I’ll be the first to say that I love looking in my pantry and seeing jar after jar of canned garden vegetables. Like many gardeners, I enjoy sharing the abundance of nature with friends and neighbors. I also appreciate being able to open a jar of homegrown green beans in February when temperatures are well below freezing. Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons about storing my canned goods, such as why storing canned food without rings is the way to go.
You may have read or been told that you should store your canned goods without the rings. But why? Because, in my opinion, knowing why you should do something makes it a lot easier to follow through. I’m guessing if you’re here, you also fall into that camp. Kind of like, don’t drink orange juice after you brush your teeth. Good advice, but it doesn’t really stick until you learn why.
Naturally, I looked around and discovered some of the reasons why storing canned food without rings is important. Some of these I knew already; you may, as well. But there were a few surprises. So, let’s take a look at safe storage for canned foods.
Storing canned food without rings: 5 reasons removing rings will keep you safe
First, to be clear, there are three parts to canning jars. There is the glass jar (I’m fond of these) and a two-part lid. The lid consists of a relatively flat disc that covers the jar opening (this is usually what we refer to as the lid), and there is a ring. The ring is the part that fits over the disc and screws onto the jar, keeping the lid in place. These are the pieces I’m referring to in sharing the reasons for storing canned food without rings.
1. Botulism. Really, this is the only reason you need for storing canned food without rings. Botulism is no joke. It’s a deadly toxin that flourishes in low-oxygen environments, such as improperly canned goods. This is one of the primary reasons food safety experts encourage home canners to follow scientifically-tested recipes from a source like the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP). As for lids and rings, if there is a leak or improperly sealed jar, rings can make it difficult to notice, thereby increasing the risk of severe or even deadly food poisoning.
2. Rust. Another reason for storing canned food without rings is due to the possibility of rust. If moisture gets underneath the rings, rust can develop. Over time, rust can create tiny holes in the lid, allowing botulism spores into the jar. Additionally, even if these small holes don’t lead to botulism growth, they can still lead to food spoilage. And rusty rings and lids are difficult to remove.
3. Easier to see the curvature of the lid. One way you can check that your jars are properly sealed is to look at the lid’s curvature. Bring the jar to eye level and look across the lid. A properly sealed lid should be concave, or a little lower in the center, like a saucer. If the lid is flat or higher in the center, there’s a chance it isn’t sealed correctly.
4. Easier to notice spoilage. One of the first places you might notice spoilage in your canned goods is around the rim of the jar, where small leaks may develop. With rings covering that area, it may be much longer before you notice, meaning there’s more time for bacteria to grow.
5. You might miss your chance to correct a mistake. The NCHFP points out that if you catch an improper seal within the first 24 hours, you still have an opportunity to reprocess it. Alternatively, you can refrigerate your jar and consume the content within a few days. In either case, you have a chance to avoid wasting your delicious, homegrown vegetables. With rings on, you might not notice things like leaks or loose lids in time.
Bonus: Reuse those rings! This reason for storing canned food without rings is purely practical. But your pressure canner will only hold so many jars at once. Granted, when you first buy your jars, they come with lids and rings; however, we all know these things disappear over time. So once you process your first batch of vegetables, and they have the appropriate time to cool, you can remove the rings and use them again for your next batch!
I’ll also mention that when you store your canned goods, most sources suggest limits on stacking them to two levels.
Is there anything you would add to this? I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments.
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