The reasons I preserve food are many. I like knowing what’s in my dinner (and if it’s too sweet or too puckery, I have no one to blame but myself). I appreciate knowing where the food came from and having a relationship with the people who grew it (even if that relationship is confined to Saturday mornings, a few words and exchange of money for goods). I also find it to be quite life affirming. Canning is a way of reminding your future self that she matters and that, barring any unforeseen events, you intend to be on the planet for a while longer.
There’s also something so cozy about having a stockpile of good things to eat. Lately, I’ve been enjoying seeing the ways in which people stash and store their home canned stuff. There was a period there where I was posting at least one link to the Food in Jars Facebook page a day, sharing the various pantry pictures I found or was sent. I was particularly tickled when I got to see Heather’s kitchen shelves in person when I was in Portland last month.
I figured that it was only fair that I finally share with you all where my own extended pantry lives. I’m reluctant to confess that when it comes to pantry management, I am not the most organized. I like to imagine that if I had a dedicated space in which to store these filled and sealed jars, I might be better about maintenance and categorization, but deep in my heart, I recognize that I will never be Martha-like in my devotion to scrupulous neatness.
At the moment there are three primary spots where my pantry resides. The first is in a dry sink in my dining room. That’s the piece of furniture you can see at the top of this post. It mostly contains jams and fruit sauces, although I do keep the pressure canned stocks on the bottom-left shelf. I think the jars like it in there, because it’s nice and dark.
The next place is our front-hall closet. We are quite fortunate in that though this apartment is just 1,100 square feet, the closets are nice and roomy. The one closest to the front door is large enough that I’ve entertained thoughts of cleaning it out and transforming it into a home office. However, if I did that, both the coats and my tomatoes would be homeless. So it remains home to all manner of coats, folding chairs, coolers that primarily serve as yogurt incubators, backpacks that only get used when we fly and lots of pickles, canned fruit and tomatoes. It always surprises people when I go to retrieve their coats at the end of an evening and also hand them a jar of hot dog relish for the road.
Finally, there’s the overflow spot, under my desk in the den. This is a space that is primarily Scott’s domain. However, he’s willing to share with me and so I use the built-in desk along the wall. When I’m not snapping photos of the space, I throw a dark towel over those jars, so that the light coming in from the window (not pictured but to the right of this desk) doesn’t prematurely age the contents of those jars.
Okay, now that you’ve taken the tour of my closets and nooks, time for a little giveaway. A publisher sent these two Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks to me while I was still at Slashfood (nearly two years ago now), so they aren’t the newest cookbooks on the block. They are, however, still in brand-new condition (still in their original shrink-wrap and everything) and the time has come for them to move on to a life with a cook who will unwrap them and splash a bit of butter or chocolate on their pages.
If you’d like a chance to win the pair of these books, leave a comment and share a story about a pantry you have known (good, bad or otherwise). This giveaway will close on Friday, November 5th at 11:59 p.m.