Canned fruit holds up well in a variety of environments, including refrigerated ones. The length of time the fruit maintains its color and taste and remains safe to eat depends on whether it was home canned in jars or commercially canned in metal containers or jars and the prevailing storage conditions.
Commercially Canned Fruit
Most commercially canned fruit has an expiration date printed on the can or jar that is typically two to five years from the date of packaging. Fruits high in acid normally have shorter lifespans than low-acid varieties and are safe to eat for up to 18 months. These guidelines apply to unopened canned fruit stored in cool, dry cupboards as well those kept refrigerated. Jarred canned fruits with broken seals are not protected from spoilage and should be discarded.
Home Canned Fruit
Unopened jars of home canned fruit kept refrigerated or in a dark, cool area are best when consumed within one year of canning and should be eaten before two years expires. If discoloration of the fruit occurs or the canning liquid is cloudy, the fruit is probably spoiled and should not be eaten.
To avoid contamination, immediately transfer commercially canned fruit in metal that has been opened to a glass, ceramic or plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid. Place the container in the coldest part of the refrigerator at the back of a lower shelf and eat it within five to seven days. Fruit canned in jars either at home or commercially will last the same length of time and can be stored in the original container.
Frozen Canned Fruit
Canned fruit in jars or cans should never be frozen, whether it was processed at home or at a food manufacturing plant. Freezing makes food expand and alters its texture, which can lead to the formation of rust in cans or on jar lids as well as burst cans or break the seals on jars, which promotes the growth of harmful bacteria.
Tips and Guidelines
If the metal cans in which fruit is packaged show any indication of bulges, leaks or dents, it is unsafe for consumption. Canned fruit in metal jars with broken seals or cracks in the container should be discarded. Spurting liquids or foul odors that occur when a can of fruit is open are a sign of botulism and the fruit should be discarded without tasting, as even a drop of botulism-tainted food can be deadly.
Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.