Friday, May 15, 2009

Shelves and Jars

I’ve mentioned before that I’m learning about preserving, canning, drying, freezing and stockpiling. Nothing too deep mind you, mostly just to learn these skills, and while I’m at it, be more frugal and have tastier, healthier food! But where to put this bounty…

We are very storage poor in this house. It is a large house with no garage and only ONE closet. We have done some remodeling in the past to amend this but still, we don’t have much space for storage. There was a  strange nook in the kitchen that was never finished. A space next to the fridge that had a large pipe behind it. Ugly and flimsy shelves that collapsed under too many bottles of wine (onto a white tile floor. It looked like a murder scene)


I decided this tall narrow space needed to be my pantry! With help from my handy step-father and my reluctant-to-paint-but-I’ll-do-it-because-you’re-my-daughter mother, we got it done in no time.


This cute set up will change as I begin to replace the bowls and dishes with with jars and cans of canned, preserved and dried goods. Some home-preserved, some bought in bulk and moved in to jars for ease of use (and because it looks nice!)

Since we had the paint out I also painted my kitchen book shelf to match.


Now my kitchen is finally “finished”. Everything has been fixed, painted or replaced. Some time ago I had cleaned all my cabinets and reorganized them as well. If I could keep the darn place clean for more than 5 minutes I would take a picture.

Moving on…

I have become obsessed with saving jars. I will keep saving them until I run out of space and uses for them. As I said above, I’ve been buying in bulk, like this;


Then dispense into smaller, more attractive jars and bottles as needed like this;


My favorite is the tall blue bottle. It was a vodka bottle I think. Now with a pour spout it’s my vegetable oil bottle. With new clean corks, lids (got mine at our local wine & beer making shop) and pourers (super market or liquor store), these bottles are ready for many uses! The others are full of vinegars, the balsamic one was just refilled when the original contents were used up.


More ingredients I buy in bulk and parcel in to jars. Yeast, nuts and coconut. Use a grease pencil/china marker to write the date on them. Lucky for me I have a bar fridge in the basement that holds the remainder of them.

Just a few uses for common jars in the kitchen-

Baby food and spice jars;

Perfect for condiments (I love to make up fancy mustards and mayos) and leftover sauces.

Refill with bulk spices (so much cheaper than a new jar!)

Fill with your own dried herbs! (another post when they are ready to harvest).

Fill with toothpicks. You can even punch a hole in the lid (from the inside out so the pick doesn’t get caught on any edges) so you can shake out a pick without touching the others. Handy when stuffing that chicken breast and you need to seal it closed.

Baby food jars are perfect for wet ingredients – use them if you are traveling somewhere where you will prepare a dish away from home. I travel often to a poorly stocked kitchen. I make my herb blends, marinades and any less common ingredients (sesame oil), at home and bring them with me.

A tip I have heard but not yet tried- punch holes in the lid of a smaller, jelly/jam jar and fill with flour (or corn meal etc) and use it when you need to evenly sprinkle flour on a surface or food.

Taller bottles are great with a pour spout for oils and vinegars. I leave mine right next to the stove where I can grab them.

Consider moving dry goods like crackers or cereals into large jars or plastic containers after they’ve been opened. It will keep them fresher a lot longer than the plastic no one(ahem, men) remembers to close up.

If you have any clever uses for bottles and jars please share!

Soon I hope to have an additional freezer as well, opening up even more storage options! More on that when it happens.