Canning 101 – Label Your Jars Promptly

unlabeled jars

For weeks now, I’ve been playing with an idea for this site. A series of posts, gathered under the header “Canning 101” that could become a resource for those who are new to canning and serve as good reminders for people who have been doing it for years. I’ve been keeping a running list in a little red notebook, jotting down topics as they occurred to me. Though the idea queue has been growing, I’ve been hesitant to start. I felt like I had to find the absolute right topic with which to begin, and my search for perfection has left me a bit paralyzed.

Then, this last Sunday morning, I found myself frustratedly rooting through the boxes of filled and processed jars that have taken up residence on my dining room table. I was looking for a half pint of Strawberry Rhubarb Butter. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the picture up above, my jams were criminally unlabeled, so finding that particular jar was a irritating treasure hunt. In order to find the right preserve, I had to hold each jar up to the light, tilt it and search out the signs of strawberry seeds (I still managed to bring the wrong jar with me to brunch that morning).

As I was going through the jars, trying to discern strawberries from cherries, I thought to myself, “I really need to write a post, emphasizing the importance of labeling processed jars promptly.” And so, in that moment, I knew where to start this series.

Labeling is a simple endeavor. When I’m doing it just for my own benefit, all I do is take a blue or black Sharpie to the lid and scrawl the name of the product and the date it was produced. When I want to be a little be fancier, I use a self-inking stamp I bought that leaves an impression on a sticker with room for the name and date. If I want something truly elegant, I get in touch with my friend Lelo and order some of her customizable labels.

However you do it, make sure to label the jars clearly and always date them (so you know just how old that applesauce that you’re about to eat actually is). Even if you’re certain that you’ll always be able to tell your blackberry jam from your blueberry butter, I promise you that you will eventually be proven wrong and you’ll find yourself wishing you had quickly labeled those jars.

Tune in next Tuesday for another installment of Canning 101.

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56 Responses to Canning 101 – Label Your Jars Promptly

  1. 51
    Cindy Steflik says:

    Three questions:

    1. Is it ok to use rusty rings, and if not, why not?
    2. When heating up the lids/rings for canning, can you reuse any lids that you did not need, but did heat up?
    3. I purchased tattler reusable lids for the first time this winter and would like any advice/tips/thoughts on the use of these lids before I actually try them out.

    Thanks so much for your input!

  2. 52

    Good Morning,
    I have a product im startin I wanted to know when to put my label on before or after dipping to seal my lid?

    • 52.1
      Marisa says:

      After! The labels should be the very last thing you apply.

      • Terry says:

        Is there a way to label jars before canning (or, pressure-canning, specifically)? I have multiple jars of different broths that I want to pressure-can at the same time, but I’m afraid I won’t remember which is which when they come out. On the other hand I don’t want to waste time with a less-than-full canner as I’ll need to do a marathon session as it is. Any ideas?

        • Marisa says:

          Try labeling the lids with black sharpie. It will fade during the canning process, but you should be able to still see it when the jars come out of the canner. You could also use regular mouth jars for one kind of broth and wide mouth for the other.

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