Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Food storage

Canning jars--useful for more than pickles
I cook with a fair amount of beans, split peas, lentils, rice, and pasta, and these things can be really inconvenient to store. Beans I tend to soak, cook, and can (and froze before that) so I didn't have to worry about soaking and cooking every time I wanted to use them. But the ones that don't require soaking and cook quickly--the lentils and split peas--they still need to be stored. And while most pasta can stay in the box, it's easier to see what you have and how much you have when you store it in clear containers. I got a bunch of canning jars from the friend of mine who gave me her pressure canner. Included in this were some ginormous ones--I think they are two- or three-quart size. I read somewhere that the USDA does not recommend that you use these for canning any longer, but they work just fine for storage. I have plastic screw caps that I had purchased specially for my canning jars--when I open a jar of home-canned salsa, beets, or beans, it's nice to know that I can just screw these on top and they'll stay fresh in the fridge. If I didn't have them, I'd use lids and bands.

Yeah, not pretty but it works.
Another thing I used was an old herb container that used to hold dried parsley. My mother gave me that and it's useful. I didn't soak off the label--I probably should--but I never claimed to be Martha Stewart. My kitchen is pretty and it's reasonably clean, but my storage solutions are more practical than pretty (with the exception of the canning jars).

I recently stopped off at the store with my mother because she thought the plastic storage containers she found there would be useful--they aren't clear but would do just fine for storage nonetheless. Especially considering the amount of soup I tend to make--these are freezer safe, and they're easy to hold.

I'll probably use these for soups or bulk items like oatmeal (which I eat a lot of), rice, or flour.  If I can find the taller versions (she swears there is a taller version) I can store spaghetti in it; I hate storing twirly pasta in the boxes and most of the containers made for spaghetti are either too slim (I buy in bulk) or too pricey (I don't hate storing it in boxes that much). 


  1. Those are half-gallon jars. I love them for storage. For pasta I get the two-gallon Glad storage or freezer bags. I use the bag until it wears out. So, one bag will last me forever, maybe two years or more just storing pasta. I use a Tupperware spaghetti storage container, but it will only hold maybe a pound of spaghetti. However, I will not buy another one. I bought this one when I it was sufficient for my needs. If you ever find a container that will hold pasta, let me know. Nothing is ever quite tall enough.

    The one thing I have, okay two things, are two Tupperware flat, rectangular storage containers, more like what you would put sandwiches or cupcakes in to store. Those may be pressed into service.

    For rotini, penne,and shells, I found a large glass container with the glass top that has the rubber? seal on the top. I just dump in everything, all the pasta. It ends up in layers. When I want pasta, I reach in a grab a handful of anything. It is pretty and serviceable.

  2. I use a lot of food service containers. Things like 1 gallon mayo or mustard containers. I have some 1 gallon containers with handles that I really like. These once held things like chili powder, cinnamon and imitation bacon bits (my kids used to eat these by the handful, so we have quite a few of those containers). But then again, we're a family and I buy things like mustard in a large container.
    I did buy a couple of very large plastic food storage containers for flours. I needed something airtight. I could've used plastic trash bins, but I was feeling girly that day and wanted something pretty. I like the idea to store long pasta flat. I don't know why I always think it needs to be standing up. The flat idea would be great for lasagna noodles as well as linguini and spaghetti.

  3. I know the USDA says not to use the larger jars, but the USDA says a lot of things that, while I appreciate the intent, I am a big girl, and am capable of my own educated decisions. Plus I have a buttload of apple cider and it won't all fit in the freezer and most of my quart jars are full. If I end up sick or worse from canning with the big jars, I have been warned. I will be sure to write a nice letter to the USDA to tell them that I should have listened to their sage advice.
    I do like the idea of putting some of my dry goods in the large jars - clear is the way to go.