June 3, 2011

The Pantry: Rearranged & Inventoried

The putting up of this year's strawberry jam seemed to herald the beginning of my 2011 food preservation season. I canned some chicken bone stock in March, and turkey gumbo in April, but strawberries means the harvest has officially commenced. In addition, I've been working on rearranging my pantry, so it also seemed a good time to inventory what I still had left from my 2010 efforts.

Photos of my original pantry set-up are in this post, "Jewels of the Summer Harvest". Once I put my grain mill up however, I wanted a little more room for grinding, so I've rearranged it to look like this:

The cabinet with the grinder attached was originally an island in the middle of the room. (It replaced the cabinet you see a hint of in the lower left corner. This cabinet will be incorporated into my remodeled kitchen.) I originally had five shelf units lining the walls. This was okay, but was a little cramped for hand grinding in the center of the room. So as I would grind, I would contemplate ways I could arrange the room to make it work better for me.

Making that green cabinet a peninsula rather than an island, meant I only had room for four shelf units instead of five. One day it dawned on me that I could use a hack saw to cut some of the shelf legs, and add extra shelves to some of the units. By doing that, I've been able to get the same amount of storage space, but with only four shelf units. The shelf spacing is closer, which I like because it closes up the gaps of unusable space between shelves.

In the space between the grinding cabinet and the last shelf unit, I had room for our jelly cabinet. This used to be in the kitchen, but with the remodel coming up one of these days, it needed a new home. The grinding cabinet houses my herbs (arranged in jars in canning boxes), and the jelly cabinet is for herb preparations, things like teas and tinctures.

You probably noticed that my shelves are still nicely full of canned goods. I took inventory the other day, because I was curious as to how we were doing.

Canned food item Put up in 2010 Remaining as of June 1, 2011
applesauce 17 pints 10 pints
apple butter 19 pints 10 pints
apple pie filling 7 quarts 6 quarts
green beans 33 quarts 28 quarts
pickled beets 7 pints 5 pints
blueberry jam 10 half-pints 2 half-pints
blueberry pie filling 7 quarts 4 quarts
blueberry topping 2 pints 1 pint
figs 26 pints 15 pints
pickles, dill spears 11 pints 6 pints
pickles, sweet chips 2 pints 1 pint
pickle relish 5 pints 4 pints
pizza sauce 33 pints 14 pints
sweet potatoes 13 quarts 8 quarts
strawberry jam 12 pints 5 pints
Swiss chard 33 pints 23 pints
tomatoes & okra 3 quarts 0
tomato soup 9 pints 7 pints
applesauce 17 pints 10 pints
green tomato salsa 21 pints 17 pints
vegetable soup 7 quarts 2 quarts

A couple of notes:
  • Lost only one jar to spoilage (tomatoes & okra)
  • We ate less pickles than usual because we had sauerkraut or sauerruben all winter.
  • I still have canned corn relish and tomato relish from a previous year

Frozen food item Put up in 2010 Remaining as of June 1, 2011
blueberries 18 quarts 10 quarts
broccoli 2 quarts 1 quart
cantaloupe 6 quarts 3 quarts
corn 1 pint 0
chicken 11 4 breasts
eggs 13 dozen 12 dozen
okra 25 quarts 15 quarts
pesto 5 cups 4 cups
pizza sauce 2 pints 0
peppers (sweet) 7 quarts 2 quarts
potato soup 4 quarts 2 quart
pumpkin 1 pint 0
summer squash 8 quarts 6 quarts

A couple of notes:
  • Frozen blueberries don't make as good a pie as the canned pie filling
  • Will use the remaining blueberries for jam, and freeze afresh this year
  • Didn't care for frozen cantaloupe until I started including it in smoothies
  • Didn't care for summer squash frozen
  • Had fresh eggs all winter so only used 1 dozen I froze to see how they were to cook with
  • Frozen foods aren't as convenient as canned foods
  • Much harder to keep track of things in the freezer

Dehydrated food item Put up in 2010 Remaining as of June 1, 2011
bananas 2 quarts 1.5 quarts
black turtle beans over a gallon less than a gallon
blueberries handful none used
cantaloupe 1 pint almost gone
figs handful used from 2009
herbs varying amounts not all gone yet
onions 2 quarts have used a little
Swiss chard 1 gallon 1 gallon
tomatoes (Roma) 1 quart 1 quart
watermelon 2 quarts 1 quart
white soup beans 1 quart 1 quart less a handful

A couple of notes:
  • I still have dried green beans, figs, & blueberries from 2009
  • like the dried figs in my fig cake recipe
  • dried bananas are yummy in muffins
  • dried melon makes a tasty fruit leather-like snack
All of my stored vegetables (onions, potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, & sweet potatoes) are long gone, except for fall planted carrots I harvested this spring. They are currently stored in a bucket of my Cecil sandy loam ;) which I keep in the pantry refrigerator. The fall turnips and beets, we dug as needed and ate fresh.

