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Oldest home canned food you've eaten?

 
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I had a number of things I left in Michigan before moving to Indiana in particular home canned goods I canned up.

The beef cubes are about 3.5 years old and I ate them. Tasted just fine. In fact I did a YouTube video on it seeing as how the best video I could find on eating older home canned foods meat wise was canned beef that was two years old.

Just made an apple pie over the weekend with my home canned apple pie filling (2-3 years old) So far so good!

I still have green beans, stew, pork cubes and carrots that are at least over 2 years old.

I had a bunch of tomatoes I tossed because quite frankly I don't remember how I processed them and I was new at the time they were canned.

I also tossed away a lot of baked beans because they just got nastier as they aged anyways, I botched the recipe somehow taste wise.

I also had a jar of chicken chunks and a jar of ground beef over two years old. Still fine.

There's rumors circulating on the internet home canned goods can last up to a decade. I really don't know if that's true so I'm here to ask about your experiences.
 
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My mother in law died in 2003, then sometime after we moved (2013), I enjoyed her fig preserves.

I looked around to see if I had any more of her preserves though I didn't find any.

I have lots of chow chow and india relish that I canned in 2010. Still good so far.

I have been working toward eating up the venison that was canned in 2012.
 
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In my experience home canned goods are safe to eat for a very long time but the texture and flavour degrade.  I ate some 4 year old bean pickles last week and the flavour was good but the texture was not as good as they used to be.  With some jellies like rose petal, the flavour and colour really fade after the first year or two.
 
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I attended a presentation by a semi-famous homesteader with strong affiliations with a homesteading magazine and she said she ate home canned chicken that was either 28 or 38 years old (can't remember which).  And pie filling that was older.  After it had been moved over the Rockies twice for housing relocations.
 
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I ate some tomatoes canned in mason jars in the late 1970's a couple of years ago.  

I didn't die.  

They tasted like tomatoes and did not have a bad taste. But they weren't the best tomatoes I'd ever eaten and the texture was a little off....saying the texture was degraded is an accurate way of saying it.

The real question is, now that we've established really old properly canned food won't kill you, is there any food value in them???  I don't really know but don't really think the food value is worth much (have any of you eaten a raw diet for more than two weeks??? that's a good start for comparison).

I might live a few more days because of an ancient canned food bank

......but, seriously, the food value has to have dropped by atleast 50% if you can measure life force as food value.
 
Mike Haasl
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Agreed, the food value is likely much lower.  Not sure if it's as low as "fast food" though
 
Benjamin Drew
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Anne Miller wrote:My mother in law died in 2003, then sometime after we moved (2013), I enjoyed her fig preserves.

I looked around to see if I had any more of her preserves though I didn't find any.

I have lots of chow chow and india relish that I canned in 2010. Still good so far.

I have been working toward eating up the venison that was canned in 2012.



Wow! Thank you for your testimony.
 
Benjamin Drew
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Orin Raichart wrote:I ate some tomatoes canned in mason jars in the late 1970's a couple of years ago.  

I didn't die.  

They tasted like tomatoes and did not have a bad taste. But they weren't the best tomatoes I'd ever eaten and the texture was a little off....saying the texture was degraded is an accurate way of saying it.

The real question is, now that we've established really old properly canned food won't kill you, is there any food value in them???  I don't really know but don't really think the food value is worth much (have any of you eaten a raw diet for more than two weeks??? that's a good start for comparison).

I might live a few more days because of an ancient canned food bank

......but, seriously, the food value has to have dropped by atleast 50% if you can measure life force as food value.



Was you nervous when you ate them or pretty confident?
 
Benjamin Drew
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Mike Haasl wrote:Agreed, the food value is likely much lower.  Not sure if it's as low as "fast food" though



Hey, watch it... I love cheeseburgers! Lol (Kidding) Now if I can find a way to can em.
 
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Anne Miller wrote:My mother in law died in 2003



I thought you were going somewhere else with this...

