September 29, 2010

How to Store Home Canned Goods

When I grow up, I want to have a cellar. It will be the perfect place to have stainless steel shelves (like from a professional kitchen) full of home canned goods- cool, dry, and dark. I'll also fill it with root vegetables and apples in the fall to use during the winter.

But until then, where do I keep my canned goods in my 500 square foot apartment?

The ideal place to store your canned goods is one that is cool (50-70 degrees F), dark, and dry. This time of year in Maine, I feel I can safely say that we've passed our 70 plus degree days (booo).

So, I keep my jars in my kitchen cabinets. The kitchen might be a little warmer than some other spots in my apartment, but I want my canned goods to be accessible. The whole point of canning is to preserve stuff you can eat, so I need to have them in the kitchen where they'll be in my mind during menu-planning and snack time (I'm looking at you, dilly beans).

While it may be tempting to line your canned goods up in the window to show off the jewel-like colors of your jams and the beautiful heads of dill in your pickles, please resist the urge. The heat from the sun will break down vitamins and nutrients in your food and can even cause them to spoil.

Most canners don't know that it's recommended to store your canned goods without the screwbands. (Wha???) After your jars have cooled and the seals have fully formed, the screwband is no longer serving any purpose. The vacuum seal is holding the lid firmly onto the jar, not the screwband!

Leaving the screwband on can actually harm the seal over time, by trapping moisture. This moisture will expand and contract with temperature fluctuations and can cause your seals to fail. The bands can also rust onto the lids, which is just a pain. So take the screwbands off after the seals have formed and store them seperately.

A great tip for storing and using your canned goods is to keep an inventory list. I'm really jealous of Putting By's canning pantry and all the beautiful things in it. She puts my little Ball boxes to shame. But her list (blog, really) helps her to know what she has and when it's time to start thinking about using it. I made a list, but then, who knows if I'll even look at it again! But it was fun to do it.

Happy canning!