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Cans would only leak if they were rusted on damaged.

I'm going by what my mother said. The cans sat there for years. Some of them had had started leaking.

I believe you. I once had a friend who's parents had grown up during the Great Depression. Their garage was half filled with racks of canned food and jars of "canned" fruit and vegetables.

They had the same problem you experienced. The garage door didn't seal out the outside air so gradually over the years moisture in the air tended to infiltrate the garage. They rotated their stores and lived in a dry climate so rust wasn't much of a problem; cans were brought into the kitchen and consumed before rust could take hold.

Of course the cans had to have been processed properly to begin with.

... he bought carton after carton of canned goods. They filled half the garage. And eventually they all had to be thrown out when they started leaking, years after they were bought.

From the report I sited:
Foods with a naturally high acid content--such as tomatoes, citrus juices, pears, and other fruits--will not support the growth of food poisoning bacteria. In tests, when large numbers of food poisoning bacteria are added to these foods, the bacteria die within a day. (The exact amount of time depends upon the bacteria and amount of acidity.) Foods that have a high acid content, therefore, do not receive as extreme a heat treatment as low-acid foods. They are heated sufficiently to destroy bacteria, yeasts and molds that could cause food to spoil.
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