Labeling and Storing Home Canned Food
- Published on March 05 2011
- Written by David Blackburn (All Rights Reserved)
After removing jars from a pressure canner or hot water bath use the following procedures:
1. When jars are completly cool, remove the bands or caps and clean them well. If they are sealed properly, the lids will not pop up when pressed in the center. In addition, we recommend pulling up on the lid to verify it is sealed. If it is a one-piece cap and lid, try to gently open the jar. If it doesn't open easily, it is sealed.
If a jar isn't sealed, refrigerate and eat immediately or remove it from the jar, reheat to the point of a simmer and reprocess using a new lid.
When storing, we recommend leaving the bands or caps off. If canned goods become unsealed during storage, their removal will make unsealing more easily identifiable.
2. Identify the canned food and the date of canning on any label. The left one above is a handwritten label.
The other two are computer generated personalized labels using a standard mailing label.
The date will ensure you use the oldest canned goods first. When storing freshly home canned food with older home canned food, place the less recently home canned goods in front of the newer canned goods.
Use canned goods within a year. After that the nutritional content will deteriorate.
If there is a suggested cooking time or procedure for the canned goods after opening, such as pie fillings, it's handly to include the instructions on the label.
3. Store in a cool, dark place and never above 95° F. A basement or cellar with a cool constant temperature is ideal. If a basement is not possible, a closed pantry or kitchen cupboard away from the heat works well.
If the canned goods are stored above 95° F, the seal may be broken. When removing canned goods from storage, this will be evident because the lid will be loose. If this happens, immediately throw the food away and thouroughly clean the jar, your hands and anything else that came in contact with the jar.
Use or refrigerate uneaten canned goods upon opening.
Note: When opening canned goods always check for spoilage. If any mold or fungus seems to appear or strange discoloration or smell, our recommendation is when in doubt, throw it out. Since this should be a very rare occurance, we throw out the jar as well and only handle the jar with something that can be thrown out along with it, such as newspaper. If not throwing out the jar, thouroughly clean it using bleach and make sure to clean your hands and anything else that came in contact with the jar.
Please note that *botulism cannot be smelled or seen. This is the case for home canned and professionally canned goods, especially low acid foods. Botulism spores can, however, be killed by simmering or baking professionally or home canned foods to the simmering point for 20 minutes. We keep this in mind for all professionally or home canned low acid foods, incorporating the following procedure into our cooking routine:
Upon opening any professionally or home canned low acid food home canned tomatoes or tomato sauces, we recommend, when practical, they be reheated on a stove top and simmered a minimum of 20 minutes or baked in foods such as pies, casseroles or lasagnas. This may not practical in the case of home canned juices, tuna or pate, which are often eaten cold upon opening. We also strongly recommend that cans be discarded immediately after they are emptied and that jars or bottles be rinsed and then washed thouroughly or be placed in the dishwasher.
Anything that may have come in contact with professionally or home canned containers containing low acid foods should be separated and cleaned. Kitchen utensils should be cleaned, dish towels placed in the laundry basket and hands should be washed. This includes kitchen utensils that have been used to stir the food up to the point that it has simmered for 20 minutes. If there are any drops or pieces of the opened food on countertops, they should be immediately wiped up with a paper towel and then wiped with a second paper towel containing bleach or water diluted with bleach. The paper towels should be discarded and hands should be washed again.
*The CDC reports median botulism outbreaks, between 1990 and 2000 of 16 cases, affecting a median of 23 people per year. Home canning accounted for respective annual medians of 4.7 events and 7 cases, while professionally canned goods accounted for 2.7 and 2.1 respectively. See CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 10, No. 9, September 2004.