Put it away

If you do much canning, you have to find a place to store it. If it is only a few jars you can just stick them in a kitchen cabinet, but that won’t be enough space if you really get into canning. Years ago when I was canning everything I grew, I had to build some sturdy 2 X 4 and plywood shelves to hold it all.

2 X 4’s and plywood have gotten expensive over the years and I wanted to find an easier way to store my canned goods. I went to my local big box home center and found some plastic shelving on sale that was perfect for the purpose. After I got home I brought the shelving into the basement and assembled it in one of the spare basement rooms. When I went to use it, though, I found that the design of the shelves was fine for storing large object but no so good for small items, like jars. There are ribs and hollows that help provide shelf strength, but that provide an unsteady base for storing jars. In order to use those shelves, I would need to get some cardboard or hardboard to put on top of the shelves to make a good storage surface. Additionally, I needed to attach the shelving to a wall because it couldn’t be allowed to stand free and possibly fall over or rock. Storing the jars in their original cardboard boxes would work, too, but I didn’t have boxes for all my canned goods.

I had originally intended to put the new shelving unit into a closet type space I have in the basement. I couldn’t do that, though, because there were shelves there already. I decided to knock out the existing shelves to create room for the new shelving unit, but after several whacks with the hammer failed to dislodge the old shelving, I said the heck with it and decided to use the existing shelves to store my jars of food.

Storage1The shelves do sag a bit in the middle, which is why the jars are placed at the left and right ends. I figure if I couldn’t take them out with a hammer they will probably be just fine with those relatively few jars on them. If I were to do a lot more canning, I would redo the shelves, making the spacing between them smaller and reinforcing them.

When I can stuff, I make sure that I label each jar with what it is and what date it was put up. I like to use a permanent marker on the lid. Use a fancy paper label on the jar if you want, but they can fall off and then where are you? Besides, I can see them all at a glance when the info is written on top. You can see this on these jars –

Storage2Also, when I can the same thing several times during a season, such as the green beans, I always put the more recently canned jars in the back so that I grab the oldest stuff from the front as I use it.

So while that may not be the most ideal storage solution, it works for right now. It’s in a cool basement, not exposed to a lot of light, and on a sturdy shelf. The plastic shelves I bought? Extra storage space never goes to waste. They will be used.