Country Living Series

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My canning closet is complete!

Some of you may remember from a long time ago that we had plans to turn an unused bathroom into a canning closet.  I'm thrilled to report that it's done!

This project goes back to last spring.  At that time, my husband noted the extensive unrest going on in the world at that moment: North Korea, Afghanistan, riots in Greece, bank failures, European unrest, the BP oil spill. He paused, then added, “A canning closet is a very good idea.”

So anyway, last March I assembled all my canning paraphernalia into the bathroom, but since the non-working facilities were still in place (shower stall, toilet, sink), I had to work around them.

In mid-June, we emptied the bathroom of all my canning supplies once again...

...and Don stripped out the shower stall, sink, and toilet.

Then our home business started getting busy for the summer, so once again all the canning stuff and food buckets were moved back into the now-stripped-out bathroom to wait for our slow season.

Now that our business has slowed down, Don has worked hard to finally turn this space into a proper canning closet.

Last June we were given two enormous and beefy shelving units by a new neighbor who was cleaning out some unneeded stuff from a shop building.

We disassembled the units and brought them home, where they stayed in the barn all summer.

Now we started installing the shelf boards into the room.

First shelf:


Third and fourth shelves.

Don secured the shelves tight enough to support an adult's weight.  (He says they remind him of the bunks during his Navy days.)

We also installed a slimmer, more colorful shelving unit on the opposite wall.

Next step: the laborious transferring of all the canned goods that were temporarily stored in Younger Daughter's closet (this is just a fraction of what was stored there).  She says this blog post should be titled "Hallelujah!" because now she has her closet back.

We piled all the jars up, waiting for me to inventory and sort.  This is nowhere near all the jars I have canned.

It took several hours, but eventually all the jars were inventoried and organized.  We still have to install thin removable brackets across the front of each shelf in case of earthquake.

With the two sets of shelving units, the little canning closet is crowded with not much room to move around.  But it holds a staggering number of jars!  Rough count, 265 quarts and 450 pints of fruits, vegetables, meats, stews, sauces, etc.

I can't keep out of it.  I'll stand in the doorway and just admire.  Or sit on the stepstool and marvel.  I tweak and fiddle and rearrange.  It is truly - truly - a place of beauty.

And it's all due to my husband's hard work and ingenuity.


  1. That is absolutely gorgeous!!! I love it when something practical in our homes can be beautiful at the same time. Your husband did a great job. I admit, I'm envious!

  2. Beautiful!! But it's more that just your husband's hard work, you put a lot of effort into filling and canning all those jars! I have a similar experience but on a much smaller scale...when my son was home from college 3 weeks ago he built a nice 7' tall shelf unit with adjustable shelves to hold my supply of canned food, and after staining it, we moved it into the room and filled it up. I often stand there admiring it. Now we need to get some more wood and build a couple more. But it was a good start.

  3. Love it! I also like to go and gaze at all the jars in my food storage room. Mine are stored on heavy-duty metal shelving units, but I sometimes wonder if I have exceeded the load limit. I might need to check that before I get a nasty surprise!

  4. Its so pretty!!! :) Congrats!!! I love my pantry the same. It is actually peaceful to me ;)

  5. very impressive :)

  6. uh oh...I feel another case of pantry envy coming on! I've been working to figure out how to best handle the home canned stuff. I'm not sure I want to double stack them....argh! Yours sure looks real nice!

  7. Wow! Looks wonderful. I am trying very hard not to be envious. : ) What a testament to all your hard labor.

  8. I feel pantry envy oozing out... But am thrilled for you. A thing of beauty.

  9. That is truly a work of genius and a thing of beauty. I want one!! My guest bathroom seldom has guests, so how about sending Don down here to make one for me? I promise not to keep him.

    Anonymous Patriot

  10. oh wow!!!!!!!!!!!! what a great job. i and my husband work on ours this summer and like you always moving things around now it all has a places to live may you all be bless with a full pantry unill the lord comes cheryl s.e. wisconsin

  11. Save the Canning JarsOctober 19, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Very Pretty! Lets check your DNA...I think you must be an Amish descendant.

  12. Earthquakes? Are you at risk for them in your neck of the woods?

    I love how beautiful home-canned foods look stacked in the pantry. I only have a couple dozen(so far) and I love to go look at them too!