One of my 2010 goals was to preserve all the vegetables we would need for the year. I'm encouraged to say that goal was easily met. As you can see from my charts, of most things, I should have enough until this year's harvest. Some things I used less of than expected, a few things I would like to preserve more of. About the only fruits and vegetables I had to buy this winter were onions, garlic, and apples.

How about everyone else? How is your food storage faring? Is there anything you plan to do differently this year? Actually, I feel like we're all in this together.


Kids and Canning Jars said...

Love the post! I want your pizza sauce recipe as you used that the most!!

I did a massive overhaul took 9 full days about 7-9 hours a day. I was dying. Thanks for the update.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Wow, you guys have some eating to do! I cant believe how much you have left. I like to eat up as much as I can of the home canned goods by now so I have room for the new. I just dont like canned goods over a year or two old. But then I get nervous and think if I have a full crop failure, on something like tomatoes, and I have none left from the past year... That's how I make myself crazy.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful pantry...I love it! Everything looks so scrumptious and delightful! Hugs!

Mama Pea said...

Wow, you put me to shame with your fantastic inventory. I haven't gone through what we have left like you have but these are a few things I know right off.

Okay, I just deleted about four paragraphs. My comment is getting way too long to clog up this space. I think I'll turn what I have to say into a blog post as you did. (You can give me a grade of only C because I copied you!)

Yours was a super-interesting post though. It doesn't seem like you ate that much. What do you think?

Renee Nefe said...

to me it seems like you have way too much food still left from last year. Can you eat all of that before you start harvesting this year's crop?
I need to plant our garden...I put out my tomato seedlings and two of them are already gone. :( The one was very tiny though, but it was those little yellow sweet tomatoes :( The other is a Roma and I'm bummed because I was looking forward to learning how to make and can tomato sauce this year. I may have to hunt for a new plant...I'm sure my garden center still has some.
My goal for this year is to grow green beans and freeze them and make tomato sauce. I'm hoping I can get my family to eat these.
Oh and I would like to conquer the squash bugs this year too.

Lynda said...

Oh Leigh! How wonderful your storage pantry looks...now you can come and do mine! Thanks for the post! I really need to finish up my inventory; I started, but then was *locked* out when they refinished the floors. I keep my mill in my pantry, too! Yours is in a much better spot then mine, it's on top of my dehydrator!

Leigh said...

Melissa, 9 days sounds like more than a massive overhaul! LOL. My pizza sauce is simple. I run my tomatoes through my food mill and then cook it down in my crock pot. Add salt and seasonings to taste! Couldn't be simpler. I did use my own homegrown herbs and we really like the sauce with rosemary.

Jane, well, we definitely need to learn to eat more vegetables. :) That's a good point about planning for crop problems, and something that's always in the back of my mind. I'm okay with canned goods a couple of years old as long as the seal is good. In fact, I may start not growing everything every year, but maybe every other year and stocking up on a couple year's worth. That would help prevent cross pollination with seed saving. Seeds are the other part of that equation. Making sure there's enough seed for a following year's planting, in case of crop failure. Always something to consider!

Pam, thanks!

Mama Pea, I knew I preserved way too much but as long as things were growing and producing, I was canning. I reckon I'm always worried about not having enough, rather than too much. I'd love to see a post by you on your pantry. I'll give you an A+ for jumping on the band wagon!

Renee, I planted late this year so I still have a ways to go before I can start canning some of these things. Last year I wished I'd had more tomatoes, because I would have loved to have canned plain tomatoes for soups, also more tomatoes and okra. I'll need more pizza sauce too, and I have to tell you that it's wonderful canning your own sauce. Nothing is tastier! I really do like your goals.

Lynda, thanks! It did feel good to rearrange everything, because I was able to give it all a good cleaning too. Now all I have to do is find room for this year's preservation efforts!

Sherri B. said...

Your pantry is a dream! I have very little room in this small house, but I can see how you studied your pantry during grinding and came up with more space...I can do that too, thanks!

Eliza Tilton said...

wow. How amazing! Girl, you are living the dream!

Leigh said...

Sherri, it was one of those "where there's a will there's a way"! I could actually add more shelves to those four units, so I've still got room for expansion.

Eliza Faith, thanks!

Country Jane said...

Sweet! You go girl. Love all those jars!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Leigh, this is something I have been meaning to do and now I think you got me in the spirit! You are right, strawberries here are just a tad late, so that gives me one more week to get this done first!

And since I actually did count jars as I went last year, I should be able to be exact...finally!