I haven't had 50 year old tomatoes, but I've often had homemade canned goods older than 5 years, sometimes pushing 10.  I've never had any issues other than the texture, as mentioned.  There was a boat that sank in the Mississippi (I think) that had 100 year old canned goods.  They were still edible, though they weren't in mason jars.  I think as long as your canning process is good and you check to make sure the seal is good and not swollen, you're good to go.  
 
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there are mre channels that eat dry and wet army rations from ww1 and ww2
 
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well, I attended a couple of courses in food preserves. All the instructors said to keep the mason jars preserves in a dark place to make it last for many years. They said preserves on the shelves of supermarkets have a shorter expiration date because they´re exposed to  the light.
 
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Yes but most of those mre's don't really look edible by that stage! Though maybe they weren't when new either. Personally I will eat Jams and Jellies up to 3 or 4 years old, pickles 2 years. I don't think they suddenly become unsafe after that time, but pickles turn to mush and jams darken and the taste changes. If they were safe when they sealed and they are still sealed I would assume them to be still safe.
 
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I've eaten military "C-rations" -- the old canned rations that predate MREs -- that were twenty years old.  No way to tell they weren't "like new" but not wonderful at any age.

Home canned?  Probably the family mincemeat recipe.  It's rich and dark and acidic with lots of spirits (brandy, usually) added after cooking -- I'm not sure you would even need to can the stuff but it's just as good after 10 years in the jar as the day you make it, possibly better.  

Bottom line though is that -- as far as I know -- there aren't any organisms that will kill/harm you that will grow in the very long term that wouldn't grow during the first few months after processing.  So, if it was not going to kill me after six months, it's still not going to kill me after thirty years in the jar.  The exception being if the physical integrity of the jar/lid has been lost with time -- like the lid rusting through.  If you've still got a good seal when you open the can, it's not gonna kill you because of extreme age.  Or so I believe.

As others have noticed here, you can get deterioration of food quality.  Color changes, texture changes, and -- hard to know or prove -- likely nutrition loss.  The older stuff gets, the browner and mushier it's gonna be, and we rightly suspect that the complex nutrients have deteriorated into compounds that aren't as nutritive.

But, you know, people often eat low-quality food -- even when fresh -- not because it's a powerhouse of nutrients, but because it has calories and they are hungry.  The calories never go away.  And home-canning food never was the best food preservation method for preserving nutrients anyway -- canned food is basically overcooked by definition.  So "is this twenty year old jar of home-canned stuff edible" is more about context than anything else.  If the seal's still good, you're probably fine to eat it; but whether you want to is gonna depend on what your other food options are.  
 
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I have eaten quite a lot of home canned food at or near the ten year mark. Vegetables seem to hold up the best. Soft fruit such as figs get very mushy after about 2 years but still taste fine. I don't can much meat but have eaten some chicken & turkey at about the 5 year mark. Not bad at all. Texture & flavor was fairly normal. The turkey actually smelled better than ever.

MRE's came after my time in the military but if memory serves they are guaranteed for 20 years if stored in a cool-ish dry place. Have tried a few & all I can say is they're better than C rations. Which isn't saying much. Some C rats were edible but some were terrible. Some reminded me of dog food even when fresh. I saved a few as an experiment & ate them at the 10 & 20 year marks. Good as the day they were packed. Which, again, isn't saying much. On the other hand, when you're hungry enough to have to eat C rations they were wonderful!!!
 
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Home canned Mason jar stored in a cool dark basement the entire time.

Canned meat 6 or 7 years no degradation in flavor or texture.  beef is roughly 1 inch cubes in both pint and quart jars.  It was browned in the skillet, and put in jars.  The skillet was rinsed with the brine mixture that went over the meat.  Haven't had that good a luck with meat canned in stock instead of brine.

applesauce at 7 or 8 years.  Certainly edible but some degradation of texture and flavor.

