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Posts Tagged ‘pantry’

Spring cleaning not only applies to the house, but also to the pantry! This is the time of year when I start to make a concerted effort to eat up goods the goods I preserved last summer. Soon enough I’ll be pulling out the canning pots and filing jars with this summer’s bounty and packing the freezer with fresh berries. This means I must start preparing now. The last thing I want is to end up with jar and jars of stuff from years past and have to throw some of it away. I’m not one to waste food, especially food that I spent time and energy growing and preserving.

This is the perfect time of year to start using up pantry goods. With the coming of warmer weather comes the feeling of optimism. I no longer feel the need to conserve my food resources to make sure they last through the long winter. Those feelings give way to the hope of summer bounty and I finally feel safe eating up the last few jars of tomatoes. I know that in a few months, my tiny tomato seedlings will be producing pounds of fresh summer fruit that will be eaten fresh and canned for next winter.

I find myself often in the pantry looking over jars of goods deciding what I want to make for dinner. If I spot a few jars of tomatoes, pepper relish, fire roasted red & jalapeno pepper, and a few jars of chutney, I’ll make a big pot of chili. From the freezer I’ll add some ground venison, beef stock and some frozen beet greens or spinach. If I’m lucky I’ll have a bottle of beer as well to add for good measure. A few heirloom beans will also get added to the pot if there are any left in the pantry. If we have some frozen milk left from our winter stores, I’ll make some fresh mozzarella, and who doesn’t love a sprinkling of fresh spring chives on top of any dish this time of year?

If I find myself with a lot of extra tomatoes, I’ll make up a big batch of marinara. This will top fresh homemade pasta, or even a pan of lasagna if I have the time and energy to make cheese and noodles.

Not only do all these dishes help clean out the pantry of last year’s bounty and make way for the new, they help save me time during this busy season in the garden. A big batch of of chili can be eaten on for many days as can a big pan of lasagna (and they get better with age). If I make an extra big batch I’ll freeze it in meal sized portions for quick meals during the busy days of spring and early summer. My goal is to have most of the jars in the pantry empty by tomato canning season and to have most of the berries eaten from the freezer before the strawberries come on.

Do you make a concerted effort to eat up items in your pantry to make way for the new season’s bounty?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff.

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Here are Chiot’s Run we don’t buy manufactured food. Our pantry is filled with dry goods, home canned items, and spices. We make our own pasta, butter, cheese, bread, granola bars, salad dressings and try to stay away from food that contain long ingredient lists, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and any weird unpronounceable ingredients.


We occasionally buy pretzels, those big sourdough niblets that have a short ingredient list; the same things I would use to make them myself (we do make soft pretzles at home, but haven’t mastered the art of crunchy ones yet). Other than this however, our pantry is devoid of boxes and bags of items made in a factory somewhere far far away.

If you’re trying to eat healthfully and avoid preservatives it’s much much cheaper to make things at home than buy them at the health food store. It does take some time to learn to make all the different things you enjoy. Sometimes it takes a palate adjustment to learn to like and prefer a homemade version of a store-bought item (like ketchup).

This is something you probably don’t want to do all at once. A great place to start is by replacing items in your pantry with homemade versions when you run out. This way you don’t waste food you’ve already purchased, and you aren’t overwhelmed by trying to learn to make everything homemade at once. Once you learn and make something a few times it becomes much easier. Start with something simple as well, like homemade salad dressing or made from scratch pancakes, muffins or a cake.

Pretty soon you’ll wonder why you ever bought mixed and pre-made items from the store, especially since you’ll notice the homemade version taste so much better. Not to mention all that extra cash in your wallet!

How much of what you eat is made from scratch at home?

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Nothing is as essential to being self-sufficient as food production and storage of food.  Today I’m going to touch on some ideas for stocking the basic must have pantry.  My goal in my pantry stocking is to have enough of the staples put up so that in the case of emergency I am set at least for a few months…or if my older boys all descend at once I have plenty of food at least for a week or two!

When I designed our house 15 years ago our boys 4, 6, and 8 and I knew that in the teenage years I would need some major food storage capacity.  My pantry is good size but you don’t need a designated room for food storage.  For many garden vegetables a cool garage is great.  Spare bedrooms, hall closets, many different places can be use for food.

