something is safe to eat. Canning is not a casual or easy process and if you have ever done it I doubt you would have such a casual attitude about it. It is not the same as throwing out a can of Libby's green beans.

              Maybe I misunderstood what you said, if so I apologize.

              Cakes

               
              #7
                ScreenBear

                • Total Posts: 1503
                • Joined: 9/18/2005
                • Location: Westfield, NJ
                RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 9:56 PM (permalink)
                I'll tell yuh. This is one of my real bugaboos. Not home-canned things, but adhering to the expiration dates on store bought jarred and canned goods. If it's one day over the date, I toss it. I figure the guy who said, “When in doubt, throw it out” was probably some real smart guy. OK, so it’s not on the level of aphorisms Old Ben Franklin spouted, but it still seems pretty wise, and not all that pound foolish.

                But, I have friends that couldn't care less. They open stuff and eat it with reckless abandon…the more time past the date, the better. They laugh: “This stuff’s good for years.” And they're all pretty much still alive.

                I'm hesitant to buy stuff that has no expiration date. Because I know that if I don't use it right away, I'm bound to toss it.

                And hey, how about those Lazy Susan spice dispensers in rental cabins in the woods. “Help yourself,” the owners say. How do I know how old that Marjoram is? I don't even know what Marjoram is. I'm not making anything with it. And I’m not using that opened jar of ketchup, either. Yecch! I don’t even know if I wanna go in the lake now.

                And what's with those cans and jars in the supermarkets that have no expiration dates, but instead only obscure codes that only the manufacturer knows. Shouldn’t we know? We won’t tell the enemy. Promise. They have a website or an 800 number you can call, whereas they'll decipher the code and tell you if it's still safe to ingest the stuff.

                "Uh, you haven't eaten that piccalilli, have you, Mr. ScreenBear. Uh, Mr. ScreenBear, this is Miss Marjoram from ABC & D Foods Can you hear me. Are you still there, sir?"

                The Bear
                 
                #8
                  ann peeples

                  • Total Posts: 8317
                  • Joined: 5/21/2006
                  • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
                  RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 10/10/06 10:17 PM (permalink)
                  Yes-you misunderstood,or I was too casual about my comment.No, my mother did not can anything I was afraid of.And yes, I understand how difficult and challenging canning can be...I have finally mastered the art and am proud of how long it took me.....
                   
                  #9
                    Jimeats

                    • Total Posts: 3175
                    • Joined: 8/15/2005
                    • Location: Ipswich Ma
                    RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Wed, 10/11/06 5:41 AM (permalink)
                    ScreenBear, I'm like one of your friends I just finished a jar of pickels that were put up about 5 or 6 years ago and really liked them. I'm saveing a couple of jars for the holidays. I have many jars of homemade preserves that have been around for eons, Nixon administration I think, I'll give the apple butter a try today. Marjoram, is a cousin of oregano, I use it alot, not as bitter as oregano and is wonderfull in a sauce. It also makes a great indoor house plant with benifits. The only thing I use oregano on is pizza or if fresh in a salad dressing. Chow Jim
                     
                    #10
                      fabulousoyster

                      • Total Posts: 1855
                      • Joined: 11/17/2005
                      • Location: new york, NY
                      RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Wed, 10/11/06 8:40 AM (permalink)
                      I make Thai pepper jelly and try to make enough for a year (12 jars) at a time and never had a problem. I'll finish 2005's by November. I'm making another 12 this month.

                      If I made pickled products, I would try to finish it off within a year. Actually anything I freeze is used within a year or its tossed.

                      Pickled products commercially made are fine for about 2 years.

                      See the USDA website for great info.
                       
                      #11
                        Scorereader

                        • Total Posts: 5546
                        • Joined: 8/4/2005
                        • Location: Crofton, MD
                        RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Wed, 10/11/06 10:12 AM (permalink)
                        Alton Brown had an episode about preserving and he did give the USDA info, but also said, he's opened preserves and such after many many years. But he did say that if it looks funny, smells funny or does not appear to be perfect for any reason, go ahead and toss it -and that also goes for stuff that hasn't reached it USDA shelf life.
                        When it comes to stuff like this, I trust Alton Brown whole heartedly.

                         
                        #12
                          roadrash

                          • Total Posts: 231
                          • Joined: 6/5/2006
                          • Location: Glendale, AZ
                          RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Wed, 10/11/06 6:32 PM (permalink)
                          As long as the vacuum seal is maintained, pressure-canned foods should stay edible (if not necessarily tasty) indefinitely. Since the microorganisms which cause spoilage cannot enter the container, the food cannot become spoiled or rancid. Over time, though, the foods within can certainly oxidize and become less appealing and appetizing, but they will not become toxic as long as the vacuum seal is maintained.

