Storing Commercial Canned Foods
This is where most people start when they first begin to gather up supplies to create a food storage plan. Not to be confused with canning from an earlier chapter, this refers to canned food that you find in any typical supermarket.
Pros and Cons
The biggest positive aspect about storing food this way is that it involves no work other than going shopping. No additional preparations are necessary and you can just unpack your grocery bags right onto your pantry shelves.
Metal cans are a superb storage container and most canned goods will last many months if not years if they are stored in a cool location. The metal is very sturdy though if a can does get dented, you should use it soon in case the lid seal has been broken.
The variety of food that comes in cans is almost endless, and you can easily keep a nutritionally balanced store of food. Fruits and vegetables are obvious, but if you add in canned meats, beans, potatoes and pasta then you have a good mix of food to choose from. Don't forget canned milk and juice as well.
One negative is the weight of the cans. Most canned foods contain a lot of water which makes the cans quite heavy (compared to similar dried or frozen foods). This can be a problem if you intend to carry supplies any distance or have limited space for storage. Oddly enough, the water content can also be a positive as it means you don't need another water supply in order to eat any of these foods.
Another downside is the quality of the food. Canned food has been processed under very high heat during the canning process, which is why most canned foods are very soft and "well cooked". They can also be high in sodium, depending on the food type.
One thing you need to plan on is getting the cans open. Have several good-quality can openers stored in with your food.
Making Purchases of Canned Goods
Most cans can be purchased in the usual sizes you are familiar with at the local supermarket. If you want to have larger quantities on hand, you can get larger cans from some bulk food or wholesale shopping stores. They are about the size of a large coffee can, and you can get most of your typical canned foods in these larger sizes if you know where to shop. If you are going to ask about them, they are called "number 10" cans.
Using Your Canned Food
You are surely familiar with using and cooking canned foods, so this should not be something new for you. Most just need to be reheated, but in a desperate moment when you have no fuel to do so, you can usually eat the contents cold. Canned food is already cooked so anything you have should be safe to eat without reheating (that includes meat).
If you are storing canned food in larger cans, remember that once the can is open, you will not have any way to properly store it unless your refrigerator is still running. So, either only use large number 10 cans if you are planning on feeding several people or only open 1 can at a time and eat that food until it is finished. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing a lot of food to spoilage. Snap-on lids can be purchased to match the size of a number 10 can and can go a long way to keeping your food fresh longer.
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