Canned foods are a good option if you’re looking to stock your pantry for an emergency. Their long shelf-life, anywhere between 2-5 years, has made them equally popular among doomsday preppers, pandemic food hoarders, and everyday folk looking for an easy-to-prepare meal. So what gives canned food its longevity? Let’s take a look.
The Canning Process
Before canning, food is cooked and heated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit to kill all microorganisms and deactivate any enzymes, which prevents decomposition or spoilage. Sealing it in the can protects it from exposure to bacteria or other living particles in the air. As long as the can stays sealed, the food within will stay preserved in its edible state for years.
Does canned food retain its nutrients?
Some fear that the high temperatures used in the heating process could destroy the food’s inherent nutrients. But studies show that canned foods actually retain most of their original nutritional value. This is great news if you hate chopping and preparing fresh vegetables. Simply pop open a can of green beans or spinach and you can enjoy all the same vitamins and minerals you’d get from their fresh counterparts.
Canning is not a DIY project
Some people want to try their hand at canning their own foods, but most health experts discourage novice canners. If you don’t adhere to the process perfectly, you can put yourself at risk of botulism poisoning.
The botulinum toxin is extremely dangerous. It can paralyze muscles in its victims. (Incidentally, small amounts of botulinum are used in cosmetic treatments to paralyze wrinkle-causing muscles in the face). But consuming such a substance can kill you, so you’d better leave the canning to the experts.
A Safe Choice
In recent years, there have been multiple recalls on fresh produce due to E. Coli and Listeria outbreaks. It’s good to know that there are other options other than fresh fruits and vegetables. To ensure that you’re getting the full health benefits of canned foods, remember to look at the ingredients list. Don’t buy products that contain high amounts of salt or sugar. Stick to unseasoned products and you’re good to go!