7 November 2007

Covering your food

You might think the subject of today's post is a bit odd but it's the unusual things that aren't generally thought about in today's consumer driven life that make the simple home what it is. Today's topic - corks, lids and food covers.

We had a recent post about jars so lets start with jar lids. Mason jars have two types of lids. You have the general metal screw on lid as well as a variation of that - the two part lid. When you buy these lids and have to replace them, you can just buy the centre piece, which saves buying more metal. The centre disc holds the rubber which makes the jar air tight. It is that part that will wear out, and therefore need replacing. See below.

These lids act as a general lid for a mason jar but I use them when I'm growing sprouts too. I remove the central disc and use a piece of netting or loose weave cotton cloth. I screw that on to the jar with the screw down section and then have a very good glass container that I can run water into, drain easily and stand on its lid so the water can drain out.

And the end result of the sprouting.

There are different types of lids that can be used on glass jars. The green lids below are the Fowlers Vacola lids that you can buy to fit on your preserving jars when you open them. It's not a good idea to keep the metal lid on the jar when it's open. But you don't need to buy the FV lids. The red lid below is in a Fowlers jar but it's actually the stopper from a French mustard pot - recycled from my son's restaurant. If you find any of these tops, or anything similar, grab it and add it to your cork and lid collection. Also below is a pottery lid, originally from a sugar container that broke, I now use it for my FV jars. Anything safe and solid is good. It will be safe if it has been sold to cover some kind of food, and solid if it's glass or pottery with no cracks. Also below is an old lolly jar, it's on the far right. It is partly glass, partly plastic. anything like this is great and if you save these tops, at some point you'll find a jar it will fit. Often things don't have to be air tight, they just need to be covered so the contents of the jar aren't open to the air. For instance, the FV green tops fit fairly loosely, so does the red top, but that's fine.

Next on our list are corks. What a fine ancient food and drink stopper a cork is. Made from the bark of a special tree, cork is becoming quite scarce and many wine companies have now stopped using corks. If you have some corks, save them, they're precious. Below you can see a nice bottle with a cork that I use for flavoured vinegar. You can recycle a nice looking bottle, fill it with flavoured oil or spiced vinegar, cork it and give it as a gift. It looks rustic and lovely and most people will love it. Also below is the pottery top featured above, here it is being used as the cover on a small jam bowl. That jam bowl can also be covered with the large cork and the pottery pot on the far left is the mustard pot that the red top comes from that I have in my FV jar above.

The covers below are cloth covers. The one on the left is a crocheted cover, the other is a light cotton cloth that I've stitched around the edge and sewn beads on to keep it in place. Both these covers can be used for covering your ginger beer plant or sourdough starter as it will allow the wild yeasts to enter your jar while keeping bugs out. Here is a pattern to make a crocheted cover.

Cloth covers can also be made from a clean tea towel or any clean cloth you have at home. You can use a cloth cover instead of plastic wrap to cover cheese that is stored in the fridge. If you do this, simply wet the cloth, wring it out well so that it's just slightly damp and cover your cheese with that. Moisten it again when it dries out. This is a very old way of covering cheese but it still works well.

Our last photo is a dish stack that can be used to store two different types of foods. I generally place my stack on a larger plate at the bottom. On top of that is a bowl that could hold something like salad. The bread and butter or salad plate on top of that covers the salad and also holds leftover salmon cakes or cheese (or whatever) and this is covered by an upturned bowl. It saves space in the fridge and also covers your food without using plastic.

I hope this has given you a few ideas to use in your kitchen. Many things we commonly throw away can be reused, you just have to think outside the square. So if you've started a jar collection, or already have one, also think of how you will cover your jars, and start searching.



  1. Your dish stack brings back forgotten things from my childhood. I had forgoten that plastic wrap and plastic containers were not as readily available some 30 years ago. I try to use plastic wrap sparingly, but normally end up transferring my leftovers to a plastic container. Your method not only saves time, but also dishes :)
    Thanks for the memories!

  2. That's really helpful, Rhonda - after doing some rather scary reading on the chemicals which leach from plastics into our food I've been looking for ways to keep leftovers etc without using plastic. Thanks for the ideas.

    Liz (aka geneste at ALS)

  3. You know that all is just such a part of my life I have never stopped to just think about sharing the knowledge. I find it a delight that you share such sweet simple basic knowledge. Thanks.
    I got my match for the Apron exchange. Dee and I have contacted each other I posted a link to you regarding it. You are such a treasure as is your knowledge shared. You should see my lid drawer. It is so full and i use them all. I love the little crochet one. how pretty. I could mack some cloth ones with beads. That might be a fun project

  4. The last photo of the inverted bowls is such a simple idea, but yet one that I have never thought of.

    Confession, I have nevr been one to worry about how much plastic or foil I use. So any less used will be a small step for me. Thank for the great idea.

    I love alfalfa sprouts on salads and sandwiches. Is there a entry on how to grow them?

  5. Two more useful items:
    1. Those fantastic old netting covers - you pull a knob and it expands into a kind of see-through umbrella to sit over meat or baking that's cooling off before storing in the fridge or another container, to protect the food from flies, then collapses neatly for storage when you're done.
    2. A cake stand with a glass cover - like they use to display cakes in shops. Cakes stay fresh in these for days, and the family can see the contents, so cakes get eaten instead of being forgotten and lingering on to mould stage in an opaque tin in a cupboard after the first attack, or going stale on a plate on a bench.

  6. Rhonda, I have quite a large collection of jars, but haven't use them for storing anything else than nuts, candy and such. The covers are a good idea. The crochet one is quite nice, except do you have problems with fruit flies? I do, so maybe the cloth cover will be better for me here.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Maria S.

  7. The stacked dishes used for the leftovers is one that I grew up using. Plastic containers and cups just weren't available where I grew up so we used all the dishes we had. We had a Kelvinator (?) fridge which was very small as we lived in housing that was military (Los Alamos, NM). With little storage space for anything my mom got very creative!! We learned to make do with very little. Now I want to go back to living like that. Sharon

  8. Many years ago in the late 70's I was teaching at a university and had many students from Iran. When the shah fell from power my husband and I ended up with several of the girls at our. They made home made yogurt and added chopped cucumber, salt and pepper to it . We often ate it poured over rice and it was so good! Sharon

  9. Come check out the cork I just found at a yard sale.

  10. Dear Rhonda, I have recently come across a really cool alternative to the plastic wrap - wax wrap, which is basically wax impregnated cotton cloth, the link how to make them is here, I'll try to make some over the coming weekend: http://myhealthygreenfamily.com/blog/wordpress/plastic-wrap-alternative-diy-beeswax-cotton-wraps/


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