Proper storage of home preserved foods and equipment

With growing season coming to a close, it's time for a refresher on food preservation methods.

As our growing season comes to an end, it is important to properly store all of your home preserved foods to maintain safety and quality. Find a cool place between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to keep your jars. If contents are exposed to direct sunlight or stored in a warm place, the food may lose quality in a shorter amount of time. Locate an area that is dry and has some circulation. Dampness may rust the metal lids and rings, which could cause leakage, causing the food to spoil.

Leaving the ring bands on the finished product is optional, but Michigan State University Exension recommends removing the rings because if bacteria develops in the jar, the lid will release from the build up of gas inside the jar. If the ring is left on and bacteria develops, the lid is held down by the ring and over time the lid may reseal itself and trap the bacteria inside without you knowing it. Bacteria can also be trapped in jars if they are stored on top of each other. Stacking jars has the danger of them falling over and breaking. Keep your jars upright. It is not recommended for them to lay on their side or upside down as this could cause some foods to react to metal from the lid and make a dark deposit on the underside of the jars, which is harmless, but unappealing.

MSU Extension recommends washing and thoroughly drying your water bath canner after each use. If the inside of the canner has darkened, it can be cleaned by filling it with water above the darkened line and adding one Tablespoon Cream of Tarter for each quart of water. Place canner on the stove and heat to boiling until line disappears. Wash the canner with hot, soapy water, rinse and dry.

Pressure canners with a dial gauge should not be immersed in water when washing, this is not a concern for weighted gauge canners. Dry pressure canner thoroughly, place lid upside down on top of canner. Do not store pressure canner with the lid sealed.

For more on canning a preserving methods, visit Extension’s food preservation page.

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