Should I get rid of my 2 year old bottled fruit?

Fresh peaches with banner that says Should I get rid of my 2 year old bottled fruit

Have you ever bottled fruit, veggies, or meat?  Do you have bottles sitting on your shelves that you processed more than 24 months ago?  Don’t know?  Go check, I’ll wait.

If you have any bottled foods from 2010 or before then you are in trouble…At least that’s what a local news station said in a recently run story.

According to the Utah State Extension Service ,

“As a general rule, unopened home canned foods have a shelf life of one year and should be used before two years.”


Eek!  How did our grandparents ever survive being fed food from the food storage room, Heavens, how did I survive?

Of course storage conditions do play a huge role in how long home canned foods are good for, but 12-24 months?  That’s ridiculous.   I suppose that being the entity that they are, they must err (greatly) on the side of caution.  It’s sort of like the FDA requiring that bottlers print an expiration date on cases or bottled water…..Water?  Seriously?

To be fair, optimal storage conditions will extend the life of your food storage. But, what are those conditions:

  • Cool; below 70 degrees, 50-60 would be better. Usually these temps can be found in an unfinished basement room with no window, or cover it if there is onel
  • Dark; turn the light off when leaving the room and consider storing jars in cardboard boxes to further shield them from light.  I know that seeing them all lined up on the shelf elicits a feeling of satisfaction, but hey, what’s more important? Our prideful feelings or the shelf life on our food?  (Just talking to myself here :))
  • Dry; Moisture is not our friend when it comes to canned or bottled goods.  In a root cellar, for certain veggies and fruits we want a certain degree of humidity, but NOT where canned or bottled goods are stored.

Please Note, the following assumes that we have followed proper home canning techniques, used the right pressures for the right amount of time etc. In other words, your mileage may vary, and I assume zero responsibility for the bottles on your shelves.

So we’ve done all of the above and find ourselves with home processed foods that are more than 2 years old, whatever are we to do with them?  Well here are some choices for you:

  1. Package them securely and send them on over to me…I’ll dispose of them for you 🙂
  2. Leave them to sit happily on your food storage shelves for another couple of years. They do look so nice there, we must agree on that point.
  3. Rotate the product into your normal daily meal plan.

Any of the preceding suggestions are perfectly acceptable.  Although I’m partial to the first option, I can see the thought process behind numbers 2 and 3.

Do you find yourself at a loss of how to actually accomplish the third option?  If so, you are in luck as I am about to share a fantastic, time-tested recipe that will have your family licking plates and asking for more.  (We can work on the table manners later)

The first recipe has been found in many a kitchen for years and years, in fact I think that it’s almost mandatory to have one version or another in each church cookbook I’ve ever seen.

(Hint:  Church cookbooks are the BEST !  They are chock full of tried-and-true recipes that have kid and husband stamps of approval…and…they can almost always be found for pennies at the local thrift store)

This version is shared by my friend Susan W. (Who, by the way, is one of the most awesome gals that I know. )

Any “Old Fruit” Cake
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: your grandma
This is a great recipe for using up old bottled fruit, Don’t let the title deceive you, this is so Yummy!
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 qt of any old fruit (blended and pitted)
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Grease 2 loaf pans
  3. Sift together the first six ingredients
  4. Add the fruit and baking soda to the dry mixture and stir to combine
  5. Add oil and chocolate chips
  6. Spoon mixture into greased loaf pans
  7. Sprinkle last 3 ingredients on top of mixture in pans
  8. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  9. Let cool, Remove from pan, slice and Enjoy!
  10. Serve with whipped cream or caramel sauce for a particularly yummy treat.

I have seen recipes that bake this in a 9 x 13 pan for 50 – 60 minutes.  The tooth pick test would apply in both cases.

Below are a few other ideas that you may not have thought of.

  1. The first, Peach Lemonade, comes from Tresa at Check out this awesome and inspiring blog, this gal rocks reality.
  2. Or how about Peach Fruit Leather, from Lunch by Nature.  I particularly like the idea of adding vanilla yogurt to the mix, I’m trying that one, Yum
  3. There is always smoothies and Frozen fruit pops.
  4. And the ever popular Sludge posted by Anne at The Changeable Table


New to bottling?  No worries, here is a great guide on home canning.
The “Ball Blue Book” is also a great resource.

Have you tried this?  What do you think?  Let me know how yours turned out.


  1. Pam says:

    I just remembered that I have some 5 year old apricots that would work perfectly in this recipe. I will have to try it out. And at this low temperature it would be just the thing to cook in the sun oven!

  2. Donna says:

    For your fruit leather, after you take it off the dehydrator sheets, you wrap it with wax paper & put it in bags. Well I found something better than wax paper! The bag liners from crackers ( graham crackers, triscuits, cheez-its, etc) They are heavier weight & leather doesn’t stick to it! Plus, it’s reuseable- again!

    And another recycle idea- I am such a cheapskate! Use mylar bags from chips or anything else, Cut off the bottom, open it on the seam & you have material for sealing your fruit rolls in individual packages! Leave a little pace on the side & ends & seal with an iron on low-medium heat. If you don’t buy chips either, gather them from friends, pot lucks or whatever sources you can find.

  3. Regina says:

    I had some cranberry juice that was about a year after the expiration date. The color was all off and it looked like the clear bottle was discolored. We opened it but then threw it out because it just tasted funny. Since then I have reorganized our entire food storage area and threw out all the old stuff. From now on we get freeze dried food from The shelf life is much longer than regular store bought food, up to 25 years on must items. I am spening a lot of money to ensure that our family has a one year supply. At least now I know that the food will be good even if we may not eat it for several years to come.

What do you think?