When you are short on time, canned goods are a great help in getting food on the table. Dress them up with spices, herbs and other seasonings to enhance flavors and give them more pizzazz. Add more vegetables or pieces of leftover meats. One of the great things about canned food is that you can use it as a base and add your own touches.
When you buy canned food, especially if they are on sale, be sure to examine the cans carefully. Don’t buy any that are dented, unless they’re on a great sale and can be used within a very short time.
When you get them home, store them in a cool, dry place rather than cabinets that are near the stove, under the sink, or in a damp basement or garage. Don’t ever put them on bare concrete. Temperatures constantly vary in these places and can break the seal on the cans, causing them to spoil more quickly. If cans freeze they can get rusty and burst.
It’s a good idea to mark cans with the date of purchase, and then rotate them, using the oldest first. As long as the cans are in good shape, low acidic foods, such as meats, carrots and potatoes will usually keep for several years. High acidic foods, like tomatoes, should be used within 18 months. Some canned goods seem to last forever. They might lose some flavor, but when added to other foods, they are still edible. When you open the can, if liquid or foam shoots out of it or it smells bad, throw it all away.
It’s always best to wash the top of a can before opening it. Dust and bacteria collect on the top and can slide into the food when the can is opened.
Some people wonder if it’s okay to store leftover food in the can in the refrigerator. The United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe, but that the food will taste and look better if it’s put into a glass or plastic container.
Many people believe that canned foods are inferior to fresh or frozen foods. But according to one study many canned fruits and vegetables have the same or even more nutrients than the fresh or frozen ones. They are picked at just the right amount of ripeness and canned within hours after they are picked. So having a well-stocked pantry provides an extremely convenient choice for making healthy meals.