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Here’s how to store home canned food plus tips for safely storing jars full of food.
Canning takes a lot of time, energy and work. To make the most of your home canning you need to take the time to store your canned goods properly to help protect your hard work from being damaged.
This means you need to be sure that your shelves are strong enough to support the weight and that you follow the advice below for safely storing your canned goods. Using heavy metal shelves like these is a very good idea!
Why how you store your home canned goods is so important
You spend a long time canning food for your family and to watch it all become destroyed from poor storage can be devastating. Many people have made the mistake of using weak shelves or stacking jars too high.
If you do not store your canned food properly the seals are more likely to break and allow bacteria and mold to grow inside of your jars. This is extremely dangerous and depending on how you have your jars stored. Plus, it can even go unnoticed until it is too late.
Storing your jars properly helps the seal stay intact and makes it easier to catch a broken seal before you open your jars and feed them to your family. Taking the time to store your jars the right way helps to get the most out of your hard work.
Storage temperature for home-canned goods
Keeping your canned goods in a place where they will be kept at a steady temperature is vital to keeping strong seals and preventing jars from breaking. In most homes, the basement will be the best place to keep your jars of food.
This is because your basement doesn’t tend to fluctuate in temperature much throughout the year. The heat will not get intense enough to break the seals of jars while the food itself will not freeze inside the jars, possibly causing them to break.
If you do not have a basement, a temperature-controlled room in the interior of your home is the best place to keep them. For those with central air, your pantry is sufficient.
If you live in a hot climate and only have cooling in some areas of your home, consider storing your jars in a room with air conditioning.
Light in your food storage areas
Light is not the friend of your home-canned food. This is because the light tends to speed the breakdown of organic materials and in turn speeds the breakdown and soiling of your canned foods.
The sun can bleach the color of the food leaving it looking dull and really unappetizing. The heat of the sun can even cause the temperature of the jars to rise which can lead to broken seals.
If you do not have a room out of the way of the light of the sun to spare your canned goods, use thermal curtains to help block the light. An added bonus is that this can make your shelves blend into any room better, allowing you to store canned food in more areas of your home unnoticed.
Should you take the rings off full canning jars?
Canning rings – should they be left on the full jar or removed? This has been a debate for many years. Some people choose to leave the rings on their jars because it makes it easier to store the rings but this comes with several risks.
If the ring is left on your jars the seal on the lid can break while the ring keeps the seal in place. As the temperature fluctuates again the jar can reseal (although not tightly) with bacteria inside.
This is extremely dangerous and the risk can be remedied by removing the rings when storing your jars.
Another issue with leaving the rings on is rust. If there is moisture in the air, the rings can develop rust on them. Should the rings rust from moisture in the air, it can be nearly impossible to remove the rings and lids from the jars.
The rust can spread to the lid as well damaging the seal of your jars leading to the introduction of bacteria and causing the food inside your jars to spoil.
Can you stack canning jars for storage?
Stacking of jars full of home canned food is another common debate among many home canners. The worry with stacking is that stacking the cans will keep the lids from moving should the seal break and that the pressure of the cans can lead to the jars seal breaking.
Stacking canning jars is generally frowned upon if you have the space to single-layer them.
Most jar manufacturers state that stacking jars are safe in a limit of 2 to 3 jars high. To do this safely, it is recommended that you place a layer of cardboard between the layers of jars. This will allow the lids to slide should they lose their seal to keep them from resealing.
A great way to do this is to return your jars to the boxes they came in and stack those two high on your shelves. This helps save on space needed for storing full canning jars. Another bonus is that you don’t need to store the boxes in a different place.
This is the way we do it at our house. This also helps keeps the jars in the dark, which is better for the food you have canned. I write the box contents on a piece of paper and tape it to the outside of the box.
This way, I can easily see what kind of food is in the box. Makes it easy for quickly grabbing a jar or two from our cold room to bring to the kitchen.
Knowing how to store home canned food properly will help you reduce possibilities of having any problems with your full canning jars!
Head over here to our Preserving Food article to find every link to our canning and preserving recipes.
Learn more about preserving and storing home canned food here at the National Center for Food Preservation.
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