Store Canned Goods Properly
Proper storage of your canned goods is important for the best flavor, quality, and nutrient retention. After spending hours of your precious time growing, harvesting, preparing, and canning your fresh produce, why not spend a few extra minutes stashing those goodies away in the best storage space?
Home canned goods are more susceptible to discoloration from light than the cans of food from the grocery store. Your canning jars are clear, allowing light to shine on your fruits, veggies, and meats. Store your jars of home canned goods in an area away from light to prevent browning.
Canned goods keep best in cool temperatures. Heat is your enemy once those jars are sealed and ready to store. A cool place in your basement will preserve the quality of your canned goods.
You also want to keep the area where you store your canned goods fairly dry. Moisture will rust the metal lids and screw bands. Although it will take quite a bit of moisture over time to rust the metal lids to the point of endangering your canned goods, the rust will cause early deterioration of the reusable metal screw bands so you will need to replace them more often.
Use a sturdy shelf for storage so you don’t find your canned goods in a broken heap on the floor. Particle board and mdf board are not designed to hold heavy loads like canned goods and will warp and break. Use plywood, at the very least, to build shelves for storage, or heavy, solid wood boards for best results. Metal or plastic shelves can also be used if they are rated to hold the weight you will be subjecting them to. Before purchasing shelving units or loading them up with jars, check to see what weight they are rated for and weigh the jars to see if you will be staying within those limits. You’d be surprised at how much those jars weigh when you start piling them up!
Make sure those freshly processed jars are sealed properly before you whisk them away to the basement. Metal lids are easy to check. If the lid moves up and down when you press on it, the jar did not seal properly and the food should be used or refrigerated promptly. Tattler reusable lids are a bit trickier to check. You will need to remove the metal screw band and pull on the lid with your fingers. Sealed lids will remain firmly in place and those that did not seal properly will pull off.
After processing your jars of food, allow them to cool thoroughly. Then remove all screw bands and wash the jars and screw bands with warm soapy water to remove any juice or food that may have leaked from the jars during processing. Dry the jars and bands, write the date and contents on the lid or on a label, and store them in a cool, dark, dry place until you are ready to use them.
You can store your canned goods with or without the metal screw bands in place. I usually store my jars without the metal bands because the humidity in our basement is higher than I would like. I like to reuse the metal bands as many times as possible, so I try to keep them in a dry place. You also don’t want to pull out a jar of peaches and find that the metal lid and screw bands are rusted together. Unscrewing really rusty bands can sometimes chip your glass jars. If you move your jars around a lot and the storage area is dry, replace the metal screw bands to prevent chipping the jars or breaking the seal on your lids as you move them. Just be absolutely sure those metal bands are clean and dry before you screw them back on. Any food or sticky juice left on the jars can mold and contaminate the food inside when you open the jar.
It is also best to store your home canned foods in a single layer. Stacked jars are not as stable as a single layer and you don’t want your jars to fall and break!