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Old 04-15-2007, 08:32 PM   #1
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Expiration date

I have some homemade canned stewed tomatos. The date on the jar is 2002. The lids are intact (no bulging) and the color looks fine. Are they still good to eat?


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Old 04-15-2007, 08:42 PM   #2
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"Homemade" canned goods? That's an interesting question.

When it comes to commercially canned foods, a number of factors should be considered. For example, where was the food stored? Was it in a cool, dark place? Or was it subjected to temperature/humidity fluctuations?

Commercially canned foods should be used, in most cases, within 24 months from the "use by" date.

Having said that, I would hesitate to use your canned tomatoes.

With any luck, MichaelinFTW will weigh in on this subject. In that case, I defer to Michael...

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Old 04-15-2007, 08:49 PM   #3
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I do believe homemade canned goods have a 12-month shelf life from everything that I have read. Someone may come along with a better informed answer. 2002, in my book, should go in the trash.

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Old 04-15-2007, 09:23 PM   #4
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Home "canned' tomaotes in Quart or pint jars is what I think you are talking about obviously as you say you can see the color is still within normal limits.
A 2002 date indicates to me the tomatoes were processed that year making them essentially 5 years old this "canning season" Since the seal is still intact on the jars the tomatoes are probably not "spoiled" due to acid content, and salt added during processing. So you are left with (low) "quality" issues due to them being in the jars for this length of time and your own personal decision to use them or not. Could you use them in soups/stews etc without harm? Maybe so. I have personally used 3 year old tomatoes with no ill effects. Should you use them? Probably not! 5 years is pushing the envelope a bit. You will notice that the seeds will be black. I don't know what the Home Canning Police say about this subject so you may want to check with them. If in doubt...throw them out. Hope this helps!
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Old 04-16-2007, 07:29 PM   #5
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Well, the Food Police (USDA - and their National Center for Home Food Preservation website) currently say 1-year. If properly canned (that includes the entire process starting from washing the tomatoes to processing in the water bath/pressure canner) and stored in a temperature stable cool (about 40ºF), dry, dark place you could extend this up to 18-24 months - although this is going back to some Extension Service literature from 5-10 years ago.

Not only is bacteria a problem - the quality of the food (texture, color, flavor and nutrition ... especially vitamins) suffers greatly after a year.

I hate to throw away food ... and it's even harder when it is something I've canned because I'm not just throwing away food, I'm also throwing away time and effort. However, in the case of something canned in the 2002 season, I think I would toss it out.

As Katie noted - commercially canned food has a longer shelf life than home canned foods due to differences in processing.
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