How long does home canned goods last? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Exactly how long do home canned stuff last? Someone on the pumpkin pie thread said that they used a jar of pumkin that was a few years old. I've heard that almost anything is guaranteed to last a year, but beyond that was questionable. I'm sure that it's different for what's canned (veggies, meat, fruits). Is there some type of table that I can refer to? I wouldn't want to eat something that was "out-of-date" so to speak. Thanks.

-- Misha (, September 26, 2000


Hard to say, depends on how carefully the canned goods were prepared/canned, and how they were stored. I have some apples canned in light syrup, apple pie filling, figs in syrup and fig preserves, plum wine, hot sauce, tomato sauce, tomatos, and maybe a couple of other things like potatoes and carrots, green beans, and some canned pintos that are all at least a few years old, the apples being oldest canned in 96, and all are still fine. I routinely use stuff that is a year or two old, and I'm hardly malnourished and have never gotten sick off it. I keep them stored in the bottom of the kitchen island, in the dark, and not stacked. My house is air conditioned. I imagine the vitamin content decreases with age, but as far as being safe to eat, as long as the seals are good and there's no possibility of spoilage, it should last at least a few years when properly stored. By the way, I've eated store bought canned soup that was seven years old, out of desperation, and it was still ok although the texture had changed somewhat. In an issue of Backwoods Home magazine last year, I think it was, a lady named Jackie Clay wrote an article about the length of time foods were 'good' for. I believe the article included information on home canned foods. Might be worth checking into in that publications archives. Hope this helps!!!

-- Hannah Maria Holly (, September 26, 2000.

I meant to write 'eaten' not 'eated'!!!!! I did finish the third grade, y'know!!!

-- Hannah Maria Holly (, September 26, 2000.

The Ball Blue Book offers very conservative storage guidelines for canned, frozen, and dried foods.

-- Anne (, September 27, 2000.

I've heard 2-3 years, before the vitamin content starts going down, and of course you always want to take the usual precautions of checking to see if the seal is o.k., smelling it, etc. "when in doubt throw it out" by that I mean if it looks or smells funny get rid of it, it's not worth the problems you and your family will incure. My Mother-in-law has home-canned goods 10 yrs old, she doesn't eat them however just saving them for a depression, I've told her they have very little vitamin content and her reply was "well I'll still have a full belly" ! Ha Ha!!!!!! I personally think 10 yrs old is a little to old, but I guess if you didn't have anything else, well you know we might get desperate. My Mother-in-law is also very cautious to throw it out if the seal was broken, or smells bad, taste bad etc. even if it's 1 yr old or 10 years old and she's an old hand at all. this stuff. Hope this helped some.

-- Carol (, September 27, 2000.

My mother-in-law made jelly from cherry juice she had for at least 10 years. She keeps other stuff a long time, too.

-- Cindy (, September 27, 2000.

When I read the title - my first thought was "Not nearly long enough!" I'm thinking of posting a guard on my green beans.....

I try to use things up within two years of being canned, although I have gone longer on some things. The quality just isn't as good after a year or so; and as someone said, the vitamin content goes down. I'm sure my perspective would change if I was real hungry or broke, however!

Seeing what's left on the shelves after a year or two gives you a good idea of how much of something to put up - for me; less applesauce, more greenbeans and carrots, less pickle relish, more diced tomatoes and pickled peppers, less pizza sauce, more spagetti sauce..... Of course, that will all change again in a year or so when the kid goes off to college!

-- Polly (, September 27, 2000.

It's all a learning process and refining process for me too Polly! I'm not sure that I'd keep something for 10 yrs though! I need less green beans and definitely more pie filling and spaghetti sauce. Thanks everyone for the quick responses! Y'all are a wealth of information!!

-- Misha (, September 27, 2000.

Misha and Polly - Y'all need to get together and trade stuff. Polly needs more beans, Misha needs less. Misha needs more pizza sauce and Polly needs more. Y'all need to talk. Maybe we should start an end- of-the-canned-food-year swap of what we have too much of!!!

-- Soni (, September 27, 2000.

Misha, food lasts as long as your faith, not some date stamp by a food manufacturer. This concept takes some time to get used-to. For confirmation, try finding the series of Fox Fire Books published in the 60' or 70's. Best Wishes.

-- No Snake (, September 27, 2000.

Cool idea Polly! I've just given 2 cases of pints of green beans from last year to a largely pregnant friend of mine that couldn't do any canning this year. One thing could go wrong with the trade theory though, do you trust who you're trading with? ;)

-- Misha (, September 28, 2000.

