The Most Important Consideration When Storing Unopened Canned Food

Canned food tops the charts when it comes to culinary convenience. It's also some of the most affordable food on the market — especially if you look for the cans that are consistently inexpensive. Additionally, cans are incredibly easy to store, since the shape makes it simple to stack one on top of the other. While most people prefer to stock their cans in the pantry or cupboard, canned food can be stored almost anywhere as long as it stays cool and dry.

One of the biggest factors acting against canned food is moisture. Moisture can lead to rust, which over time will corrode the metal of the can. Damage to cans caused by rust can result in holes or tears that let air and bacteria into the can, spoiling the food inside. Even if the can is still intact, if the rust has gotten to the inside of the can, it will taint the food and make it dangerous to eat. To avoid these issues, make sure the environment you store your cans in is free of moisture.

To keep your food safe, store cans somewhere dry

Keeping your cans dry also means keeping them out of hot, stuffy locations. For example, if you live in a humid climate, storing canned food in an unventilated garage is probably not a good idea, as the moisture in the air mixed with the heat could be a recipe for disaster. If you're concerned about whether your cans are stored in an appropriate spot, just inspect them regularly for signs of rust.

Based on the criteria, the refrigerator is also a viable location for canned food. Again, just make sure that there isn't any condensation on the cans that might lead to rust. This can be more of a problem during the warmer months, so just be vigilant.

According to the USDA, when stored properly in a dry place, canned fruit can stay fresh for up to a year and a half, while items like canned vegetables and meat retain their quality for up to five years. Remember, there are simple ways to make canned food more flavorful, but being contaminated with rust and bacteria isn't one of them.