By Patrick Galvan, Storage.com
As more and more people opt to grow their own fruits and vegetables, canning foods at home is becoming a big trend, especially among pickle-lovers. Canners take the time to grow cucumbers, pickle them, and then can the pickles for later. It’s a fun (and delicious) hobby, but it can also take up a lot of space in the kitchen or pantry.
To free up space in the kitchen, you can move your canned pickles into a storage unit. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when storing canned pickles.
First of all, check to see if the self storage facility of your choice allows food storage. According to Jeff Ley, a sales manager for STORExpress Self Storage, the majority of storage facilities do not allow food storage due to risk of infestation.
“Unsealed food can attract rodents and pests,” he says. If the facility does allow food storage though, you need to make sure your food is properly prepared.
Laurel Nguyen, a self-taught food storage expert who blogs about her experiences on forayintofoodstorage.com, says canned foods “are best used within a year.” Canned food also has the potential to last longer when “properly processed [and] stored,” as well as when “the jars have a good seal and no bulging lids.”
In order to prevent food spoilage, pickles should only be stored in tightly sealed cans or jars. If maintained under the proper conditions, an unopened can of pickles should retain nutrients for 12-18 months. Before placing the cans or jars in storage, however, remove plastic rings around the lids. This is a safety precaution. If your pickles spoil, the resulting growth could either warp or dislodge the lid.
Always store canned items on shelves or metal racks in your storage unit—never in boxes on the floor. Shelving should be set against a wall and capable of sustaining the combined weight of several cans. Remember: A single can might not feel very heavy in your hand, but a few dozen could shatter a flimsy shelf.
Lisa Lynn of the blog The Self Sufficient HomeAcre recommends shelves composed of plywood, metal, or sturdy plastic. Be sure to clean and dry any shelves or racks in your storage unit to prevent the development of mold and mildew as well—and, on a similar note, clean the cans or jars to remove dust, dirt, or food residue, too.
But it’s not just enough to have a clean cans, jars, and shelving. You need a well-maintained environment for storing canned pickles.
Most importantly, make sure your storage unit isn’t infested with mice, rats, or other vermin that will chew their way into your pickle collection. Also, don’t store canned items in a moist storage unit. The trapped water molecules will build up on the container surfaces, resulting in corrosion (that is, rusting) of the can and eventual spoilage of the food.
Canned pickles also require moderated temperature. “Light, heat, and moisture can shorten shelf life,” says Nguyen. Because of this, you’ll want to rent a storage unit that’s equipped with climate control.
The ideal temperature for storing canned pickles is 50-70°F. A short length of exposure to temperatures between 75-85°F shouldn’t be harmful, but anything prolonged will increase the rate of nutrient loss. And any temperature above 95°F will render your pickles inedible.
Freezing canned pickles will not result in spoilage as long as the cans/jars remain sealed. However, bear in mind that the freezing and thawing process could soften the pickles and sap some of their nutritional value. Also, keeping a freezer in a storage unit would require a facility that has units with electricity, which could make your storage rent more expensive.
Ultimately, the safe preservation of your pickles is up to you.
“If the food is sealed or canned, and the facility will allow it, the tenant should understand that they are to check the unit on a regular basis and be available almost on demand to clean any spills or leaks should something break,” concludes Ley.