August 28, 2020

Putting the Pantry Back Together

Slowly, I've been able to start putting my pantry back together.


We finished with the walls, trim, and ceiling painting a while ago, but with my days filled with blueberries, figs, applesauce, and cheese making, there hasn't been much time to set up my pantry again.


You can see that I decided not to replace the old linoleum flooring. I just gave it a good scrub and tossed down a couple of throw rugs.


Below is the corner where the old refrigerator used to be. I added another set of shelves. Dan offered to make me some shelves, but - time and money. I already have these and there is so much else to do this time of year. Shelf building didn't seem a priority right now.


In the corner where the freezer used to be (below), I put our old kitchen table. I wanted someplace to keep my gallon-size crocks besides the shelves, and to let my cheeses air dry. There's room underneath for canning jar boxes, and Dan added two simple racks on the wall for hanging things I want to keep handy.


I've been wrestling with empty jars and jar boxes forever. I've tried a number of systems, but none seem to work well. I'm hoping this will help. How do you all organize your empty jars?

Of course, it's not just jars and canned goods that are stored in the pantry, it's herbs, stock-up items, kitchen tools, and cooking utensils I only use occasionally (like the roasting pan for the Thanksgiving turkey), also cheese making and preservation supplies and equipment.

It's slow going because the setup is different and I want to organize as I put things back. Can't guarantee it will stay that way, but at least it will start out that way!

37 comments:

  1. Everything looks so prosperous and nice. I'm glad you didn't change the flooring. That would have been a waste of resources. Thanks for your posts and hope you have a good harvest and entry into the slower season, which, of course, isn't as slow down there. Good wishes! Phil/MN.

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  2. My pantry shelves hold most of my jars, full or empty. When they are all full (or mostly so), it's a glorious sight! As we empty them, I pull the full ones to the front and put the clean empties, top down, behind. (My shelves are six quart jars deep.)

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  3. Phil, thanks! I hadn't thought of the floor in terms of wasting resources, but you're right. Yes, things are slowing down a wee bit. I didn't can figs or applesauce yesterday! Have to get back to a batch of bone broth today. Still, I love the life. :)

    Michelle, I agree about the sight of a full pantry! You don't find your method requires too much jar moving? Being able to store jars upside-down is the one plus of the shelves I've got. The perforations in the shelves let the jars breathe without getting dusty.

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  4. That is just plain beautiful! Such a clean and roomy space! What a feeling of security when those shelves are full. What temperature are you able to maintain in that lovely room?

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  5. Alas, I have no pantry in this house. I store my jars in a cabinet and arrange them by size. The most used ones are on the bottom shelf, as I am on the short side, so it makes it easier for me to retrieve them.
    We do have plans to convert our laundry area into a pantry, and I can't wait to have a chance to organize it all! Wish I could come and help you with your pantry project. ;0D

    Such a blessing to have so much space to store your goodies.

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  6. Rosalea, I love that it's lighter and brighter now, even if I do try to keep it as dark as possible for the sake of the canned goods! When outdoor temps are in the 90s, we're able to keep it in the low 80s. Not as cool as we'd like, but that's actually better than before we installed the new insulation.

    Daisy, that's a great idea! You will love having a pantry. Organizing is a huge task, especially the kitchen pots, pans, and gadgets I only use on occasion.

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  7. You can tell you're a homesteader when you get excited looking at a pantry whether it's yours or someone else's! Yours looks so wonderfully new, clean and organized. I've had my pantry for many years and I'm still reorganizing it to create just the right order for things! I agree with others that leaving the (old) present flooring in place was a good idea. And those empty canning jars! What's with them? I've never found a place to store them I'm happy with. I think (for me) it has something to do with the fact that they are . . . well, empty! Why should they have to take up valuable space? (Yeah, I know, makes no sense, does it?)

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  8. WOW!!
    It looks wonderful. I absolutely love the floor. It cleaned up much better than I thought it would. I had linoleum similar to its pattern in our first kitchen after we married. Also in the house my parents rented when we first moved to Fresno in 1954. So glad it worked out.

    My pantry is large but I need to get in and make it more user friendly to my needs. Also it sits pretty much organized as it was when I landed a year ago. I also imagine that the folks who put the pantry shelving in weren’t homesteader minded as the shelves are all pretty much sized for grocery store standard jars. A good rainy day or week 😊 project.

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  9. No, Leigh, I don't find moving the jars to be a big deal, but that may be my personality speaking. ;-)

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  10. And to think people were jealous of my pantry! I like the size of yours!