    Andrea S

  13. It's a thing of beauty. Truly! This next year will be my year for canning. I'm wondering, is this all from your garden? And how do you go about planning the amount to plant, harvest and can? Is it based on experience from seasons before, or is there some sort of equation?

    I love brightly colored, organized storage. Especially when it means security.

  14. Beautiful! I would stare at it for hours!

  15. Fantastic! There is much beauty and peace of mind in a pantry like that.

  16. we had a walk in closet that was bigger than the "little" bathroom so that is what we used...husbands are so good with hammer and nails/screws and now we have canning pantries just like in the Ammish and Mennonte communities. i laugh when company comes to visit cause they have to see the pantry before sitting down to, they always let me know what they are short on and could really use when the holidays roll around.

  17. I love it!! I have to convince my wife to let me do that to our spare bedroom. Now I have a visual aid thanks to you and your husband.

    Although I do have a lot of catching up to do in the canning department.

    Thanks for sharing all that you do.

  18. The only thing missing for Don would be a constant pitching back and forth with some unrelenting background noise. Ahh...Now you are at sea.

  19. It's beautiful. I really like the photo of Don taking a well deserved nap on the shelf.

  20. Aw, the fruits of all your labor. Wonderful reward!

  21. I've really enjoyed your column. I have a question about canning. I've never used a pressure cooker (haven't found anyone to teach me) and I want to know how they canned non-acidic items in the past and can it be done safely?

  22. What a sight! It brings about a feeling of calmness and security. Wonderful job both of you.

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  23. What peace it must bring you to see all your hard work.
    To anonymous October 20, 2010 7:04AM Go to your county extension office and see if they have a master food preservers office and see when they have classes. Ours teaches public classes and teaches to become Master food preservers. That's where my hubby and I learned.
    Donna B.

  24. According to the government, you are most likely hoarding and hence a threat to national security you food terrorist. Don't you know you are supposed to have BPA in all your cans when storing your genetically modified foods thanks to Monsanto? Just kidding, nice build out. Wish I could convince my wife to do something like that.

  25. Shiny crystal jars, jewel toned fruits and vegetables, sturdy shelves, the sun lightly glinting... is it strange that some of us find a well stocked pantry beautiful? The only thing prettier is half-naked toddlers splashing and giggling in a spraying sprinkler or a tiny newborn tucked safely in warm bunting. Life is what's beautiful, and that pantry makes it possible.

  26. ok, my dear husband is truely inspired by your pantry. I walked in the door from work and the first thing he says to me is : "I think our 2nd coat closet would make a nice pantry". My reply is "what?" ( we have 4 huge metal , floor to virtually the ceiling, racks in the basement that we use as pantry). Later he says :" well, maybe we should tear out the upstairs bathroom ( THE main bath in the house too by the way) and make THAT a pantry ...." I give him a dirty look ,as I am just logging in on the computer to read my blogs for the evening. I bring up your screen , see the topic and start to laugh. His comment was ," I wondered how long it would take you to figure out what I was talking about.

    I really DO need to put that lock on my laptop so he can't read your blog before me . Hahaha

  27. ROFLOL Tina! I read your comment out loud to my husband and we both got a chuckle. Hey, don't discourage your DH's enthusiasm! Except you might want to avoid the main bathroom of the house....

    - Patrice

  28. *Sigh*

    I wish I had some unused space to do that. When we moved here, I thought I was fortunate to have TWO pantries! But now, four years later, I'm realizing that they just aren't big enough.

    Yes, there are two of them, but they're only 3 cans deep. Because of that, we have stores in nearly every room of the house. I really need to take inventory and code each item so I know exactly where to find it!


  29. Hey a bunker in the canning room ..... me thinks not such a bad idea! Very good use of space. What an awesome man! You can tell hime I said that....


  30. What a great room! We're working on designing our country house now, and should definitely incorporate a canning storage room.

    What kind of calculations did you make regarding the weight and whether the floor would support it?

    City Roots, Country Life

  31. We have a 4x7 bathroom that just sits there. The toilet is used maybe six to ten time a week, the tub a handful of times a year, the sink only for brushing the kids' teeth. The only regular user is our potty-training two year old, who is already learning from her siblings to stand in line for the master bath (where the books are, close to the TP storage).

    I wish I could get permission to do a conversion like this. Unfortunately, "turning bathrooms and unused bedrooms into storage areas" is one of the behaviors of a compulsive hoarder, so I know better than to ask lest I lose permission for the 2x3 foot closet I have.