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How Long Is Canned Food Good For?

You’ve taken the time to prepare and can your own food, then you’ve stored them away on the pantry shelf… but how long is canned food good for? If you have cans of food on the shelf that have been there for more than a year, are they still good to eat?

A woman holding up a jar of home canned food pointing to it. More canned food on the counter in front of her.

It’s important to make sure that you’re prepared for canning season! That means taking inventory of all your canning supplies to be ready and stocked up (read here for what to do if you can’t find canning supplies), and knowing what your harvest will look like to have an idea of what your preservation year looks like.

In this post (and the video below), I’m answering the question of how long canned food is good for. I want you to have the confidence of not only how to safely can your own food but knowing how long the food stays safe, and how long it stays nutritious and delicious.

How To Know Canned Food Is Safe?

Safety in canning is a very big issue, and assuming you’re following proper and safe canning methods (avoiding these common canning mistakes and these common pressure canning mistakes and these foods that should not be canned), your food will stay safe in your jars as long as it has a good seal on your lids.

However, that doesn’t mean the food will be “good” for you.

A jar of tomato soup being lifted out of a water bath canner.

How Long Is Canned Food Nutritious?

After a certain amount of time, home canned food loses nutrient density and can get an “off” texture. The length of time varies from food to food, but in an ideal situation you want to change out your food every year.

The perfect scenario would be that you can just enough food to last your family one year, consuming all the food you canned the previous year right about the time you’re ready to can more of that item.

Canning supplies sitting on a wooden counter top.

Preparing for Canning Season

As we mentioned above, you want to be sure you’re ready for canning season ahead of time! Don’t wait until you’re harvesting your crop before checking on your supplies, or knowing the basics of canning safety.

It’s also a good idea to keep a record of when your perennial crops are ready for harvest in your area (knowing every zone has little micro-climates and variances), when you planted your annual crops and when they were ready for harvest.

Keeping records like this will help you plan year over year. You can check out our preservation year-at-a-glance here.

It’s that simple! Follow proper canning safety, use only tested and approved canning recipes, be sure your lids are sealed correctly (and stored correctly), and marked or labeled with the date and food!

A blue water bath canner next to multiple jars of canned peaches sitting on a butcher block counter top.

More Canning Recipes & Tutorials:

A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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