March 4, 2013

"Standard canned goods aren’t generally deemed age-worthy."

"Food technologists define shelf life not by how long it takes for food to become inedible, but how long it takes for a trained sensory panel to detect a 'just noticeable difference' between newly manufactured and stored cans. There’s no consideration of whether the difference might be pleasant in its own way or even an improvement — it’s a defect by definition."

47 comments:

betamax3000 said...

This would apply to canned Horsemeat, the Central Asian 'Spam'.

rhhardin said...

There are even people who throw out eggs at the sell-by date, apparently unaware that they keep for months. Buy up those eggs on sale.

They're just not fresh eggs.

But they're better for hard boiling.

rhhardin said...

I think I have some 1992 refried beans in an inaccessible cabinet over the refrigerator. They've been very quiet, in any case.

edutcher said...

Anything with a dent or a bulge should get the heave-ho.

Larry J said...

Most of my experience at eating old cans of food was in the Army. Back in the pre-MRE (Meals Refused by Ethiopians) days, we had C-rations. Some of them were quite old (>10 years). They tasted about the same as new C-rations which was pretty bad. Open a can, scrape off the congealed grease and top heavily with hot sauce and you had a meal.

The c-ration fruit was the best. C-ration crackers were deadly weapons probably outlawed by the Geneva Convention. I always managed to avoid eating the ham and eggs. The thought of old, cold eggs just wasn't something I was willing to try.

FleetUSA said...

My wife swears by sell by dates on cans. Ridiculous if the can is in decent shape. I have looked on the web and the dates are significantly longer.

Here's an example from Perry's expedition to the Northwest Passage for over 100 years. Generally they say 15-20 years is ok.
http://www.internet-grocer.net/how-long.htm

Tim said...

SEQUESTRATION DISPATCH, DAY 3

The sun, surprisingly, came out this morning. Media reports of impending doom seem not to have reached the sun.

Out here in the West Coast district, life still goes on. Major League base played their Spring Training games over the weekend. It must have been like this on the Titanic, after the ship hit the iceberg but before it began to list.

Despite the awareness of the promised apocalypse, life goes on as before. I think the people are in shock and denial.

I must get to the grocery store today, while my money is still accepted, and buy as much canned goods as I can. I will need them to feed my family before the crops I'll plant tomorrow where by back lawn is come to harvest.

Must logoff before internet access is disrupted, but thankful for even these few minutes in our brave new world.

More dispatches to follow when time permits.

RESIST!

Out.

Nomennovum said...

Fascinating article.

"My wife swears by sell by dates on cans."

Ditto for my wife (and mother-in-law). Dumb. My wife also would throw out year old sugar, honey, and syrup. Simply amazing.

SGT Ted said...

LArry J,

I liked the ham and eggs C-Rat. It was good, in that it wasn't the horror you would expect canned scrambled eggs would be. It was also unambiguously a breakfast, as opposed to ham and mutherfuckers, spaghetti or that nasty Spiced Beef.

And yes, a can of peaches in your C-Rats gave you leverage with your squad mates for trading.

dbp said...

"Easier going and easier to find in North America is Cougar Gold cheese, which has been canned since the 1940s in the creamery at Washington State University in Pullman. It’s not like Velveeta or other processed cheese products—cooked slurries of various anonymous cheeses and emulsifying salts. The WSU dairy students make a regular cheddar curd and then seal it right away in cans, which are kept and sold refrigerated. The various lactic acid bacteria don’t need oxygen to survive, and their enzymes slowly develop the cheese’s flavor. Fans of Cougar Gold age their cans for years, sometimes decades."

If you have a spare fridge, Cougar Gold is a great thing to store in there. I think our oldest cans are at about the 7 year mark.

Craig said...

"Hey baby, better come here quick,
This old ptomaine is ‘bout to make me sick.
Ptomaine all around my brain."

dbp said...

Larry J, I too could not stand the C-rat eggs. It is not so much that they tasted bad, but that you couldn't really heat them without scorching them. Not a fan of cold eggs.

You could use the can that held the crackers as a little stove--there was some sort of heat tablet, about the size and shape of an alka-seltzer that you could light and it would get most of the meals piping hot.

