Wednesday, August 17

Reasons why you shouldn’t keep an open can in the fridge

Most of us have poor food storage habits and ways to preserve it. And this happens in a special way when we talk about canned goods. For example leave an open can in the fridge.

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Unopened cans can be stored in the pantry for months, as long as they are kept out of some of the major threats, such as heat and sunlight. But when we open a can and don’t finish all the contents, we may just be tempted to put it a plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to use on another occasion, without further ado.

Can we leave the food in the fridge once we have opened it, in the open can? It is the most comfortable, fast and easy, but is it the most recommended? It could be dangerous? When a can loses its vacuum and sterilizing capacity, some risks may appear that are better to avoid: the growth of bacteria and fungi and the presence of Clostridium botulinum, toxins that cause botulism.

Open cans in the fridge, better not

The cans used to store food and beverages are metal containers made primarily of aluminum and rust-resistant laminated steel. They provide good protection to the food and a long conservation while the can remains closed.

They are hermetic containers, sealed under vacuum and, therefore, subjected to a thermal process that destroys possible microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. But all this is lost at the precise moment in which we open the can, which is why it is not advisable to leave the food inside once the container is opened.

Problems such as the following can occur:

  • Metal leaching in food: cans are usually made of aluminum. Over time, a small amount of metal is transferred to the contents of the food. This appears to increase when oxygen is introduced after opening. A tomato sauce, for example, can react with the metal rim of an open can and leach into food, giving it a metallic taste. This tends to happen especially with more acidic foods, such as tomatoes and pineapple.
  • The combination of acidity and oxygen creates a reaction that coats the can with a gray-black material, which can flake off to food. This, while unpleasant, is not always dangerous. It is an oxidation process that only affects the aesthetic aspect.
  • Food can dry and absorb other flavors: when we have opened a can, the food is open, exposed to the air, because, even if we cover it with the same lid as the container, it will never be well sealed. This is not risky, but they can be unpleasant to ingest. The cans that are sold with closing lids are exempt from this problem, because this prevents the food from reacting with the can.
  • Part of the food, especially if there are juices, such as a pickled can, can fall on the shelf of the refrigerator, thus creating a problem of contamination with microorganisms to other foods.

Once the can is opened, it is advisable to empty the product left in a clean plastic container, preferably glass, cover it well and place in the fridge.

Doing it this way will not only prevent organoleptic changes from occurring, such as the typical metallic taste, in the food but possible contamination by fungi and oxidation in the can.

Once opened, canned food can be stored, in another container, in the refrigerator for three or four days. It is also advisable to keep them with their original broth or liquid, which we must transfer to the new container. On many occasions we throw it down the sink, but it is preferable to include it in the container that we put in the fridge.

The other limits of cans

As we have already pointed out, most canned foods are stable and can be stored for long periods at room temperature (always closed). It is one of the main benefits of this type of food. But there are several factors that limit its lifespan:

  • Can rust– When this happens, small holes open in the can or lid that can damage the interior.
  • Corrosion appears: Food reacts chemically with the metal container, especially with high acid foods such as tomatoes and fruit juices.
  • High temperatures deteriorate cans– Risk of spoilage increases dramatically as storage temperatures rise.
  • When you open the can, the food already becomes perishableAlthough cans usually have a high expiration date, the moment we open them the content is no longer protected and the decomposition countdown begins.

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