26 October 2012

Q & A: Storing canning gear

The Rowhouse Livin' mailbag got the following question:

Q. How do you store all your canning equipment?

Many canning tools are "unitaskers" that don't see use outside of canning projects. I'll use the candy thermometer for candy and the food mill for applesauce maybe once a year, and the funnel for filling jars with dry goods, I guess. But most of the time the gear needs to be packed up and moved out of my way. The most convenient way I've found to deal with it all is to pack it into the canner itself:

I used to have a larger canner

This is a 7-pint canner. It is a girly canner. I used to have a 7-quart canner, but it was old when I acquired it, and it rusted through. It was late in the season when I went to replace it, and there were only small, girly canners left in the store, so I had to bring home what I had to bring home. While I can easily put up a full batch of pints or half-pints of sweet spread in a canner this size, what I can't do is put up quarts of fruit. Instead, I have to water-bath them in the pressure canner pot, which takes more fuel and more time to heat up than any thin-walled graniteware kettle. Frustrating! My only consolation is that this canner does fit better on my stove than a 7-quart canner would.

But just about everything fits: canning funnel, jar tongs,
Foley food mill, candy thermometer

All in one place. This way, when I start a canning project, I don't have to hunt all over the kitchen and pantry for canning-specific tools.

As for jars, I mentioned before that I keep them in the boxes they came in. I store packs of new lids on top of those boxes, where I can keep an eye on how many I have. And as for the screw bands:

Wire coathangers

I learned this tip from a friend who grew up on a homestead in Alaska. This is only half my stash; I swear I have more screw bands than jars, though I can't fathom why that's the case.

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