I think food storage is a matter of priorities.  I have heard from many people that they just don’t have the room for keeping extra food.  Yet their closets are overflowing with never worn clothing, or cabinets full of appliances they seldom if ever use.  I don’t have a problem with these things but I would not give up perfectly good storage to keep them when I could keep an extra bag of wheat in there.

When I started our pantry from scratch I took the time to keep a journal for a couple of months of what we ate.  I did not want to purchase a lot of things that I would seldom use.  I came up with a basic list of ‘must haves’ at all times from that journal and then fleshed the pantry out from there when I added new recipes and needed new ingredients.

Here is my list of staples. With this I know that now matter what happens I will have something for dinner or in case of prolonged power outage or outbreak of sickness I know we will not go hungry.

Home Canned

  • Canned tomatoes, sauce, and paste (soup base, base for most pasta sauce)
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Fruit Sauces, apricot, peach, and apple
  • Fruit Syrups (we eat a lot of pancakes and waffles)
  • Vegetable Stock

Bulk Grains (purchased in 25# and 50#)

  • Wheat (both white and red for fresh whole wheat flour)
  • Oat Groats (for grinding into flour)
  • Barley
  • Rolled Oats (cookies, oatmeal, crisps, bread)
  • Cracked Wheat (breads)
  • Spelt (flour for bread)
  • Quinoa (cereal and bread)
  • Rye
  • Corn (for cornmeal)
  • Brown Rice

Oils

  • Olive Oil (breads and cooking)
  • Canola Oil (breads)
  • Sesame Oil (Asian/Indian cooking)

Baking Supplies

  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Yeast
  • Salt
  • Molasses
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Egg Replacer
  • Vanilla
  • Spices especially cinnamon

Dried Beans and Nuts

  • Lentils
  • Yellow and green split peas
  • Navy
  • Small white
  • Black
  • Garbanzo
  • Kidney
  • Walnuts (snacking, breads, trail mix)
  • Almonds (snacking, trail mix)
  • Cashews (cashew milk, trail mix)
  • Peanuts (trail mix)

Misc.

  • Raisins (granola, pie, cinnamon rolls, bread, trail mix)
  • Canned Pineapple (smoothies and pizza)
  • Coconut Milk (smoothies and chilled pumpkin soup)
  • Rice Milk
  • Wild Rice
  • Tea (mama needs her tea)
  • Honey (baking, granola, tea)
  • Popcorn
  • Nutritional yeast (vegan sauces, popcorn, toast)
  • Mustard (beans, salads, sandwiches)
  • Shredded coconut (breads and granola)
  • Dried cranberries (trail mix, granola, snacks)
  • Various dried whole wheat pastas
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Balsamic Vinegar (dressings and flavorings)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cornstarch (thickener)

Frozen

  • Peas, corn, green beans, pureed pumpkin and squash, spinach
  • Freezer jams
  • Ice Cream (husband’s indulgence)
  • Roasted Peppers (breads and pizza)

Water

  • Enough for each person to drink and cook with for 1 month (this takes some planning and some room)

This looks like a long list but for us these are the things, along with fresh vegetables and fruits, are what I have come to know are the basics for what I cook.  With the exception of my bulk grains most don’t take up much room even when purchased in larger than usual quantities.  I also try to store in glass as much as possible.  It is easy to clean and doesn’t leach chemicals over long storage periods…not that I’m sure that Tupperware does but just in case.

A few tips for  getting started stocking you pantry…

  • Buy in quantity when you find a good sale.
  • Look at the dates when possible and buy the freshest.
  • Don’t buy more than you can reasonably use before its past its prime.
  • Make sure you have a spot to properly store (example cool dry dark for grains)
  • Don’t over buy if that means kicking spouse out of bed to use it for storage!  Moderation in everything…
  • Rotate your pantry…put the items you just bought at the back of the shelf and use the oldest first.
  • Check things like flours and grains for moth or mice infestation…take care of promptly before they get into the rest.  Better yet  store in varmint proof containers.
  • Start slow…take the time to know what you really need and use.

Remember to just smile when your friends and family tease you about being Noah stocking up for the flood…cause you know who’s doorstep they’ll be standing on when the next disaster hits!

So do you have any tips on food storage…what’s in your pantry?

 

Come back Monday when we can talk about how to store in glass, where to find it…and how to paint on it!

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids…and a camel!

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