Food Storage Shelf Life

We often get asked about Food Storage Shelf Life. We used to link out to a site that had all the answers, however it has somehow disappeared from the internet. Being that we still get asked the question, we thought it would be good to house the information ourselves for you. So for a great chart that gives Shelf Life for most of your Food Storage Items, click here (this information was found on shelfreliance.com).

shelflife

Food Safety Throw Away Guidelines

As food ages it naturally will change in flavor, odor, and texture. The worse these conditions are the less likely we will be to eat a particular food, but if it were safe to begin with, and it passes the following food safety test now, then it should be safe. A good rule of thumb is “When in Doubt—Throw It Out.” (This list was taken from a handout produced by the Utah State Extension Service)

The following chart gives throw away guidelines.

1. Food was not processed properly. If improper processing times, methods, and/or recipes were used for home canned vegetables and meats, the jar may be sealed, but the product deadly—DO NOT TASTE—discard.

2. Look for the following signs of spoilage—DO NOT TASTE—discard:

  • Bulging lid—lid must be definite concave, and seal cannot be lifted with fingers.
  • Milky appearance to liquid—as food ages the liquid will become more cloudy and a residue will begin to form in bottom of jar—this is the food sluffing off, but the appearance should not be milky.
  • Mold growth of any kind.
  • Slimy appearance or texture.
  • Rancid odor—especially in foods which contain any amount of fat, like dehydrated protein.
  • Corrosion on inside of can, especially along seam (particular problem with canned foods older than 10 years or so.
  • Rust—especially on seam or seal of can.
  • Frozen can or bottle—freezing produces hairline fractures in seal and allows spoilage to begin.
  • Off-smell—food generally changes in odor as it ages, if the smell has developed to the point it is undesirable.
  • Food stored in non-food grade container—the container was not meant for food or once contained a non-food product (garbage bags, garbage cans, cleaning bottles or buckets, kitty liter containers, etc.).

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  • JJM123

    In the Shelf Life list linked above – please clarify “Optimum Shelf Life”. Is that the answer you gave Melissa “They are sealed in number 10 cans, with oxygen absorbers”, IE sealed unopened properly stored cans?

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi and Julie

      Optimum shelf life is when it is stored in ideal conditions, meaning sealed with oxygen absorbers and in a cool temperature. The shelf life given is when the nutrients are depleted up to a certain percentage. The food may not be bad but you are no longer getting nourishment from eating it. Hope that makes sense!

  • JJM123

    Rust and Frozen – obvious if the container is compromised and is no longer vacuum sealed I would throw it out. Otherwise I question these throw out recommendations.

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  • Melissa

    on the food storage shelf life form the unopened product shelf life..how are these items stored.  sealed cans? for example, the sugar, beans, etc.)

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi and Julie

      They are sealed in number 10 cans, with oxygen absorbers

  • Tony

    Last summer I dry roasted tomatoes and put them in jars with olive oil,
    some herbs and spices.  They have been stored in a ‘pantry’. The tomatoes were
    covered to the top of the jars with the olive oil.  There is no mildew and they
    smell great.  Are they still safe to use?

    thank you,

  • Tlchunt1

    Hi Jody & Julie, I love your site. It has helped me start preparing my food storage, when all I could feel was overwhelmed and did not know where to start. Thank you.
            I saw a list on your site that showed how many pounds of beans, rice, or anything you
    could store in a 5 gallon bucket. Now I can’t find it. Can you help me out with where it is? I tried to print it out, but it was wider than my page and I did not get all of the information.
    I appreciate you so much,
    tlchunt

  • Sarah

    what does it mean by “whole eggs”?

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi – Food Storage Made Easy

      A #10 can of dehydrated whole eggs.

  • Denise

    I am having trouble accessing the .pdf file. It keeps saying “the file is damaged and cannot be repaired.” Is it just me? Thanks!

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      Denise, we haven’t had anyone else with this problem. I will try sending a copy of the pdf to your email and see if that works.

  • Denise

    I am having trouble accessing the .pdf file. It keeps saying “the file is damaged and cannot be repaired.” Is it just me? Thanks!

  • Denise

    I am having trouble accessing the .pdf file. It keeps saying “the file is damaged and cannot be repaired.” Is it just me? Thanks!

  • Denise

    I am having trouble accessing the .pdf file. It keeps saying “the file is damaged and cannot be repaired.” Is it just me? Thanks!

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      Denise, we haven’t had anyone else with this problem. I will try sending a copy of the pdf to your email and see if that works.

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      Denise, we haven’t had anyone else with this problem. I will try sending a copy of the pdf to your email and see if that works.

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      Denise, we haven’t had anyone else with this problem. I will try sending a copy of the pdf to your email and see if that works.

  • Joyce

    Thank you! This is most helpful!

    Joyce

  • Joyce

    Thank you! This is most helpful!

    Joyce

  • Joyce

    Thank you! This is most helpful!

    Joyce

  • http://colormeuntypical.blogspot.com Untypically Jia

    Thanks for this. I really wish I had these lists last year when I began using my in-laws Food Storage at their insistence. I never knew flour could go bad, but believe me, it does and it’s the most horrible taste you could imagine!

  • http://colormeuntypical.blogspot.com Untypically Jia

    Thanks for this. I really wish I had these lists last year when I began using my in-laws Food Storage at their insistence. I never knew flour could go bad, but believe me, it does and it’s the most horrible taste you could imagine!

  • http://colormeuntypical.blogspot.com Untypically Jia

    Thanks for this. I really wish I had these lists last year when I began using my in-laws Food Storage at their insistence. I never knew flour could go bad, but believe me, it does and it’s the most horrible taste you could imagine!

  • http://colormeuntypical.blogspot.com Untypically Jia

    Thanks for this. I really wish I had these lists last year when I began using my in-laws Food Storage at their insistence. I never knew flour could go bad, but believe me, it does and it’s the most horrible taste you could imagine!