When you start your journey into home canning and food preservation, you don’t really think about can goods storage. Mason jars take up a lot of room. Especially if you are putting up 50 gallons or more each year. What are you supposed to do with all of that food? If you are freezing food, you don’t have much of a choice. You need a freezer. You can buy a bigger freezer if you need it, but again. Kind of limited. You will need more room for jars than you will for dehydrated food, so keep that in mind as well.
When it comes to storing jars, you really only have four options. You can make use of what you currently have in the house, You can buy something from a store or online to help you keep things organized. You could build something if you are handy enough. Or, you could re-purpose something that wasn’t really meant to store canned goods into an awesome pantry.
Ideal conditions for storing canned goods.
Canned goods should not be stored in areas that exceed 95º F. Find a location that is away from hot pipes, stoves, and furnaces. The heat in these locations can cause the quality of your canned goods to deteriorate within a matter of weeks or months. There goes your hard work down the drain. Not to mention all of your food.
Extreme cold can be a problem, too. If your canned foods freeze, the food won’t necessarily go bad, but the freezing and thawing could cause your vegetables to go soft. If you are storing in an area where the jars could freeze take the following precautions
- Wrap the jars in newspaper
- Pack in a thick-walled box
- Pack the box with newspaper
- Cover and surround the box with blankets.
The best temperature for storing your home canned foods is between 50º and 70º F. This will keep them from freezing or getting too hot.
Moisture can be a problem as well. Moisture can attack the lids on your jars and cause them to rust. If the rust is bad enough, it can eat completely through the lid and allow the food inside to become contaminated and the seals to fail. Again, there goes your food and your work.
If you will be using a space where it is necessary to stack your jars, be careful of the seals. Many manufacturers recommend stacking no more than two jars high. If you must stack use some sort of rigid separators such as cardboard or even a thin sheet of plywood. This will keep the jars from coming in direct contact with the lids below them and help to distribute the weight of the upper layer more evenly across the bottom layer.
How to Store Your Canned Goods at Home
Now that we have looked at the proper conditions for storing canned goods and you have the perfect place in mind, how are you going to store your food physically? Will you use crates? Or is a shelving system a better solution? Will your area be visible or is it tucked away in a corner no one will ever see? I put together some solutions here for just about every situation. Whether you buy something, build something or just use something that was just laying around, sometimes we all need a little inspiration to get the juices flowing.
Use what you have
I live in a little house. One of the things we didn’t really think about when we moved in was the amount of storage (or lack of storage) we were going to have here. When space is limited, you need to become an expert at using the space you have. We are not blessed with a pantry, but we do have some shelves back in the laundry room. Our allocated space is about 4 feet wide and two feet tall for nothing but canning that we will use regularly. The excess goes on shelves in the basement. We mad a choice. That space in the laundry room could have been used for other things, but we decided we didn’t want to run up and down the basement stairs all the time to get stuff. So, we planned and made the adjustment to fit our needs.
If you are blessed to have a pantry or just some extra space under the stairs or a closet that isn’t used for much, make a plan. Where can all of the other non-essential stuff go? Trash, donate, put it where it actually belongs? It is amazing what accumulates and where it accumulates in our homes if we don’t take care of it. If you have shelves in those places, great. Clean them off. put down some new contact paper, and start stacking your goods. If you don’t, you will need to figure something else out.
This picture shows what looks to be a dead corner under the edge of a breakfast bar. The handy homeowner realized that this was wasted space and turned it into prime real estate for a canning obsession.
Buy something new
When it comes to can goods storage, there are all kinds of store-bought options for shelving and storage. Anything from full-on closet organization systems to small wire racks on wheels. You can go with a wood look or industrial. Simple or complex. The choices are endless. By buying something new, you are sure to get the perfect item for storing your canned goods. You can check out the hanging jar/pegboard system that is in our featured image on this article on Amazon.com.
Build Your Own
If you are handy at all, you could take a stab at building your own storage system. There are plenty of free plans on the internet that will walk you through building a shelving system to store your canned goods. The plans range from basic no-tools-required up to complex Bob-Villa-couldn’t-do-this. The build your own option is also a great way to get the perfect fit and add your own personal touch.
Maybe tackling a shelving system is too much to start out with or maybe you just don’t have enough room. You can always start with these simple stacking boxes and work your way up from there.
I love the show Flea Market Flip. The creativity that goes into taking those old pieces of junk and turning them into useful and stylish furnishings is mind-boggling. If you have that flare for design and a couple of dollars laying around, You could put together a storage solution for your canning habit that is just as stylish as it is functional.
This dresser was handed down to a canner from her grandmother. Not having a pantry in the house, she decided to use it to store her canned goods and canning supplies. I love the distressed look of the paint. It looks as if it would be right at home in any country farmhouse.
This clever canner used an old bookshelf to store their canned goods. Bookshelves are great storage pieces. I am a runner. I try to put in 5 miles per day. In the spring and fall when people are cleaning out their housed and garages, you would be amazed at how many bookcases are sitting out at the curb. Most of them are in excellent condition or in need of minor repairs and most of them are free. Either you take it or the garbage man will. For use in a pantry or basement, free is a great price.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for more ideas, Pinterest can be a great source of creativity. I love to browse the pictures and see what other people are doing to make reclaimed items their own. The bottom line when it comes to storing your home canned goods is: just find a good space and see what you can do with it. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to our organization. Just make sure to keep your jars cool, dark and dry and you will be okay. the rest is just window dressing. Have fun and be creative.