Will really old canned juice kill me?
November 22, 2007 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Assuming there are no signs of spoilage, is it safe to drink 10 year old grape juice that I canned myself? If not, can I safely use it as a syrup (vino cotto) if I reduce it by simmering?
posted by shinybeast to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Canning can last 2 to 5 years, although it's supposed to just be a food quality issue after that. But you're taking the risk that your pasteurization process didn't work properly and, on a less paranoid level, there's a good chance it just won't taste very good at all. Unless you are stuck in the desert with no oasis, I would recommend tossing it. 50% of Mefites will disagree and 50% will agree.
posted by acoutu at 10:33 PM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Some of the toxins from foodborne pathogens are destroyed by heat; others are not. It depends on the species. But with the exception of botulinum, the rule of thumb is that most nasties favor conditions with high moisture (check), high protein (not especially), and low acid (ah, safe!). If you canned it to spec, the process plus the acidity will keep botulinum out of your hair too.

There's a separate issue, and that's the plain old chemical breakdown of components of the juice, independent of any biological activity. Again, canning will have helped, because it will destroy or denature enzymes that would break it down. But I am not a food scientist, and I really don't know any more than that.

I'll go check Harold McGee for anything on chemical breakdown in long-term storage, but don't get your hopes up.
posted by eritain at 11:21 PM on November 22, 2007

Sorry, got nothin' there.
posted by eritain at 11:29 PM on November 22, 2007

I would throw it away. Maybe it was sealed in an aluminum can at a plant it would be safe. Since you canned it yourself, the tiniest error could lead to food poisoning. Definitely not worth the risk.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:09 AM on November 23, 2007

It is grape juice and not canned meat. Open it up and take a sip, the worst thing would be you now have a nice vinegar, and a good sip of it in your mouth. I doubt it because the jar would have exploded a long time ago. just taste it and see if it still tastes like juice, if so use it.
posted by koolkat at 2:23 AM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's a chance it'll be alright, but really it's a very low chance at this point. I'd just trash it, but it's entirely up to what risks you're willing to take with your health. But I'd definitely vote no.
posted by fishmasta at 2:29 AM on November 23, 2007

I would also say toss it. Unless it's some amazing juice, I can't really see how it would even be worth the risk.
posted by fructose at 8:15 AM on November 23, 2007

I'd be one to tell you to think twice about eating a tuna sandwich that spent the day on your kitchen counter, but I don't understand the paranoia over 10 year old grape juice.

What's the difference between 10 year old grape juice and 10 year old wine besides more alcohol and less sugar? (I know the lack of alcohol means none of the awesome esterification you get with wine can happen)

If the seal is still good and vacuum has held, I see no harm in tasting it. If it tastes ok, use it, if not, dump it.
posted by Good Brain at 10:48 AM on November 23, 2007

Alcohol is an antiseptic, i.e. it kills anything that may be trying to live in your wine. Grape juice without alcohol, otoh, is a wonderful growing medium, especially since you canned it yourself. Toss it.
posted by anaelith at 11:16 AM on November 23, 2007

No. If it's cloudy; hell no.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:20 PM on November 23, 2007

Thanks for the advice, everybody. I just tossed all eight quarts of it away. It's funny how attached I was to that juice...
posted by shinybeast at 12:47 PM on November 23, 2007

"Grape juice without alcohol, otoh, is a wonderful growing medium, especially since you canned it yourself."

If enough Oxygen is available, grape juice is a great growing medium, for yeast and the bacteria that make vinegar. The main danger in caning is from botulism. Botulism dies at the pH of grape juice, it also produces gas, which would be obvious if the canning jars were sealed properly, because either the lid would have popped, or the glass would have exploded.
posted by Good Brain at 11:56 PM on November 23, 2007

Too bad...it was almost certainly fine unless there was a sign of gas buildup.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:50 PM on November 24, 2007

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