How Long Can You Keep Home-Canned Food?


How long can you safely store your home-canned food before it spoils?

Most expert sources recommend the standard guideline of one year for optimal quality, though it’s not really that simple. Some foods, such as jams, are considered truly best, at least from a flavor standpoint, if used within six months. However there is no way to give a blanket answer to the storage question as so many different factors affect storage quality, including temperature of the storage location (should be cool, not warm), how clean the fruits/vegetables were when packed in the jars, and whether or not proper processing and handling was followed in every detail. The best advice is to plan what you can. Can what you expect you can use or share within a year, especially if you are a new canner. After all, every year is a new harvest!


Ball Blue BookIt’s a Ball Blue Book Project day! Today’s Ball Blue Book is sponsored by Billie at No Crack Cream. Visit her here!

For a chance to win: Leave a comment on this post and let me know you want it. You can just put (BBB) at the end of your comment or otherwise note that you want to be in the draw. One winner will be drawn by random comment number to receive a Ball Blue Book. Eligible entry cut-off is midnight Eastern (U.S.) time tonight (May 7). This post will be updated with the winner by 9 a.m. Eastern (U.S.) time tomorrow (May 8). Return to this post to claim your book if your name is drawn (or check the BBB Winners List).

Find out more about the Ball Blue Book Project and become a sponsor.

NOTE: You must be registered to comment. If you’re not registered, you can register here. If you’re already registered but not logged in, go here to log in.

UPDATE 05/08/11: The winning comment number, drawn by, is comment number #53, BeverlyC. Email me at CITRg[email protected] with your full name and address for shipping!



  1. vmfisher says:

    On the other hand, I aim for a 2 year supply, so that if I have a crop fail one year, I still have some canned to get me by until a new harvest can grow.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      vmfisher, I will use things up to two years. I’ll use jams up to three years, actually. But. There’s a reason for the guidelines, especially for new canners. I’m trying to learn to calm down and not over-can!

  2. Richelle says:

    Yes, BBB please!

  3. WolfWalker says:

    BBB please.

  4. prayingpup says:

    We had a record carrot crop when I was 16 & canned more carrots than I EVER want to see again! When my children were in their early ‘teens . . . . well, we were STILL eating those carrots – that was over 20 years. I DON’T suggest anyone ever use anything that old, but – I was a single Mom & we were ALWAYS broke. Believe it or not, those carrots were really good in stew . . . which, by the way, was canned from our steer (Old Sore Foot)the same year! BBB please!

  5. TeriStich says:

    As I am getting back into putting up foods after being away from it such a long time, this type of info is helpful and this site is just DelightFul!! And to win a copy of The Ball Blue Book would be perfect! Yes I want in to BBB. Thank you for what you do

  6. Kathy in FL says:

    We had a small garden, so our home canned food never lasted all year. That always made us appreciate the home canned food more! BBB, please.

  7. justdeborah2002 says:

    my friends all say I am canning, but dont want anyone to eat it, I just want it to build up on the shelves into a beautiful pantry….they are wrong, sort of ๐Ÿ˜† BBB please

  8. farmerlady2 says:

    BBB please.

  9. BunnyRuth says:

    I have a two year limit as well. Prefer to use within the year but will eat it up to 2 years. After that I usually toss it out and make a note not to can so much of it. At the moment I am trying lots of new recipes for canned corn as I need to work through those jars this summer!…. corn chowder, corn fritters, corn casserole, etc., etc., etc.

  10. Suzanne_Arlene says:

    BBB Please

  11. ladybird_1959 says:

    BBB, Please :wave:

  12. HomesteadJen says:

    BBB, please!

    And I always struggle with the question of how long to keep my canned foods. I am sure I keep them too long!

  13. Granny Trace says:

    :snoopy: I had a blast canning this year..Love the way the shelves look full. Such a sense of accomplishment. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Granny Trace

  14. judydee says:

    We have also eaten home-canned food long after one year. I can remember my father and aunt discussing if we needed to “put-up” more of a particular food. The answer always was “might not be any next year”. That said, I can tell the quality is not the same after at least the second year, so I struggle to forecast what our needs will be. BBB please.

