Long-term Food Storage, 30 year Old Cans I Opened Today

Long-term Food Storage


Today I want to talk about long-term food storage.  Because I know many people that have been into preparedness before it became popular, I have had the chance to see and try foods that have been stored for 20 to 30 plus years.  Many of these long-term food storage companies no longer exist, but I report on them anyway, in case someone still has them in their storage.

Everytime I get access to an old can, I open it and if it looks ok, I try it.  Some of the foods have lasted a surprisingly long time and look like new, others would gag a maggot.

This morning I opened several cans, a ham flavored TVP, potatoes diced and spaghetti elbo (their spelling) all canned by DRI-Harvest and a can of instant yams by Peter J Phethean Ltd.

Dri-Harvest is a company that I have heard of in the past and still exists in Bozeman, MT.  Peter J Phethean Ltd seems to have disappeared, I could find no information on them and had never heard of them before.

Looking on the website of DriHarvest foods they have the following statement about their shelf life. “Dri-Harvest labeled products are sealed to minimum of 10 years.  Opened to 1 year for dehydrated and Freeze Dried Foods”.

Long-term Food Storage
Here you can see the contents of all four cans, the bottom are edible, The top two would scare me.

All of the DriHavest cans showed surface rust and had been stored in a garage.  They were approximately 30 years old. First I opened the ham flavored TVP (textured vegetable protein) which appeared in good condition.  The can was lined and appeared to have held up well.  The TVP had a slightly rancid odor and because of known problems with TVP going rancid, I declined to eat any.

Next, I opened the diced potatoes; they were packaged in an unlined can, but had turned a funny yellow color.  I thought about trying these but my wife put her foot down and said no.  If I were very hungry, I would try to eat these.  The can of elbo spaghetti was packaged in a lined can and I would eat this with no problems.  All three cans were nitrogen packed.  If you have some of this in your storage and had the room, I would keep it in reserve; it could at least be used for pet food.

The fourth can from the Peter J Phethean Ltd company contained yams and was in good condition.  I would have no problem eating these.  They had even maintained good color and smelled fine.  There is nothing on the can to say if they were nitrogen packed.  The can was dated 1979.

These cans were unusual in that the contents were in better shape than most of the cans of this age that I have opened.  I have no way of testing the nutritional contents of the cans, but suspect that it would be on the low side. Here are some links to previous posts I have made on old long-term food storage.   A Test of Long Term Foods Stored Since the 1970′s, Part 1A Test of Long Term Foods from the 1970′s, part 2,  Thirty plus year Old Mountain House Chili and Beans  Old Dehyrated Foods and Their Storage Life. 

While there are exceptions to every rule, for my personnel storage there are only a few long-term food storage companies that I purchase from, the top of the line being Mountain House.  But they don’t carry everything that I stock, so I also will purchase foods from Pack Away, AlpineAire Ready Reserve, Emergency Essentials and Honeywell Farms.

I avoid any of the new companies that have recently come on the market.  They have not been around long enough to have a good track record and I do not like some of the marketing practices that I see.  Many of them are misleading in their ads and list a large number of very small serving that contain few calories.

Whenever you purchased food, look at the size of the serving and the number of calories.  Remember you need at least 2000 calories for a man and 1500 for a woman.



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9 thoughts on “Long-term Food Storage, 30 year Old Cans I Opened Today”

  1. I guess the good thing about these foods is that you are still around and have basically outlived them. I have a lot of these cans put away, I can only hope I have not needed to open them after 30 years. We can slowly replace these cans with newer cans to keep extending our reserves. I would say a good range to shoot for is 20-years on a can like this, it a long time and still more then likely that the food is still good. I opened some eggs a few months ago that I bought in 1990 and they looked good. I cook breakfast with them once a week or so. I’m about 1/2 way through the can and the eggs taste like any egg I buy in a store today.

  2. I appreciate this information, and i think it brings up a very important point.

    Is it just me, or is this one major flaw in some prepper’s plans. I store these foods, but I actually incorporate small amounts of these foods in my day to day eating. As a result, they are constantly being rotated. This serves two purposes. 1) It keeps us used to these foods. Trust me, you don’t want to be trying out new foods when things go wrong. And 2) you don’t wind up with questionable 20 year cans of food on your shelves. The last moment you want to discover these foods are bad is when you need them. Just because these foods are designed for long-term storage doesn’t mean they should be kept that way.

    I guess I left out a third reason. ALL of your preps should be used and rotated. The reason is that it keeps you experienced in how to use them. You DO NOT want to be learning how to use these things when you need them.

    If you have an unused 20/30 year anything on your shelf (except gold and silver ;-), you’re doing it wrong. I argue that nothing you store should go unused for more than 5 or 10 years. And, I mean everything! Blankets, heaters, tools, clothing, etc. I can’t reiterate enough that you don’t want to learn how to use something, or discover it’s unusable when you need it.

  3. I am so surprised about the canning community and their understanding.
    I ate green beans, tomato juice, and tomatoes canned 15 – 20 years from canning dates.
    My last can of green beans labeled 1992 was eaten in 2012.
    And all these were water bath canned!!

  4. Pingback: Prepper News Watch for February 17, 2014 | The Preparedness Podcast

  5. I just bought a house and found 22 cans (35 lbs. each) of Turkey Red Hard Winter Wheat. They appear to still be sealed. The label says E-Z-2 Store Foods and packaged by Food Science Inc. Orem Utah. I have not been able to find any information on the company, which led me to this website. Ever heard of them? How long should wheat last if it is canned, sealed and kept cool?


    1. In what temperatures have they been stored? That really is the key if the cans are unopened and undamaged. Do you have any idea how old they are? Wheat, in general, stores very well for long periods of time but heat, in particular, will eventually affect its nutritional value and possibly it’s flavor and the results you get when using it. Under optimal conditions, wheat can be stored for 20+ years.

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