    I'm going to have to revisit my shelving strategy now that main canning and storage operations will be at my house away from the farm. Up until now, I had shelves in the basement and a smaller shelf in the pantry. I would carry up jars from the basement to keep the pantry one stocked. If I pull a jar out of the pantry to use, I would return it to the same shelf after cleaned so when a row was mostly clean jars, I would carry them downstairs to the other shelves and bring up more canned stuff to fill that row. Whenever I was ready to can, I would go down to the basement and grab any clean jars, usually from the row or product I was planning on canning, bring them upstairs to clean and use in the canning process.

    Now I have two problems. Because I need to store everything up here, I don't have enough shelves at the moment and because I am reducing the number of quarts I can and increase the number of pints, I have empty quart jars stacked in boxes on the floor. I think I may take them down to the farm for the time being until I verify more pints is truly how I want to do things and then sell them.

    I have got to where I never remove the rings from the jars after canning. I have enough rings for everything. So after I use a jar, I just screw it on the clean jar and store it on the shelf upside down until needed.

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  11. Mama Pea, so true! I love looking at pantry photos. I think keeping a pantry organized is a full-time job, which is amazing considering the pantry isn't a room we really live in! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who wrestles with empty jars. :)

    Goatldi, it's funny you should say that. We lived in a rental house long before we moved here, at it had the exact same linoleum in the kitchen and dining area. I know because I have photos!

    Nice that you have a built in pantry in your new house. Will the shelves fit pint canning jars?

    Michelle, you found a system that works for your personality! That's more than half the battle. Well done.

    Phoebe, thank you!

    Ed, the original pantry in this house was 4'x6' which I'm sure seems large to regular folk. To those of use who can, of course it's small. Which is why it became the utility room!

    Sounds like you had a pretty good system worked out. But things do change. Ideally, I prefer quarts because it's twice the food for half the work, but in reality, pints work better for just the two of us. I like your idea of storing the rings on empty jars. They do accumulate. One less box full of rings would be a savings of space!

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  12. For years I've done a rotation of filled and empty jars and boxes. When the boxes are empty (jars full)they are collapsed flat and the full jars are put on the shelves. As jars are emptied, they go back in the boxes and fill the shelves waiting to be filled again. My original pantry was a 12x12 room. Now, it's an 8x12 storage building.

    My spare jars (I have over 1,000 pints, 4 doz qt jars, and 6 doz each of half pints and quarter pint jars and have never used 100% of them as yet) are kept on two shelving units in the feed storage room in the barn. By keeping the original boxes, the jars are separated by the dividers and fit neatly packed away. The chance of breakage is minimal and a case of jars is easily gotten and put away. My jars just goes through the cycle of full and empty each year.

    My rings do tend to multiply and fill boxes of their own. I've got 6 boxes, but that's okay because I tend to use the same 19 (1full pressure canner load) over and over again until they rust away, but wait I've got 6 pint jar boxes full to pick from. LOL

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  13. Wowza! It's looking great Leigh! Don't you just love it? I have a shelf out in the summer kitchen that houses my extra boxes of jars. The common "users" that get used and reused on a rather continual basis are on a couple shelves of their own not in boxes. The filled jars are in the house in the pantry.

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  14. I have pantry envy. :) I keep boxes of empty jars stacked in a corner of the porch, but the rest of the empties tend towards chaos.

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  15. Jo, sounds like you've got a system that works well for you. I agree about keeping the original boxes. They definitely come in handy. Too bad the new ones are only half boxes with no dividers.

    Lady Locust, there always do seem to be some that get reused frequently, aren't there? I need to keep that in mind as I figure out my jar system.

    Tpals, "... but the rest of the empties tend towards chaos." LOL, that's me too! I'm thinking I need to put boxes of empties someplace else altogether. Just need to keep a box handy for putting new empties into, and then a place to keep it when it's full.

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  16. That's beautiful! Such preparation and resourcefulness. I loved the tour.
    I was amused at the question of how to store empty jars. Mine fit in a lazy Susan! Yes, not many.

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  17. That's great! It's so great to have an entire room! We do at least have a spare bedroom closet that we retrofitted into a pantry. Then we bought a freestanding stainless steel rack where I keep are canned foods from home. For me personally I can get the extra leftover empty jars in the original canning jar boxes that they came in. I've also found some other low edged boxes to store them in. As we use up things I just wash the jars and then put the back on the rack in the Boxes. When is time to can again I just pull them out and run them through the dishwasher. It works pretty well! If you look on my blog and click on Pantry you might be able to find some photos. I thought about storing mine out in the garage but it's a lot easier to just keep them in the house. Your pantry looks great exclamation and that was a good use of that spare table sometimes you just need things sitting out for a while. Right now I've got three jars of pickles fermenting on my kitchen counter but that's the only place I can keep an eye on things right now

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  18. Boud, as long as you have a system for your jars, you're organized! The lazy susan sounds like a good idea.