                          For foods using hot water baths, I wouldn't be so certain.
                           
                          #13
                            kil0331

                            • Total Posts: 1
                            • Joined: 1/28/2007
                            • Location: LaPorte, TX
                            RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Sun, 01/28/07 5:58 PM (permalink)
                            I'm not suggesting anyone intentionally store home canned tomatoes for 4 years, but although we normally grow enough tomatoes every year for consumption during harvest season but also to can enough to last till next year, we ran out of last years tomatoes already. I was commenting on how I wished I had a pint of tomatoes for the pot of beans I was making and my wife went on a mission to search for any misplaced tomatoes; the results were 5 pints from the 2003 season (a good year for us by the way)in seemingly good condition hidden behind some other items in our pantry. I searched the web, including this site and found no reason to believe they would be unsafe unless smell, taste or color didn't check out just right. I opened a can and took a sip of the juice and I was in heaven. The tomatoes were in great condition to my surprise and combined with the Hatch green chilis, bacon and other spices we had a heck of a pot of beans. So, although surely not recommended to let any home canned goods sit for too long; home canned tomatoes (hot bath is my method) can last for some time.
                            quote:
                            Originally posted by roadrash

                            As long as the vacuum seal is maintained, pressure-canned foods should stay edible (if not necessarily tasty) indefinitely. Since the microorganisms which cause spoilage cannot enter the container, the food cannot become spoiled or rancid. Over time, though, the foods within can certainly oxidize and become less appealing and appetizing, but they will not become toxic as long as the vacuum seal is maintained.

                            For foods using hot water baths, I wouldn't be so certain.
                             
                            #14
                              MikeS.

                              • Total Posts: 5360
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                              • Location: FarEasternPanhandle, WV
                              • Roadfood Insider
                              RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Mon, 01/29/07 12:34 AM (permalink)
                              kil0331, thanks for the information and welcome to Roadfood. Hope to hear more from you.

                              MikeS.

                               
                              #15
                                Ashphalt

                                • Total Posts: 1644
                                • Joined: 9/14/2005
                                • Location: Sharon, MA
                                RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Mon, 01/29/07 11:35 AM (permalink)
                                I'm sure lots of people have stories of people eating long-preserved items. Here's mine.

                                When I was a kid we had an old farmhouse in Maine. Classic stone and dirt basement. The snowmelt from the Winter of 68 flooded the basement, and after pumping it out my Dad looked into installing a drain. Turned out there was one, exactly where it should have been, but it had been filled up with rubble so long ago that the dirt floor was smooth over it.

                                Anyway, among the rubble they dug out my Dad found a jar of mustard pickles. He ate 'em.

                                I've always put that down as a result of having been a child of the Depression. As a 60s kid I refused to taste the pickles, but stood ready to call an ambulance.
                                 
                                #16
                                  essemjay58

                                  • Total Posts: 134
                                  • Joined: 6/30/2006
                                  • Location: Mahtomedi, MN
                                  RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Mon, 01/29/07 11:38 PM (permalink)
                                  Now, that doesn't sound too good to me, but that canning is hard work, and I'm not going to toss it in 12 months and 1 day. If it looks appetizing, I'll keep it. I also don't follow lock-step on the dated products. I use my discretion.
                                   
                                  #17
                                    V960

                                    • Total Posts: 2429
                                    • Joined: 6/17/2005
                                    • Location: Kannapolis area, NC
                                    RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 01/30/07 9:29 AM (permalink)
                                    Your aunts were right...probably the only time in their lives.
                                     
                                    #18
                                      Sundancer7

                                      RE: Shelf life of home-canned products Tue, 01/30/07 11:28 AM (permalink)
                                      quote:
                                      Originally posted by Scorereader

                                      Alton Brown had an episode about preserving and he did give the USDA info, but also said, he's opened preserves and such after many many years. But he did say that if it looks funny, smells funny or does not appear to be perfect for any reason, go ahead and toss it -and that also goes for stuff that hasn't reached it USDA shelf life.
                                      When it comes to stuff like this, I trust Alton Brown whole heartedly.




                                      In my opinion, I believe Alton is the best educator regarding food on any network. I think he is a food genius.

                                      Paul E. Smith
                                      Knoxville, TN
                                       
                                      #19
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