Once you pull your food out of the canner, you might assume the job is done, that your canning is safe and that food borne illnesses are no longer possible. But there are still some Canning storage best practices to keep in mind as you get ready to store your food.
Where not to Store your Canning Jars
A lot of people talk about using walk in closets, under bed storage, and a variety of other creative places to store their food. While that might seem like a great idea to use these spots to keep your garden harvest safe, it is not the best place. Better to leave these areas for dry good storage or foods that have been commercially sealed and find a better stash place for your home canned goods.
You should never store home canned goods on an open shelf where your jars can be exposed to sunlight. It might look pretty to store your goods this way, but sun can deteriorate your food quality, leaching out color and flavor.
Storage Ideas For Everyone
The best place to store your canned goods will be the coolest, darkest place in your house. Drier is also better as well. Ideal we will all have cool dry basements or root cellars, but for those of us that don’t there are still other options.
Hall Closet – if you have closets in your home these can make great places to store your food. Hall closets in particular are typically in cooler parts of the house, where there is no direct heat, the area usually has no access to sunlight, and because it is in the home it is dry.
Shelves in the Hallway – if you are really tight on storage space this might work for you. If your hallway is wide enough to accommodate a shelf, set up shelves for your canning. Hallways are rarely heated, and have no sunlight and as an added bonus your canning will be readily accessible.
Storage rooms off of the Kitchen – Do you have one of those oddly shaped storage rooms that resides off the kitchen? These can make perfect places to keep your canning jars. Typically these rooms are not heated, have no windows, and because they are tucked off the side of the house, they are usually cool, dry, and the perfect place to put up shelves.
Back porch – If you have a back porch that is closed in, you might want to consider building in a small standalone closet or pantry. If you build your own, you can take the time to insulate it well to ensure that it stays cool but does not freeze. If you decide to make your own closet, keep in mind that the best place to put in a storage closet for your canning is out of direct sunlight.
Store canning in boxes – Hang on to the boxes your jars came in, because you can reuse them. If you have no shelving but have dark spaces in closets where it is cool and dry, you can box up your canning and put them away until you need them. Just don’t forget they are there!
Enlist Unused Furniture – if you have an entertainment center or hutch just sitting around collecting dust why not put it to good use by storing your jars in it. Just keep in mind that jars need to be in a cool space and away from direct sunlight.
Make the best out of what you have available – In the end the best spot is the one that works for you, even in a small apartment you will find a cupboard, closet, or corner in the kitchen that will make the best storage space. Just make sure your jars are in an easy place to get at them and that they are not in the direct sunlight.
Important tips to remember when storing home canned food:
- 50 to 70 degrees is optimal
- Higher temperatures can cause your food to spoil
- Freezing is also not good, Freezing can cause the jars to break or seals to be compromised.
- Direct sunlight is bad for canned foods, and will cause a loss of nutrition
- Damp areas will cause lids to rust and this can also affect a seal.
How To Store Your Canning Jars
Just as important as where you should also keep in mind the how of storing your canning jars. I have been canning for 30 years and in that time, I have made most of the mistakes that beginning canners make when it comes to storage.
Remove the Rings – Rings should always be removed from stored jars. This step is important because rings can catch food particles that have boiled over, or moisture, which can spoil and rust. Once you have rust or food spoilage on the outside of the jar it can compromise the food inside the jar.
Rings can also hide food spoilage inside of the jar. A ring will not allow you to see if the lids have leaked, and having a ring on can prevent the telltale bulge that appears if the food is spoiled inside. Before opening any jars make sure to check for leaks, or bulges, the lid should be concave on the jar.
Clean your Jars Before Storage – Even if it looks like the jars are clean coming out of the canner, wash them with hot soapy water. When you can invariable there is going to be some seepage at some point in time. This happens frequently to new canners that tend to can their goods at temps higher than what the recipe says, or leave the jars in a bit longer, just to make sure… That residue will mold if you have any moisture or warmth in the area you store your jars.
Cleaning jars can also ensure that you know that leaks from the jar that occur after storage are not left over from coming out of the canner.
Make sure to clearly mark jars with month and year when storing – while this might seem like a silly thing, many beginning canners have left their jars undated, and then when the previous year’s cans do not get used up, they are suddenly confronted with confusion about what year a jar was canned. Since it is important to use up the oldest first, make sure that your jars are clearly marked.
How and where do you store your home canned jars of food? Share your best tips with us.