    Nancy, it wasn't originally a pantry, but I'm glad we turned it in to one! It's nice that you have enough shelf space for your jars, full and empty. Maybe I should store my non-canning stuff elsewhere so I can use the shelves for jars.

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  19. Nancy, oh, and thank you for mentioning your blog pantry photos. I'll definitely come check it out.

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  20. It looks great in there! I need to clean out my pantry...a lot of things have made their way in there "temporarily" and never moved out. I've always wanted to add another shelf or two at the top in there as they stopped at the top of the door and we have 9ft ceilings for some odd reason. I have a lot of cleaning out to do.

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  21. Renee, this is exactly what I needed in order to do a good cleaning. Otherwise, it probably wouldn't have happened! :p

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  22. Wow. That pantry looks GREAT!! You can see everything and it is so well organized. What a joy. I bet you get a lot of pleasure out of the view when you walk in there. I have a small pantry and it is a disaster right now. I need to spend time organizing it and cleaning out but the pantry has a door - and more often than not - closing it is how I deal with the mess.

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  23. Here's a couple posts with photos of our pantry/canning rack, will save you the search!

    http://littlehomesteadinboise.blogspot.com/2017/12/little-homestead-year-end-review.html

    http://littlehomesteadinboise.blogspot.com/2012/03/reorganizing-food-pantry-stump-that.html

    Enjoy!

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  24. Leigh, I love a pantry! You have everything so neat and in order, and looks like lots of room. I have a tiny half laundry room, half pantry. I have moved canning jars from place to place for years. After my cousin Pat gave us the old cupboard that sits on the front porch, I filled the bottom half with jars and left them there. Best place I've found yet. You probably use lots more jars than I do, and need much more space to store them. Sure admire all that you do. Oh, your new profile picture looks beautiful. It's so tiny, but honestly, it should be a large painting to hang on the wall.

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  25. RT, thanks! I'm really happy with it, even though it's slow figuring out what goes where. Funny how easily the become unorganized, isn't it?

    Nancy, thanks! It's lovely to see someone else's pantry and food storage. Always makes me happy, lol.

    Henny, an old cupboard would be perfect for storing jars. It's so hard to deal with the empties. My pantry looks neat and tidy now, but I doubt that will last! LOL

    R, thanks!

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  26. Great pictures and a job well done Leigh!

    I like Henny Penny's idea of a cabinet (if, of course, one has a cabinet). I am always a little wonky about storing items on the floor, but that is just from years of working in the biopharmaceutical industry where nothing is stored on the floor.

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  27. Hello and great new pantry for you! That looks fabulous, Leigh! I am like you, with keeping the original boxes for empty’s to go back to. We are really spoiled here on the ridge, with the old basement being the storage for empty and filled canning, and all the wine making equipment. We never had a basement in Florida, so it was like a true treasure when we moved in. We also mostly use pints and half pints, because the two of us don’t use up quarts quick enough, unless of course, I’m making a soup or stew... lol ! Have a terrific week, and that pantry is superb!

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  28. TB, in your industry, I'm sure everything must be immaculately kept under strict guidelines. At home, we're living with our own microbiome, so I do my best to keep things clean, and don't worry so much about disorderly (although maybe I should!)

    Wyomingheart, oh, to have a basement. You are so lucky to have that. A basement was on our wishlist when we looked at places, but I don't think we looked at a single property that had one. It's the perfect place for storage, pantry, and root cellar!

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  29. It looks great, and so functional. I suffer from a severe lack of organized space. I'm thinking about taking over the littlest bedroom (about 8x8) and turning it into pantry/kitchen storage. It's not really convenient, but cheaper than building a whole new house. Storing things outside isn't really an option, what with cats knocking things over, dust and freezing winters.

    Getting started is the hardest part. There isn't a place to put stuff while I rearrange, sort of like one of those sliding puzzles.

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  31. Susan, having the space is a start! Organizing it is a huge challenge, at least it always is for me. But I agree, it's important to have someplace specifically for food storage.

    Food Blog, good luck with your new blog!

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  32. For those half boxes, I use rubber bands around the jars in place of the dividers and use 2 half boxes. Since I never totally empty all the jars, it works out.

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  33. What a wonderful space! Is that a Country Living Grain Mill?

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  34. Debby, yes it is! Good eyes. :)

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