How to Store Home Canned Food Safely – Jar Stacking & Canning Rings – Melissa K. Norris

How to Store Home Canned Food Safely – Jar Stacking & Canning Rings

By Melissa Norris | Food Preservation

Jun 25

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Should you store your home canned jars without the canning rings?

The official sources are mixed saying you may do so either way.

We’re also gearing up inside the Pioneering Today Academy membership group to go through our preserving challenge. Every week this summer we’ll have assignments, lessons and tutorials that walk you through all of the different ways you can preserve the harvest. You get all of the information you need to start preserving all laid out for you, week by week, so it’s not overwhelming. Plus you get the inspiration and encouragement of other people who are participating in the challenge!

When our members go through the preserving challenge, we have members who have never canned or preserved food before, and within just eight weeks they’ll come out the other side with 200 jars of food put up! Now, you may be like, I don’t want to put up that much food and that’s totally fine too. It’s all self-paced.

We also have other members who have maybe never fermented before, and they get into fermenting and absolutely love it. So if any of that sounds like something that you would be interested in and you’re looking to put home preserved food on your pantry shelves, I highly encourage you to go and check that out while you still can.

> Learn more about the Pioneering Today Academy here.

I’ll also be doing a free home food preservation series. We’re going to be going over fermenting, dehydrating and canning and you are going to actually get one lesson from each of these series totally for free. So they’re video lessons with download guides that are normally only available for members of the Pioneering Today Academy, but you’ll get to go through them for free for a limited time and we’re kicking all of that off right now, so don’t miss it!

Sign up for the Free Home Food Preservation Series here.

Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #185 How to Store Home Canned Food Safely – Jar Stacking & Canning Rings, of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen and life you want for your family and homestead.

How to Make Sure Your Seal Sets on Home Canned Food

When we’re talking home canning and Mason jars specifically, the band is the part that you screw down after you put your metal lids on top of your jars before processing them in a pressure canner or a water bath canner.

Before we get into why you should always remove canning bands from home canned food, here are some other important rules to follow when processing and storing home canned food:

  1. After they come out of the canner, put them on a towel to cool. Never put hot jars out of the canner directly on the countertop or you risk thermal shock where the glass can break or crack.
  2. Put them on a towel and let them sit for a minimum of 12 hours without touching them.
  3. Once 12 to 24 hours have passed and you know you’ve got a good seal you’re going to want to store your jars in a relatively cool spot out of direct sunlight. A dark pantry or cupboard or even the basement is a good place. So not by a window and somewhere where the temperature won’t get hotter than about 60ºF to 75ºF, give or take.

Here is where the controversy comes in. When it comes to your canning bands, you should actually remove the bands after they’ve gone through that minimum 12 to 24 hour period where you don’t touch them.

Why you should remove canning rings from home canned food

The main reasons I remove my canning rings (or canning bands) after processing is this:

  1. They will rust. Once the bands rust, they don’t screw down easily and can get to the point they’re unusable. No one wants to purchase things again if they don’t have too, especially the canning bands.
  2. Storage. I can around 600 jars of food a year and DO not have the storage space for 600 canning bands/rings. By removing the bands after processings, I only need to keep 25 bands of wide mouth and 25 bands of regular. My All American 21.5 quart pressure canner will hold up to 20 pint jars, so as long as I have 20 bands, I can reuse them each time I can, making it much easier to store and cheaper.
  3. Easier to see if a seal is broken. If you store with the bands on, it’s much harder to see if a jar has lost a seal. There could be potential with the band on, a jar would lose its seal, and could false seal back with the band pressing the lid  against the jar rim.
  4. Hiding food and bacteria growth. When canning, liquid or contents often siphon out before the jar seals, leaving some food trapped between the band and the glass. If you don’t remove the band, you could have food and bacteria growing between the band and jar, even if the the jar is sealed.

If you decide to leave the bands on for storage (which I don’t recommend) make sure you remove the band/ring after the jar is cooled from processing, wash and dry thoroughly before placing the band back on. Always check your seal when taking out a jar and consuming.

Remember to always wait a full 12 to 24 hours after a jar has processed and cooled before removing the bands and double check the jar is properly sealed before storing on the shelf.