Awesome job! A+ on this one!!!

Anonymous said...

I love your pantry and use of space. Didn't know that some of the things you canned could be canned at home. How do you can the swiss chard.... etc. You are one busy gal.

Leigh said...

Jane, they are picturesque, aren't they. :)

Diana, jump on in, the water's fine! I admit I procrastinated a long time on this project, but now I'm so glad it's done.

Sgtempleton, it's all the the Ball Blue Book. There are tons of excellent books on canning, but the Ball Blue Book is a classic. Very simply organized and easy to find what you want. I canned the Swiss chard from the directions for canning greens; 90 minutes under 10 pounds pressure. I have plenty left though, so we obviously don't eat enough of them!

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Can we come to your house and help you get rid of some of that food? It's interesting to see what you preserved and what remains. You have alot of food leftover. My husband eats like a horse, so we would have blown through most, if not all, of your list by now. I'm hoping for a better tomato harvest this year to can more salsa and tomato sauce, and we eat a ton of relish, so I can lots of that. We only have pickled jalepenos, pepper jelly, a few jars of relish, a few jars of mixed berry jam, a jar of fig cognac jam, some dehydrated jalepenos (I had a good jalepeno year last year as you can tell.), and some frozen berries left. Good luck with your efforts this year! Oh, and you have amazing pantry space!

BrokenRoadFarm said...

Wow!! You go girl!! When I grow up I wanna be just like you!

bspinner said...

I'm with you. Might seem like a lot but if you have a bad year you'll need the back up. Wonderfully organized pantry!

What Pigs Don't Know said...

Leigh - As always, I loved your post! You are such an inspiration. Keep up the good work! It's amazing what you were able to put up from a mere season or two of growing. Many of us have ALOT to learn from you! You should really teach a class..... -Carrie

Kari said...

I'm always so impressed by your organization and planning! We don't really have any room for storing canned stuff right now, so last year's extras were all frozen. We've used all the peppers and tomatoes, but we don't seem to really use the berries, so I don't think we'll freeze nearly as many in the future.

Leigh said...

Candace, in the grand scheme of things, I'm really only feeding one and a half persons from our pantry. I say that because my DH is over the road quite a few days of the week, so I don't cook full blown meals when I'm by myself, and we don't have company often. I like your idea of dehydrating hot peppers! I think that would be more useful than canning them.

BRF, thanks! I suspect you'll find your own way soon enough. :)

Barb, I figure I'll focus on different things this year. I obviously don't need to put up much in the green bean and Swiss chard department!

Carrie, I appreciate that. It's what blogging is all about, encouraging one another.

Kari, it doesn't stay organized for long! You know, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and all that. LOL. Finding storage space is often tough. I've seen folks convert closets or even rent storage units.

We didn't use many berries until I started making smoothies with the frozen ones. Yum! I'm going to make jam out of what's left, to make room in the freezer for this year.

Mr. H. said...

Our goal this past year was to can enough for two years, especially with tomato products as a nice harvest can be somewhat unreliable at times, so our pantry is still well stocked too.

Your pantry looks great and it has got to make you feel pretty good seeing that you canned enough to last a long time...one never knows how successful the next years harvest will be.

I love that you had so little use for the grocery store when it comes to fruits and veggies...true food self-sufficiency.:)

Leigh said...

Mr H., that's what I should be doing too, working toward two years worth. Hopefully we can expand on the variety, including things like grains and meats!

Geodyne said...

It does sound like so much food, but part of the process is to learn how much you're using and when. I admire your methodical approach to record keeping.

I may point Mr G over here as well, because I love the way you've set your pantry up.

Leigh said...

Tara, that's exactly correct. I do prefer too much to too little! As others have said, more than a year supply is nice if there's a problem with the following year's crop.

Grace said...

Leigh, I always get so much inspiration from your posts. This one is especially useful to me. Since I'm just starting my second year of canning, I've learned a little, but still have lots to figure out. I have started canning for two years, though. I think it makes sense to plan ahead to grow (or buy) and can so that you don't have to repeat each one every year. I did 11 jars of organic strawberry preserves and 14 quarts of pinto beans over the last week. I had no idea you could can greens! Going to my SC garden this weekend and harvesting my Swiss Chard. Now I know what to do with it all! Thanks!

Leigh said...

Grace, thank you! I think that's one of the great things about the internet and blogging, we can learn from and inspire one another. I should really try to can some pinto beans this year. Would love to have some on hand!

pantry cabinet said...

I love your kichen pantry and use of space. Didn't know that some of the things you canned could be canned at home.

Leigh said...

I think almost anything can be canned, though not all things can be canned equally well! I feel very fortunate to have had a small spare room to turn in to a pantry. :)