Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The art of labeling your bulk products...

Yes, this is about buying in bulk and labeling your purchases when you put them into containers. My labeling system is very simple, I use packing tape and paper. Nothing fancy, something I always have on hand, and very versatile. I simply write the name of whatever I am putting into a plastic sealed container onto the piece of paper, then I take a piece of tape that is bigger than the piece of paper and fold both ends over on top of themselves. This forms a little piece of tape on either end that is not sticky, so that when it comes time to pull the label off and use the container for something different it comes off cleanly.

Here I used the actual Bob's Red Mill plastic bag that I cut out.

It really saves on my level of frustration at trying to pull little pieces of tape off of containers. Then I simply try to put the tape over the label, and make sure it looks as straight as possible. After this is done, I simply put it onto the end of the container that is sticking out so that when I look into the cupboard it is visible.

The absolute best time to do this is when you are putting the product, say Oat Groats (whole grain oats) into the plastic container you will be storing it in. If you do it even a week later, then you risk labeling it Winter White Wheat instead.

 Now the trouble with this is:

They look almost exactly the same!  Now look at that, can you tell which is which?

The picture above is usually the first clue, the flour is way to white and the gluten is really really really weak.  The other clue is when you are finished grinding it, and it is all clumpy looking and the texture is way off.  That is when you go back to the container to make sure you used the right stuff. I mean it's label tells you what it is.  What the heck is wrong with the flour?  It has never done this before! I kneaded it for over ten minutes, and could hardly form it into a ball without it tearing.

After baking a loaf of Hamelman's 5 grain bread, which turned out 2 inches high and dense, you start searching your mind and the internet to find out what went wrong.  You spend a lot of time till you suddenly remember that you had another grain you were putting away at that same time.  You also remember that you didn't label that container till about a week after you put it into the cupboard. Then it all makes sense, and you perform tests to figure out if that is really Oat Groats in your White Wheat container.

The moral to this story is label your containers right away to save yourself time, money, and ingredients. Although the chickens did enjoy their bread treat today, I think we would have enjoyed it a lot more!


  1. We're big on labelling too! I like the tip about folding over the ends of the tape, I'm going to try that next time. My husband poured some oil that had been used to cook with back into the bottle and then I used it when I was stretching and folding some dough, not good.... it's even more essential to label bottles of liquids if you decant or reuse bottles. In fact labelling rocks generally! I loved this post! :)

  2. Isn't it funny how something so simply sounding can make the difference in a really big way? I once thought of buying one of those fancy hand computer labeling systems, but then I realized I would have to store it somewhere and find it again! Thing is I always know exactly where my paper and packing tape is. Scissors do tend to go on walk about's though!