Are all canned food ready to eat without any cooking?

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Senior Cook
Jan 18, 2012
Far East
Regardless of the taste, are all canned food cooked before it is put into the can and ready to serve immediately after opening? Is there any exception? Is it better to cook them first? Will it remove or reduce chemical preservatives left if washed or cooked?
Most are cooked in the can during the canning process. They can be eaten when opened but usually taste better heated. Washing or cooking won't make much if any difference to the product additives.

As a counter point, chipped dried beef is sold in jars with no liquid. Just a vacuum seal. its food safety is achieved through the high salt and dryness but it might also be packed under nitrogen so that might be a difference too. I will soak and rinse that product before consuming to reduce the salt and prehydrate it a bit. Usually for creamed chipped beef on toast.
I usually drain my canned foods. Like green beans, corn, or legumes. There is some salt in the liquids. I don't usually wash or rinse them.
They can be eaten cooked, warmed, or cold right out of the can. Like with legumes and green beans, if I'm making a 3 bean salad, I wouldn't cook them.
We keep some canned goods in our emergency stash in the truck, in case we get stranded. (which has happened twice in the past 5 years)

Canned fruit I would get in water or low sugar, and wouldn't necessarily drain it depending on the recipe. When I can pineapple or grapes in water, I drink the water because it is sweet from the fruit.

Exceptions where you must cook canned food? I can't think of any but maybe someone can.

Thymeless- Like you said, I'd also recommend soaking the salt off of or out of chipped beef too! I've also been known to rinse sauerkraut if it is too salty. :)
Most are, but many would not taste good cold (example: canned soup). Still, in a pinch (like a situation without electricity), you would survive eating them.
In most cases, the food is already cooked before being canned (the manufacturer will put notice outside the can if the food needs to be cooked). I usually rinse them or just reheat before using them.
Safe to eat, yes, but many things are not really things to eat from the cans/jars, but are ingredients to be used in cooking. Think about all those Asian ingredients in jars that you wouldn't want to eat as is, but you add them to dishes, when cooking them.
I buy canned seafood quite a bit -- it's a good cheap high protein snack out of the can (some are, anyway).
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any kind of "food" in a can has to be "sterile" or its shelf life is zilch.
recall the standard patter "if the can is swollen or dented . . . " does stuff get to be 'sterile?'

the "food" - vegetable, mineral, animal . . . may have some pre-processing, but it is put in the can, the lid is put on and sealed, then the cans are "cooked" in a large oven/autoclave/steamy hot thing. manufacturers expend a lot of time, money, effort - to 'validate' every single can in the (typically a pallet load) reaches the required 'sterilization' temperature.
and . . . in some cases longer times - stuff like baked beans, soups, RTE stews/entries/pasta - and actually "cooked in the can"

personally I haven't seen a 'swollen' can since the late 1950's - so I'm thinking with all that new fangled technology, they got it figgered out.

bottom line, if it's in a (commercially) sealed metal can, it's safe to eat with or with re-heating.
'commercially' because once upon a time people did actually "can" food using metal cans (as opposed to the more common glass jars....)
I grew up on Spaghettios right out of the can.
I was just visiting the idea of finding some 0's, and they are called annelini or something similar, to make mr bliss some comfort food from his childhood. Memories!

DcSaute, I liked your synopsis of canning. I worked for a company that made commercial cans for Del Monte and Campbells and saw some of the testing of palettes of canned food.
A few home canners still use the metal cans. Mostly LDS members. The glass jars show they aren't food safe by the lids coming unsealed. The bacteria throw off fermentation gases/toxic poisons and then there is no vacuum on the lid and it pops off. It's a good idea to store glass jars of home canned goods with the rings off, the lids on.
Hmm, it's been a very long time since I saw a bulgy can, but I did have one about a month ago. If I remember correctly, it was a can of Mandarin oranges. I found it way in the back of a storage area. It had a best before date of some time in 2012, I believe. I just chucked that in the garbage.
Fully Cooked.

I've bought canned chunks of chicken for our hurricane box. We have a generator and a buffet burner plus the induction burners so we can cook some even when power is off for an extended time. I use the canned chicken in a stove top casserole type dish.

Even the chunk chicken is not that great to look at.
Yes, canned food is cooked before it is put into the can, and it is ready to serve immediately after opening. This is because the canning process involves heating the food to high temperatures to kill bacteria and other microorganisms that could cause spoilage. This high-temperature cooking also helps to preserve the food for long periods of time.

Best Regards,
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