How long do canned foods last?
"If the food was canned safely, it should remain safe indefinitely. No pathogens should grow on them," said Jeanne Brandt, a professor and Master Food Preserver coordinator with Oregon State University. That program trains and certifies volunteers who help county Extension staff provide food safety and preservation information.
"Try not to preserve more than you can consume in a year or two though because the quality deteriorates," Brandt said. "It breaks down in the jar. It toughens. The color also changes dramatically."
Kimberly Culbertson of Hillsboro, Oregon, is a Master Gardener who later earned a Master Food Preserver certificate.
"I got into preserving in part because it's a step up from gardening," she said. "I used to be in a rush to give away any surplus fresh vegetables before they'd spoil. Now, as canned, I can share them throughout the year."
She also recommends freezing, pickling and dehydrating as a way of preserving different food groups and offering up different flavors.
"I individually quick-freeze fresh fruit, then package it for the deep freeze so I can portion it out for cooking and snacking," she said. "Dried fruits concentrate flavors and sweetness and add another dimension to cooking.
"I pickle peppers and they can easily," Culbertson said. "Tomatoes bring back summer every time I open a jar."