Stocking your pantry/larder

We have a, (earthquake proof), rather narrow and tall “ready pantry” right on one side of our kitchen. It serves as our place to hold dry goods and canned goods – just about anything that does not require refrigeration. It is not quite floor to ceiling, (leaving room on top for open storage), and holds an amazing amount of food.  When I assembled it some years ago, I was careful to add additional shelving, as well as more reinforcement to help it support the weight of the cans, using cabinetmaking tricks I learned from my father.

Have spent a good part of this past week setting up an “extended” pantry about 10 feet from the kitchen, (plus a far better place to store camping, cooking and emergency supplies in a more organized fashion than I have in the past). This was a “family” project, not just mine. Had lots of help and all of us have reason to be proud of the end result, reflect on why it is there, and how it can be further improved. I did include a provision for “first in first out” rotation of most of our more commonly used canned goods to assure we don’t waste money having to toss very old cans that simply were overlooked and not used.

“A PANTRY? IN 2010? R U Crazy, old, or what?”  Well, I am guilty of the “old” part, (you will have to ask Heidi about the “crazy” as I am unqualified to respond). 8) When I was a little boy, we didn’t own a refrigerator – rather we had a small “ice box” about 4′ tall and used it primarily for milk and meat.  In those days, everybody had a pantry or larder (normally in the coolest part of their home), and it was simply what was done. Of course, it was very common to do home canning back then and every family in our area had a set of empty Mason jars waiting for re-use. My old Granny could, (and in hard times did), feed the whole family for a month out of her pantry without having to even get “creative” with the menu.

Just yesterday, I ran across an article on “Backwoods Home Magazine” written by Jackie Clay entitled Building and Stocking Your Pantry. (Déjà vu?) I really enjoyed reading it – and couldn’t fault her observations in the slightest, (although she really should have mentioned the value of Honey in there somewhere. :D)…

The following is nothing more than a short series of excerpts from her article – but I would recommend you read her original and take a little time to reflect upon how such a thing could help you with earthquake, or other disaster related preparedness:

  • Everyone should have a pantry containing a good supply of the foods they use most frequently. A well-stocked pantry is not only the foundation for a good kitchen, but it is essential to a family’s well-being, should some unforeseen calamity pop up.
  • Many foods, including flour, sugar, store-bought and home-canned canned goods, rice, dry beans, pasta, etc., stay good for years, with no special treatment other than keeping them dry, insect and rodent-free, and relatively cool. I would advise you to first fill your pantry with basic foods and ingredients that you frequently use.
  • If you don’t yet can your own foods, start picking up cans of vegetables and fruits as they come on sale at your local market. If you need one can of corn, buy six. If you can’t afford six, at least buy one more than you need today.
  • Start socking away basic dry cooking ingredients such as flour, cornmeal, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, instant dry milk, rice, noodles, rolled oats, beans, split peas, macaroni, baking powder, baking soda, salt, commonly used spices, corn starch, yeast, etc. With the basics, you need very little extra to whip up many tasty recipes.
  • Don’t forget shortening and cooking oils. Not only do you fry foods with these, but they are often found in common recipes such as pie crusts, bread, biscuits, etc. Baking ingredients such as chocolate chips, cocoa, coconut, vanilla, raisins, walnuts, etc., are always much appreciated on the pantry shelves. Likewise, peanut butter, jams, and jellies are too. Not only can you eat them, but you can make peanut butter cookies, jam filled bars, thumb-print cookies with a dollop of jelly in the middle…
  • Canned tuna, roast beef hash, salmon, and ham, are also handy meat-based foods that can periodically be bought on sale. You’ll also find plenty of uses for canned spaghetti sauces and tomato sauce.
  • Don’t forget cake/brownie mixes. They are often very cheap and provide a quick dessert. They also keep very well on your pantry shelves.
  • Don’t forget to add things such as bleach, laundry and dish detergent, toilet paper, and pet food to your pantry. Although not “food,” they will all come in handy.
  • As you get more involved and enthusiastic about your pantry, it’s time to consider buying a few long-term storage foods such as powdered eggs, cheese, shortening, buttermilk, sour cream, butter, and margarine. These foods come in a #10 can (about the size of a three-pound coffee can), and when unopened, last for years and years.

From personal experience, the space you set up for your larder would also be perfect to store a ready supply of water, (we like gallon jugs). Something like six or eight gallons stored there just to assure we could easily prepare several meals and clean up afterward in an emergency. Water is all important in disaster preparedness and that amount is hardly enough – but it will get you through the first few meals before you have to open up your more extensive water storage supply. You wouldn’t want to have to break into that, particularly if it is sealed.

So that is it. Personally, I believe such things are still worth thinking about – but then again, I’m just old, (and court is still out on “crazy”). 🙂

Note to self: Having read Jackie’s article – I KNOW I can, and will, add some more reinforcement to the shelving out there.

This entry was posted by dave on Saturday, August 28th, 2010 at 8:55 pm and is filed under Off-Topic . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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