If you are just starting into the world of canning or have been canning goods for a while, you will have to organize all your jars and equipment. If you are newer to canning, it will feel like every canning season you have to organize and re-organize everything…..and that is because you do as your jars and equipment expand. Here are ways to create a storage system for your canned goods in order to keep everything manageable and expandable.
I am a big fan of the IKEA Ivar System shelving because it is modular and I can keep adding or taking away shelves as needed. The 11″ deep shelves are perfect for fitting 4 pint jars deep or 3 quart jars deep. The Ivar shelving units can all be bought individually; the uprights on either side of the shelf and then the shelves. If you have a corner, like I do, there are also corner units than easily add on to the traditional shelving units. I use the larger corner shelves to store the larger items like: the pressure canner, water bath stock pot, fermentation crock, etc.
Dewey Decimal System
Okay, so the Dewey Decimal System doesn’t work for canned goods. However, you should create a storage system for your canned goods based on the type of goods, that way they are easier to find. Large categories may take up a whole shelf or more! But if there are a few smaller categories, perhaps they can share a shelf. Here are some categories that I group my jars together by.
- Jams, Jellies and Preserves
- Pickled Items like Jalapenos, Sourkraut and Spiced Beets
- Staples: Green Beans, Glazed Carrots, Corn, Peas
- Fruits: Spiced Peaches, Vanilla Pears, Drunken Peaches, Applesauce, Pie Fillings
- Tomatoes: Pasta Sauces and Salsas
- Condiments: Ketchup, Mustards, Ancho Taco Sauce
- Other: Mushrooms
- Corner Shelf: storage area for my pressure canner, large stock pot, my harvest pot for making sauerkraut, cake decorating supplies and my dehydrator.
Labeling Canned Goodies
The IKEA Ivar Label Holders are perfect to label what canned item is on the shelf. They too, are easy to move around. So if you have a jelly and condiments shelf but you expand so much that you need a separate jelly shelf you can easily move the labels accordingly.
Stocking the Shelves
Great, you have made all your goodies and are now putting them away for storage. Stock Left to Right. If it is a new year and you have leftovers from the previous year, move them over to the right side. Start stocking the current year from the left. This, in-conjunction with the Taking Right to Left below, will ensure a constant rotation of your jars to make sure you are consuming the oldest jar first. *Important* All jars must be stored in a single layer, non-stacked. If there was a problem with your jars, the single layer will allow the lid to pop open. An open lid signals that the contents of the jar are spoiled, not safe to consume, and must be thrown away. Also, store all jars with the rings removed, for the same reason.
Right to Left
I attach the label just below the first row of jars beginning on the left. Just like a book, everything to the right of the label is the same item, until you reach the next label. BUT unlike a book, when I take a jar to use, I take from the Right and continue back the column and then continue to the next row to the left. Take Right to Left. This method ensures that the cans will always stay correctly labeled and the furthest left side and will ensure proper rotation of your canned goods so that you will always be using the oldest jar first.
To create a storage system for your canned goods, you need to also create an area for empty jars. I have created an easy ‘go-back’ area on my shelf for my used jars. The ‘go-backs’ area has an empty boxes for each type of jar. As goodies get eaten throughout the year, I place the empty jars upside down in the box until it’s full. The filled box goes on the top shelf with other full boxes. I then grab another empty box to put on the shelf and continue to fill it up. This is a great way to keep the empties organized and grouped by type… you will thank yourself next time you need to find wide-mouth pint jars. I also keep the canning salt, lids, rings, pectin, etc. on this shelf.
Interested in how I keep inventory of all my jars? Check out my earlier post: Canning Inventory