Craft,  Up-Cycling

Upcycling Old Preserving Jars

Up-cycling is an important and valuable part of permaculture but not one that is easy to do for everyone and is seldom done to a higher standard than purchased goods. This year we have reached the point at which our permaculture food system is producing higher amounts of produce with considerably reduced inputs to the early day of growing our own food. This has caused us some issues with storage the last thing we want to do is raise our energy consumption to store food by buying another freezer.

Fiona my wife has always used the residual heat from our wood-fired Rayburn cooker to bottle food. Once our evening meal is cooked the heat of the stove continues to heat our hot water but is also capable of bringing a large pressure cooker up to pressure with four one litre jars in it to sterilise some of our produce. But this year we have already used up all our existing jars with more than fifty percent of our produce yet to be stored. This necessitated purchasing more jars, so trawling through small ads for second-hand jars produced a good hall from one seller just a few kilometres away.


Some of the jars on offer were old and seals for them are not readily available, so I suggested we solve another problem with these jars. We also need to store more dry goods than ever before.

While we could simply clean these jars and use them as they are I felt they could be improved with better fitting and more attractive lids which would actually make them chic and more functional.

The first job is to take off the wire which creates the hinge for the lid.


I then clean these up with a rotary wire brush fixed to my lathe.


Then find a piece of wood I can turn a new lid from in this case it’s a piece of fire wood. The wood is Beach which has started to decay, this is called spalting and it creates some amazing colours in the wood.


I cut it to a size slightly larger than the glass lid and mount it on the lathe.


Firstly turn it down to a cylinder the same diameter as the lid.


Then turn a step that matches the bottom of the lid but slightly larger as there will be no rubber joint added to the wooden lid.


Then I can turn the wood round and hold it in a chuck to do the rest of the turning.


You can see the colours in the wood now, I then turn a slot in the side of the cylinder to match the top of the glass lid, the dimensions are very important here so the wire fits in the slot and the lid is able to close snugly against the jars body.


Now I can be creative with the shape above the slot to create a pleasing finished shape.


Now I put on a facemask and sand the lid to a good finish.


Now it’s time to put some food grade oil on the lid, nut oils are good for this, then put it all back together again.


Note the nice clean wire now, now fit the wire back to the new wooden lid and then to the wire on the jar.


In comparison to the original I think it’s been lifted to a new level.


Repetition of the above steps gets you a nice set of storage jars.


The translucent jars lets you see which part of your abundance you have stored in the jar.


Only eight more to make now, it takes about 25 minutes to up-cycle a jar, less time than it takes to write an article. Each jar cost 50 centimes’ and all the wood was scrap from other projects or firewood.

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