Last year being our first “serious” year of gardening and growing our own food and produce, I spent much of the spring and summer collecting jars. In previous year, I had gathered up all the loose and boxed jars in various outbuildings throughout the farm, and was thus facing the prospect of buying enough jars to store much the harvest of what we had already planted. I was hoping for at least 24 dozen jars — a good $200 worth, with lids and rings. And so, the quest began.
First, I recruited coupons from all the non-canning coupon collectors I know. Then, in early spring, when the jar prices were still fairly low, I began to grab up a dozen here and there. Most were Golden Harvest jars from Family Dollar – which worked just as well as the traditional Ball and Mason. When prices began to increase in late summer, by then I had coupons in hand to help sway the cost. In addition, my CEOS Club (formerly WVU Homemakers) ladies searched through their pantries and outbuildings for jars remaining from garden lives past, and brought me another three dozen jars.
I am convinced — you just can’t get enough jars. As long as the rim of the jar isn’t chipped or nicked, and the flats fit smooth and snug – it’s a good jar as far as I’m concerned. (I prefer Ball flats and rings.)
I’m willing to give away green beans, tomatoes, leaf lettuce — but I’m also known for saying, “I want my jar back.”
I collected my new and used canning jars on wide shelves out on the side porch. The purchased new ones waited in their sectioned-off boxes with plastic wrap, and the gathered used ones waited upside down in their own boxes too.
When I began canning tomatoes in full force, my first temptation was to throw away the jar boxes as the filled jars moved in to the pantry. But then I realized — as the seasons passed, I would be transferring the emptied jars back to the porch shelves. Instead of tossing the boxes, I put them empty on the shelves of the side porch. Now, I keep an empty under the kitchen sink and fill it as we empty and wash the jars. When the box is full, I take it out to the side porch, and bring another empty box in to go under the sink.
This systems seems to be working fairly well. I’m now rotating about 200 jars through this process. The problem is — I still need more jars and my porch shelves are full of jar boxes, and my pantry won’t hold any more filled jars. I could move the empty jar boxes into the outbuilding, but it is full of tomato cages and stakes, bushel baskets, planting trays and gardening tools. I could put them on the other side porch, but it has the camping gear that once was stored in the outbuilding until we started a garden…
This spring, we may have to build a building just for camping gear — and another one just for jars.