This is the final installment of a three part series on canning safety by Ott, A from A Latte with Ott, A.
Cooling your jars
After the jars have been taken out of the canner, space the jars 1 to 2 inches apart to cool at an even rate. During this time limit exposure to temperature swings as this could cause your jars to crack. Allow them to rest untouched for 24 hours, because moving or inverting could all cause a seal failure. If a ring loosens during the processing time do not re-tighten it, as this could interfere with the seal forming.
Checking your Seals
After the jars have cooled for 24 hours, test the lids by pressing on the center of the lid and listening for a popping sound or feeling for a concave indentation. If you feel or hear a noise then your jars did not seal. Another method you could use is by picking the jars up only by the lid. If the lid stays attached it has sealed. (Please note as the jars cool you may hear a pinging sound, but that does not ensure your jars have properly sealed; you still need to check each one by hand.)
If you jars did not seal, you can either consume it immediately, try freezing the item or try to reprocess using new jars and lids. I would use caution while reprocessing to ensure food did not spoil inbetween processing times.
If for some reason a jar unseals at a later time discard immediately and look the jar over, as it may need replaced.
Cleaning & Labeling
Occasionally a jar may crack during processing and therefore it’s always a good idea to wash the outside of the other processed jars. Otherwise, remove the rings and wash around the lid area, dry and then store away. All jars should be labeled with what’s inside and the date it is processed. This can be done with labels or a marker on the lid, but including the date is very important.
Time to Use
All processed jars should be consumed within 1 year of the canning date. This is due to the lid sealant being guaranteed to last that long. I’ve seen and heard of people eating after that, but don’t take the risk.
Canned jars should be stored in a dark, dry place with a temperature between 50 to 70 degrees F. Heat and cold can cause expansion, breakage and nutrition loss. Light can cause food to discolor.
When you are ready to eat your canned food simply use a can opener to get the lid off. I always like to listen for the “pop” sound the lid makes and do a quick check on the inside to make sure the item inside smells and looks appeasing.
Consuming your canned food
Canned food can be eaten and used like any other store bought canned food in recipes or by itself. Simply prepare food to your liking, heat and serve. Any unused portions of the canned food should be refrigerated and then used within a couple of days or frozen.
Other items of concern you might see in your jars:
Loss of liquid. Food can shrink while it’s processing so if this occurs simply leave the jar alone and store as planned.
Black spots on the underside of your lid. Natural compounds in some foods cause brown or black deposits on the underside of the lid. This is harmless and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.
Other posts in this series: