Tuesday’s Tip: Got ya covered

March 01,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Over the holidays, SPH, R, G and I were visiting with some of SPH’s family in Maryland.  We go to Maryland each December for a weekend we call “Santa Brunch,” which is a big family Christmas celebration and a veritable eat-fest.

We cook our way through the weekend and at one point I was in the kitchen cooking and placed an opened can of green beans back inside the refrigerator.  I was immediately chastised by some family for placing a metal can that had been opened in the fridge (typically, at home, I would have emptied it into a storage container, but there wasn’t one at the ready, and I knew the rest would would be used soon)..

I didn’t know—I had done this very thing, the returning of an opened can to the fridge for future use.  But according to my family, this was not a good idea.  In fact I was told:

“*You* did this?!”

“Don’t you know you can get botulism or something from doing this?!”

I hadn’t heard and so I started thinking that it might be a good idea to do a little research.   My first research stop was right on the back of a can.  It read:

And yet, there were no dire warnings, so I wondered if this part of the label was a kind suggestion based on the fact that perhaps the can manufacturer didn’t want you to cut your hand while reusing an already opened metal can, or if there was indeed a health risk keeping food in an already opened can.

Turns out, the botulism risk is an old wives’ tale, and yet, there are many reasons to not return an open can to the refrigerator.  First, it is a risk to have a sharp, open lid lingering in your kitchen, especially if you have children that use the refrigerator too.  Second, acidic foods, such as cans of tomatoes or pineapple can “take on” the flavor of the can if left in an open can too long.  Third, any open container in the refrigerator is more likely to be exposed to bacteria, just not botulism.

So today’s Tuesday’s Tip is this:  when using canned food and some of the product remains, be sure to transfer the unused portion to a storage container for future use.


PS--Happy March!