How to Store Canned Food for Longer Shelf Life

Storing canned food properly can increase the shelf life of your food items. It is important to store your canned food correctly to ensure you can consume them safely and with the best possible flavor. Following these simple steps can go a long way in preserving various canned food items.

Factors that Affect Shelf Life of Canned Foods

Canned food is a convenient way to store food item for a considerably long period. However, there are several factors that affect the shelf life of canned food items, including:

  • The age of the canned food: As with all food products, canned food also has a limited shelf life. It is important to check the expiration date on the canned food before purchasing, especially if you are planning to store it for a long time.
  • Storage temperature: Temperature plays a crucial role in the shelf life of canned foods. The ideal temperature for storing canned food is 70-75°F. The higher the temperature, the shorter the shelf life of the canned food.
  • Storage location: The storage location of canned food is equally important. Canned food should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. It is recommended to keep canned food away from light, heat, and moisture to prevent any spoilage or damage.
  • Quality of the can: The quality of the can used to store the food item is also important. A damaged or dented can may lead to contamination, causing the food item to spoil or go bad faster than expected.

Tips for Storing Canned Foods

Here are some important tips to follow when storing canned food:

1. Check the Expiration Dates

It is important to read the expiration date on the can before buying it. Canned food has a relatively long shelf life, but it does have an expiration date. Always choose a can of food with the farthest expiration date from the date of your purchase.

2. Store Canned Foods in a Cool, Dry Place

Store canned food in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cellar. Avoid storing them under direct sunlight or in damp areas as it can compromise the quality of the food and lead to spoilage.

3. Rotate Your Canned Food

Rotate your canned food periodically to ensure that you consume the older items first. This will help you to avoid wasting food and consume items before their expiration dates.

4. Store Canned Food Away from Heat and Light

Store your canned food in a place away from direct sunlight or heat. High temperatures can cause the food to spoil, and exposure to light can cause a loss of nutrients and lead to discoloration.

5. Keep the Cans Dry and Clean

It is crucial to keep the cans dry and clean. Moisture and bacteria can accumulate in dirty area and weaken the can or cause rust, and eventually, spoil the food inside. Wipe off any excess moisture and dust from the cans before storing them in your pantry.

6. Store Canned Food on Shelves

It is good practice to store canned food items on shelves instead of the floor, wall or ceiling. Shelves provide good airflow and make it easy for you to take inventory and rotate food items in storage.

7. Check for Any Damaged Cans

It is important to check for any damaged or bulging cans before storing canned food. A damaged can could point to contamination and spoilage. Dispose of any bulging or damaged cans and do not consume the food inside.

Types of Canned Foods and Their Shelf Life

The shelf life of canned food varies depending on the type of food. Here are some common canned foods and their shelf life:

Food Item Shelf Life
Canned Vegetables Up to 5 Years
Canned Meat (Ham, Chicken, etc.) Up to 5 Years
Canned Fish (Tuna, Salmon, etc.) Up to 5 Years
Canned Soups and Stews Up to 5 Years
Canned Beans Up to 3 Years

Common Questions about Storing Canned Food

1. Can I store opened canned foods?

Yes, you can store opened canned food for a short time in the refrigerator. However, it is best to transfer them to another container with a tight lid to ensure freshness.

2. Should I store canned food in the refrigerator?

No, you do not need to store canned food in the refrigerator unless it’s a product that needs refrigeration after opening.

3. How do I know if my canned food has gone bad?

If the can is bulging, leaking, or has a foul odor, do not consume the food inside. The can may be contaminated, leading to spoilage of the food item. If the food inside looks or smells abnormal or has changed color, discard it.

4. Can I freeze canned food?

No, it is not recommended to freeze canned food. The water inside can expand, causing the can to explode and risking contamination of your freezer.

5. Why should I rotate my canned food?

Rotating canned food ensures that you consume the older items first, preventing food waste and avoiding expired cans. Consuming expired canned food can lead to food poisoning or infection.

6. How can I prevent rust on the cans?

Avoid exposure to moisture, and always wipe off moisture and dust from the can surface before storing it. Store in a dry place, protected from direct sunlight, and store cans upright instead of lying down to prevent scratching.

7. Can I store canned food past its expiration date?

It’s not recommended to consume canned food past its expiration date. Shelf life may vary due to the storage conditions and the type of food, but it’s best to dispose of the canned food item after the expiration date to avoid food poisoning or infection.


Storing canned food is a convenient way to save food for a longer period. To ensure the safety and freshness of canned foods, you need to follow some basic tips and store them in the right place. Always check for any dented, bulging or damaged cans before storing and dispose of them. Maintain a clean and dry space and avoid exposing cans to direct sunlight and heat sources. Rotate your canned food periodically and enjoy the convenience of having them when you need them.


  • CDC. (2021). Canned Food Shelf Life: Read This Before You Eat That.
  • USDA. (2018). Canned Food Shelf Life: How Long Does Canned Food Really Last?
  • The Spruce Eats. (2019). How to Store Canned Foods Safely and Effectively.

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