Maximizing Shelf Life: Expert Tips for Storing Homemade Canned Food

Making homemade canned food involves preserving and storing food in airtight and sterile containers without artificial preservatives. It also consists of sterilizing the containers through heat, adding in the food, and then heating them again to kill bacteria. Stocking up on food is something survivalists invest time, money, and effort in for a good reason.

You should store homemade canned food in a cold, dry place that is dimly lit and away from high humidity. Consider storing your containers inside a kitchen cupboard or cabinet to keep light away. Avoid dark and damp basements where temperatures and humidity could quickly fluctuate.

We’ll discuss tips on adequately storing homemade canned food and how long they can last, given the ideal conditions. Then we’ll talk about the risks involved in improper canned food storage and what factors may contribute to food spoilage. Let’s jump right in!

How To Properly Store Homemade Canned Food

Providing your homemade canned food with the ideal environment for proper storage is essential. Warmth, ambient light, and sunshine can change the texture, color, and food quality. These factors can also break down food’s nutritional value.

Here are some tips for proper storage of your homemade canned food:

  • Store in a dimly lit space.
  • Store in a place where there is no or very little humidity.
  • Store in an area with temperatures ranging between 50-70℉ (10-21℃).
  • Store in an accessible location so you can always check on the quality of your containers and food.
  • Label containers with the month and year you packed the food.

I store Ready Hour food on top of my home-packaged beans, rice, and other items. Their 3-month food supply is one of the better deals out there, and it provides a full 2000 calories a day, unlike many other manufacturers.

How Long Does Homemade Canned Food Last?

Homemade canned food can last for 2-5 years when correctly prepared, packed, and stored, and you won’t compromise the taste, texture, color, and nutritional value. High-acid food, like fruits, juices, tomatoes, and pickles, expires sooner than low-acid food, like chicken, pork, beef, stew, and pasta.

How do you make homemade canned food

Factors Affecting Homemade Canned Food

Home canning is preserving food – fruits, vegetables, and meat – by placing them in appropriate containers. The containers are then heated within a recommended time and at a specific temperature to kill organisms that can contaminate food and cause spoilage. Heating the containers also creates a vacuum seal so that the freshness, taste, and nutrition value are locked in.

Experts recommend that sterilized, airtight, and undamaged food containers are used, preferably glass jars with transparent, thick walls. Mason jars are excellent candidates for this task. They can hold up very well to the heating process and are reliable airtight containers.

Remember to always start with good quality food. Whatever you put inside the jar for storage is also what you’ll take out later to eat. However, some factors contribute to how long your homemade canned food stays fresh, edible, tasty, and nutritious.

Here are some of the factors that are harmful to homemade canned food:

  • Oxygen. Oxygen must be removed and kept away when preserving food because it allows bacteria to thrive. Think about the food you buy from grocery stores, like cheese, pickle jars, or beef jerky. All of them are sealed so that oxygen is removed from the packaging.
  • Light. Exposure to sunlight can affect food’s texture, color, taste, and nutritional value. It can also affect the overall quality of food. That’s why it’s best to store homemade canned food in dimly lit spaces.
  • Humidity. Make sure that you completely seal your food containers. Otherwise, moisture may develop inside and completely ruin your food. Moisture outside the containers isn’t good because it can compromise the quality of the container itself.
  • Inconsistent temperature. Ensure that your homemade canned food isn’t exposed to frequent and drastic changes in temperature. Fluctuations in temperature can spoil food and affect your container’s integrity, particularly the seal. Once your seal and container are damaged, the food inside is no longer safe.
  • Foreign bodies. These include insects, a strand of hair, or any object that isn’t supposed to be in your food. Always check your food and containers before sealing. Foreign objects are unsanitary and will make your food inedible once they get in contact with it.
  • Bacteria. This problem is the end product of most items on this list. In one way or another, they allow bacteria to grow and flourish in food. Remember that food preparation should kill bacteria, and proper storage must keep bacteria from growing.

Dangers of Improper Storage of Homemade Canned Food

Improper storage of homemade canned food has a lot of grave consequences. It can affect the quality and nutritional value of your food. It can also promote foodborne illnesses caused by harmful microorganisms and bacteria growth.

Furthermore, food spoilage will waste all the time, money, and effort you put into making homemade canned food.

Here are some of the risks you’ll be taking if you don’t ensure proper storage for your homemade canned food:

  • Food poisoning. The growth of harmful microorganisms and bacteria will make food inedible. Discard food that exhibits drastic changes in color and texture. Throw containers away when they leak, bulge, or develop rust.
  • Botulism. This condition is a rare but severe illness caused by toxins that develop in incorrectly prepared, preserved, or stored food. The toxin attacks the body’s nerves and causes paralysis and difficulty breathing. If the exposed person does not immediately seek medical attention, it may lead to death.
  • Waste of time and money. Making homemade canned food requires a lot of time and money. You wouldn’t want everything to go to waste because you didn’t exert as much effort on incorrect storage. Always ensure that you ensure proper storage conditions.


A significant part of survival preparations is stocking up on food that will last for years. Homemade canned food is the perfect addition to one’s survival stash. That’s why it’s essential to do things correctly from the start.

Bring food to the correct temperature and sustain this long enough until you destroy disease-causing microorganisms and spoilage bacteria. Then, store your food correctly because this is what may make or break all of your efforts.

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