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How long can I keep stored foods?

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Under cool, dry, dark conditions most food will keep well for 18 months to 2 years. Wheat and sugar will keep well for 25 years. Foods which have been canned correctly and stored correctly will be safe for much longer periods of time. However, as food ages there will naturally be changes in color, flavor, odor, and texture. Color will darken, texture will soften, and odor will change. Although the food may be safe it might not be palatable. If any of the following apply throw the food out:

· Food was processed improperly (untested canning recipe, no altitude changes, etc.) The jar may be sealed, but deadly microorganisms are sealed in the jar.
· Bulging cans
· Milky appearance to liquid. As food ages the liquid will become cloudier as food sloughs off, but it should not be milky.
· Mold growth
· Slimy appearance or texture
· Rancid odor
· Corrosion on inside of can, especially along seam
· Rust, especially on seam or seal of can
· Frozen canned goods - this can cause hairline fractures in the seal and seams. If accidentally frozen, keep frozen until ready to use.
· Off-smell

Posted on 13 Sep 2006

Pauline Williams
Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

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