Nowadays, when you think of spam, you think of those irritating junk emails cluttering your email inbox. Of course, if you’re a prepper/survivalist, you probably also think of canned meat.
It might not look (or taste) very appetizing, but the fact of the matter is that spam is a convenient, long-lasting food that can survive unopened for quite a while which makes it ideal for stockpiling.
After all, you don’t want to stockpile meat(s) and then have them go bad before you can use them.
With that in mind, what is the actual shelf life of spam? How long does it actually last unopened?
If left unopened, spam can last from two to five years. Once opened, it’s good for 7 – 10 days. The shelf life can be extended by storing your spam in a cool, dark, dry cupboard or pantry where the temperature doesn’t go higher than 75-degrees Fahrenheit.
What is Spam?
Spam is canned cooked pork and was introduced to the global market in 1937, gaining popularity from its widespread use during the Second World War.
It’s a budget-friendly meat option that has been mentioned quite a few times in popular culture including the Monty Python sketch, Spam, a parody song by Weird Al Yankovic, and as the title, Spamalot, the stage musical production of Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail.
Now, you’d think that spam was very popular considering its widespread use. That’s not quite the case, however, as far as popularity is concerned spam is a bit of a mixed bag. Some people love it and others hate it.
It’s always useful to have something edible that’s going to survive harsh conditions for a long period but, after a while, it does get more than a little bit boring.
Funnily enough, Jay Hormel, the guy who created the stuff, got many letters from soldiers all over the world complaining about how much spam they were eating.
He even went as far as to keep a file with all of these letters and later went on to say:
“If they think spam is terrible, they ought to have eaten the bully beef we had in the last war.”
Bully beef is a similar product and, judging from that quote it must taste awful.
Nutritional Value of Spam
The primary ingredients in spam are pork shoulder and ham, with water, salt, sugar, flavorings, and preservatives all held together by potato starch – which is used as the binding agent.
The meat is then canned, and vacuum-sealed to keep all the good stuff in. So, how nutritious is spam?
Well, spam has a high-fat content, and is high in both sodium and calories. It also gives us a bit of zinc, potassium, iron, and copper.
There are also hints of Vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and folate. With that said, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Spam is a form of processed meat, and processed meats have been linked to certain health problems. These include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer (i.e. stomach cancer).
Additionally, spam contains sodium nitrite which is commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Unfortunately, sodium nitrite (and nitrites in general) can be converted into a nasty compound called nitrosamine when exposed to high heat and amino acids. This stuff is very dangerous and is linked to some pretty serious health problems.
How Long Does Spam Last, and Can You Extend the Shelf Life?
The million-dollar question – how long does spam last? Well, typically – if left unopened – spam can last for anywhere from two to five years.
Once it’s opened, however, you should generally use/eat it within ten days as your refrigerator can only do so much to keep it edible.
The shelf life of spam can be extended by keeping it stored in your pantry in a cool, dark place. The temperature should be kept below 75-degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, covering an open tin with cling wrap will keep it fresh in the refrigerator for longer.
Let’s do a Quick Recap
Okay, so before we wrap up; let’s have a quick recap:
- Spam is a convenient, budget-friendly meat option that can survive fairly harsh conditions and was popularly used – albeit somewhat reluctantly – during World War II.
- Spam is a form of canned pork comprised of pork shoulder, processed ham, salt, sugar, and other preservatives.
- It has a high-fat content and some nutrients but has been linked to some serious health problems.
- It lasts between 2 and 5 years unopened and can last in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
I hope you all enjoyed the article and found it informative. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time. For now, though, I’m going to go see if I can get some eggs, bacon, sausage, and spam – without the spam.
Cheers, and take care!
Greg spent most of his childhood in camping grounds and on hiking trails. While he lives in suburbs nowadays, Greg was raised on a small farm with chickens. He’s a decent shot with a bow, and a knife enthusiast.