# Jar calculator

Assume you’ve got a 14kg bucket of honey ready to jar. You have an order for a dozen 454g (or perhaps 1lb now Brexit means Brexit) jars and a dozen 227g jars. How many additional jars can you prepare – in standard or custom sizes – from the remainder?

This Excel spreadsheet does the calculations for you. It couldn’t be easier to use (well, it could be, but life is too short).

Jars needed calculator …

1. Insert the total weight of honey (in grams) to the red coloured cell (B2 in Excel-speak)
2. If you’re only using a single size jar you need to prepare the number indicated in the yellow cells
3. Insert the numbers of jars needed of each size in the blue coloured cells
4. The number of additional jars you have sufficient honey to bottle are shown in the grey cells

For example, using the figures from the opening paragraph (12 * 454g and 12 * 227g), you could choose to bottle the remaining honey in 12 * 454g, 17 * 340g, 25 * 227g or 51 * 113g jars. If you decide to also bottle a dozen 340g jars you can update the table in blue and the extra jars are automagically recalculated.

### Custom weights

You can sell honey in any weights, not just the standard ones. If you use odd weights to bottle your honey this figure can be added to cell A15. Add the number required to cell B15. The extra jars of this custom weight are returned in cell D15. If you only want to sell your honey in a custom weight just set ‘Jars needed’ for all other weights to zero.

The whole thing is utterly trivial of course, but it might be useful to someone who – like me – has lousy mental arithmetic, uses a range of jar sizes and can’t find a calculator. It’s no use whatsoever if you jar everything in 1 lb rounds … or if you don’t have access to Excel 😉

All calculations are rounded down. This is why it doesn’t suggest you can prepare 30.84 jars (total honey weight 13,620g) from your starting 14kg bucket.

Honey has a long shelf life if prepared and stored properly. By long shelf life I don’t mean weeks or months. I mean years. And lots of them. Ceramic pots of honey have been found in Egyptian pyramids and are apparently still edible, though it’s notable that there’s never any direct quotation on what the flavour is like. Honey has also been discovered in Georgia that date back about 5,500 years, though again there’s no comment on the flavour. At the time of writing (autumn 2016) my honey carries a ‘best before’ date of December 2018 which I reckon is reasonably safe. From January next this will be December 2019.

Whether those ancient honeys tasted good or bad, there can be relatively few foodstuffs that remain even identifiable over hundreds, let along thousands, of years. This longevity is due to a combination of the low water content and high acidity of honey, which makes it an extreme environment for the micro-organisms that usually spoil food. In addition to this, enzymes added during nectar processing by the bees increase the hydrogen peroxide content. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is also anti-microbial, and is one of there reasons that honey can be used for wound dressings. Notwithstanding all of this natural protection, honey deserves being properly looked after to ensure it can be enjoyed at its best.

### Long term storage

Spring honey crop …

I store extracted honey in food-grade 30lb buckets with airtight lids in a cool environment (an unheated entrance hall with a flagstoned floor). I measure the water content using a refractometer when I extract and write this on the lid of the bucket, generally using the honey with the highest water content first (though this also depends upon demand for particular honey types). The apiary and date of extraction are also recorded.

I bottle in batches, one or two buckets at a time. This is a convenient amount in terms of sales, space in the warming cabinet and minimising problems with frosting. It’s also just about my limit for repetitive manual work and restricts the amount of heavy jarred honey that needs to be stored. Finally, labelling 60 or more jars is also a pretty tedious experience, though I do like the appearance of serried rows of identically labelled jars ready to go off to the shop.

Jarred honey needs to be stored somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight. I use the same cool entrance hallway I use for buckets of honey. The out of direct sunlight instruction is really to avoid subjecting the honey to fluctuating temperatures. Inevitably, one or two jars are kept on the shelf to attract sales or as gifts for visitors.

I recently noticed that the thermal printed labels (Dymo) I use fade quite badly when exposed to sunlight. The ½lb round at the top of this page has been on my office shelf since January, exposed to full sun (or as much full sun as we get in Fife). Next to it is a ¾lb square that has been recently labelled. The fading of the label on the left is very obvious. Therefore, if you use thermal printers to prepare simple DIY labels this is an additional reason to keep your jarred honey in dark, cool conditions … or give it away/sell it faster  😉

These jars are from C. Wynne Jones, as are the clear anti-tamper labels which are a big improvement on the fiddly thin Dymo transparent tape I was previously using.

# Square is the new hex

I managed to source some rather nice small square jars for honey recently. They have a nominal 200ml capacity which, when filled properly with honey, is 8 oz (227 g). Perhaps I should qualify “filled properly” … these have a slightly longer ‘neck’ than normal jars, so you don’t need to fill them to just under the lid. I bought them with black lids to ensure they looked distinctive on the store shelves next to the more usual ‘gold tops’. They are very easy to fill, with the slope of the jar shoulder being sufficiently steep that relatively few bubbles get trapped. In contrast, I find that small hex jars are a bit of a pain to fill as the shoulder is almost at right angles, more or less guaranteeing that an unsightly bubble or two remains after jarring. Even half pound round jars have a rather sharp angle at the shoulder and have a tendency to trap bubbles. Of course, none of these bubbles affect the flavour, but it’s always a good idea to try to make a top quality product look like a top quality product.

200ml (8oz) square jar

It’s easy to apply labels to these small square jars and I’ve printed these on the smallest thermal printer address labels (89x28mm) for my Dymo LabelWriter. Tamper-detection labels were more difficult, with any of the normal ones looking unsightly … both being too large and contrasting unpleasantly with the black lids. In the end I used 6mm transparent thermal tape onto which I printed a website URL. This sticks very firmly to the lid and glass but is difficult to see unless you look carefully. When the jar is opened the tape stretches and distorts, making any tampering pretty obvious. Unfortunately, this thermal tape is rather difficult to remove from the backing paper, so labelling large numbers of jars can get tedious.

Thermal printed tamper label

But as they say “the proof of the pudding” … the jars look good to me but what’s more important is how well they sell.

This was written some time ago. The jars have sold well 🙂

NOTE – in response to the Q from Bridget below and after a bit of searching I discovered that I ordered these from eBay (seller glass_jars_from_jarsdirect). At the time of writing they’re £38 for 100 delivered. One or two of the regular honey jar suppliers also sell a 12oz (~280ml) square jar but the cost is higher still.