Sunday, November 21, 2010

Labels and Canned Goods

Most of us are storing canned goods even if we also have fresh veggies from the garden; home-canned foods; and other alternatives. It’s not a bad idea to diversify the food stockpile for a variety of reasons, including the military’s “Two is one and one is none” concept. Another reason to get canned goods is the fact that they’re cheap; if you hit sales like we do, you can get a lot of canned veggies for just a few bucks.

And while Mom and I are both learning how to can things (she used to do it with her mom, but hasn’t been involved in a few decades or so – gotta re-learn old skills if you’ve let them lie dormant for too long), we go by the, “Buy one, store one, give one away” mindset. We’d rather give away tin cans of veggies than home-canned foods because we want the jars and, as far as we can tell, most people around here don’t can at home; they wouldn’t have good jars to trade us.

One of the things that I hate about canned goods is that most companies don’t stamp anything useful on the actual cans beyond a “best by” date. When I look at cans of corn, peas, and green beans, the cans are all alike other than which labels are wrapped around them. Green Giant is an exception, but we don’t buy that brand often unless it’s on sale for a better price than others.

So, folks, what happens if the labels are ruined? You get to play Tin Can Roulette, that’s what, which isn’t always a fun game to play. If a flood destroys some of the labels…if one of the cats finds its way into your food stash and pees all over the cans…if some other, unexpected problem takes out the labels…you don’t know exactly what’s in there. Even if your stockpile is neatly sorted, separated by what’s inside the can, what about the bug-out bag? What if you have to throw a bunch of your stockpile into the vehicle and bug out? The glue on labels isn’t the best ever, so don’t be surprised if some of the labels end up in the bottom of your bag or on the floorboard.

Here at The Homestead, we use a Sharpie on the cans’ tops, noting what’s inside and its best-by date. Even though that date’s already stamped on the can, it’s much easier and faster to read a large “10/12” (October 2012, of course) mark on the top of the can than it is to go looking for the smaller stamp.

None of the labels are vital, so we can still safely prepare and consume the food without them. I don’t need the label on the canned soup to tell me that I only need to heat it and serve because I eat that soup in everyday life and am, therefore, familiar with it. This is one of many reasons why the idea of storing what you eat anyway is a great one. If, on the other hand, you find that you really need certain labels, it’s not a bad idea to save a few of them from cans you open and use.

And while labeling each can does take a few minutes, we know that the five or ten minutes we invest after coming home from the store could save us some frustration later.

1 comment:

  1. You make a really good point about the labels. Since our things are all labeled with the date we bring them home, why not go ahead and write whats in the can. Great idea, and one I sure wouldn't have thought of. That is why I love all my prepper friends. There is always something I don't know or haven't thought of that someone else might take for granted.
    I've played the Tin Can Roulette game a few times myself. I remember once as a kid, my mom brought out several cans that had lost their labels. She made a game out of guessing what might be in the can. I have to say that dinner that night was "interesting" to say the least!


“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm