What is the shelf life of home canned meat?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “What is the shelf life of home canned meat?” and discuss the shelf lives of commercially manufactured canned goods.

What is the shelf life of home canned meat?

Home canned meat will stay in its best quality for upto one year when properly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place. On the other hand, commercially manufactured canned meat can last upto 2-5 years.

This does not mean that the home canned meat will be unsafe for consumption after a year. It just means that the meat will not be as fresh and might even have lost its nutrients. The texture may also have become rough with the presence of any discolorations.

If the home canned meat was tightly sealed and stored properly, then it will be safe to consume after a year. However, it may taste weird or might just not be appetizing anymore. 

How long are commercially manufactured canned goods safe after expiration date?

Canned goods are safe for consumption indefinitely after their expiration date, according to USDA, however there are several factors that may affect their shelf life such as rusting, bulging, leaking or corrosion.

The canned goods may lose their texture, alter their taste  or lose their nutritional value over the years but they will still remain safe to consume. So it is best to keep in mind their expiry dates or best before dates.

Make sure to never buy dented, rusty, leaky or damaged canned foods. If you see any gas bubbles, do not buy it. They must have been spoiled or contaminated.

Keep the canned goods in a cool, dry and dark place. Keep them away from humidity, and higher temperatures. Do not keep them near the stovetop. 

Once opened, keep them in the refrigerator to avoid contamination. 

Canned goods are usually shelf stable items that do not perish quickly and last for a couple of years if stored properly. The amount of preservatives added in them keeps them from spoiling quickly.

What canned food has the longest shelf life?

Canned ham, canned chicken or corn beef last for about 2-5 years if left unopened. They will only last for about 3-4 days when it has been opened and stored in the fridge.

Canned goods like tomatoes, pickles, juices, grapefruits, plums, berries and basically most products that have been treated with vinegar and have a high acidic content, will last for about 12-18 months when unopened.

Once opened, they will last for 5-7 days in the fridge.

Canned goods such as soups, stews, meat, chicken, potatoes, spinach, carrots, beans, corn etc will last for about 2-5 years in the pantry when unopened. This is because these products have very low acidity so they will last longer as mentioned above.

However they should be stored in the refrigerator soon after opening so that they last for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. 

Generally, the lower the acidity in a certain canned good, the longer it will last and vice versa.

Learn what happens if you eat spoiled canned food here.

Can meat be frozen safely for years?

Yes, meat can be frozen safely for years given that it was raw, uncooked and stored properly. For meat to still be good after 3 years, it should be frozen at 0 degree without any changes in the temperature. 

Meat stored at 0 degree will be fresh for as long as you want it to be. Any disruptions in the temperature can cause the meat to go bad. 

The best way to store meat in the freezer is to put it inside an airtight bag or a vacuum sealed bag. It is important to keep in mind that the kind of bag you are using should be freezer safe such as a heavy duty freezer bag. This is because you want to protect the meat against freezer burn.

While it is safe to consume meat frozen for years, it is not always ideal. Firstly because the meat might get a freezer burn. The meat’s texture may become rubbery and not pleasant to eat. 

Secondly, if there were any temperature fluctuations inside the freezer, it would lead to the growth of pathogens and they may produce heat resistant toxins. 

The meat may also slightly differ in taste as compared to fresh meat.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “What is the shelf life of home canned meat?” and discussed the shelf lives of commercially manufactured canned goods.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.