A Homesteader’s Canning Shelves: Preserving Summer’s Bounty.

Canning Shelves 1 watermarled and titled 2014My canning shelves are as important to me as a biker’s Harley. Or a shopaholic’s purse collection. So it is with a lot of pride and a little anxiety that I share them with you today. I have spent countless hours collecting, preparing and canning local or home-grown food to preserve for the winter months when I have nothing left available to me in the grocery stores except conventional produce from countries so far away from me I will likely never see them. As you all know I prefer to grow my own food whenever possible, and since our growing season on the coast of BC Canada is relatively short, I need to preserve it. All summer long I have been harvesting and canning, freezing or dehydrating my own or locally sourced food. This provides us with a source of local, whole food when local is no longer available. I know where the food originated, I know how it was handled, and what went into it. I know that I am providing quality food for my family in the winter. And it feels good.

canning shelves 2014c watermarked

This summer was a particularly busy one. My husband, a commercial fisherman, was gone for most of the 3 summer months. It was my responsibility to take care of the kids, the farm, and the food-growing and -processing. With over 100 chickens to be processed, and the care of 40 plus layer chickens, 10 goats including milking and kidding, 3 pigs and 10 ducks, my time was tight. The large garden produced well and required many hours of labor. The daily activities of our family included, for the most part, feeding, cleaning, weeding, cooking and preserving. Thankfully we live on a piece of property where my children are safe to play because we didn’t have much time to stray from home this summer…

Canning Shelves Close up 4 watermarked

During a few days that my husband had available at home he built a new set of canning shelves for me. They needed to be strong, they needed to be big, and they needed to be earthquake-proof. Just in case. He used 3/4 inch plywood for the shelves. They are 2 feet deep (a sheet of plywood cut length-wise) which holds 6 quart-sized canning jars deep. Each shelf has an oak strip across the base of it that creates a lip so that no jars will slide off the shelves. The shelves go directly to the floor so that the weight will be borne by the floor not the wall. Canning jars are HEAVY!! I can easily climb these shelves without them giving a bit. My choice was to have the shelves staggered a bit for visual appeal which is what we did. My husband grumbled a bit because he knew that they would sag a bit, not being supported one beneath the other but only he really notices that. We filled in the nail holes and finished the shelves with tung oil, from a tung tree. As you enter the house you are confronted with a massive wall of canning jars, and food preservation tools. Most newcomers take one look and their jaws drop. It is quite a satisfactory feeling! Not unlike the feeling a biker gets when someone admires his Harley, or a shopper whose purse is praised. :) And not unlike the shopper, it is tempting to keep filling and collecting jars…..

So while some people show off unique pieces of art, I show off my canning. After all, many hours of dedication went into the creation of this work of art! And no, my canning is not for sale!

 

Canning shelves 2014d watermarked

 

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