How to Store Your Home Canned Goods

Canning.

It is what makes us giddy upon finding a hoard of jars in a thrift shop and has us blissfully sweating in our kitchens on hot summer days, standing over steaming pots and dreaming of the winter to come when our goods will be most appreciated. It is what has us in tears over a busted jar in the water bath- especially when it’s a quart jar of applesauce that the rest of your batch gets to be covered in for the next 20 minutes.

And it is what we do, season after season, because not only is home procured food the healthiest option for our families, but because it takes us back to a more simpler time and makes us feel connected to our roots.

If you have any experience in canning at all, you know that not only is it incredibly rewarding but it is also quite a bit of work. A labor of love, as they say. And because we wish our efforts to be as long-lasting as possible, it’s important to know not only how to safely can our food, but also how to properly store it.

That is what we will be discussing today.

Yellow Birch Hobby Farm How to Store your Home Canned Goods title

There are a few do’s and don’ts of canning storage that will help ensure that your time, energy, and much-loved jars of food are not wasted. After canning over 350 jars of food this year, I’ve found myself making a point of following these simple steps and I hope that you will too.

  • Before storing your jars away, the first thing you should do is remove the bands/rings from your jars. These are only necessary during the actual canning process, but afterwards they are not needed. Yes, I too used to keep the rings on my jars- mainly because I have so many and it was an easy way for me to “store” them. However, a number of issues can arise by leaving the rings on. Moisture trapped between the band and the jar can easily cause rust and even corrosion {throw away any rusty rings please}. Food that seeped during the canning process can get trapped by the ring as well, which can then mold. And a jar whose contents have gone bad can cause the lid to unseal- but if you have a ring tightly in place, that lid could reseal itself and you would have no idea that the contents are spoiled. Better safe than sorry, right? Remove the rings- but keep some on hand in the kitchen so you can readily grab one for when you open up a jar of jam, salsa, or whatever it is you’re eating and don’t finish, for storing in the refrigerator.

Yellow Birch Hobby Farm Canning Storage

  • After you have removed the rings, take a damp rag and wipe your jars clean. As mentioned, food can seep during the canning process and you don’t want that to be on your jars during storage to attract mice or mold. Dry completely.
  • Always clearly label {with permanent marker} the contents of your jars and the date they were canned. This way, you can make sure to use the oldest items first and of course so you know how old they are. Most canning guides will tell you that you that home canned items are good for a year; but if you’ve ever done canning yourself you probably already know that they last much longer than that. However, any sign of spoilage should be taken seriously, no matter the age. When in doubt, dump it out.
  • Store your jars in a cool, dry, dark place. The optimal temperature for canning storage is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If your canned goods are exposed to heat and light either on a regular basis or for an extended period of time, the quality of their contents will deteriorate rather quickly, in addition to losing color and can lead to accelerated spoilage.
  • Supply sturdy shelving for storing your jars of food. Filled jars are heavy! So give them the support they need. You absolutely do not need anything fancy. I’ve seen many beautiful canning shelves/setups out there, but they can cost you a pretty penny. I always say use what you have. For my canning shelves, we repurposed the wood that we’d used last February for our baby chick brooder in our basement crawl space. Wood that my husband got for free from work. It might not be the prettiest shelving system I’ve seen, but it surely does its job.

Yellow Birch Hobby Farm Canning Storage

  • Store your jars in a single layer- do not stack them! Setting one jar on top of another not only runs the risk of toppling and breaking, but more importantly creates the unwanted pressure that leaving your rings/bands on does. The heavy weight of the top jar could cause the lower jar’s lid to reseal after unsealing due to spoilage. And you would be none the wiser.
  • Create for yourself an organizational system to your storage that works for you. I typically prefer to alphabetize my jars {yes, I’m weird like that}, but when one canning shelf turned into two and things got a little crazy, that went out the window. {Next year, right?} I keep the oldest jars in front, and when taking from the shelf, I shuffle everything forward to keep the oldest-to-newest system going. I also keep track of what I have left on the shelves, usually weekly. This way I can meal plan- not just for this month, but in the months to come. For example, I know that if I have 24 jars of spaghetti sauce, then we can have spaghetti twice a month for the next year- but no more. It also allows me to see what we’re using, what we’re not, and what we need to process more of in the coming season.

Following these basic steps, you can feel confident in knowing that your delicious canned items are being stored as safely as possible, promoting longevity and quality.

Shared at:

The Homestead Barn Hop #185

The Art of Homemaking Mondays #17

About yellowbirchhobbyfarm

Hi! I’m Erin, a 19th-century homesteader at heart. Here at Yellow Birch Hobby Farm we practice self-sustainable living by way of organic gardening, canning & preserving, raising a variety of livestock, hunting, foraging, and cooking from scratch. And here at our blog, we share it all with you! So glad you’ve found us.

6 comments on “How to Store Your Home Canned Goods

  1. Great post! I too have been canning for years and love seeing them all lined up. Have you ever tried dry canning? I first read about in the magazine Countryside. I’ve done a lot of that also. I had more jars than freezer space and did rice, flour, cold cereal and such. When they would have a good sale (really good) at the store I would buy extra. I was skeptical at first but have been doing it for several years now. Not as much as in the beginning as I make almost everything from scratch now 🙂 Love your blog!

  2. Love this post as I love anything canning related 🙂 Your shelves and jar storage is excellent. What a blessing! I recently started taking the rings off of my lid also like you mentioned. I will be pinning this!

    Thank you for taking the time to link up to the Art of Home-Making Mondays. You have been a blessing to us 🙂

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