Larry J said...

Not all of the c-rations I encountered had the heat tablets. Some of the older Vietnam era packages did have a 4-pack of cigarettes. Since I didn't smoke, those were good for trading. C-ration peaches were wonderful and the fruit cocktail wasn't bad. When you're hungry enough, you'll eat just about anything, even the spagetti.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If you have a spare fridge, Cougar Gold is a great thing to store in there.

Sounds good. Must get some to store. We also store our flours, graham cracker crumbs, cornmeal, polenta, grits and other dry goods in the freezer to keep the weevils from growing. They are still there.....just hibernating. I know they are gross, but if you do get a mild infestation, there really is no need to throw the flour or beans away. Sift the critters out. You are going to cook the stuff anyway......no harm. Extra protein :-)

We store a lot of things and try to use the oldest items first. Any cans that are leaky or dented, get tossed. Things that absolutely do not store well and should be tossed at the use by date: cake mixes, bisquick type mixes, corn bread mixes. The chemicals degrade and they will not 'rise' and have a horrible metallic taste.

MadisonMan said...

Cougar Gold is a great thing to store in there. I think our oldest cans are at about the 7 year mark.

Do you have to store the unopened cans in the fridge? I have a mostly cool wine cellar (complete with 3 bottles of wine and all my daughter's old dolls and son's legos), but could one store the cheese cans there?

I'm guessing warm cans age too quickly?

Nomennovum said...

Diet soda beyond the expiration date sound be tossed.

As should beer (mine never gets close, but it was the one thng my mother-in-law would let sit around a year to serve to me; I wonder if she was trying to tell me something).

MadisonMan said...

Either way, I just bought some. Thanks for the tip!

MadisonMan said...

cornmeal, polenta, grits

How do you tell the difference between the three? ;)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The grind or coarseness and whether it is yellow corn, white corn or dried hominy.

Corn meal can be several levels of grind. Martha White cornmeal (white or yellow) is generally a very fine grind and makes fabulous cornbread and muffins light and fluffy without a gritty texture. Bob's Red Mill or Albers corn meal is a little more gritty.

Golden Pheasant Polenta is even more gritty and is the BEST!! Soft creamy cheesy polenta slathered in butter as a bed for Italian sausages sauteed in wine with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and kalamata olives. HEAVEN. You have to cook it for a much longer time than coarse ground cornmeal.

Grits are generally a fine grind from white hominy not yellow corn.

All good stuff :-)

virgil xenophon said...

Being in the AF stationed @DaNang we didn't see much of C-Rats, :) but I did somehow manage to eat my share over the years thanks to my trusty P-38 opener (which I still have attached to my Dog-tag chain even after all these years)

Being the kind of omnivoracious philistine who would gain weight in a POW Camp (take him back, we're running out of swill!) it all tasted good to me..

AllenS said...

Well, I liked c-rations, and some of the meals were better than others, but I ate everything. When we first got to VN in 1967, we didn't have any heat tablets, so we used to take apart claymore mines and burn the explosives that were inside of them. It was safe to burn, just keep the electricity away from it. Not all of the explosive, whatever it was, but about a marble size chunk would heat your meal.

Once we got heat tablets and then the first LRRP rations came out, we were in heaven.

About five years ago, I got one of those wild hairs, and decided to see if I could get any c's through the internet, and yes, they are still for sale, but with warnings not to eat any. Most of the cans are all balooned out at the ends. I was heart broken.

I thought they were good for a thousand years.

AllenS said...

Now I'm left wondering, how much horse meat did I eat. I was always suspicious of that chocolate bar too. It wasn't what I remembered chocolate to be when I was a kid.

AllenS said...

Virgil, over the years I've went through one can opener after another, and could never find one that worked well. I'm back to using my P-38.

Lockestep said...

Guess those experts never had a well-cellared Bordeaux.

Lockestep said...

Guess those experts never had a well-cellared Bordeaux.

Harrington said...

Larry J and Allen S,

Boy does this take me back. I seem to remember something called "Spanish Loaf", but have no idea what it was. The peanut butter was OK, and I loved the little roll of toilet paper.

Harrington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jane said...

