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How to keep your cooked jars in the pantry

Posted by Bee & John on July 12, 2012 at 6:35 PM

When we make our own food - it's great right?  Nthing better than seeing lots of jars of jams and sauces made from fruit in season..... but, just HOW big a fridge do you need to store them?

Well, be smart about it - seal your jars properly and store in the pantry until you open them.  


  • First of all, please note that this procedure is good for all produce that you have to BOIL to cook like jams, sauces, chutneys.  If boiling ruins it (like custard) then it is a jar that HAS to be kept in the fridge.
  • Secondly, while this method is, technically, good to keep your jams etc ok indefinately, try to open them within 2 years
  • Thirdly, once you open the jars, the produce has the normal use by times.  I have done a post on that not too long ago, check it out
  • Fourthly, try to put stuff in appropriately sized jars.  For instance - putting chutney that you might use infrequently into a 1 litre jar is a bit silly, you might be able to store it in the pantry until  opened, but it will still go off before you can use it all once opened.


STEP 1 - get yourself some GOOD jars.  Ones that are food safe and have a good, tight, metal seal.

Most warehouses and even kitchenware shops have good jars.  Mostly though, they are relatively expensive if you are going to get a heap of them.  I have recently been to a company that sells jars, bottles etc to large manufacturers for their foods. (plasdene.com.au - all states aparently).  Once I got over the fact that 1) I couldn't order the jars and pick them up then and there (5 hour minimum wait - best to email and order the day before), 2) the fact that only some of the jars were sold in manageable box sizes (I just didn't WANT 10,000 of those jars, no matter HOW nice they were) and 3) the $75 minimum.... The jars were good and well  priced AND (more importantly now) I got jars the right size for our household, easy to store (and they look good all lined up).  I ended up getting 110  jars and bottles for my $78 (I chose a range of 250 ml jars and 350 ml bottles)

ANYWAY... back to the storing jars thing....

STEP 2 - sterilize them!  Boiling is good.  Boil for at least 10 minutes.  Do NOT forget to also boil anything else you might use, like spatulas, scoops, funnels etc.  You might notice my funnel is weird - its because I cut the narrow bit off it so I can use it to pour thicker sauces into jars.

Make your produce 

STEP 3 - carefully get the jars out of the boiling water and while they are still warm, pour the warm produce into them.

HINT: laying some or paper down underneath the jars may help make it easy to clean up the mess afterwards.  I can NEVER do this bit without spilling something.

STEP 4 seal the lids, tight, on the jars while everything is hot and pop the jars back into the saucepan of water you used to sterilize them in the first place.  Make sure the saucepan has enough water to cover the jars about 1/3 - 1/2 of the way up the sides.  Not so much as to make the jars float.

Boil for 10-15 mintues - Make sure your pan doesn't cook dry!

Let the jars cool in the water if you have the time, or take them out and leave on the bench.  You might hear the POP as the jar seals while it is cooling, you might not - but you SHOULD hear it when you are ready to open the jar to use it.

The observant amoungst you might notice that these are different jars than the jars I boiled in the first photo.  That's because those, recycled, jars did NOT seal properly so I had to swap them... hence the trip to Plasdene for proper jars.

STEP 5 - most imporantly, label them properly.  Nothing worse than going to the pantry to open a mystery jar of something - or leaving the older jams etc until doomsday and just using the fresher ones.

Just a note on the tamarillo chutney above.  Have you tried it?  DELICIOUS!!  I made 4 small jars of it in May and they are ALL GONE!  We have it with sausages, steaks, sandwiches....  John found some in a greengrocer only recently.  I know it's expensive, but when you thnk about it - $10 for the kilo made 5 jars of a chutney that we adore so it wasn't that expensive. 

Recipe here

HINT: if you are doing a smaller batch of jars and/or bottles - you can sterilize AND seal in THE VAROMA!!  Yup.  steam for 20-25 mintues.  Its good for smaller batches because the lid still needs to be on

Categories: For your interest, Basics, VERY useful information