Food Storage - How long can you keep...

SARDINES, COMMERCIALLY CANNED IN OIL OR SAUCE — OPENED

Refrigerator
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3-4 days
Freezer
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3 months

Tips

  • How long does a can of sardines last once opened? The precise answer depends to a large extent on storage conditions - keep opened sardines refrigerated and tightly covered.
  • To maximize the shelf life of canned sardines after opening, refrigerate in covered glass or plastic container.
  • How long do opened canned sardines last in the refrigerator? Canned sardines that have been continuously refrigerated will keep for about 3 to 4 days.
  • Are canned sardines safe to use after the "expiration" date on the package? Yes, provided they have been stored properly, the can or package is undamaged, and there are no signs of spoilage (see below) - commercially canned sardines will typically carry a "Best By," "Best if Used By," "Best Before", or "Best When Used By" date but this is not a safety date, it is the manufacturer's estimate of how long the sardines will remain at peak quality.
  • To further extend the shelf life of opened canned sardines, freeze them: to freeze canned sardines, place inside covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
  • The texture of canned sardines will be softer after freezing and thawing; the thawed sardines will be best suited to cooked dishes, such as sauces, soups and casseroles.
  • How long do canned sardines last in the freezer? Properly stored, they will maintain best quality for about 3 months, but will remain safe beyond that time.
  • The freezer time shown is for best quality only - sardines that have been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely.
  • How long do canned sardines last after being frozen and thawed? Sardines that have been defrosted in the fridge can be kept for an additional 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before using; sardines that were thawed in the microwave or in cold water should be used immediately.
  • How can you tell if opened canned sardines are bad or spoiled? The best way is to smell and look at the sardines: if the sardines develop an off odor, flavor or appearance, or if mold appears, they should be discarded.
  • Discard all sardines from cans or packages that are leaking, rusting, bulging or severely dented.

Sources: For details about data sources used for food storage information, please click here

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