Not a lot of people think about the everyday logistics of surviving, like what to do with opened canned foods. Most people once they open canned food they will consume it entirely so that it doesn’t spoil. Although you can do this fairly easily with canned foods meant for one or two persons but with bigger canned foods you will not be able to consume it all. Most preppers buy canned goods in bulk, so if you are a prepper odds are that you have some family-sized canned goods also.
You can store canned food after opening by placing the content of the can in an airtight container, and by pouring the liquid from the can in the container as well. The liquid in most canned foods contains preservatives, which will prolong the shelf life of the canned food even after you have opened it. The airtight container will limit the growth of bacteria and will slow down the decaying process.
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There is a big difference between what kind of canned goods you want to store after opening, generally speaking, canned goods that have a combination of meat and some kind of sauce will spoil the fastest after opening. Canned meat will be still good after a couple of days after you have opened it, mostly due to the high sodium content. Canned vegetables will last you fairly long after being opened, most of these have preservatives that inhibit bacterial growth.
On the other hand, canned fruit will go bad after a couple of days of opening it, although most of them do contain plenty of sugar to kill off bacteria. One of the main reasons why canned food gets to spoil after opening is due to oxygen, as this will allow bacterial growth. On the other hand, the preservatives contained in the canned food might have already expired even before the actual expiration date of the canned food.
Another reason why canned food will spoil fairly fast after opening is because of cross-contamination, when you are cooking you might use a spoon which you have already used to stir the food and now you scoop out some of the content of the canned food, this will make cross-contamination which will spoil your canned food a lot faster. If you want to know which of the canned foods will last the longest time then check out my recent article Longest lasting canned foods ( Up to 30+ years ).
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Store the opened canned food in airtight containers
Most people think that after opening some canned food that they can just put it in the fridge and it will be good for a long time. The problem is that canned food that is placed in the fridge will have some condensation due to the temperature differences. Condensation is basically small water droplets that will actually start to rust the can as it contains iron. So if you have ever wondered why your canned food tastes like metal after a couple of days in the fridge then this is the reason.
Once you close off the contents of the canned food in an airtight container you will prolong its shelf life, especially if you place it in the fridge. When it comes to what kind of airtight container you can use you have several options like zip lock bags, mason jars, or plastic containers. No matter what kind of airtight container you use make sure that the container is closed correctly. A good thing to think about is the size of the container, generally speaking, you should use a container in which the contents of the canned food fit but doesn’t have too much empty space.
If you store a small amount of canned food in a large container then it will spoil as there will be enough air in the container to allow bacterial growth, even if it is in the fridge. If you are wondering if you can eat canned dog food then check out my recent article Can humans eat dog food in an emergency? ( How safe is it? ).
Use the liquid from the opened canned food to preserve it for longer
If you are cooking with canned foods then the first thing after you do is probably to throw out the liquid from the canned food. This liquid will alter the taste of the food which you are cooking and this is why almost everybody throws it out. On the other hand, if you want to preserve your canned food after you have opened it then you should not throw the liquid out, instead, pour it in a plastic airtight container.
Take out the rest of the content of the canned food and place it in the same container in which the liquid already is, this way you will prolong its shelf life. This liquid in canned foods contains a lot of preservatives, although not the healthiest thing, but it will do its job in preserving the rest of the canned food. Just keep in mind that this will not give the canned food unlimited shelf life as it will spoil sooner or later and once you open the plastic container you will definitely notice a nasty smell if it has gone bad. If you are planning to fill your freezer with a lot of food then you might end up with freezer burn, for more information check out my recent article How to prevent freezer burn ( In 8 Easy Steps ).
Place the opened canned food in your refrigerator
Some people will actually keep their unopened canned foods in the fridge, or even worse in the freezer. The problem is that once the liquid inside the can starts to freeze it will slowly start to expand and it is only a matter of time till the can itself will start to deteriorate and eventually leak. On the other hand, if you place your canned food in the fridge then it will start to oxidize and will alter the can and even the taste of the food.
Once you have placed the content of the can inside of a plastic container with the liquid from the can, then place it in your fridge. Even after you have placed it in your refrigerator you should still consume it after a couple of days, as sooner or later it will spoil even in the fridge. If you are wondering if it is possible to overload your freezer then check out my recent article Can a freezer be overloaded ( Top 6 Problems ).
Freezing opened canned foods
If you really want to prolong the shelf life of your canned food no matter if it is already opened or not then you should freeze them. The problem is that most people think that they can simply put their canned food in the freezer, and as I have previously mentioned this is a bad idea as the can will pop open or leak. To preserve canned food in the freezer you will have to take out the contents of the can, and throw out the liquid also.
The main reason why you will have to throw out the liquid from the can is that this will freeze in your freezer. After this put the content of the can into either zip lock bags or into plastic containers, do not use mason jars or anything made of glass. As even after you throw out the liquid from the can the rest of the content still has some liquid trapped inside it which will expand after freezing and will destroy any glass container.
Depending on what kind of canned food you have frozen you will notice that after defrosting it that it will taste more or less the same but the texture will be way different than if you would open up a fresh canned food.
How to store canned soup after opening
Canned soup is mostly made out of liquid which will limit your possibilities of storing it. You can definitely not freeze canned soup as it will alter both the taste and texture. In this case, you also should not just put the opened can in the fridge, use either a plastic container or a glass jar instead. This way your soup will stay fresh for a longer time, although you should still consume it in less than a week.
Canned food is fairly important for most preppers as they have a fairly long shelf life, the problem comes when you actually open up the can and you do not consume the entire content of it. Luckily you can still preserve canned food that has already been opened although its shelf life will be fairly short after opening it, so make sure you consume it in a couple of days after opening it even if you place it in your fridge.