Canned and frozen vegetables and fruits

canning

Nothing beats luscious, sun-ripened tomatoes or corn shucked off the cob during the peak of summer, when they're ripe and seasonal. But sometimes — during the cold winter months, or maybe just when we haven't had a chance to stop by the store for fresh produce in a while — canned and frozen fruits and vegetables work perfectly as a substitute for fresh.

They're always picked and preserved when they're most ripe, so the flavor of your food will never suffer, and you can keep them in your pantry or freezer for many months or even years, so you'll always be ready for a quick meal. They also can be less expensive than fresh, helping you eat well on a budget.

Canned tomatoes make a terrific homemade pasta sauce, and frozen or canned corn (not to mention canned beans!) can add character to any enchilada recipe. Try blending canned peaches or apricots or frozen berries in a smoothie with your favorite yogurt, or bake them into a fruit crisp with oats and nuts for a warm treat.

Canned food has a fairly long shelf life, as long as it's stored properly. How long you can safely keep canned food depends on the type of food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says:

  • High-acid foods — such as tomatoes, fruit and fruit juice — can be stored for up to 18 months.
  • Low-acid foods — such as vegetables and meat — can be stored for two to five years.

At home, store canned food in a cool, dry place. Avoid cabinets over the stove, under the sink, or in a damp basement or garage.

Always check the expiration date to make sure a food is still safe, and it's a good idea to clean the top of the container before you open it. If a container spurts liquid or foam when you open it or the food has a bad odor, don't eat it.

Food stored in the freezer always will be safe, but the quality may be reduced over time.

More about: canned foods, food storage, frozen, produce