Remember to Label Those Jars!

“Label, label, label!” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in my Master Food Preserver training. You’ll note, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.”

Not only should the jars be labeled, but it would also have been nice to have some notes on the recipe I used and where the fruit was sourced from. To this end I’ve started a preservation diary in a useful program called Evernote.

Perhaps I should get a tattoo on my forearm that says, “Label, label, label.”

Leave a comment


  1. The tattoo on your forehead would be a good reminder for others to label. When you do get the tattoo, remember to have it written backwards so you can easily read it in a mirror.

    Since I am a labeler by nature (anal retentive in that area?), all my canned food is labeled with date and food. I even numbered batches of fig preserves one year! Sadly, only canned food and photographs benefit from my labeling addiction.

    No matter how long ago you canned those, as long as they are sealed, you are safe. I know people who pour out home-canned food after they are one-year-old.

    If I cannot label food the moment it is cool, there is no hope for me opening the computer and using a program…lol.

  2. lots of unlabelled at our house, I can generally tell from sight but it’s so much easier if they are labelled to give the odd jar away. I found pva glue and paper printouts work great. Think I need the tat that says ‘get organised’ or perhaps stop being a pig….

  3. Oh I totally get it. I sometimes make three flavors of jam with the same fruit so they are all the same color. Troublesome, but the MORE troublesome thing is how frequently my husband mistakes chili starter, salsa, and spaghetti sauce.

  4. I tend to write a quick and dirty label on the lid in sharpie once they’re processed and then promise myself I will add a nice fancy one later, which almost never happens :-).

    • Me too. It has the added advantage that I always know whether my lid inserts have been used or not. I reuse them for dry or freezer storage, but buy new ones for canning, and it’s not always as obvious as you’d expect.

  5. I stick to writing the date on top with a Sharpie. I like the idea of an actual preserving diary, but I know I’ll never keep it up.

    When I use a canning recipe from a book, I jot the month/year in the margin next to the recipe along with any changes I might have made to spices, salt, etc. This makes it a little easier to track down what I’ve done if anyone, usually one of the kids, says he really liked something I canned.

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