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Storing canned produce

The best place is cool, dry, and dark

We all go a little crazy when the garden fruits and vegetables come on at once. You spend hours in the kitchen getting everything canned. And then you wonder -- Where am I going to put all these jars?

Karen Blakeslee is a food scientist at Kansas State University. She says the best place to store your canned goods, whether processed by you or commercially, is in a cool, dry, and dark place.

"Any temperature changes throughout the storage period can cause changes within the food itself and if there would happen to be any bacteria present, that’s going to allow it to grow," says Blakeslee. "It’s pretty rare that happens, but it can definitely shorten the shelf life. Light can change the color of foods, especially if they’re in like a clear glass or plastic bottle."

Because of temperature fluctuations, don’t store canned food in a garage, near a water heater, or by the washer and dryer. The best locations are a basement, closet, or cabinet.

Blakeslee also recommends that once you’ve processed the jars and the lids are sealed, take off the outer rings.

"If the jar spoils for some reason, one of the first things that’s an indicator is that the lid pops off or the lid comes loose for some reason. If you still have that ring on there, it could give you a false assumption," says Blakeslee. "So leaving the ring off can give you a better idea whether that lid’s still got a good seal or not on that jar. Plus the other thing is, you may need those rings to can more food."

It’s recommended that you consume your canned food within one year for the best quality and safety. Rotate older canned foods out and use them up. Blakeslee says you’re not saving them in a museum, you’re saving them to use.

Learn more:

Tips for storing your canned goods

Answers to common canning questions

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