shelf life of canning (esp. meat) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

This has probably been asked already, but....

What is the shelf life of pressure-canned food. We started canning stuff last year (Nov 1998) like beef, chicken, hamburger and 2% milk. It looks exactly the same and is still sealed. Stored in a cool, dark place. But not tasted yet.

How long can I expect this canning to last? Are there hidden dangers in keeping food around too long? I will of course heat for 15-20 min before tasting and will discard obviously tainted stuff, but will it last another 6 or 8 months?

-- preparer (, August 13, 1999


Your home-canned food, including meats (assuming you are canning in jars and not tin cans) will be safe to eat for many, many years as long as they maintain their seal and as long as you processed the jars for the correct amount of time.

The reason that many modern canning books say that a certain home canned vegetable or meat only has a shelf life of several months, or a year is because what happens over time is you start to lose some of the valuable nutrients in the food. Mostly vitamin related. But you can still safely eat the foods, many many years from now (again, always make sure when you open it that you hear that familiar whoosh of the vacuum air being released, so you know the seal was intact). Your veggies or meat after all those years may no longer contain some of the essential nutrients, but they certainly still contain calories, protein, etc and are quite delicious in taste. After many years your veggies may be a bit mushy... still good in soup though.

My main rule of thumb, a very old adage, is "when in doubt, throw it out". If I open a 5 year old can of meat and I don't hear that whoosh sound then I don't eat it. Your idea of always boiling the foods prior to eating is also a very good safely measure.

Good luck with your preparations, Farm Lady

-- farmlady (, August 13, 1999.

After reading your post I'm interested in your canning of the 2% milk, I agree with first answer to your posts on years for your canned goods to last, I'm still eating green-beans from 1991, taste like they did fresh, please email me ( correct emaill address give ) with info on the canning of milk, thanks, Charles

-- Charles (, August 13, 1999.


Got the idea off the internet - where else.

Bascially, prepare the jars and lids as for anything else. Fill with 2% (tried 3.25%-same result) and process 11lbs for 90min.

Ends up darker and thicker than when it went in - more like evaporated milk. Haven't actually tried any out, but after seeing a post recently about ensuring you check your stash now and again (eat some food, start up the genny, fill the water barrels, etc.) I think we will crack a can and try it out. I expect it will need some water dilution and won't taste the same. Will let you know if the results are less than expected.

We also vacuum sealed powdered milk, though, to be sure.

Good luck

-- preparer (, August 13, 1999.

ps. Thanks Farmlady - it's been bugging me for some time now. It just seems weird seeing that meat sitting there for so long and not seeing it slowly spoil - new to canning meat I guess.

If you can so much, do you have any neat recipes for meats? We started with straight meat (plop chicken pieces bone-in, strips of beef, etc.) but recently improvised with curry chicken, chicken a la king, beef stroganoff) but am looking for more. The straight meat doesn't look very appetizing on it's own that's for sure! Thinking of trying some crab in the shell.

-- preparer (, August 13, 1999.

Preparer, to tell you the truth I mostly can my meat just plain, in chunks. I've experimented with a few different meat dishes and canned them, but the problem can be in certain spices which seem to become more overwhelming after canning. It is really a matter of personal taste, pretty much you can home-can any meat dish. Just remember that anything that contains meat must be pressure cooked for the same amount plain meat does, even if it contains acidic things like tomatoes.

I wasn't too impressed with the spagetti sauce with meat that I made... But I've done quite well with split pea soup with ham chunks in it, and black bean soup with meat.

I've read in lots of canning oriented forums where people have been sucessful at canning quite a few meat dishes. I mostly can plain chunks because it is more versatile that way. You are right though, it does look a little gross in the can!

Farm Lady

-- Farm Lady (, August 13, 1999.

LOL on the unappetizing look of raw packed meats. Especially pork tenderloin. I have decided to put that front and center of my pantry. It will probably scare anyone from taking my food!!

-- Dian (, August 16, 1999.

Farm Lady

Why would you not use tin cans?

-- nothere nothere (, August 16, 1999.

why would you can crab in the shell? You will take up a lot of jar space for so little meat. Just take it out of the shell, pack it tight into pt jars, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some water to the top and can per Pressure canner instructions. Its almost better than the fresh crab. And if you live by the sea, don't forget tuna. Once you have eaten home canned fresh tuna, you will have a hard time with the store bought stuff. Its kinda like having lived in Mexico and then going to Taco Bell for Mexican food. Yuk!

Taz...who does miss that Pacific Northwest and Alaskan sea food.

-- Taz (, August 19, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