How to Store Your Home Canned Foods

      30 Comments on How to Store Your Home Canned Foods

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 peaches.

The Enemies

Light

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.

Heat

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.

Moisture

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.

Cranberry Orange Marmelade.

Shelving

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!

Spaghetti Sauce – looks great out in the sunlight, but I will store it in a cool, dark place so it keeps longer!

Tips

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!

Do you have any tips for storing home canned goods that I might have missed?

30 comments on “How to Store Your Home Canned Foods

  1. Rich

    If I use metal shelves to store (store-bought) canned goods in my basement, do you recommend lining the shelf with some material, or just placing the cans on the metal shelves (then stacking the cans one on top of another)? Thanks for your feedback!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Rich,
      I think that either way will work just fine. If you have a lot of humidity in your basement, watch to make sure that the canned goods don’t get rusty. If this is the case, you may want to put some sort of liner down on the shelves (vinyl liners like the ones used in kitchen cabinets work well) and don’t store more than a few months worth of food at a time. A dehumidifier would be a good idea, if you can plug one in.

      Be sure to rotate your canned goods so you are always using up the oldest cans first. If some cans do get rusty, they should still be okay to use as long as the seal hasn’t been compromised. When you use a can opener to open them, listen for the sound of the vacuum seal being broken to be sure that the food is still safe to eat.

      If you are planning to use this storage method as your emergency preparedness plans, the dehumidifier can be used unless power goes out. But you may want to consider some of the emergency storage foods in mylar bags with CO2 absorbers in them. These won’t rust and they keep out moisture.

      One other consideration is how much weight the metal shelves can hold. If you are purchasing new ones, they should have a weight limit listed on then packaging. Weigh your canned goods to make sure that you don’t over do it and cause the shelves to collapse. Canned goods stacked up get pretty heavy and I some people make the mistake of putting too much on a shelf and then hearing a crash in the middle of the night…not good!

      I hope this is helpful.

      Reply
  2. melissa

    I live in a mobile home. have vents in all rooms but the spare room there is hardly any heat but just a little mold have a full size basement and dehumidifier what would work best in storing canned goods?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Melissa,
      As long as you don’t store them where they are freezing or hot, or have hot air blowing on them, they should be fine. I store most of mine in the basement, and it does get a little too humid there, but they have all been fine. Considering your choices, I would most likely choose the basement. Best wishes!

      Reply
  3. Diana Wilks

    I live in a single wide mobile home and my only available storage space is a small cupboard between my stove and fridge…will this work?…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Diana,
      When space is limited, you do what you need to store your extras! As long as the cupboard isn’t overly warm, it will work fine. You might also want to check to see if you can store anything under beds (using those roll out storage bins), in closets (can you put a storage bin on the floor and put shoes on top?), or look into some of the space saving racks for the inside of your kitchen cupboard doors.

      Best wishes! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
      1. Diana Wilks

        I am fairly sure the cabinet stays relatively cool except when I bake cookies en mass for Christmas…unfortunately all closets and under beds are currently in use for other storage…would putting, like, a fridge thermometer in there and just keeping an eye on it work?…what is the best temp range?…

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Hi Dianna,
          I understand completely! I think that you are fine with the canned goods there. You just don’t want really warm temps. Room temp is fine. Too warm for very long, like in the 90’s maybe, would cause the color to brown. Just use up in a year for best results!

          Thanks for sharing!

  4. Anonymous

    I have my canned green bean, tomatoes, soups, etc. stored in my garage. The temperature will be down to 4 degrees tonight. I am not sure how low the temperature will get out there. Can I put them in my spare bedroom, if it is cool in there. I can turn off the heat and store them in my closet???

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi!
      Yes…I would definitely move them indoors to a spot where they won’t freeze. A cool closet would be great πŸ™‚ Best wishes and let me know how it all works out.

      Reply
  5. Denise

    I do not have the cupboard space to store all my jars, I have stored in my garage fridge, it it okay to store them there for the winter?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Denise,
      If the temps in your garage fridge will go below freezing, you will need to find a different spot for them. Freezing will cause the jars to crack…not good! Best wishes!

      Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Elizabeth,
      If the temperatures stay above freezing, you can store them there. But if it ever dips down below freezing, you could lose any cans or jars. You might want to buy one of those remote thermometers that records the low and high temperatures…then keep track during the extreme heat and cold to see what the temps are like. Best wishes!

      Reply
  6. Lisha

    This is great! Thanks for sharing; I’ll be pinning this for later! We recently moved from a small 2nd-floor apartment in a downtown area to a spacious house on the outskirts of town with lots of fabulous potential garden spaces!

    Your canning cabinet is a beautiful sight. πŸ™‚

    ~Lisha

    Reply
  7. nancy

    I don’t have a basement so we use a spare bedroom. I bought a thrift store dresser and removed the drawers, painted it and it’s my canning cabinet. Photos on my blogs. I always store mine with the rings on.

    Reply
  8. Vickie

    Wow, your canning cupboard looks fabulous! I don’t think I will ever be that organized, though I will certainly try to follow your example. Thanks for the valuable information! I didn’t see any labels on your jars – so do you label the lids?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Vickie,
      Thank you πŸ™‚ I owe the organization to my Dad! I usually write the contents and date on the top of the metal lids in permanent marker. If I use my Tattler lids, I put masking tape or a label on the side of the jar with the contents marked on it. I haven’t had the best luck with my Tattler lids and don’t use them as much as I hoped I would.

      Reply
  9. Faith Davis

    all wonderful ideas, however I have no basement or non heated storage space. πŸ™ I would love to get into canning, but am reluctant because of the lack of space to store items. Any other ideas?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn (@lisalombardo5)

      Hi Faith,
      As long as it isn’t real warm in the main living area of your home, you should be able to store your canned goods in the kitchen, spare bedroom, under beds, in closets, etc. You can also try dehydrating extra food and storing in the fridge or freezer for best results.

      Best wishes!

      Reply
  10. Janet G

    Very informative post. this information is invaluable to those new to canning. The storage is as important as the steps needed to can the fresh produce. thanks!

    Reply
  11. Summers Acres

    I love that cupboard since the first time you posted it. I remember when i was younger and first moved into the house we are in now, I was putting my canned goods (from Mama) under one of my cabinets in the kitchen. I kept finding a jar here or there losing it’s seal. I found that the floor vent in the kitchen came up by that cabinet and my jars were getting to warm and losing their seal. I had to swap my cabinets around to fix that. Of course now I have my lovely pantry for my canned goodies.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Terri,
      I hope you have been able to dry some of those wonderful herbs for this winter πŸ™‚ I’m sure that next year you’ll have much better luck with all those wonderful veggies you want to grow. You know, with all the work going on around your new place this spring, I’m amazed you were able to get a container garden started…you rock!

      Reply
  12. Meredith/GreenCircleGrove

    Excellent post – very timely! I love the canning cupboard your dad made for you. How smart to make the shelves various heights to fit all jars from half pints to quarts! Saves the temptation of stacking, too! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.