by Tammy Taylor~
Back in ‘the day’, when I bought a bright shiny new box of canning jars, they came with a ready-made storage box. When those jars were emptied and clean I had an easy way to keep them relatively clean in storage. The jars were secure from breakage and separated by size. I’d simply stack those boxes of clean empty jars in the attic. When I needed canning jars I’d send RancherMan to the attic to fetch the correct size, wash ’em up and get to canning.
Oh where did those simple days go?? Now new canning jars are sold in what I consider an incomplete and unacceptable half box shrink-wrapped with plastic. There are no dividers to keep them from clinking together or anything! Of course you know I abhor the fact that there’s yet more unnecessary plastic being shoved down my proverbial throat. But also I’m wondering how you are supposed to properly store your canning jars in those boxes?
Contacting The Manufacturer
Although all canning jars seem to be sold this way these days I figured the Ball corporation was the largest manufacturer so I reached out to them and asked them about these dang half boxes. I also asked what they would suggest to use to properly store their canning jars – maybe a specialized container that didn’t cost an arm & a leg? They replied that Ball sold that portion of their business to a company named Jardin several years ago. Humm…. wonder if that’s when they cheapened up the packaging in an effort to make more money for themselves? More money for them yet less efficient for us, the consumer!
So I posed the same question to Jardin and have yet to receive the courtesy of a response. Looks like I’m on my own to find a solution. I did find an actual cardboard BOX manufacturer where you could buy these boxes. But you had to buy a certain quantity of each size that you wanted, and they were kinda pricey. And you know pricey doesn’t fly at the Taylor Household. Let’s put on our thinking caps…
I still have those few super-old complete canning jar case boxes with empty jars stacked in the attic. But I’m going to need something to store these canning jars I’ve bought in the cheap 1/2 boxes. Plus I’d like to also keep at least a canner-load quantity of jars a little more accessible so that I don’t have to ask RancherMan to shlep up into the attic each time I want to can something. Perhaps I can come up with a storage method that would allow a canner load of each size of jar to be stored neatly in our guest bedroom closet. Then if I need more than that I can have RancherMan fetch them from above. Let’s see now, what can we use?
Finding An Alternative Storage Box
We have a few of the super-heavy milk crates (you know, before they started mass producing them in the more flimsy plastic waffle material). So we thought perhaps they would be perfect to use for this project. They’re easy to grab and carry, yet heavy enough to securely hold those empty jars. So we brought the milk crates out of the storage shed and measured them to see if they would work. They are the perfect size for quarts, somewhat larger than a perfect fit for pints but we’re gonna make this work! (Note: DON’T try this with the flimsy light-weight crates you see everywhere these days! If you’re looking for the heavy-duty crates, you can still buy the heavier ones that hold 50 lbs or more *here) I repeat – I wouldn’t trust those cheap lightweight ones you can buy at the discount stores…
So RancherMan brought out some corrugated cardboard pieces he had saved for various uses and marked them to the measurements of the milk crates. He then went into his shop and cut them to size with a razor knife. Then he came back inside and measured the canning jar spacing & cut notches about halfway down each piece of cardboard. These cardboard pieces will become the dividers.
Then we assembled the dividers and placed the quart jars into the milk crate. I decided to place the regular mouth jars with the jar opening facing down, but the wide-mouth jars would face up. In the past I’ve often had to pick up and turn over each jar when looking for either wide or regular mouth jars so storing. This way makes for some quick grab-n-go convenience. PERFECT!
Adjustments Made For Different Sizes
With the pint jars we had to work it a little differently, adding an outside piece of cardboard to keep all the jars tightly packed. I’ll use that extra space on the exterior of the dividers to store the rings. LOVE IT! And the pints are the right size to double-stack in the cube so RancherMan cut a dividing piece of cardboard and TWO sets of jar dividers for those. OMGosh I’m gonna love this.
Although we have yet another heavy milk crate that we could use for the half pint jars if desired, I usually have a pretty steady stream of clean 1/2 pint jars in my kitchen cabinets since I use them as single-serving jars for my homemade yogurt. So for now I won’t bother with a separate storage space in the guest bedroom for them. But we have that milk crate standing at the ready in the event that I end up deciding to go that route for the 1/2 pint jars as well.
I also printed out a label for each crate indicating the contents – whether quart or pint jars. So if I send RancherMan to retrieve jars while I’m preparing the kitchen for canning it will be super easy for him to see the crate that I need.
Easy, Convenient Storage
Now let’s see how they work. These heavy milk crates stack neatly & securely in the closet, Quarts on the bottom, pints stacked on top.
Plus as I mentioned before, they’re easy to lift and carry a full canner load of jars into my kitchen. And since the storage crates are located right here in the guest bedroom I can return the clean empty jars to this location as they’re emptied instead of asking RancherMan to retreat back into the attic searching for the correct-sized jar box to return them one by one. Our attic stairs (and RancherMan) are going to LOVE THIS!
How do you store your empty canning jars?