Storage Jars For Specimens and Chutneys

It’s that time of year, as Samhain approaches, when you should clear out your home. Not that pesky spring cleaning stuff but the deep clean needed before winter sets in.

It gets rid of the bugs and the moth larva. Yeah the cold of winter will help keep them all dormant or flat out kill them, but if you get rid of them now you won’t have to deal with the hatching part. You know when the weather starts to warm up again – or when you turn on your new fangled central heating and confuse them and find a wasp in the bathroom with you on Christmas day.

You can air the bedding you put away in spring. You can shift furniture about and start to think about where you’ll put that big old tree. You can begin to fill the storage jars.

Cleaning out the Dungeon

Now if you’re normal folk you will most likely fill these with preserved fruits, chutneys, jams, pickled anything, sweets, or biscuits. But if you’re of the horrific type you will be thinking of much more grizzly contents.

Either way there are things you need to consider when choosing your storage jars.

Storage Jars

Considerations for your Storage Jars

There are some things that must be thought about before hand, otherwise you could find yourself in a sticky situation and unable to fit everything in. So here is the essential list of considerations for picking storage jars:

  • The size – smaller is better for chutneys, larger is better for *ehem* specimens.
  • Are the storage jars air tight? – If you are going to be storing the contents for a long stretch of time you should be sure it seals tight to prevent mold and contamination (or bugs getting in – you won’t get them all when cleaning, have you ever seen flour weevils?).
  • Tall or wide? – You should consider your storage facilities, is the jar you’ve chosen going to fit on the shelf you’ve allocated for it? There is nothing worse than having random storage jars, too big for your kitchen shelves, on the floor in the hall instead of the umbrella stand.
  • If it’s an old jar does it have seals and do those seals need replacing?
  • How will you sterilize it? – dishwashers work well for this but the size of the jar could cause problems. You can also buy sterilizing tablets and put the larger storage jars in the bath or something. Make sure to do the measurements correctly though.
  • Is the jar seethrough? Do you need to consider labels? – Best to use the date of jarring on the outside somewhere and perhaps even some sort of indication of what’s in the storage jars. Three months down the line it might not be so obvious.
  • Do you need to buy some sort of liquid or gel to suspend the item in for your viewing pleasure? Make sure to make a note of the combined volumes of all of the jars you intend to fill before you go to the store. Yes some of that will be displaced because of the item you are displaying but better to have too much than not enough.
  • Will you be giving some as gifts? – Igor particularly likes to receive gifts that he can reuse and storage jars are great for this. Filling it with his favourite sweet chutney for Christmas, with a nice packet of dry crackers, only requires a pretty ribbon around the top and a stuffed robin to decorate. He will eat the lot then clean and sterilize and repurpose.
  • Is the material suitable for purpose? – Plastic storage jars might be cheaper but will they degrade with the contents you fill it with?
  • Do you have appropriate equipment to fill them with? – for example if you’re filling the jars with liquid you probably need a funnel.
Storage Jars

Storage Jars are an investment and you should take everything you need them to do into consideration. I particularly like Kilner jars, they have a nice seal and a clasp to keep them closed. Also those old fashioned sweet jars work a treat, they work so well at sealing themselves that sometimes I just can’t get the darn things open. I don’t rely on these ones though to keep their seal and prefer to put things in them that don’t require preserving or that will be used much sooner.

I always like a pretty label on with some indicator of what’s inside as well as the date it was sealed. Because sometimes air does get in and you can end up with the most fowl smelling green/grey stuff inside and no idea what it is you’ve lost.

Therapeutic Properties

There is something about the preparations for winter that I find therapeutic. It’s great to clear out the clutter, it’s sort of like clearing out your mind, but because the work is mostly physical it can help you to take a break from all those brain twisting problems you normally deal with.

Once you have all your storage jars and your fillings you can set up a production line, put on a good movie and just become a repetitive robot. You don’t need to think too much – fill the jars, seal the jars, label the jars, store the jars, wipe the bench.

You’ll feel like you accomplished something really impressive, have stored things that can be used over the winter and have been way more productive than you probably are doing your normal tasks.

Plus you’ll really feel the season. It feels right. Something from your ancestors surfacing. This is what they did, this is what you do.


I hope you find the storage jars you need and should you be lucky enough to have any more unusual ones feel free to share in the comments.