Preparing Canned Food for Storage

with Sharon Peterson
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Preparing Canned Food for Storage: Washing Jars

Preparing Canned Food for Storage: Should You Keep the Rings On?

Preparing Canned Food for Storage - Washing Your Jars

Preparing Canned Food for Storage

The last step to preparing canned food for storage is getting all of your jars washed and ready to store. Now, I’ve heard a lot of people say they’re concerned about washing their jars because they don’t want to break the seals. For that reason, they also like to keep the rings on the jars during storage. But personally, I think that if the seal isn't good, I would rather know immediately! (Keep reading for more information.)

Anyway, while washing jars of canned apricots one day (see the first video above), I did have a jar’s seal indeed fail. Though I checked when I took the screw band off, the seal wasn’t strong. (Just a side note: I had already noticed that this particular jar also lost a lot of liquid, unlike my other jars. In fact, I was thinking of using it up instead of storing it anyway.)

Back to preparing canned food for storage!

When I wash my jars, I fill my sink with a few inches of water. Using a wash rag, I rub around the top of the jar. You want to make sure the screw bands are nice and clean.

Washing your jars is important, and it just takes a few minutes. Get them clean, since you don’t want to store dirty things in your cupboard. All that’s left once you clean the jars is to mark them and put them in the cupboard.

Preparing Canned Food for Storage - Should You Remove the Rings?

Preparing Canned Food for Storage

This part of the page refers to the second video above, header Preparing Canned Food for Storage: Should You Keep the Rings On?

Now, this part of preparing canned food for storage is a little controversial. Some people do it my way, some people do not. Let me preface this by saying there’s no canning police. I’m just telling you my opinion--what I’ve learned and why I made the choice I did. You make your own decisions.

Do you store your jars with the canning rings on OR do you store your jars with the canning rings off?

Personally, I store my jars with the rings off, because these rings are reusable and are more likely to rust quickly when they’re on the jar.

The USDA recommends storing jars without the rings. Why? Because there is a possibly that the ring could make the seal appear safe, when it has actually broken.

Now, I admit that I hear this and I think, “Really? Can it really happen?” But they also say there is the possibly that if a lid becomes unsealed, temperature changes could “reseal” it during storage. That means later, when you go to use the food, you would check the seal and think it’s fine, even though it’s not sterile inside. This presents a risk of botulism.

The Risk of Botulism in Canned Food...Storage Concerns?

Botulism is a serious food poisoning and has been known to be fatal. If you do canning right, and that’s not hard, you don’t have to worry about botulism.

Now, I’ve heard people say that if it smells good and it looks good (no mold, etc.), you can go ahead and use it. But you cannot see, smell, or taste botulism. You don’t know it’s there until you get sick. So personally, I don’t store my jars with the rings on, since I want to be sure of the seal and the safety of my food.

Many old timers store their jars with the rings, so make your own decision. My recommendation is to take the rings off and store the jars. Another good reason is that when you store jars without the rings, you don’t have to buy more rings for canning! You can just use the ones you have.

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Preparing Jars of Canned Food for Storage

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Page last updated: 10/12/2019

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