Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cart For My Canning

Over the last few months, I have acquired a new hobby that is taking up a huge amount of space in my tiny little kitchen.  It's a worthwhile hobby, which is leading to other new hobbies for me.  The best part about these hobbies is that they will (hopefully) be saving my family money, in a lot of different ways.

The original new hobby is canning.  Yep.  I'm a canner and I'm not ashamed of it.  I'm slowly emptying out my chest freezer and canning everything in there that I am able to.  Money saving benefit of this is:  as I empty out my freezer, I won't need such a big, electricity hog, and will be able to invest in a smaller one.  My ultimate goal is to only need it to store milk, baked goods, and flat frozen freezer meals.  It's coming along.  However, I digress.  

The canning equipment is space consuming.  Canning pots (I have a water bath canner and a pressure canner) are BIG.  Really BIG.  They take up a lot of space, and that is space that is better used for food that has been canned, or dry ingredients, or just about anything else.  And then there are the towels, the funnels, the lid lifters, the lids and rings themselves, the jar lifters, the pectin, canning salt, citric acid...... The list is really endless.  And it took over my pantry space quite rapidly.  

Since I have been challenged by one of my friends to get my house cleaned up and organized before the end of the year, I figured this was a good place to start.  I had been on a hunt for a decent cart that can support a lot of weight (that pressure canner is heavy), and store a lot of stuff.  And it had to fit into an area that is about 30in x 25 in.  It had to be under $100.  It had to be sturdy and long lasting.  It had to look decent.  

TALLY HO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The hunt is on!!!!!!!!!!!!

After a couple of months of searching, something appeared at (No, this is NOT a paid advertisement for them.  I'm not getting anything from them for mentioning them.  This just happened to be where we found the cart.)  Now, Overstock is not my usual go-to place for shopping (thrift stores are really more in my price range), but my mom pointed me in the direction of a really cool cart that just about met all my requirements.  

On Friday, it arrived (three days sooner than originally expected.  Awesome job Overstock!), and was put together.  

 It came with a handle, but I really didn't need it so we didn't put it on.  If there comes a time when I do need it, we still have it tucked away, and will be able to use it.  But it's just perfect handle-less.  

I also had that set of three clear plastic drawers tucked away in a closet, and had used them for some sort of craft supply, but I cleaned it out and am putting it to MUCH better use.   

The three drawers store my funnels, lid lifters, jar lifters, pectins of varying sorts, lid tightener, cheese cloth and jelly bag.  I'm probably going to replace the drawer pulls to something a little cuter, because that's how I roll.  
I also found two small crates when I was cleaning out, These crates are perfect for sorting my rings and plastic lids.  

I can now organize them according to size (wide mouth and regular) which will also speed up the process a little bit.  It was a troublesome having all the rings and lids in one box, and forever trying to sort through them.  Also, the crates aren't enclosed, so if the rings are still damp from being washed, they will be less inclined to rust, because the air flow is better.  Labels for these two crates are coming, and when the arrive and are attached, I will be showing them off.

I already had my lids (also known as "flats") sorted into plastic CD boxes I got from our local dollar store.  I sort them according to "Used" or "New".  The "used" lids are not used for canning, but kept on hand in case some sort of weird crafting bug strikes me, or I want a lid on a jar, but don't want to seal it.  I can use one of the used lids for that.  

I will be properly labeling the boxes later on.  These boxes are stackable, so when my supply of new lids gets out of control (and it will), I can have one box for wide mouth lids and one for regular lids.  

The top shelf is reserved for my "babies".  I actually took down all the large stock pots I use in canning and fit them into the large water bath canning pot on the right.  The lid rests on a pot on the second shelf.  Moving all my big pots to one location freed up space for my empty jars that are currently waiting to be filled with produce from the garden we are putting in (one of my other new hobbies, but that's a future post).  

I now have room under my pantry shelves for my 5 gallon buckets of bread flour and all purpose flour, which is great.  I also have an extra small bucket down there for empty bags or for berries when I get on a berry canning roll.  (It's easier to put unwashed and unprepped berries into the small bucket while prepping them for canning.  But more on that in a future post, when strawberries are ripe.)

So that's pretty much it.  It's a just another chapter in my perfectly imperfect life. I'm loving it, and it's coming along in an awesome way.