Is it safe to stack your home canned jars

The National Center for Home Food Preservation says to not stack jars too high, no more than two jars. Personally, I only stack at the end of the season if I’m totally out of room and I only stack a smaller size jar on top of a larger jar.

Make sure your shelf can support the extra weight. Never stack jars on the front of the shelf. I only stack in the back, against the wall. Some people like to line cardboard between the rows to help distribute the weight.

Make sure you check the seals as shown in the video when stacking (especially the lower jar) to make sure you haven’t disrupted the seal or compromised it.

With having canned for 20 years I’ve never had a seal compromise by stacking but best practice would be to avoid it if possible.

Now, could it weaken a seal? Possibly. That’s why a lot of people choose not to stack their home canned goods on top of one another. But if you go to the official sources, which there isn’t actually anything that says do not stack your jars because it’s proven to make you lose a seal or it’s not safe.

Of course, use your common sense. Make sure you stack your jars on a sturdy shelf that can support the weight and don’t stack rows and rows of jars on top of each other.

Personally, I only stack at the end of the season if I’m totally out of room and I only stack a smaller size jar on top of a larger jar. What I try to do is to put my quart and pint sized jars on the bottom and stack smaller jam or jelly jars on top of them. But I never stack more than one jar on top of another, and again, I have never experienced any type of seal compromise by doing this.

So if you want to be on the absolute safe side, remove your bands and don’t stack jars. If you want to stack your jars don’t stack more than one row on top of your bottom row. And if you want to leave your bands on, the best practice is to wash your jars off and allow them to completely dry first, and put them on very loosely.

What happens if I remove my canning bands and the seals pop and break?

Now, one argument I’ve heard people say is “well, when I removed the bands after I canned my food, the seals popped. So I don’t want to remove the bands because I don’t want my seals to break.”

Okay, listen up my friend: If you remove the band and your seal pops than it was not sealed properly to begin with.

By all means remove every single band if that happens so that you can check those jars before consuming them, because removing the band should not, I repeat, SHOULD NOT make you lose your seal.

As I said, I’ve been canning for 20 years and removing my bands, and I’ve never lost a seal by removing the band. If you remove the band and the seal breaks, it’s not from the band removal, it’s because something else went wrong during processing.

Another reason why you want to remove your bands is because of siphoning.

Siphoning is when some of the liquid will come out from the jar and beneath the lid before it seals. So during the processing time, that’s why sometimes you will notice that there is liquid loss inside the jar after you can, even though you followed the correct headspace for the recipe. Or you’ll pick up the jar and it feels kind of sticky on the outside or you’ll even see a little bit of things on the outside of the jar.

If it’s something like tomato sauce or maybe a fruit syrup or sauce or jam or jelly, you want to remove the band because some of that may be stuck underneath the band. And even if the jar seals, if it’s stuck underneath the band and you leave that band on, it can begin to mold.

Also, if you’ve got sticky stuff or food on the outside of a jar, that can also attract pests. So it’s best practice to remove the band, wash or wipe down the outside of the jar with a wet cloth and dry it completely after it’s sealed and you’ve waited that full 24 hours.

Now some people will do this; They’ll remove their bands, wipe everything down, make sure it’s totally dry, and then they will loosely put the band back on and store it on the shelf.

While that is not what I practice, to be fair, our trusted sources don’t say that you absolutely have to remove the bands, but they do say that it’s best practice to do so for all of the reasons I just talked about.

However, if you decide to leave the bands on for storage (which I don’t recommend) make sure you remove the band/ring after the jar is cooled from processing, wash and dry thoroughly before placing the band back on. Always check your seal when taking out a jar and consuming.

Remember to always wait a full 12 to 24 hours after a jar has processed and cooled before removing the bands and double check the jar is properly sealed before storing on the shelf.

If you would like more information on preserving your food at home, including safe canning practices, pressure canning, fermenting and dehydrating, then I highly encourage you to get yourself signed up for the free Home Food Preservation Series that’s going on right now.

 

 

And for more information on safe canning and preserving, be sure to check out the following posts and past episodes The Pioneering Today Podcast:

Episode #153 – How Do You Know if a Canning Recipe is Safe?

Episode #63 – 6 Canning Myths You Must Know

Episode #54 – How to Safely Convert Canning Recipes + Safety Tips

Episode #50 – 6 Tips to Avoid Food Storage Mistakes

 

 

 

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About the Author

Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.

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