Looking around this morning, I'm not sure I trust MY OWN kitchen!! Let's see - 4 garbage bags full of blankets and quilts (kids had a post-homecoming party out in the shed) plus two baskets of white clothes to take to town and wash - as soon as the kid brings back my car! Another bushel of apples that Pop brought home last night. Island counter top full of canning jars and freezer bags and pressure canner and my big cook pot and my medium cook pot and cooling racks.....Dishes on the counter from where it got cold and I went into a cooking frenzy yesterday - cake in a jar, anyone?! Hot rolls? Bread sticks? Please say you'll take some vegetable soup!!! Pop mowed the yard and the dog stole the porch rug so we've got some grass and leaves tracked in. Table is pulled out to it's full length, covered with 4 yards of wool and a jumper pattern (told you I got cold yesterday!!). And I'm sitting on my fanny in front of the computer - Guilt? What guilt!?

Misha, I think you live too far away for us to arrange a swap, so we'll have to go local. I do enjoy sharing my produce with folks who need it - Ma-in-law is hinting for some more freezer corn!! Yep, Aldi's may have tomatoes for 29 cents a can, but I don't think I've ever seen pride offered there at any price! (Tons of it available in my pantry - no charge!)

-- Polly (, September 28, 2000.

Here's some information on the vitamin loss.

Many vegetables begin losing some of their vitamins when harvested. Nearly half the vitamins may be lost within a few days unless the fresh produce is cooled or preserved. Within 1 to 2 weeks, even refrigerated produce loses half or more of some of its vitamins. The heating process during canning destroys from one-third to one-half of vitamins A and C, thiamin, and riboflavin. Once canned, additional losses of these sensitive vitamins are from 5 to 20 percent each year. The amounts of other vitamins, however, are only slightly lower in canned compared with fresh food. If vegetables are handled properly and canned promptly after harvest, they can be more nutritious than fresh produce sold in local stores.


-- Gerbil (, September 28, 2000.

If it is sealed, it's safe. The vitamins start dropping from the moment they are picked from the vine, plant, whatever. Preservatives do serve useful functions in commercially canned stuff, other than just keeping stuff pretty looking! If you want true peace of mind, boil for a full 20 minutes, all bad bacteria, etc., are killed in that length of time.

-- Annie Miller (, September 28, 2000.

Just a little hint--because of failing health and a dwindling family, I don't can tomato sauces anymore--just tomatoes. Open jar of tomatoes, drain well, blend with appropriate seasonimgs and use or cook more in crockpot or whatever according to your desires or tastes. Much easier for this old bod.

-- Barb Fischer (, September 29, 2000.

I just want to add to the post on boiling canned foods to make sure that they are safe. The boiling will kill the bacteria but will have no effect on the toxins that some bacteria produce e.g. botulism toxin is still present after boiling and it is the toxin not the bacteria which is the killer. gail

-- gail missouri ozarks (, September 30, 2000.

Guess some of the posts totally negates and rule out the scripture of when Jesus asks " What do you worry of what Ye shall eat and wear? Watch the birds. Do they have food to eat, and cloak (my words) to warm them? They have water to drink". His words "Are they more worthy than you? Jesus said we are fools to worry when he takes care of the birds, whom he loves less than us. Guess that means humans don't have to worry, except in their physical mind, what a waste of skin energy. Another question, to all who read and heed: Today, a contract laborer came into my house, performed what he is contracted to do, with few words. After two hours of his technical labor, he was succesful. Thank God! I invited him to have a beer and a smoke. May this message be heard by all. We did not immediately succumb to death by drink of beer or of a cigarette (Don't you envision?). After a talk, come to find out this person went to the the same High School as my Daughter. Lived in the same neighborhood, some years before. My surmise is we don't often meet new folks, we just keep traveling in the same Sphere, offering a smoke and a kind word. I am sure there are those who will blast this statement. Those who have never lived a life without central AC/HEAT, sorry, you did not have the experience. Those who chose to live, in their isolated Blond Hair Brained, blow dryer days, Please get down on your knees. Guess you don't wanna think about the many Soldiers who were hostage, and ate rats and roaches. I don't give a damn who discounts me. Blast Away.

-- Free Your Mind (, October 01, 2000.

Guess I'm with Annie. If it is still sealed, it's safe. I have some foods (forgotten on the back of a shelf) that are fine after 10 years. I will admit they are acidic foods. I also have non-acidic foods, such as beans and corn, that are fine after 3 or 4 years. Just for comparison, we have smoked fish that is still good after nearly 20 years. Enjoy! GL!

-- Brad (, October 02, 2000.

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