I would like for labels to indicate (1): a true "best before" date for best quality and (2): an "unsafe to consume after" date. My nose is pretty defective so I'm often conservative, even when intellectually I know that dates aren't necessarily meaningful. And food pantries don't accept "expired" food.

wyo sis said...

Cheese,even cheese that is covered with moldy slime, is still good. Just scrape off the mold, slime, crust, whatever and eat it. Lactobacilli are little miracle workers, keeping food safe from bacteria. Just keep your teeth brushed because they cause cavities.

ed said...

@ Larry J

"The c-ration fruit was the best. C-ration crackers were deadly weapons probably outlawed by the Geneva Convention. I always managed to avoid eating the ham and eggs. The thought of old, cold eggs just wasn't something I was willing to try."

You're lucky. I've had them and there is simply no way to dress it up to make it palatable. Eat it cold and it's a dumpy goop of congealed grease with streaks of yellow (the egg) and 2 hockey pucks of suet (the ham).

Heat the can and it all melts together into a hot bubbling mess that is even less appetizing.

MadisonMan said...

I was always suspicious of that chocolate bar too. It wasn't what I remembered chocolate to be when I was a kid.

Hershey reformulated the bar formula so they wouldn't melt in the tropics.

AllenS said...

Now that I think about it, MadMan, you're probably right. We called the chocolate "Gorilla bars."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Hershey reformulated the bar formula so they wouldn't melt in the tropics.

I believe that was also the reason that M&Ms were invented. Read an interesting blog about food and how WWII and the MRE types of foods that were invented for war purposed changed the way that we eat today and caused many of our pre packaged foods to become used widely. The companies had invented things like Spam and other foods that the population wasn't used to eating or food that the GI's had liked. Instead of dismantling the factories and going back, the companies began heavily advertising. It was really interesting.

Darn...Now...where IS that link. Hmmmmm.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Here it is.....link

Mary Beth said...

Still Tasty tells you how long things will keep.

Darrell said...

AllenS

The only can opener worth anything is the Swing-a-Way. They invented the gear-driven cutting wheel in 1938. I've used them for 60 years without problems. The newer ones aren't the tanks of old but they hold up. You might have to replace the cutting wheel in a 10-15 years. That takes a few seconds and costs couple of bucks. It's like a Ridgid pipe cutter. It's just the one to use.

Get the wall mount for under $10 and the hand-held for the drawer.

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=swing+a+way+can+opener&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=2743325755&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16367172141465272309&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_4jqay7v7ms_b

AllenS said...

Darrell, the info didn't work. I'll try Swing-a-Way through Amazon. Althouse can have some of the action.

AllenS said...

Darrell, there is a whole lot of Swing-a-Ways on Amazon. Which one do you recommend.

Methadras said...

The definition of shelf life based on this criteria is the actual defect.

MadisonMan said...

That Black Magic Choc Cake made with condensed tomato soup sounds interesting.

ken in sc said...

I liked those MRE crackers. You could have paved a sidewalk with them but they were good. They gave your jaw a good work out.

ken in sc said...

I think they are related to 'hard tack'.

Christy said...

Old Jello is hard and inedible. The 5 year old canned pears I tried once were nasty.

Eggs I'll eat as long as they don't float.

AllenS said...

Harrington, I think your "Spanish Loaf" would have been the Ham and Eggs, Chopped, a B-3 Unit. Better with Tobasco sauce added. Man, that was a long time ago.

Darrell said...

AllenS

The 609WH Magnetic Wall Can Opener for $9.71. It's a wall mount, so that may not work in your situation. If you make sure that it is a genuine Amco Swing-a-Way, just go on price.

AllenS said...

I ordered the Amco Swing-a-Way 407BK.

dbp said...

MadisonMan,

"Do you have to store the unopened cans in the fridge? I have a mostly cool wine cellar (complete with 3 bottles of wine and all my daughter's old dolls and son's legos), but could one store the cheese cans there?"

I have allowed some cans to get warm, like when we drove from Pullman to Boston. The cheese doesn't go bad but it releases some water. After opening the can, I drained the liquid and the cheese was fine.

The cans are fairly large, so I like to break one out when we have a large dinner party--Christmas, NewYears--that kind of thing.