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Foie Gras Shelf Life


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I need some help with an item I received over four years ago. I received these three cans of foie gras from France. Couple of questions, I have a bit of a working knowledge but not sure what is in each. Couple of other questions:

1. Given that these cans are over four years old, are they still any good (there appears to be a stamp of November 2009 on the top)?

2. If #1 is OK, what all should I expect when I open them up and what all do I serve them with?




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It looks like they came from Michaumaillé Farm.

The blue can is a duck pate with grisets - a type of mushroom.

The white can is the house pate - 20% goose and duck foie gras dispersed in goose, duck, and pork.

The tan can is duck foie gras.

Do the cans looks ok (no dents, rusting, etc.)? If yes, then check the contents out with your nose and eyes. This website says foie gras should have a shelf life of 'several years' - which is not very helpful. Another one says foie gras can improve with time, like wine.

If they pass the sniff test, I'd just enjoy them (maybe not all at the same time) with some very nice bread and wine, maybe champagne. Maybe some others have more detailed suggestions - and feedback on whether or not to even eat the stuff :)

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Been there, done that, several times.

You'll know whether or not you want to eat it by the way it looks, smells, etc (think of a package of ground beef). I've had cans of foie gras that had been expired for over a year that were fine, and some that weren't - the ones that weren't had a sort-of grayish-brown, crusting component around the edges, and an uneven distribution of liquid. Really, not anything gross, but a slow, decaying characteristic that you'll recognize when you see it.

I keep saving my duty-free foie gras for a "special occasion" that never seems to arise, and I've discarded at least half the tins I've purchased.

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There are 3 varieties of commercial cooked French foie-gras (pasteurized) and each has a shelf-life directly relating to its highest temperature of processing, albeit for a handful of seconds.

Foie gras frais “Fresh foie gras“ (not to be confused with raw foie gras). Cooked to 154F and generally used in pâtés, ballotines, en croûte, en brioche and such. Above refrigeration 41F it deteriorates considerably by the hour.

Foie gras mi-cuit ou semi-conserve. “Par-cooked foie gras“. Canned or cooked sous-vide to a temperature of 181F. The flavor is not compromised as much from the high heat. It will maintain its gustatory properties up to 6 months if kept refrigerated and away from direct light. The glass wire-bail mason jars will last if the foie doesn't.

Foie gras en conserve. “Canned foie gras“. Canned or jarred in an autoclave to a scorching 223F. Shelf life is increased tremendously at the initial expense of flavor. However, much like top vintage sardines, the flavor and texture only improves after a year in storage when care is taken to rotate the can every 3 months or so.

Many French artisans forego the color preserving properties of nitrites and produce a product verging the cusp of the lightest grey cloud, speckled with ground pepper. The cans pictured above are more stocking stuffers than real McCoy’s and any savory shortcomings with age are negligible. They are likely canned in the same spirit of army rations and will last a decade or even longer and should be enjoyed casually or in desperation.

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