  15. collector1 says:

    Thanks to Suzanne & Billie for the opportunity — BBB please — thank you

  16. Rockyshore says:


  17. TinaBell says:

    BBB Please! I have used jams, butters and pickled peppers 2 or 3 years later and they’re still delicious. I always run out of canned tomatoes though! By the way, what’s that cookbook in the picture? That recipe for “Roasted Roma Tomatoes” looks like a good one–I’d like to try it!

  18. cricketjett says:

    BBB please!!! I usually don’t keep any canned foods more than three years. Juices a couple years longer. My mother-in-law always says the same thing, Judydee, ” there may not be any next year”. The problem I really have is keeping my husband from planting too much and then we have an over abundance of vegetables. He is known for raising enough for ten families!! We keep our community supplied with fresh produce almost every summer.
    Thank you, Suzanne for your hard work and a great website. I hope you had a wonderful, well-deserved vacation with your children.

  19. laurajenkins says:

    Count me in.

  20. laurajenkins says:

    please enter me.

  21. azladychef says:

    Good morning! Thank you Suzanne and Billie.

  22. jkubemt1 says:

    BBB Please. I have some sasla we made about 2 summers ago and it is still good however I always check to see how things are doing every time I step in my pantry. I also try to make something if I notice I have more of one kind or I’ll give it away if still good so it doesn’t go to waist.

  23. dgkritch says:

    I just realized my BBB is from 2003, may as well toss my name in the hat!


  24. DebbieInMemphis says:

    I’d love to win a BBB ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. marylhall330 says:

    Howdy Suzanne, just got the garden rototilled YEA!!!! BBB for me. LOL. BTW, I did order the pack of different creams and WILL be getting more!
    Mary :shocked:

  26. Brittany P. says:

    I would love to win a BBB please. I plan to start my canning adventures this year. :moo:

  27. jeepdriver says:

    My grandma always canned and everyone loved the plums from her tree in the back yard. BBB please. I want to take up the tradition.

  28. marymac says:

    Please put me in for the BBB.

  29. morningstar says:

    Please add me in the BBB drawing thank you xx

  30. ashmmorgan2 says:

    BBB please!

  31. MousE says:

    BBB please! Boy, I had trouble getting in to leave a comment, had to update password and then I got blocked for ‘too many attempts’…..

  32. lavenderblue says:

    Wouldn’t it depend on the type of food? For example, I’d trust canned pickles for a much longer time than canned peas. I’d use up canned meats and butter (Yeah, I think I’d remember someone saying they canned butter) before I’d worry about the vegetables.

    And you’d think canned jam, with all that sugar, would last forever but… I sent a can of my strawberry jam to school with my son for show and tell in his kindergarten year. The public school “show and tell has to relate to the letter we are learning about” deal. “J” is for jam, get it. I also sent crackers so that everyone could taste the jam. It was almost a year old. June to May. When the teacher opened it she said it smelled “musty”. Ewww!
    I’ll bet there’s a lot of kids in that class that won’t grow up to be homecanners. Luckily, the teaching assistant froze her jam and went home on her break to get some for the class, so all ended well. Sometimes I think school exists just to embarrass the parents. Anyway, BBB, please.

  33. lavenderblue says:

    MouseE, I had trouble, also. It did the same thing to me but then eventually let me on with out registering again. Have I missed something while I haven’t been commenting? Are we doing things differently?

  34. AnnieB says:

    Oh, BBB Please!

  35. smiledarlin says:

    BBB please!
    I learned my lesson- I drank some bloody Mary mix that was out of date and got deathly ill…
    They have dates for a reason.

  36. Nadeanne says:

    Pick me for a BBB, please!!

  37. Mariah says:

    BBB please! Pick me! Pick me!

