How Long Homemade Canned Tuna Actually Lasts

Tuna is a protein-packed kitchen staple you can use to whip up a mouthwatering dish in no time, from traditional tuna salads or casseroles for dinner to crispy fried tuna patties or burgers for a quick lunch. If you've canned your tuna at home and are wondering how long it will last so you can confidently enjoy these delicious meals, one year is the number, according to Saveur. Once you've properly preserved and stored your tuna, you have up to 12 months to enjoy it. And according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), home-canned foods in general should be consumed within the first year after processing. This ensures you get the best quality of food in terms of texture, color, taste, and, most of all, nutritional value —because as canned food ages, its quality reduces.

Dr. Elizabeth Andress, former director of the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), said that this is more of a recommendation than a rule, though. "We do say we recommend using within a year for best quality," Andress shared. "That also is not intended to indicate you should throw anything out that is over a year old. It says, use within a year for best quality. Beyond that, just like with commercially canned foods, you might start to see some quality deterioration" (via Healthy Canning).

Home-can your tuna properly so it safely lasts

The biggest concern with home-canned tuna is food safety, especially the risk of contracting the potentially deadly foodborne disease botulism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To ensure your canned food is safe, you must first process it following the nationally recommended procedures in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning. (And don't forget to store it properly.)

Thankfully, canning tuna at home — raw or precooked — isn't too hard. First, wash the tuna and bake or cook in a steamer, then rest the fish in the refrigerator overnight. Next day, skin and debone before cutting into small pieces and packing into pint jars. Add salt to taste and water or olive oil, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Then wipe the rims, screw on the lids, and process in a pressure canner for 100 minutes. It's even easier if you opt for raw packs since you don't precook the fish, and you don't have to add any liquids to the jars before processing.

Once your tuna is properly canned and completely cooled down, store the jars in a cool place away from heat sources like sunlight or a furnace. Also, ensure complete dryness as moisture can corrode the metal lids on your jars, which can break the seals leading to spoilage. This way, your homemade canned tuna can safely last up to one year. But note that once you open a jar, you should refrigerate and eat it within 3-4 days.