More food storage…
As you can probably tell, I like to store things in pretty containers. I have my Libbey Vibe Storage Jars for spices and small amounts of dry goods, and my Pfaltzgraff crocks for brown sugar and coffee. The only things I have left in my ugly plastic bins are my all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and masa harina for tortillas.
Flour and sugar storage is a strangely complicated issue. Given that they are the most widely used ingredients in baking, you would think that the best way to store them would have been decided long, long ago, and everyone would automatically accept it. Somewhere along the line, though, form prevailed over function, and many flour and sugar storage systems fail the most basic tests of practicality.
Most people are familiar with the common four-piece canister set that is designed to sit on the counter, look pretty, and hold 1) flour, 2), sugar, 3) coffee, and 4) tea. Normally, the four pieces are different sizes, stair-stepping down from the flour to the tea. A quick search on Ebay will show this pattern over and over, despite the fact that for most people, a set like this is next to useless.
The first issue is size. If you are lucky, the largest crock will hold a five-pound bag of flour, which is the most common size in the United States. The problem is that white (granulated) sugar is also sold in a five-pound bag, and has basically the same volume as flour, so it requires the same size container and will be too much for the ‘sugar’ crock in the set. That crock might hold a 2-pound bag of brown sugar, but there’s no way a whole bag of white sugar is going in there.
The second issue is labeling. If you have a set that doesn’t have the words printed on them, or even if you do, you can put whatever you want in there (if it will fit). Perhaps at one point in history people used flour, sugar, coffee, and loose-leaf tea equally frequently, but I have a hard time believing that that’s what people want most in their canisters now. My perfect canister set would be 2 large (for all-purpose flour and white sugar), 1 medium (for brown sugar), and three small (for baking soda, baking powder and salt). Perhaps the set of four was just an aesthetic decision and satisfied someone’s OCD requirements, but the way it’s designed leaves a lot to be desired.
Right now the best solution for flour and sugar storage seems to be the Libbey Bell Jar in the 1-gallon size. I love the Libbey Vibe Jars, but the largest is the 62-ounce and five-pounds of flour or sugar requires a 1-gallon container. One of the benefits of the Vibe Jars is their stackability, but for a whole bag of flour I’m fine with each one sitting on its own bottom. The Bell Jar has an air-tight seal just like the Vibe jars, which is important, especially in humid climates, as flour and sugar can really suffer if exposed to moisture. I’m talking bugs. Yech. I like clear glass jars so I can see what and how much I have in each one, as long as the food inside isn’t susceptible to light damage. Things like coffee and spices should be kept in the dark, so if you store them in clear glass, keep the container in a cabinet to reduce light.
Anchor also makes large glass jars, but in my experience, their quality doesn’t tend to be as good as Libbey’s. I have multiple Anchor items that arrived chipped in the package, but Libbey’s products are always securely boxed and have always been in perfect condition. The large Anchor jars also lack an air-tight seal; the glass lid sits right on the glass rim, which increases the risk of chipping and shattering. I’m a Libbey fan-girl, I admit. Also Pyrex, but that’s another post. 🙂