Winter 2012 Update on The Great Wall of Preserving

Over the Holidays we cleaned the “Great Wall of Preserves” (I call it that very tongue-in-cheek).  Each bottle and shelf were cleaned with a bit of vinegar and water; it’s amazing what a difference it makes!

Winter 2012 Update on The Great Wall of Preserving well preserved shelf of preserves great wall of preserves

The most frequent question we get is about how much light they get.  We are in a long-narrow apartment.  There are windows at the front and the rear which prevents natural sunlight from ever directly lighting them.

A few notes on the contents:

  • All of the shelves are still pretty full (and there’s more stocked away)
  • We preserve in 2-year increments for most things.  The shelf will be about ‘half empty’ by the time summer rolls around, which is the goal.
  • A few notes on the contents:
    • The second shelf down in the first row contains active ferments that are ageing with an airlock in place.
    • Directly under the ferments are some of our dehydrated goods (there are 3 shelves of them in total).  We cook with these frequently.
    • The very bottom-left shelf is honey wine and strawberry wine.
    • There is an empty shelf in the middle; that was waiting for a case of tomato sauce that my parents brought over the holidays.
    • To the left of the empty spot is a pile of booze including our rumtopf in a giant cookie-jar.
    • The bottom of the row with the booze in it is a box with some of our canning supplies
    • Under the empty spot is a guest shelf.  One-off jars that were gifted or swapped to us.  It’s fun to have a guest shelf and reminds me of the amazing community that we’re lucky to be a part of.
    • The far right column also contains beans, flower, salts and sugars as well as vinegar and other general kitchen supplies.

Winter 2012 Update on The Great Wall of Preserving well preserved shelf of preserves great wall of preserves

 How do you store your preserves?


  1. This is awesome!! So glad you shared pics. Just a thought, you might want to add rails to make it a bit more earthquake proof:)

    • Hi Kim! Thanks.

      I’m probably going to regret saying this one day so I’ll knock on wood… :) We’ve had 2 earthquakes that I remember in my life; although it could happen, they aren’t likely. One of the quakes was a few years ago – the shelf looked like it does now. I ran for it at first, then ran away wondering what I would do if they all started to fall on me.

      One jar fell, lucky it didn’t break.

      However, the more I think about your idea, the more I think that it makes sense too – it would certainly stop a jar from landing on my foot as I pull another off the shelf. :)

  2. Discovering Life's Re-Purpose says:

    Hey Joel. I’ve been afraid of stacking home canned goods. I thought the pressure might affect the seal. Have you found this? Is it safe to stack a small can of something on top of a jar of tomatoes?

    • Heya Karen! Great to hear from you!

      I can only go on experience. I’ve done it for years and, in that time, lost 1 seal. I used to store the preserves in boxes and stack them. And while it wasn’t like the cans were sitting on each other, the fifth or sixth box in a pile had to be taking some pressure.

      For us, it just became necessity. We have an open living space that has 1 closet in the entire space. There’s not a lot of storage. So I stack. Our shelves won’t fit two large jars on top of each other but we’ll mix and match in any such way.

      As a note, you’ll see I also keep the rings on. Mostly that’s being lazy but it’s also for storage. They are loose and therefore allow the seal to blow if needed. I find that the jars actually rest as much (or more) on the ring than the seal.

      For right or for wrong, it’s what we’ve had to do and it’s worked. :) J

  3. Thanks for sharing. I love that you have your jars easily visible. Mine are in the front entry coat closet. I retrieve things from memory so, inevitably, something goes unused.

    • Heheh,

      Gwen I too use the memory system. A few years ago we stored them in boxes in stacks – I would have to remember to pull out the right box, rifle through it and look. I also have a nasty habit of not labeling anything so memory is further tested. :)

  4. I stack my jars too, but I take the rings off so I have a better chance of knowing that a seal let go. I keep my small batch and fancy preserves in an old storage tower left over from a bathroom reno, in the basement laundry room, so I can see them and remember to use them. Big jars, or plain staples (tomatoes, beets, applesauce) I tend to leave in their boxes on a storage shelf. I would love to have everything on display in my kitchen, but it gets too much sun.

  5. this is inspiring! my canning cupboard is about 1/4 the size of yours and it’s awkward to find things as it’s low and deep. i have bins in it for garlic/onions and potatos/squashes, as well… i’m hoping my garlic and shallot crop will fill one of them up this spring :)

  6. I have shelves in my clothes closet to hold all my filled jars. I also don’t have a lot of space so it’s fun to find room for everything! But over Christmas my husband and I built a “great wall of shelves” (13′x13′) to fill with all my cooking equipment. So now my canning supplies are off the ground and I have more counter space to utilize in food preserving. Super excited to finished organizing everything before things start to grow again :)

    • Love your ‘great wall of shelves’ idea Nichole – it must be AWESOME!

      Before we had our ‘wall’ we stored everything in boxes. I remember having to lift 10 boxes out of the way to get to one at the bottom.. it was endless work… so much easier now! :)


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