Jam 17 years.  it had a darker layer on top so removed about 1/4 to 1/2".  The rest was good jam.  Minor differences in texture but barely noticable,  flavor good.  Now here some age actually seems to improve some jams.  Peach preserves with whole fruit chunks actually have better texture in years 2 and 3.  I have done lots of 8 and 10 year old jam and been happy with most of it.

Pickles.  About a decade old.  Texture actually improved over time.  Flavor maybe minor degradation.


Then some lessons in commercial stuff from the 72 hour kit.  11 years old all.  Storage was in a hot car at times and at freezing at times but mostly room temperature.  That backpack beat around in the car in all weather and did many 10's of thousands of miles.  I tried to load it any time I was beyond walking distance home.  At 5 or 6 years all of the below are good.

Spam minor changes in flavor and texture but certainly edible.  The meat about 1/4 inch in was sort of grayish and the middle was still pink.    
bisquick biscuit mix in the factory mylar pouches.  Very mild rancid flavor and a bit less rise but still edible.
4 cheese potato flakes in factory mylar pouch.  Texture was fine.  Flavor was off but edible.
Honeymaid brand graham crackers.  At 11 years old they tasted better than the brand new store brand graham crackers I was going to replace them with.  Texture was a bit off.  After learning that put Honeymaid rather than store brand back in the 72 hour kit.
 
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I assume you are talking about Mason jar-type canned goods, not tin can canned goods?  Because the stuff they seam a tin can together with is not good stuff.  Haven't bought a can with food in it in years.  An old can with an old seam doesn't seem like it would be okay.

 
Benjamin Drew
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Cristo Balete wrote:I assume you are talking about Mason jar-type canned goods, not tin can canned goods?  Because the stuff they seam a tin can together with is not good stuff.  Haven't bought a can with food in it in years.  An old can with an old seam doesn't seem like it would be okay.



Yes, Mason/Kerr/Ball jars are the main point of interest.
 
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I guess I am the food safety version of a prude. I would rather rotate through canned goods and consume them in a timely manner rather than have bragging rights over surviving after eating 20 y/o meat. Zombie apocalypse and no food for a couple weeks?  Sure, I’ll give that 12 y/o can of peaches a try. Otherwise, why risk it? Or am I missing something?

 
Benjamin Drew
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Artie Scott wrote:I guess I am the food safety version of a prude. I would rather rotate through canned goods and consume them in a timely manner rather than have bragging rights over surviving after eating 20 y/o meat. Zombie apocalypse and no food for a couple weeks?  Sure, I’ll give that 12 y/o can of peaches a try. Otherwise, why risk it? Or am I missing something?



I myself am trying to create a "Working" food pantry. The purpose of my questions is simply to know the upper limit of expiration of home canned foods should food become scarce and or I decide I want to can up a good supply of meats instead of relying on a freezer. So for example, it takes me 4 years to go through a rotation of stock, I'm not paranoid throwing perfectly good food away. :)
 
Orin Raichart
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Benjamin Drew wrote:  
"I didn't die."  

Was you nervous when you ate them or pretty confident?



the seal was good and so was the color but let's say I was uncertain ......but seriously, if I found a sealed ancient jar with grain in it from an ancient ruin, I'm pretty sure I'd taste it if it wasn't rotten, and then try to grow it

...btw if you find MRE's from the veitnam era, eat the peanut butter and chocolate but avoid everything else
 
Orin Raichart
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Artie Scott wrote:I guess I am the food safety version of a prude. I would rather rotate through canned goods and consume them in a timely manner rather than have bragging rights over surviving after eating 20 y/o meat. Zombie apocalypse and no food for a couple weeks?  Sure, I’ll give that 12 y/o can of peaches a try. Otherwise, why risk it? Or am I missing something?



cause now I'm healthy and have access to a billion dollar health care system as a safety net so I know what I can eat in dire situations ....now if I can only find that billion dollars
 
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