How Long Does Dehydrated or Freeze-dried Food Last After Opening?

by Katherin

I have 2 adults and 1 teenager. I ordered some #10 cans when I called and asked how long they would be good after opening I was told 1 week. Know with only 3 people eating carrots there's no way that will be gone in a week. Can I order things in #10 cans then put them into canning jars with oxygen absorbers? Will this change the shelf life of the food?

Can I buy from the grocery store the same products they sell in #10 cans and do up at home in canning jars or is there something different they do?

These are excellent questions, Katherin.

I'll answer your second question first: Most foods purchased in the grocery store are not packaged for long term storage. They usually have an expiration date on them. Once opened, they should be treated as if they were fresh foods and eaten as soon as possible. If they specifically state they are for long term storage, then the following applies.

This is an explanation from Emergency Essentials®, one of the oldest, best emergency food suppliers in the country.

There are a few factors that determine how long food will last after it is opened. They include the following:

  • The quality of the food at the time it is opened

  • The degree to which food is exposed to oxygen and moisture

  • The degree to which food is exposed to heat and light

The quality of the food at the time it is opened:

The older food storage gets and the more it is subjected to fluctuating temperatures, meaning below freezing and above 80 degrees, the more deterioration has probably occurred to the food inside the container.

The degree to which food is exposed to oxygen and moisture:

The moment the container is opened, the food is exposed to air. Air contains both oxygen and moisture. Many organisms require oxygen to survive. The higher the humidity (moisture content) of the air, the faster the product quality (nutrition and taste) deteriorates.

The degree to which food is exposed to heat and light:

Temperature greatly affects the speed at which food deteriorates. The higher the temperature is, the faster the quality (nutrition and taste) deteriorates and the shorter the time that food stays edible and safe. Since many organisms require light to grow, exposure to light also causes deterioration.


Once you have opened your food storage, you can prolong its shelf life by eliminating the adverse affects listed above. Store your food in the coolest, darkest and most airtight environment possible.

Consider the following options to extend the life of food, once the container has been opened:

  • Pour what has not been used into a zip top freezer bag and seal the bag. Place the bagged food back into the can and replace the lid (to eliminate light).

  • Pour the remaining food into Snapware® containers, which offer an airtight seal. Commercially available sealers can create an airtight environment. Put the food back into the can with the plastic lid secured.

  • Generally speaking, refrigeration or frozen storage can extend the life of food. If you do not have much refrigeration or frozen storage space, use a pantry, cupboard, etc.

As a general rule, food stored in a #10 can or a bucket, depending on the above factors, may stay good up to one year after opening. Use your best judgment in deciding which food items to use. One way to determine if food is still of acceptable quality is to verify that it smells normal. Another way is to taste it or cook with it. If the quality of the finished product is satisfactory, continue to use it. Although food will lose nutritive value over time, old food retains some caloric and mineral value. It may have some life sustaining ability remaining. The information above includes general guidelines intended to help make an educated decision. Each situation is unique due to many contributing factors.

Comments for How Long Does Dehydrated or Freeze-dried Food Last After Opening?

Click here to add your own comments

Ground Beef
by: Dolores

How long will Mountain House ground beef last after opening a #10 can? I want to store what I haven't used back in glass jars with an oxygen packet. Is that possible. There is no way we can use a #10 can of ground beef in a week. That is what it says on the side of the can.


You can definitely re-package the MH ground beef into glass jars with O2 absorbers. (I assume you mean canning jars with lids that seal.)

An opened can of freeze-dried food will last several months. Re-packaging the food into glass jars and sealing them with O2 absorbers will extend the shelf life for 5-7 years.

Repackaging freeze-dried & dehydrated foods
by: Rick

I recently acquired several new #10 cans of freeze-dried & dehydrated foods. I want to take out some of the foods in #10 cans and repack in mylar bags w/OA's. These mylar bags will then go into airtight sealed-lid food buckets and stored in 40F to 60F temps for my "bug out" plan. Is this process acceptable & did I miss anything? Thank you for an expeditious reply!

R.D. Winslow


Excellent idea! I have done the same thing because there are only two of us so I would rather divide up the amount of food that comes in a #10 can. I have also used my FoodSaver and put some of the FD food in canning bottles and sealed them - some in quart jars and some in pints.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Long Term Food Storage.

Top of Page ^