Why You Should Take The Bands Off When Storing Home-Canned Foods

It's exciting to get the canning process underway. You're busy filling the jars, wiping off the edges, placing the lids, and then, finally tightening the ring in place, just to the right tightness so that it holds the lid in position. It's pretty amazing how simple the process of canning seems ... until you start thinking about the details. That's where the devil lies: in details that could send everything straight to, well, you know. Just the right tightness can help prevent canned food discoloration, for example. So, after the cans come out of the water bath or pressure canner, do you leave the rings on, or do you take them off? Does it matter?

The pressure from the band, along with the vacuum created within the jar due to the heat, causes the lid to suction into place, as noted by Exploratorium. Those rings are critical at this point. Once you've completed that part of the home canning process, the next step is to allow the jars to sit at room temperature for at least 12 to 24 hours, per the National Center for Home Food Preservation. You'll want to keep everything as is. Don't take the rings off, and wait until that "pop" occurs, signaling the process worked. Then, what? There's a good reason to remove the rings at that point instead of just stacking the jars in the pantry.

Remove the bands from jars after canning

Once the jars cool you should remove the ring bands before storing the jars Why? According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, this step helps keep the bands from corroding. If left in place, it can become difficult to unscrew and remove the bands when you're ready to use the food, warns Garden Betty. Have you ever seen someone try to loosen a rusty ring from a stubborn lid? Maybe they have to coat it in olive oil or, as one YouTuber did, pour the liquid from a can of smoked oysters onto a sealed jar of pickled okra. Instead of a straightforward lid removal, it looks like a messy, slippery process to loosen and finally pry off a rusty ring first. Furthermore, leaving the ring bands on also risks hiding a broken seal, causing spoilage. So just imagine wasting effort and oil to unseal unusable food.

Removing the rings enables them and the jars to last longer. Afterward, be sure to properly wash and sanitize them before allowing them to dry out. This ensures there's no material that will transfer onto future jars. Ring bands are reusable if they remain in good overall condition. It's also a good idea to wipe down the exterior of the jar, especially near where the rings were in place, as that can help minimize bacteria growth.