Can Unmasking - Part 1: Cocoa Heaven

Can Unmasking - Part 1: Cocoa Heaven

Posted by Ola Griffin on Feb 16th 2024

Recently, I stumbled upon a stash of older #10 cans at my friend Cindy's place. For those unfamiliar with long-term food storage, think of these cans as akin to large coffee cans. Curious, I asked about Cindy's plans for them since they were sitting outside on her patio. She explained to me that she took them out from her storage unit months ago but didn’t know if they were good or bad. I asked if I could check them out. She of course said “yes!” Thus began my adventure into the unknown! What will I uncover within these cans - delicious treasure or will I shout “oh my what is that!?”

Delving into the history of these canned goods meant for her family's long-term food reserve, we stumbled upon cans dating back to February and May of 2011—now over a decade old. Among them was a can from February 2001, marking its passage of exactly two decades! There are still several cans of milk and onions awaiting scrutiny on my next visit (so, more revelations await!). My friend said she had packed these at the LDS Cannery (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and simply stowed them away, relocating them to her storage unit during a move.

These cans had been sitting outside on the covered patio, shrouded in layers of dust, cobwebs, and rust. When you see rust on the outside it doesn’t mean that the food on the inside is necessarily bad. Being the curious cat that I am, I couldn't resist the urge to see if there was anything salvageable inside or if it was all just trash.

My initial target: The Cocoa. For those unacquainted with LDS cocoa, let me tell you that you're missing out on the basic hot cocoa mix around. You can easily buy it at or by locating a nearby Bishops Storehouse / Home Storage Center via a quick online search. Trust me, it's a culinary delight not to be missed, and as a self-professed cocoa connoisseur, it's one of my personal favorites.

After a thorough cleaning to rid the cans of sticky cobwebs and dust-covered tops, I eagerly reached for my trusty can opener. With a satisfying "whoosh," the seal was broken, revealing a cocoa canister where the mix and its oxygen absorber had done its job to create a pristine, oxygen-free environment.Yes, that is what getting a zero oxygen zone does, it extends the life of your shelf stable foods. Mylar is the replacement for #10 cans and of course oxygen absorbers are needed to create the oxygen free zone.

As you can see there is no rust in the inside of the can, and as soon as I popped the lid, the rich aroma of chocolate filled the air. The only way to truly test if the cocoa was still up to good was to give it a taste. I quickly got my kettle going and grabbed a handful of mugs as there were plenty of eager folks ready for a sip of this deliciousness. Each mug got several heaping tablespoons of the mix, followed by a pour of hot water. As I stirred and sniffed, my senses were on high alert, eagerly anticipating that first sip. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. No fancy extras for me—just straight-up cocoa, stirred, not shaken.

Once I finished my cocoa I set out to repack the extra into PackFresh Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. I packed in a variety of sizes and I measured, marked each bag with the important information and added my oxygen absorbers and burped and sealed the mylar bags.

Since this cocoa was already a decade old, I'd recommend using it up within the next year or two. I also made sure to stash some in our everyday container, ensuring we could satisfy our hot cocoa cravings whenever they struck.

So, make sure you check your older canned goods. Adding oxygen absorbers allows the food to prolong their shelf life, almost suspending them in time. Don’t just toss your old canned goods away, check them and see if you can cycle them back into your food rotation.

Best storing practices would be to keep in a cooler dry area between 50-70 degrees to get the most out of nutrition and longevity.

Here are some Cocoa related video links:

Stay tuned for more blogs to witness more discoveries as we continue to "uncan" the past.

Happy prepping,

Ola D Griffin

Long-term Food Storage Expert

Customer Service, Safeguard Brands, Inc. dba PackFreshUSA

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PackFreshUSA is featured in this Meat + Poultry Magazine article on using oxygen absorbers with jerky.

Check it out!