The Ultimate Guide to How Long does Canned Food Last and How to Store it Properly

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Mike Roth

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how long does canned food last

Canned food is a great way to stock up on shelf-stable ingredients and create delicious meals.

The shelf life of canned foods depends on various factors, including the type of food, the date of canning, and how it is stored.
Canned food is optimal for prepping, as it has a long shelf life and can be an important source of essential nutrients in survival situations.[1]

But how long does canned food last?

This article will explain the factors that affect the longevity of canned foods and provide tips for extending their shelf life.

In Short – How Long Does Canned Food Last:

You can be confident that a trusted and authoritative source has thoroughly checked any information presented to you. You can rest assured that all data is from reliable and reputable government websites.[2,3]

Low Acid Canned Food

Canned goods with low acidity levels can be stored for long periods, usually between two to five years.

Examples of such items include canned meat, stews and soups (except tomato), noodles and pasta, potatoes, corn, carrots, spinach, beans, beets, peas, and pumpkins.

High Acid Canned Food

High-acid canned food has a shelf life of 12 to 18 months.

Examples include tomato, orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit juices; tomatoes, grapefruit, pineapple, apples, and apple products; mixed fruit, peaches, pears, plums, all berries; pickles; and sauerkraut. Foods treated with vinegar-based sauces or dressings, such as German potato salad and sauerbraten, are also included.

Home Canned Food

Home-canned food can be kept fresh for up to one year.[4]

To ensure safety and quality when consuming these canned foods, boil them for at least 10 minutes (for high-acid foods) or 20 minutes (for low-acid foods).

The Shelf Life of Canned Foods: How Long Does It Last?

Canned food is incredibly convenient, as it retains its safety and nutritional value for up to two years from processing. Even after that time, there may be a slight difference in texture and color, but this should not affect its quality.

But, does canned food go bad?

Canned food can stay fresh almost indefinitely if stored at temperatures of 75°F or lower, making it an ideal choice for longer-term storage!

If you find any leakage or bulging on the can, discard it instead of consuming the food.

Many foods can be easily frozen, except for canned foods and eggs in the shell. However, if something has already been extracted from a can, it is definitely possible to freeze it.[5]

What You Need to Know About the Expiration Dates on Canned Foods

Canned food items often lack visible expiration dates; however, you can easily find a code printed on them indicating the time and place of canning.[6]

Don’t be fooled by the “for best quality use by” label; it simply indicates when the product is likely to taste its best.[7]
Expiration dates, however, are legally enforced and let you know when it’s time to discard an item and not consume it.[8]

How to Tell When Canned Foods Have Gone Bad

Beware of swollen, leaking, and foul-smelling cans.

These are signs that canned food has gone bad. It is essential to keep an eye out for discoloration or moldy appearances, as this could indicate that the food has spoiled.

Moreover, signs such as a bulging can lid, a broken seal, rust on the can, and even a foul odor coming from the can are all warning signs of spoiled food.

Be sure to double-check these indications before deciding to eat it.

Home-Canned Foods Shelf Life

It is an excellent way to preserve food and make it last up to two years. The shelf life varies depending on the type of item and how well it was canned.[9]

Home-canned food is highly susceptible to spoilage if exposed to moisture for too long, leading to rusted lids and leaks. Use them all within a year to ensure your canned goods’ best quality and taste.[10]

Home-canned foods may be contaminated with toxins that lead to botulism yet still appear fresh and edible.[11]

Signs of spoilage can be hard to detect, so it is essential to exercise caution when consuming these foods.

Learn How To Can your own food storage.

Tips for Storing Canned Foods to Maximize Shelf Life

To prevent food waste, we gathered several tips to help you store canned foods in the best way possible to maximize their shelf life.

Every container of home- or commercially-canned food should be clearly labeled for convenience and safety. The purchase date should be written on the lid with a marker. This will help you easily track expiration dates.

To ensure the best quality and safety, canned food should be stored in a place with no heat sources, such as furnaces or pipes, or any other areas that experience drastic temperature changes, such as uninsulated attics.[12]

Read more about food that lasts long here Best Canned Food.

It is crucial to store canned food properly in cool, dark, and dry places to ensure maximum freshness.

Make sure to rotate your food items, using the oldest one first.

What Are the Health Risks of Eating Expired

Consuming expired food can be highly hazardous to your health, as it may contain mold, bacteria, and toxins that could potentially trigger severe illnesses or even death. The risks associated with this are too significant to overlook, so do not take them lightly.

Botulism outbreaks are most commonly caused by home-canned vegetables in the United States, making it a serious health hazard. To remain safe, practicing safety and caution when canning vegetables at home is essential.[13]

Sadly, food-related sicknesses and even fatalities have happened in the past due to people not following canning instructions, not using pressure canners, disregarding spoilage signs, or simply ignorance of how botulism is caused by wrongly preserving foods.

It is imperative to take note of any signs that food has gone bad for your health and safety. Make sure to discard any expired food immediately to avoid any potential harm!

If you want to be prepared for anything, read our Prepping List.