The Long-Term Storage of Canned Food

Introduction: The Importance of the Proper Storage of Canned Foods

One of the most important factors in keeping canned foods safe is temperature. Temperature control is especially crucial with acidic canned goods such as fruits, pickles and tomatoes. A temperature of 75 degrees F or more is necessary to ensure that any harmful bacteria are destroyed before they have a chance to multiply. [LINK 1]
As the temperature rises, the level of acidity in the food also increases. When this happens, the canned food is said to be “exposing” itself (as opposed to already “exposed”). This occurs when a canned product is exposed to warmer temperatures during storage. In general, fruit jams, jellies and preserves are at greater risk than meat products, such as soups and chili. Low acid canned foods have a pH of more than 4.6. These products undergo a thermal process called “blanching” that destroys any enzymes in the food and also raises the acidity level, making it safe to store at room temperature.

how long do canned peaches last
how long do canned peaches last

How long can you safely keep canned foods?

You can safely store canned food as long as the seal remains unbroken. A broken seal indicates that the food may have been exposed to potentially harmful bacteria that could cause illness. Once you open a can, you should use it within 1-2 days for best quality and flavor. Once opened, you should transfer the contents to a container and refrigerate it until ready to use.
Most types of canned foods will keep at room temperature (about 70°F) for many months. You should follow these storage guidelines:
• Canned vegetables are safe indefinitely if the can remains unopened. Most vegetables will keep for 2-3 years if the can is kept in a cool, dry place.
• Refrigerate after opening and use within 1-2 days to help maintain quality.
• Refrigerate canned meats, such as tuna and salmon, for 1-2 weeks after opening. Avoid storing meat that is more than a week old at room temperature.

how long do canned peaches last
how long do canned peaches last

Factors that determine how long canned food lasts in storage.

Door-Ajar Indicator – Products at room temperature or below will have a warning label on them indicating if the can has been opened. This is due to the fact that the food is at risk of spoiling. The label might say “use by” or “best if used by” this is an important factor when selecting canned foods for your pantry.
Placement in Pantry – Consider placing your canned foods at the back of your pantry. They tend to get less traffic, therefore, it is easier to keep track of how much you have left. If you put them in the front, however, you will use them up more quickly and need to keep restocking. When possible try to keep the temperature around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
Size of Pantry – Consider how large your pantry is when deciding how much canned goods you should buy. If there is not enough space in your pantry, you may need to buy smaller cans. Don’t overlook other reasons why you may have a small pantry such as a limited budget or lack of storage space.

how long do canned peaches last
how long do canned peaches last

Conclusion: Make a Plan for Your Canned Food?

No matter how long canned foods are stored, they do have an expiration date. This is the time that they will be at the best quality. Most canned goods have a shelf life of 5-10 years but you should practice proper storage and rotation methods to ensure that you can enjoy flavorful canned food for several years beyond their original expiration date.
Step 1: Figure out your storage plan. Get organized!
If you are storing canned foods in an area that has a lot of heat and light, their shelf life will be shortened. A basement is a great place to store canned goods because they are dark, cool and dry. You should also keep a record that you can go back to when estimating how long canned goods have been stored so that you can ensure they have not been stored longer than necessary.
Step 2: Store canned foods properly.

how long do canned peaches last
how long do canned peaches last