Shelf Life of Pantry Foods

Is it safe to eat or should you throw it out?

Have you taken the time to check your food pantry in your kitchen? Are you afraid of keeping something or throwing something away?

4553661704_4edd91044fThis past weekend, our family pantry got a complete overhaul. Some items had been in the cabinet for well over a year. Some canned food had expired. Is it still safe to eat?

I am sure you have played out these scenarios in your head. Maybe you have even gone so far as to smell the product  or taste a small sampling of the produt.

This resource has a great list of items. FrugalLiving.about. com

Here is a sample of this list below, for a complete list go to

It’s one of the best lists I have seen for tracking the shelf life of pantry items.

Canned & Jarred Goods
Applesauce      12-18 months
Beans, canned      2-5 years
Broth, beef       2-5 years
Broth, chicken       2-5 years
Broth, vegetable      2-5 years
Canned fruit       12-18 months
Canned meats      (tuna,salmon, chicken, etc.) 2-5 years
Home-canned foods    12 months
Pumpkin puree        12-18 months
Soup (except tomato)      2-5 years
Soup, tomato        12-18 months
Tomato paste      12-18 months
Tomato sauce      12-18 months
Tomatoes, crushed      12-18 months
Tomatoes, stewed        12-18 months
Tomatoes, sun-dried (oilpacked)   12-18 months
Tomatoes, whole       12-18 months

photo credit: Our House (11 of 11) via photopin (license)

Avian Influenza

Hopefully we can see the light soon

Avian FluCheck out this news story and see how this issue is affecting our food production.

The virus has killed more than 38.9 million birds.

Questions still exist about how the virus is being spread.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the poultry industry is in uncharted territory. The virus is “doing things we’ve never seen it do before,” so scientists’ understanding is very limited, he says.

“Influenza viruses have thought in the past to be transmitted by birds to birds in close contact and that it was only through that kind of transmission that we need to be concerned,” Osterholm says. “Now we surely have a very dynamic situation in the Midwest. It’s also a situation where we no longer can assume it’s just migratory birds.”

Other theories on the virus’s rapid transmission include small rodents infiltrating facilities, contaminated feed and water or that the virus could even be airborne.

(Source NPR – Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory, May 21, 2015)


As of May 21, 2015 the USDA reported: (Source NPR – Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory)

Now reaching to 15 states, the outbreak has been detected at 174 farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because there’s no vaccine, infected and even healthy birds must be killed to try to stop the virus, forcing the killing of 38.9 million birds and counting, the USDA says.

This issue could last months possibly a couple of years. Hopefully, warmer temperatures will stop the spread of the disease soon.

Picture Source: Pixabay

Organic Fertilizer Recipe

See What is Involved

fertilzerCheck out this example of an organic fertilizer made with the following ingredients:

Cottonseed Meal  (1.25 lb)

Bone Meal (.6 lb)

Kelp Meal (2.5 lb)

Application 3/4 lbs for 50 sq. feet

This video is very interesting and will give you some ideas for making your own organic fertilizer recipe.

Over the past three years, we have seen tremendous growth in this area of organic fertilizers. Many growers are looking at ways to use natural material to help fortify nutrients in the soil. If you are looking in to developing your own organic fertilizer, consider having it tested so you are aware of the important properties that make up your organic fertilizer. In addition, consdier sampling your soil after a period of time to see if your soil’s nutrition levels are increasing in certain areas.

If you want more information, please call Midwest Laboratories for your fertilizer and organic testing needs and talk to Rob Ferris or Matt Stukenholtz.


Picture Source:

Plant Tissue Analysis Reminder

The Process and Report Card

Plant Tissue AnalysisThis time of year, many growers try to decide if plant tissue testing is worth the effort.

Many times the issue is the process. One plant tissue test is probably a waste of time. Effective plant tissue testing requires a commitment on a regular basis. If you want to learn more, check out this 4-minute overview of plant tissue analysis.

Check out the Midwest Laboratories Plant Sampling Guide.


In addition, consider downloading the following document, Utilizing Laboratory Analyses to Maximize Yield – You can find great information on interpreting plant tissue analysis on pages 14-16.

Picture Source: Pixabay

When is the best time to plant pumpkins?

Late May in Midwest to July for Southeast

Growing PumpkinsIt is that time of year to plant those pumpkins for fall harvest.

Pumpkins are becoming a popular produce around the country. From painting and carving pumpkins to new recipes being introdued daily on Pinterest.

Many pumpkin growers I’ve talked to in the last couple of years really like the lawn and gaden test package.  (Cost $25.00 analysis and recommendations) It is a complete soil test which looks at your soil nutrients and gives pumpkin growers the information they need to help with appropriate fertilizer and nutrient application. Get your results in 3 days.

In addition, I’ve also noticed that some pumpkin growers are also looking at plant tissue analysis by sending in pumpkin leaves for analysis of nitrogen levels to insure pumpkins are getting the appropriate nutrients from the soil. (Cost $24.00 analysis and recommendations)

So what does it take to grow pumpkins? I found this article in the Farmer’s Almanac. Check out some,(I left out a number of tips) of these pumpkin tips in the Farmers Almanac.


  • Pumpkins do best when the seeds are directly planted in the ground.
  • Minimum soil temperature for germination is 70ºF.
  • Optimum soil temperature is 95ºF. Pumpkins are very sensitive to the cold.
  • Pick a site with full sun (to light shade).
  • Pumpkins are big greedy feeders. They prefer very rich soil that is well-drained and not too soggy.
  • Mix lots of compost and aged mature into the planting site before you sow seeds or tranplant.
  • Select a site with lots of space for the sprawling vines. Vine varieties need 50 to 100 square feet per hill.
  • You can also grow pumpkins in big 5 to 10 gallon buckets! Or, try miniature varieties.
  • Plant the seeds 1 inch deep into the hills (4 to 5 seeds per hill). Space hills 4 to 8 feet apart.
  • When the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill by snipping off unwanted plants without disturbing the roots of the remaining ones.


  • Use row covers to protect plants early in the season and to prevent insect problems.
  • Pumpkins are very thirsty plants and need lots of water. Water one inch per week. Water deeply, especially during fruit set.
  • When watering: Try to keep foliage and fruit dry unless it’s a sunny day. Dampness will make rot more likely.
  • Add mulch around your pumpkins to keep in moisture, suppress weeks, and discourage pests.
  • Pumpkins need lots of nutrients. A regular treatment of manure or compost mixed with water will sustain good growth.
  • Fertilize on a regular basis. Use a high nitrogen formula in early plant growth.
  • Fertilize when plants are about one foot tall, just before vines begin to run.
  • Bees are essential for pollination, so be mindful when using insecticides to kill pests.
  • Gardeners who are looking for a “prize for size” pumpkin might select the two or three prime candidates and remove all other fruit and vines.

Picture Source: Pixabay