Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Canning Shelves and 2012 Harvest

Considering this was our first summer at our new home and we didn't realize how different gardening here was in regards to climate and pests, we still preserved a lot after fresh eating and giving away to friends.  As always, we grew everything from seed; and this year the only produce we purchased was peaches which cost $50.00.  In the picture you see a snapshot of what I canned this year, but listed below is the more thorough list.  Obviously we need somewhere to put all of these jars so Jon built a really sturdy shelf to hold everything.  

Applesauce: 21 quarts
Apple Cider: 19 quarts
Beans: 39 quarts
Beets: 6 pints
Carrots: 30 quarts
Okra (pickled): 3 quarts, 10 pints
Okra (with Tomatoes): 6 quarts, 4 pints
Okra (for frying): 3 quarts
Peaches: 19 quarts
Peach Pie Filling: 5 pints
Pickles (Dill): 11 quarts, 41 pints
Pickles (Bread & Butter): 13 pints
Squash & Orange Jam: 7 half-pints
Pumpkin & Orange Spiced Jam: 2 pints, 7 half-pints
Tomatoes: 9 quarts (a lot went into the freezer)

Butternuts: 19
Pie Pumpkins: 22
Acorn Squash: 22
We originally wanted to use large logs from our woods for the 4 corner posts of the shelf, but we discovered termites in one log after we chiseled out the holes.  We didn't want to risk the other 3 logs being infested with termites so we looked for 4x4s at the lumberyard to only discover that only treated 4x4s were sold locally.  We certainly don't want treated lumber next to our food and in our basement so we went to plan C and put two, untreated 2x4s together for each post. 

 To cut out the holes, we used a jigsaw.

It was a good feeling when the holes lined up because there were a lot of holes and consequently a lot of error involved.

Stepping back to look at progress...

The skeleton shelf is now complete!  Measurements (in inches): 96w x 81h x 26d

Two of the shelves were made with pallets that we salvaged from a free wood pile.  This wasn't necessary, but since we have the tools, we decided to put the boards through the planer to make them smooth and the same thickness. 

We designed this structure so it can be easily disassembled.  The boards for the shelves aren't attached but they are sturdy enough that they won't slip off the support boards.

We still have a wine rack to build for last year's mead, maple syrup to tap, and future honey to extract!  These shelves will be filled soon!

Update: Within 3 years I ran out of space!  Each shelf holds about 150 jars.


Jenn Mer November 10, 2012 at 4:13 PM  

Holly, this is incredible! I love watching you three wood work and resolve challenges through smart thinking. You use free local resources that are healthy for your family and your shelves are now packed with nourishing foods to keep you fed until your next harvest. Your journey inspires me to preserve more food, share more with my neighbors, barter for local services, to spend more time at home, to help my children find their own imaginative "ship", to make time to take in the bees/owls/turkeys, and to live life at a slower pace. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with your readers!

Sarah August 22, 2016 at 7:52 AM  

Looks stunning

Anonymous February 4, 2017 at 3:58 PM  

I had been building shelves for the last few years {as one set gets filled up I put together another one} would suggest using bi-fold door panels for the shelf panels, don't worry about the 2x4 stringer and space the up rights about 3-4 feet apart and they will support 25 or so half gallon jars filled with anything from rice, beans, salt, wheat berries, to honey or bottles of lamp oil or cooking oil and never had so much as one crack the panel let alone break the shelf, and habitat for humanity / restore usually sells them for $1 each, just match them up for the width.
We have about 30-40 feet of shelves 12" to 16" deep floor to ceiling built this way now.
Hope this helps

Anonymous April 21, 2018 at 8:05 AM  

awesome . thanks , i need to build some shelves for my canning .

Anonymous September 23, 2021 at 8:16 PM  

you said this was easy to take apart. Are any of the cross bars or shelves nailed/glued together? Also, what did you use for the other shelves that aren't the pallet boards? Thanks!

Holly September 29, 2021 at 6:01 PM  

None of the shelves are glued together or nailed they're all just compression fits with the wood. The shelves that do not have pallet boards are just 4x8 sheets of plywood cut to fit.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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