It’s easy to get the impression that canned foods last for many years and you won’t have to worry about it unless you are storing the foods for many years, but with peaches that’s not necessarily true. You may be surprised to find out that canned peaches may not last as long as you think.
|Type of Canned Peaches||Expiration for Safety||Expiration for Best Taste|
|Home-Canned Peaches||3 years+||1 year|
|Commercially Canned Peaches||5-7 years+||3 years|
It is important to read the above table properly. Those dates are only for optimum taste of the peaches. The length of time the product is safe to eat can stretch decades. As long as the seal on the can is perfectly intact, one could theoretically eat peaches for decades after canning with no adverse effects.
A general guideline for safety is not more than 2 years for home-cooked peaches, although if proper preparation and food safety procedures have been followed, I personally would gladly eat canned peaches up to 5 years as long as they do not have an odd smell or taste.
How Long Do Home-Canned Peaches Last?
It is difficult to answer this question without knowing exactly how the canned peaches were processed, cooked, sealed, and stored. However, if properly canned and stored in a dry room-temperature environment, then they can last 3 years or more.
If, for some reason you are concerned about the safety of the canned peaches, you can follow this procedure recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure the food is perfectly safe.
You shouldn’t be concerned if the can has a small dent in it, but if the can has become significantly dented, it should be discarded. The reason is not any risk that the dent could have punctured necessarily, but that the deformation of the can could pull out the seal between the lid or bottom and the sides of the can, thus allowing bacteria to enter the sterile can.
Is It Safe to Eat Canned Fruits After the “Best By” Date?
I spoke with a representative at Del Monte and was told that they do not ever recommend eating canned fruits after the “best by” date printed on the bottom of the can. However, this is likely just the corporate line to limit their liability. The truth is a bit more complex.
The United States Department of Agriculture has said “Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling).” The question is, how many years?
Botulism is one of the risks of canned foods which were not properly canned, or which have become unsafe through improper storage. Botulism is a type of food poisoning caused by bacteria growing on canned foods that have not properly been sterilized, or which were properly sterilized initially when canned, but for which the can is not keeping out all bacteria.
In fact, in 1973 there was a steamboat which was discovered which had wrecked 100 years prior with dozens of canned foods aboard. Food scientists opened the cans and tested their contents and found that they were perfectly safe to eat.
In theory, as long as the seal on the can is intact and the food was properly prepared and canned, the food will likely be safe for decades. However, with home-canned items, sometimes the person doing the canning will choose overripe fruits, not properly seal the container on a cheap machine, etc. Thus, this theoretical limit probably shouldn’t be tested.
Do Canned Peaches Last Longer than Other Canned Items?
I wanted to get an authoritative answer for you on this one, so I phoned in and talked with a representative at Del Monte, which I believe cans more canned fruit than any other company in the United States. She told me that canned peaches do not last any longer or shorter than any other canned food.
In fact, I was surprised to learned that Del Monte cans all of its canned fruits and vegetables with a three year “best by” date with no change to the specific food or liquid in the can.
In short, no, there is nothing about peaches that makes them last any longer or shorter in a can than most other canned fruits and vegetables–with a few exceptions.
One exception is that fruits which are highly acidic which don’t last as long as non-acidic fruits. Peaches are not highly acidic but do have some acidity to them, so there is not much concern here. Another example is tomatoes and tomato pastes, which typically do not last as long.
The Long and Short of It
Determining the expiration date of canned peaches is difficult there are so many factors that it is nearly impossible to know precisely at what point the food may be unsafe or undesirable to eat. How ripe the fruit was, the sterility of the canning environment, quality, of the seal, and dozens of other factors impact this point.
However, I personally have decided that three years is the time frame that I’ll choose for how long I’ll go before discarding canned peaches.