Friday, August 26, 2016

Canning Shelves

After three years of not growing enough tomatoes to can, this year we are having a bumper crop and I've been canning like there is no tomorrow. Who knows, it might be another three years before we get another canning crop. So as I carried a case of newly canned salsa to add to the stash (one of several) and in doing so, I found two more cases of three year old salsa that I didn't know we had, this after spending a year eating store bought salsa (yuck), I knew something had to change. So I found some cheap 1 x material at the local big box store and got to work.

I'm a big fan of using Kreg screws and associated jig for building things like that but I was worried about the integrity of it with the weight of all my canned veggies on it so I decided to go old fashioned and make a dado joint in the side pieces. That with some glue should be all the support I need to hold up all those full canning jars. Fortunately, I have the simple jig you see clamped to the boards above. The bottom thinner board was much longer when I glued the stained guide rail (leftover from another project) to the thinner board. I then put a 3/4 dado bit in my router and cut it to size running my router along the fence. Now to get a perfect dado, I merely align it to the pencil line of where I want my dado and make a pass with the router. Easy as pie and I usually do a couple boards at once to speed up the process and make the shelves perfectly matched.

Just a gratuitous spider shot I took while out picking another 15 gallons of tomatoes to can. I couldn't get my phone camera to focus on him when looking down with the tomato plants in the background so I crouched down so I could get him against the sky. That worked out well.

Later the next day, this is how the canning storage area in our basement now looks. I built it in a narrow spot right inside the door where it was too shallow to stick actual shelves for storage and has just been a spot for storing flat folded cardboard boxes and a card table. For reference, the shelves are seven feet tall and five feet wide and 9-1/2" deep with a lip built in front to help support the shelves from bowing and preventing jar from accidentally falling to the floor. As you can see, thanks to a bumper crop of tomatoes, we are heavy on them right now and light on the fruits. I'm thinking about canning some apples this year to use in pies and such versus how I normally preserve them in the freezer.  I would also like to do some pickles sometime but I have lots of other pickled vegetables already so it isn't a necessity. All in all, I just feel a whole lot better about canning more things now that I have a way to easily access what I have and know how much left I have.


Kelly said...

Look at all those tomatoes!! We get lots, but not so many we can't eat them all summer (plus share if they get overwhelming). I tried canning with a pressure cooker years ago, but it always made me nervous. Instead, I switched to pickling (mainly squash) which only required a hot water bath and blanching/freezing peas and beans. I don't even do that anymore since there's a man that comes to town with bushels already frozen. Works well enough for just the two of us. Besides, we grew weary of fighting the deer and other critters.

Love your new setup. I bet it's nice to just stand there and gaze at that with satisfaction.

Love the spider pic, too.

Ed said...

Kelly - A lot of the tomatoes are plain chunked tomatoes or salsa. But I also did some spaghetti sauce, plain tomato sauce and tomato juice as well. Hopefully all that will last a couple years. I don't mind buying canned tomatoes but I really can't stand any substitutes for homemade canned salsa.

I understand how pressure canners can be intimidating and I actually saw one fail once many years ago. A rubber seal failed under pressure. Since then, I always check my seal before starting and replace it ever so many years with a new one.

I cannot lie, I have spent a few moments admiring the shelves of food when I pass by. If a zombie apocalypse occurs, maybe I have enough to get through the initial wave!

Vince said...

I did a pickling a few years ago and never used any of them. What seemed a good idea to use up the last of the tomatoes simply became a dust collecting spot of pretty colours only to be tossed on the compost about two years later.

Bob said...

Those tomatoes are beautiful! And the shelving is nothing short of genius!