• After the Pop – How to Manage Home Canned Goods

    by  • August 25, 2011 • Preserving • 24 Comments

    You’ve heard the most delightful sound in the kitchen – the popping of lids fresh from the canner – and your jars are completely cooled. Now what?

    Prepare Jars for Storage

    wipe rim of canning jar before storage

    Remove the rings and wipe down the outside of the jar with a warm wet cloth or sponge. Often a bit of juice, brine or jam escapes during the vacuum process. Being outside the seal, this can spoil and rust the lids.

    Wash the rings by hand or in the dishwasher and store them in a dry place for later (see below).

    label canning lid before storage

    Label each lid with the contents and date. You can do this with a sharpie marker or label maker. I love how neat jars look when labeled with my Brother p-touch label maker. Lil gets a kick out of making the labels too.

    Where to Store

    store canned goods in jar boxes

    Home canned goods last longest when they are stored in a dark, dry place with cool and consistent temperature. My basement is great for this. A cool closet, root cellar, or cupboard will also work.

    If you have them, I find jar boxes to be excellent for storage of filled or empty jars. The high sides prevent light from discoloring food and the cardboard dividers keep the jars from clanking during transport.

    Empty Jars and Rings

    In the fall, the larder is full of filled colorful jars. But as winter progresses and the contents are used, what do you do with the rings and empties?

    storing rings in kitchen drawerempty canning jars store in kitchen

    You may reuse the rings for canning so long as they aren’t dented or rusted. You also will need one per jar to keep home canned goods in the fridge after opening.

    I store rings in a kitchen drawer with my dish towels. You’ll note some lids in there too; I keep them around for when I want to store leftovers or dry goods. Lids cannot be reused for canning but they are fine for non-sealed storage.

    I stash a small selection of empty jars in a kitchen drawer (with some other miscellany like our cider press bag) for storing leftovers. When this drawer overflows, I take the excess down to the basement and sort by size on a shelf. When I have a dozen of a given size, I load them into a box and stack these for use during the next canning season.

    I’m sure that my system is not the only one that works. How do you manage canning jars?

    Added to Simple Lives Thursday 58.

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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. I often wear purple and never refuse a drink.


    24 Responses to After the Pop – How to Manage Home Canned Goods

    1. Lisa
      August 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Hi. I’m very new to canning, as in 1 week of canning done. I was tightening the rings as best I could only to read this morning that rings need to be loose enough to let air escape during the process. I’ve never seen jars stored without the rings however some of my pickles leaked and I wondered if I could clean them up. Other than cleaning that up, why do you remove the rings for storage? Just a curious beginner canner.

      • August 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm

        Hi Lisa, Welcome to the canning club! I hope you love it as much as I do.

        Yes, only tighten rings to finger tight. The rings just hold the lids in place until the vacuum seal sets.

        I remove the rings because any bit of moisture tends to settle in the rings and rust. In very old jars, like those I’ve found at my grandmother’s, some rings rust so much they are nearly impossible to remove. It’s easier to store them separately.

    2. Meaghan B
      August 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      I store my jars in the flat boxes (like you do) but I also keep the empties in the same boxes – in stacks in my storage area. I keep the partial flat in the kitchen on a shelf until it’s full and then move it (upstairs, in a converted attic.) I keep the spare rings in an old Tupperware box that leaks (can’t be used for food but is great for storing rings). I don’t keep the rings downstairs because I use these http://www.amazon.com/36010-Mason-Canning-Plastic-Storage/dp/B001ASXI8C for food currently in use. Easier to open, easier to keep track of than a lid-and-ring, easier for guests and kids to figure out. I just put a piece of masking tape on the lid to label the contents (or you could use your label-maker. I have one but can never seem to remember to use it.)

      My pet peeve with canning storage (that often comes up if I do a canning swap with someone else) is people putting stickers/labels on the glass jars. Especially the quilted ones. I hate cleaning off the sticker goo! It’s fine on the metal lids because those are single-use anyway.

      • August 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

        Oh yes, I hate the sticky labels on the fronts of jars!

    3. August 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      I have been canning two years, and in that time have gone through 2000 jars, give or take (90% were free! YAY friends!!!)

      Jars that I give away go with the ring on them for transport, but the rest of them are ringless. That leaves me with a lot of rings! I have them in 12x12x8 boxes, stacked on top of my pantry shelves.

      I don’t have a basement, so my pantry is a converted 11×13 bedroom with floor to ceiling shelves on three walls, and an under-window set of 24 plastic drawers for holding dry and dehydrated goods. In the center of the room is a 2x4x6 foot gorilla shelf for commercially canned foods.

      I have a corner where I stack empty canning jars in their original boxes. I can stack them up to eight high, because it is a perfect fit. Right now, I am almost out of jars, though. It has been a wonderful canning season!

