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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Come Take a Walk Through My Pantry

I grew up in a small two-story house with an unfinished, unheated, dirt floor walk-out basement leading to the river's edge.  My Mom kept home canned foods on a large homemade shelf unit at the bottom of the stairs.  Apples, potatoes, and squash were kept in old fashioned wood bushel baskets sitting on wood planks.  My job was to retrieve any food needed from that horrible dungeon.  Many a time a mouse would scurry over my hands!  We even encountered muskrats and snapping turtles but thankfully the snakes stayed in the rock crevices that formed retaining walls for the yard.  That in itself is another story!  I swore when I got married my panty was always going to be large, organize, rodent free and finished.  Unfortunately our last two pantries met all the requirements except being rodent free so I quickly learned to seal the house, be on the look-out as soon as the fields were harvested and to protect our food storage by using glass and metal containers.

looking into the pantry from the hallway
Welcome to my new pantry!  It is on the lower level of a bi-level house on the northeast corner.  The room is a former bedroom so is completely finished complete with a decorative paint stripe.  The window faces north so it gets good but not direct sunlight.  The window well is 12" deep to the edge of the window leaving ample room to install shelving for part of my continuous harvest indoor garden.

Pictured is the pantry looking from the hallway towards the north wall of the pantry.  Please keep in mind that I am still in the process of organizing the pantry so it is not quite as neat as I would like it to be and there will likely be a few changes yet as the need arises.  Also please keep in mind we just moved so prior to that I was focusing on reducing our pantry supplies and I did not do the volume of canning I normally do.

small freezer on the south wall of the pantry to the right of the door
On the south wall of the pantry to the right of the door, there is a small wire industrial shelf unit, small chest freezer and two large stacks of empty canning jars.  I would love to say that was it for empty canning jars but there are a few more boxes in the garage.

There are cases of filled jars on the bottom shelf of the commercial shelf unit.  I label each box with the contents, date and number of jars since some cases have a mixture of contents.  The easiest system I came up with for labeling the cases was green painter's tape and a Sharpie.  It is easy, inexpensive and doesn't damage the cases so they can easily be relabeled when refilled.

commercial shelving on east wall of the pantry
The commercial metal shelf unit came from a grocery store.  We have three of them where they were originally in the garages of our last three houses.  This garage is a bit smaller and already has built-in shelving on one side so my husband brought one of the shelf units in for my pantry.  This is extra heavy duty shelving so I don't need to worry about what I put on it.  It is home to most of my kitchen small appliances, all necessary kitchen overflow, canning equipment, entertaining supplies and a bit of food in the plastic bins on the right (blue lids).

I want the bottom shelf for filled cases of home canned foods.  I can stack the 1L cases three high, the 500 ml cases four high and the 250 ml cases five or six high depending on the shape of the jar.  So that shelf will hold a lot of home canned food waiting to be moved to the food shelves.  Just past the stack of white and green boxes, I have an old freezer basket used for snacks like potato chips.  Next to that is my candle making supplies; the carton beside the wall is a 75 lb box of beeswax sheets.  I'll move these supplies when I need the space for cases of filled food. 

larger freezer, window and shelving on the north wall of the pantry
The north wall has the larger chest freezer and a lighter duty industrial metal shelving unit.  The shelving unit from top to bottom contains: cookbooks, canning supplies/specialty flours, coffees/teas/caramels/marshmallows, boxed crackers/cornmeal, and a variety of dried beans.  A few containers of dried foods sit on the floor next to the shelf unit awaiting a home.

In front of the freezer there is a box and grey bin that do not belong in the pantry but we don't have another spot for them yet.  On top of both are items awaiting a home as is the box of hot sauce in front of the grey box.

The bucket in front of the box was a source of much frustration.  The movers, without our knowledge, dismantled all of our metal shelving.  Both the light and heavy duty industrial shelving units we have require special plastic locking clips to secure the shelves.  The bucket went missing meaning we could not put the shelf units together.  We bought a new heavy duty unit just to get the pantry organized then the bucket was found a couple of days later so we could get some of the light duty units put together as well.

industrial wire shelving on the south wall of the pantry
The heavy duty industrial wire shelving is on the west wall of the pantry.  As you can see it is quite full!  The food is organized according to type of food similar to what you would find in a grocery store.  From top to bottom: boxes of packaged dried pastas/tortilla chips/cheese sauce/canned chili, large container seasonings/commercial sauces/commercial condiments/commercial canned, home canned foods/commercial canned, ois/vinegars/homemade mixes/grains/legumes, and flours/pastas/rices.  Larger 5 gal pails of flour and pasta sit on the floor beside the unit.  My ever trusty Rubbermaid step stool sits in front of the full sized closet that will be used for food and beverage storage as the need arises.  It is currently housing several boxes that we need to organize as well as beverages.  There are wire wall units on top of the step stool that will be used on the walls for smaller items.  I use removable 3M hangers and C-hooks on the walls as needed as well as S-hooks on the shelf units to extend the storage.


2 food lovers commented:

Kathy in North Central FL said...

GG, Wow! I love your new pantry! You have given me inspiration to move mine to one of our guest bedrooms... I'm also thinking I may add a gas stove to do my canning in there too. (My main stove is glass top and I can't can on it so I've been using a propane fish fryer setup outside for the past 33 years) I certainly have some planning to do to make that happen. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm so happy for you!

Anonymous said...

Everything looks so neat and organized, GG. You have a good set-up and everything is close at hand. I am so glad for you!!!