2011-10-09

The search for storage

As part of our quest, we need to find a new storage solution for our kitchen consumables. We've got some plastic canisters for flour and sugar currently, but we'd like to have a little consistency with newer purchases. We would also like to switch to glass to avoid any pitfalls of plastics like BPAs, foreign flavors, and staining from things like oils.

Many, many times on that Zero Waste Home blog we've seen the author Bea mention the jars she uses, made by a French company Le Parfait. They're a bit expensive but they look cool and could do double-duty should we decide to attempt canning of some sort. They come in several sizes, so to me the biggest issue in considering buying some is how many and which sizes to get. I have this fear of having a bunch of the wrong size and not having anything to put in them while having a bunch of other stuff that I don't have an adequate size to use for.

These are some of the things we'd be using them for. Maybe this will help us figure out how to plan sizes and numbers.

  • Whole wheat flour could probably use one of the 3 L jars. That's probably close to equivalent with what we've got for flour already. If we continue to make most of our bread (and pizza!), maybe two would be good if only because it would significantly aid in rotating our stock of flour.
  • Wheat gluten could probably stand to be in the .5 L size. I'll only end up using a tablespoon or two per batch of dough, so we can get away with keeping less on hand.
  • Cornmeal and flax seed meal might work best in the 1 L size. I go through enough cornmeal as non-stick material on the pizza stone that we need plenty, but I don't use quite so much that I want to let it go bad because we have too much. We're starting to use flax in the breads I'll make, plus we dump some in things like oatmeal and yogurt so I think we'll get through it quickly enough.
  • Corn flour might be best in the 3 L as well. That is assuming we find it to be a worthwhile and pleasurable enough experience to make our own tortilla chips.
  • We're hoping to find a somewhat coarse salt in the bulk aisle, and when we do, we could surely make a 1 L jar last quite a while. I'd be worried a smaller jar of salt would just mean we'd have to refill it too much. Baking soda, too, perhaps. These will work even if we have to end up buying the salt in boxes anyway.
  • We could use a 2 L for oats, maybe 3 L. I'm not sure how big a standard cylinder of Quaker oats is, volume-wise, but we should be able to get through it quickly enough between breads and oatmeal.
  • For butter, I think next time we make some we can either just use a Pyrex bowl again or try to shape it into a stick and continue to use our butter dish.
  • At some point we'll need more rice, but .5 L of rice would probably last quite a while.
  • Same for any various other grains or legumes; perhaps two to four additional .5 L jars for various uses would be fine.
  • For meat and cheese, I've seen the suggestion that 1 L jars work well, so perhaps one of each for those purposes although there might be a need for more if we got multiple kinds of cheeses.
We're also going to try to find bulk cereals we like, but Jess was thinking of a different style jar for those sorts of things. I'd guess we'd want two to four of that sort of jar at first.

So looks like a decent start might be something like three 3 L jars, six .5 L, and maybe six 1 L jars. The problem there, as I mentioned, is that these are expensive. Just these few jars from Amazon (only place I've seen to buy these kind of jars) would cost us $220. For 15 jars.

Perhaps we should look at alternatives for now, maybe some different jars for normal purposes and only get cannable jars if we actually do some canning.

We're going to World Market in a bit to see what options they have, might come home with some cloth napkins for when our paper ones run out.