  38. leann says:

    BBB, please :happyflower:

  39. CarrieJ says:

    I’ve planted Blackberry and Strawberry this year…my first year to do jams. BBB please!

  40. MissShannon says:

    BBB please! I would prefer to can harvest to harvest. A year seems about right for shelf life.

  41. Bonnie S. says:

    BBB, please.

  42. cabynfevr says:

    Good advice…all of it! I agree it looks very pretty lined up on shelves. I thought of making gell candles to look like jellies just to display! BBB please.

  43. farmershae says:


  44. omnislash says:

    BBB please. :turtle:

  45. PamelaAdkins says:

    BBB please!

  46. jodypharmd says:

    I always have such high hopes and over-plant each year. My chickens certainly enjoy the excess, but I’d love to learn to can it, especially considering here in Maine the fruits and veggies in the stores in the winter are disgusting and overpriced. Sign me up for the BBB please!

  47. Vicki in So. CA says:

    Thanks for the guidelines. Last year was my first year canning, and I don’t have a lot of space. Consequently I ran out of everything this winter – ended up at the store for canned tomatoes – among other things. I planned my garden space more efficiently this year, hoping to eat homegrown longer this time. Wish me luck!
    C’mon BBB random generator. Pick me please.

  48. Willamette Valley Girl says:

    I don’t have the courage to tell you how old some of my canned goods are-just leave it at it was some time in the Clinton administration. That said -we are still alive and kickin!! I try to use restraint but always think I’ll not have enough to last through the year.

    Thanks for the BBB project. I’d love to win one.

  49. BeverlyC says:


    BBB please

  50. countrygirl221 says:

    BBB Please ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. langela says:

    BBB, please!

  52. JRR.Esq says:

    This is really good to know! My first year canning and we are just now putting our garden together. I guess I should keep this in mind before I go nuts.
    I do recall my mother having pickles for longer than a year though.

    BBB please!

  53. TeresaJM says:

    BBB please

  54. catrct says:

    We have planted a nice garden this year with canning in mind. The Ball Blue Book would really come in handy. BBB please!! :sun:

  55. barbie says:

    BBB, please. I had a jar of beans that my Grandma canned, kept it for years after she passed away because it was a connection to her. We never ate them, I finally threw them away and used the jar in her memory!

  56. cheena says:

    BBB, please. :wave:

  57. brookdale says:

    BBB pleeeeeeeease!

  58. cotswolds93 says:

    PLEASE pick ME for the BBB!

  59. LisaAJB says:

    BBB. How can you not use your canned goods within a year? They’re so good compared to store bought.

  60. heidiannie says:

    I must be canning impaired!
    I never can more than we use in a year.
    Or maybe I’m just kind of lazy.
    I need the BBB, I think.
    Thank you, Suzanne and Billie.

  61. Kristen A says:

    I am finally starting my garden this year and am giddy with excitement at all of the possibilities! BBB me please. I’m hoping I have a bounty worth canning!

  62. wvgirl says:

    I love to read all of your posts. It’s the first place I go to when I get on the computer. Love to win the BBB.

    “Montani Semper Liberi”–Mountaineers are always free!

  63. Ann says:

    Thank you for this post, I’ve wondered about this. BBB!

  64. qmh1026 says:

    Hi…….I would love to win the BBB canning book. I have started a garden this year! I am learing how to can and could really use the book! Thanks and I love your blog.

  65. qmh1026 says:

    Hi again….by the way I live in Texas and it is 11 PM here so I hope I still have a chance to win!
    Thanks Jane

  66. Journey11 says:

    I always keep a record of my canning so I know how much I made and when we ran out (or if we went over). I try to tweak it each year to come closer to what we will actually need.

    It’s hard though when you have tomatoes coming out your ears. You hate to waste them and after a while nobody wants freebies anymore–even the chickens get sick of them eventually–so I end up canning tons of them, even the heirlooms.

  67. BeverlyC says:

    :snoopy: Wooooooo Hooooooooooo!!!! Thank you soooooooo much!!!

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