How to Store Canned Goods: Take the Screw Band Off!

Right in the center, wrong on the left. Bungee cord ’cause we’re in earthquake country.

Another quick tip from the Los Angeles Master Food Preservers: you should store your canned goods with the screw bands off. Why?

  • So you can clean underneath the band to prevent spoilage and bugs.
  • The screw band can create a false seal.
  • Leaving the screw bands on can cause corrosion. 

The only time to have the screw bands on is if you are transporting the jars. Otherwise, take them off!

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14 Comments

  1. It’s amazing how so few people new to canning realize the importance of removing the rings before storing. I’ve had very few failures (popped seals) over the years, but it would be easy for a newbie to overlook one if the rings are left on. Botulism is too scary to take the risk.

  2. Good reminder for folks who don’t can much.

    I wash the screw bands after I use them, allow them to dry thoroughly (in a warm oven, if I’ve just baked), then I screw them loosely onto empty jars that I’m storing. This keeps my jars from chipping at the edge if I jostle them. Don’t screw them on tightly or any tiny bit of moisture may cause them to rust to the jar. I don’t like clutter and, as necessary as the rings are, having a huge cardboard box filled with extras annoyed me. Storing them on the empty jars means they take up less space when they’re not working.

    A general note for all the new canners out there who are doing a good deed by buying their jars at yard sales and flea markets: always run your finger carefully around the upper edge of the jar before filling it with your fabulous food to be sure there are no chips or cracks. Even a small flaw will prevent a safe seal.

  3. Once the canning process is over, the rings are incredibly loose. Remember, the rule is not to tighten the ring after the jars cool. No false seal can form since the lids are not tight–my opinion. Besides, a ring cannot stop a bulge from forming or rotten foam from escaping if the ring is not on tight, which they never are after coming from the WBC or pressure canner.

    Most of the time, I take off jelly rings, wash the rings, wipe the jars, and loosely screw the rings back on. Jars can get knocked around, so I feel this protects them.

    I always leave the rings on unless I need them for other canning. When I store an empty canning jar, I put back on the used lid and the reusable ring. My jars are clean for the next canning time. really, when I find a spider or a dirt dauber nest, I just want to throw the jar away. Nests are not from my jars, just ones given to me. Of course, I run my closed jars through a pan of sudsy water before sterilizing. I hate to wash jars with bugs and trash, even my own dust!

    As I run my fingers around the lid at yard sales or thrift stores, people often ask me why I do that. I also run my fingers on the rim after I have washed the jars. Nicks can happen anytime.

    I can say I have never had a ring rust on a jar. Most of my rings have been around for years. In my opinion, if rings rust on stored canned goods, they may be stored in a place that is too damp. Maybe I am wrong. Mine more often rust in the refrigerator where it is damp. The plastic canning lids that Ball sells for wide- and regular-mouth canning jars are sooo nice for storing food in the refrigerator or for putting on something opened and stored, like jelly.

    As I said, I store jars with lids and rings on the jars. But, I have a gallon jar in the kitchen on the counter where I store wayward rings and used lids plus non-canning lids, plastic and metal. I use the old lids with rings for storing food on canning jars. Beans in a jar with a used lid screwed on tightly will not get bugs or air inside. Of course, it is all stored in a the dark, behind the cabinet doors.

    I suppose I have been canning for over 50 years and only had failed seals to count on one hand and 0 broken jars in a canner. But, I use only Ball and Kerr jars. This is one rule I just do not always follow. My mother did.

  4. I know you’re probably all busy canning right now so now’s not a good time to ask questions… but can you give me some advice:
    - what should you do or what can I do if I accidentally press the snap lid down before it has popped on its own?
    - Can you store canned good one on top of the other and stack them in your pantry?

    • Hey Anon,

      The first question–the jars are probably fine. I would just make sure, when you open them, that you have a vacuum seal. This should be pretty obvious. And next time you can let the jars sit on the counter for awhile before you touch them to avoid this problem. Get a jar lifter if you don’t already have one–very handy.

      Second question–best to put a rack between them. Stacking cans could lead to a false seal.

      Also–are we talking about a jam or jelly? Did you process in a water bath? Or was is something you pressure canned?

  5. hallo, how soon after making can you take the screwbands off? I too never knew you had to do this!!
    Thanks for the info, love your website very much, I am in the UK so some stuff really doesn’t apply, not too many prickly pears and persimmons in Somerset!

  6. Pingback: Food Preservation Disasters | Root Simple

  7. Hi, I have an important question. I have heard a lot about “false” seals when canning. Today I accidently pushed down the lid before it popped by itself. I know one of the tests to ensure a proper seal is that it is concave (it is, but only because I pushed it down…) and that if you can pick up the jar by the lid (with no ring on of course) and it doesn’t come off then it is sealed. When picking up the jar, the lid stays snug. It seems to be sealed properly, so what I’m wondering is am I seeing a false seal or is it really sealed? I do not want to store these in the fridge if I don’t have to, but I don’t want to get sick either.

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