National Canned Food Month: Convenience and Nutrition

Celebrate the month of February with us as we dive into the wonderful world of canned food for National Canned Food Month. In this blog, we’ll explore the history of canning, the nutritional benefits of canned food, and ways to incorporate it into your diet. Plus, we’ll share tips on how you can get started with canning at home. Let’s get started!

The Fascinating History of Canning

In 1750, the French government was facing the arduous challenge of providing food to their troops. At the time, the four food preservation methods being used (salting, drying, sugaring, and smoking) were good; however, these methods were not successful in preserving foods for long enough periods of time. Because a war was occurring, a method that could preserve food through winters and on long treks was necessary. The French government offered a monetary reward to anyone who could create a preservation method that wouldn’t spoil and could be transported.

Their prayers were answered in 1810 when a man named Nicolas Appert created canning as an effort to find a better method to preserve foods. He used glass bottles and filled them with various foods such as meats, fruits, and vegetables, then proceeded to seal the bottles and place in boiling water to cook the contents, which resulted in successful preservation.

By boiling the glass bottles, it not only cooked the contents but killed the toxin ‘botulism’ which causes food spoilage and food-borne illness. The only issue with Appert’s methods was that the glass bottles often shattered during the boiling process. Later on, an Englishman named Peter Durand created the “tin can” that we all know today and implemented Appert’s canning methods to create canned foods!

Nutritional Benefits of Canned Food

Contrary to myths and misconceptions, canned foods can have the same or similar nutritive value to both frozen and fresh foods! The fruits and vegetables used in canned goods are picked at peak freshness, so when you can them, you are essentially freezing (well, technically boiling!) their nutritive profile in time!

Canned foods are incredibly convenient, especially for those struggling to include fruits and vegetables in their diet. Adding a can of corn or beans to a stew or soup not only enhances flavor but also provides protein, fiber, vitamins, and healthy carbohydrates.

Financial Benefits of Canned Food

If you need more reasons to love canned food, let’s talk about your wallet. A study by researchers at Michigan State University found that canned foods can be up to 80% cheaper than fresh foods and 50% cheaper than frozen foods [3].

Canned foods are more affordable because they can last at room temperature indefinitely, as long as they remain in good condition. Just be sure to check for any signs of spoilage, such as rust or dents, when buying or receiving canned goods.

Celebrating Canned Food Month

Now that you understand the awesomeness of National Canned Food Month, how can you celebrate it?

Try canning at home.

Now, this may sound intimidating, but it isn’t as bad as it seems! Before writing this blog post, I had never even thought about canning something on my own. However, there is a satisfaction I always receive from making my own food, and I doubt that canning my own fruits and vegetables would feel any different! You will need a little research to get you started, so I recommend Marisa McClennan’s “A Beginner’s Guide to Canning” from seriouseats.com. Happy canning!

TRY recipes with canned goods!

Show off what you’ve learned by either cooking with store-bought, donated, or homemade canned goods! Don’t know where to start? Check out the recipes linked below or the recipes on our Nutrition page.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Dessert
Sausage Tortilla Breakfast Bake Taco Bowls Contest-Winning Hearty Hamburger Soup Homemade Cherry Crisp
A quiche topped with sausage and bacon and herbs. A bowl filled with beans, veggie, brown rice, avocado, and cheese. A soup filled with green beans, potato, sausage, carrots, and a tomato broth. A bowl of ice cream topped with cherries and nuts.

– By Ashley Gardoni, Dietetic Intern, Department of State Hospitals, Atascadero