Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.
Storage Jars and Containers for Everyday Use
We find that by using pots, jars, containers and caddies, whether they be glass, wood, metal, china or marble is a very convenient way to store dry food and keep utensils in our kitchen so that they're ready and to hand when needed.
I wrote this article to look at some of our storage solutions in the kitchen to demonstrate the versatility of these storage jars and vessels and how they can meet the everyday needs in the modern kitchen; and by doing so I also offer tips, suggestions and recommendations.
Versatility for Convenience
Storage containers come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from varying material such as glass, wood, metal, china and marble. The qualities that make good storage being looks (aesthetics, appearance, artistic), colour, material, design, shape and size, functionality (ease of use) and whether the jar or container blends into or contrasts in a pleasing way with your kitchen design or theme, and how important that may be.
As in our kitchen aesthetics (the look) of the container is more important than one may first imagine; as an example, one could wash a large empty baked bean tin, take the label off, and have a readymade and functional container for storing small kitchen utensils such as scissors and potato peeler, but one wouldn't although some may go on and decorate the baked bean tin (paint it) making it more acceptable as a valid storage container in the kitchen; whereas, a readymade stainless steel container (as shown above) is acceptable container.
Colour, material and design may not be so important unless they are part of a kitchen theme, part of a display or your keen to make them part of a matching set or theme.
Shape and size are important, matching the size of the containers to accommodate the product you wish to store. For this reason it's useful to keep a variety of empty storage containers in reserve (usually hidden away in the back of cupboard) so that they can be brought into use as and when required.
Functionality and ease of use are also important factors in deciding which storage containers to buy and keep e.g. containers with lids that are easy to remove, necks that are not too small for everyday use etc.
Of course, there are no golden rules on what storage containers are best and whether they will work in your kitchen; this is something that tends to be instinctive.
Glass Storage Jars With Lids
Storing and Preserving Food
These glass storage jars with lids are ideal for preserving food and keeping it fresh; the sets of small jars for herbs and the large ones for anything from cereal to preserves. When my wife made homemade rhubarb jam she found a set of medium sized jars with airtight lids ideal. And in the unlikely event that a lid should break then these jars are attractive and still great containers for open storage in the kitchen e.g. dependant on the size, keeping wooden spoons tidy in one place or scissors or marker pens for labelling freezer bags etc.
Repurposing Coffee Jars for Storage Containers
Functionality and Aesthetics
Above I mentioned how one could use an empty food tin as a storage container and that how most people wouldn't. However for anyone wanting a rustic look to their kitchen cleaning out an empty food tin and painting it may be just the job and if decorated artistically could look rather good in most kitchens and perhaps even better than some kitchen containers you can buy. We haven't gone this far ourselves, but the more I think about it the more appealing the idea is.
Another instant and free storage jar are all those empty coffee jars you throw out or these days put in for recycling the glass. We don't keep the empty coffee jars for storage because they look like empty coffee jars, although in practice they work just as well for food storage just as well as many food storage jars you can buy. However, many years ago one company went through a phase of jazzing up their coffee jars to look like storage jars (as pictured above) and consequently we've kept them specifically for that reason; even though in practice these old coffee jars are no different in functionality to any other coffee jar.
Although many of us do keep old jam jars and wine bottles for making our own jams and wines, and old sweet tins for cakes; and I'm sure there are many other containers we all throw away that with a little thought could be jazzed up to make excellent free storage containers for food in the kitchen.
Recently a friend gave us his old wooden bread bin and more recently his tea, coffee and sugar caddies which he replaced and was going to throw out. We took the bread bin because although we already have a wooden bread bin for daily bread we had nowhere proper to keep our homemade bread so the second bread bin being of the right size and shape is just ideal for this. I also took the matching set of his old coffee, tea and sugar caddies because they are too good to though out and I'm sure I'll make good use of them. The sugar caddy we've already made use of for storing Demerara sugar as his caddy set is not too dissimilar to our set and, although we don't use sugar in drinks or on food ourselves (mainly used for baking and beer and wine making) it's handy to have some readily available for guests who like sugar in their tea or coffee (often brown sugar in coffee). I've jet to find a use for his coffee and tea caddies so for the time being I've stored them away in my shed; but when we do find a use I should be able to carefully remove the existing labels and scribe something new on the side with the Dremel's engraving attachment if required.
Wooden Caddies in Our Kitchen - Tea, Coffee, Sugar and Bread
Storage of Wooden Spoons and Spatulas
Utensils to hand rather than in the kitchen drawer
Keeping utensils such as wooden spoons that you can’t hang up in kitchen drawers takes up valuable drawer space; so the ideal storage solution for these are pots with the added advantage that the utensils are handy too hand.
In our case we currently use a couple of marble containers and a stainless steel pot but an empty coffee jar or any other jar or container of a suitable size would work just as well although aesthetically they may not look as good.
Natural Antibacterial Properties of Wood
Wood is Good
When choosing spoons for cooking and baking I have a natural preference for wood because I’ve known of its natural antibacterial properties for years, which copper also has; but not glass or plastics.
For writing this article I spent some time researching on the Internet to see what the latest information is and was surprised to learn that even under laboratory conditions in scientific experiments in universities the natural antibacterial properties of wood can kill as much as 99% of bacteria in a short time (even without proper washing) whereas in comparison bacteria on plastics and glass can survive even when put through the dishwasher and continue to multiply afterwards.
Therefore when choosing food containers, chopping boards, kitchen utensils or any other surfaces/containers where cross food contamination might be high then wood is a good healthy option. And if you opt for plastics that come into contact with foods and may cross contaminate then extra care should be taken in their cleaning before reuse.
Safety of Wood
Considering the natural antibacterial properties of wood and copper I wonder how many people are aware of this and how many people actually use a wooden chopping board in their kitchen.
Your use of Wood in the Kitchen
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Arthur Russ
Your views and comments on kitchen storage jars
Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 16, 2017:
Judith Nazarewicz from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2012:
Great lens! I'm always looking for storage jars and container for my pantry and kitchen.