      Not sure if this will work, but here is one of the corners, taken about a year ago. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v470/Ldychef2k/Picture558.jpg
      I now have cases of filled jars stacked three high on the floor under the shelves.

      • August 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

        Your pantry is beautiful, Kris!!

      • August 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm

        Where in the world did you get those gorgeous (& clearly sturdy) wooden shelves!? I want some!

        • August 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm

          I built them myself! Used 1/4″ plywood that I had cut at Home Depot into six pieces, 16″ deep and 48″ wide. Here’s a picture of the framework going up. I drew level lines on wall and screwed 2×4’s to it.


          Then I used vertical 2×4’s with blocks screwed in to them to support the front of the shelves. I screwed the shelves into the 2×4’s in the back (at an angle, facing down). The backs of the shelves are cantileverd about 3/4″ lower than the front, so the jars are less likely to fall off.
          Hopes this all makes sense.

    4. Nicole
      August 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      I just bought one of those 3-drawer containers to corral the used lids, all those rings, and the other canning tools. Hopefully I can limit the crazy to one drawer. All my empty jars live on a shelf in the basement.

    5. KellyH
      August 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      I have a dampish farmhouse basement, and mice can pose a problem at times, so cardboard boxes are out for me. I have my jars filled and unfilled on metal racks, utility type shelving units. Rings I keep in plastic frosting type buckets. If I remember to mark the year on a jar, I just use a sharpie and mark the lid. This last march, we finished the last jar of green beans I canned 3 summers prior. They were just as good as 3 years ago. I don’t know how many bushels of beans I canned that year, but we had eaten canned beans 2 or 3 times a week all that time.


      • August 26, 2011 at 8:57 am

        I always advise people to use canned goods within a year because that’s what the canning experts recommend but I eat years old stuff too!

    6. August 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Until this year I had never canned enough for storage to be an issue of any sort, but last year I kept an inventory THE WHOLE YEAR of what canned items I purchased at the grocery & I’m doing them myself this year. (Although chilis are such a pain for me to can, I think I’ll just keep buying those! lol!)

      I am in total awe of Kris’ pantry. I so wish I could be that self sufficient! And the whole thing looks so pretty, too!

      I used to have a problem with stickers on canning jars (and windows, and bed frames, and the piano…I have kids, you know). I learned that if you squirt it down well with some plain tap water & then stick saran wrap to it, you can peel/scrape it off easily about 20 minutes later. It’s like mommy magic!

      • August 26, 2011 at 8:58 am

        Wow – that must have been a long list of canned items. Way to go for canning your own this year!

    7. August 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm

      I have a pantry in the hall upstairs. It once housed the hot water heater that was moved downstairs. One year putting in shelves to make pantry was the project my father and husband worked on. Unfortunately, it seems to be shrinking, or more like it, since the kids are grown we are canning more. I have shelves in the basement I store the jars on – in boxes. Plus all the rest of the canning equipment.

    8. August 26, 2011 at 8:26 am

      looks a lot like my house! I keep jars with my drinking glasses.

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    10. Liz B.
      August 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      As an apartment dweller, I’m dealing with pantry envy right now.

      The coat closet and the lower linen cabinet in the darker, cooler center of our apartment holds the finished product. Emptys are stacked in jar boxes and I keep the rings in a jumbo Ziploc bag.

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    14. Susie
      September 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      I am just getting ready to start canning, so I don’t have a great method in place yet. HOWEVER, I came across a great idea that I’d like to share! Since the jars are going to be sitting there taking up space anyway, go ahead and fill them with water while they’re being stored (and close with a used lid that you don’t need to worry about sealing with anymore) so that you build up your water storage in the meantime. When it’s time to use them just dump the water out and prep your jar like normal, switching to a brand new lid like you’d have to use anyway.

    15. Shanna Kaye
      October 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      My family has canned for years. We have a walk in pantry in our kitchen and that is where we store our finished canned goods as well as some longer term storage in the laundry room on shelving there. The empty jars we store in the kitchen cabinets with the drinking glasses. Our family actually uses them to drink very frequently. The kids seem to always choose a mason jar as their drinking glass.

    16. October 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I know most people leave the rings off after washing, but I put them back on as sort of a bumper. That way nothing hits right up at the perfect spot to make the seal go. The ones with rings seem to last longer. And as of yet, I haven’t had to buy too many replacement rings, either.

    17. Denise Chantelois
      April 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Rachel, I canned some apple pie filling. I made sure to wipe the jars off well, but left bands on and had some syrup leak out and the bands were hard to remove. The syrup that leaked out turned black (it wasn’t a lot just enough to make it difficult to remove band). The jars are still sealed and don’t show any discoloration, just want to make sure I can safely use.
      Thank you

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