Canned Food For Your Family
Over this past year we have all made some changes in our cooking and dining habits due to the covid-19 pandemic. We have learned to keep more food on hand and to think about how to keep food for a period of time, in case we can’t go to the grocery store. All of this has made the discussion around canned foods, a very different conversation than when the focus was on fresh.
Why Canned Foods?
When news media started talking about “fresh is best” or “local is preferred” the idea of buying canned food became less desirable. If you look at the process, and benefits, of canning you will likely develop a very different attitude toward using them in your menus. Canning is a means of preservation that has been around for hundreds of years, but the process has improved over time. While home canning is still something people do for many of us, our canned foods are commercially prepared. The process of canning varies depending on the food but overall, the process is about harvesting the food, sealing It in an air-tight can, and then, under steam pressure, heating it to 240 – 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is needed to destroy microorganisms that occur in all food. The Canned Food Alliance provides excellent information on the canning process, the quality of canned foods and the nutrition they contain. Canned foods can last up to 2 years if they are stored properly.
Canned Foods and Nutrition
One of the benefits of the canning process is that it takes place in canneries that are located near the growing fields. This proximity allows for produce to be picked, transported and canned in the shortest amount of time. Produce that is processed shortly after picking, ensures that nutrients are locked in thus preserving larger amounts of nutrition. We often think in terms of fresh being the best option, and it can be if you buy right from a farmer’s truck and prepare that day. However, fresh produce loses nutrients the longer the time is between picking and eating, making canned food a nutritious option. Canned vegetables and beans often contain salt, but there are many brands that offer low sodium or salt free options. Another option for beans and vegetables canned in salt is to rinse them lightly to remove some of the salt and then if using in a recipe, reduce the amount of salt you add. The same can be said for canned fruit with brands offering canned in fruit juice instead of sugar syrup. If you are confused by some of the mixed messages about canned foods, this handout breaks down some of the myths.
Canned Foods in Your Pantry
As the seasons change, and as concerns around the covid-19 virus remain, you might want to think about what canned foods are in your pantry? As a registered dietitian I always keep the following in my pantry –
- A variety of canned beans – I love black and chickpea but I keep red, cannellini and Great Northern as well
- Canned tuna, salmon and sardines
- Canned tomatoes – diced, petite diced, peeled, crushed, sauce and paste
- Canned fruit and a few canned vegetables like green beans
For a list of staples to keep in your pantry, checkout this handout from the Canned Food Alliance.
To Your Health!
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US remember to – #WearaMask #WashYourHands #WalkBack6Feet. Take time this season to celebrate the health of your family and friends! Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy – and Safe – Thanksgiving!
About Connie – Connie is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience communicating in the food and nutrition space. Taking the science of food and nutrition and translating it to simple messages, new products, or exciting menus is her expertise. Making nutrition messages clear, accurate, and engaging aids all consumers.