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.
Oh, how I wish for a real pantry! We store ours in the basement on sturdy plastic shelving. Our walls were reenforced which means that they now slope towards the center. Therefore the shelves are all kind of randomly placed around the middle. It is what we use for now and no matter where they are I LOVE seeing my full jars! And I made my husband cover the little window so that no light would get at them too 🙂
Would love to spill on those cookbooks!
I store most of my jars of canned food on a heavy-duty shelf unit under my basement stairs. The jars that don’t fit there go on three built-in shelves in my laundry room. And when I run out of space in those two places I put them in cardboard boxes with lids in my basement “catch-all”/study room. It is not ideal but I can get to my gorgeous jars and stand there looking at the colourful fruit of my labour.
My Mom has many bookcase-like shelves in her basement where she stores all her canned goods and other food. It’s pretty amazing. She always has an extra of everything around. I’m sure that if the world ended tomorrow, we could live off the food in Mom’s basement for at least five years!
I have a pantry…but I only get to use it to cool my jars, not store them. 🙁 The pantry is full of linens and appliances. Thank goodness we have a partial basement!
I know an 86 year old woman in my small town who has tons of canned fruit and veggies in her basement. A couple of years ago her water heater busted and filled her basement with water and steam. She is afraid all of her canned goods are no longer edible, but can’t get herself to get rid of all that hard work. What a disappointment that would be.
Love your pictures by the way!
I’m kind of surprised at how many of us have our own websites! I’m totally going through them & adding the food ones to my blog links!
I miss my grandmothers pantry. It was in a back entry way to the kitchen that she converted into a closet/pantry. She stored all of her ingredients, canned goods, pots and pans, etc. I loved going in there to sit in the corner under the shelves and eat a jar of homemade canned blackberry jam…made from blackberries my sister and I had picked the summer before! Someday, I want my own small pantry stocked full of my own canned creations!
I was blessed with a large pantry which we designed when we built our home. It could hold enough for an army and usually did. We had a fire (no fault of our own)and not only lost our pantry/kitchen/whole house but all of my cookbooks which the insurance company depreciates. Anyway, we are starting over. Please check with your insurance company and see how they handle things like cookbooks/canned food.
We lived in a small duplex for nine years. Our “pantry” was the back closet. Our “garden” was a tiny space for tomatoes and beans. We had only the freezer on the rental place’s fridge.
In our current home, a real house, we have a back hallway that serves as storage. The pantry for home-canned goods, a new venture, is in the basement. It’s an old set of cupboards with glass doors that used to border the kitchen of our house; it is the perfect set-up.
Next summer, we’ll fill it. Seriously. Look out, family, I’m taking over the kitchen with good food!
I’ve canned 15 cases of jam / jelly this summer, 12 different flavors!! That’s not including the bushel of beans, bushel of tomatoes (we had a bad tomato year…our chickens ate them!), and 3 bushels of corn (what WAS I thinking?!?) So I have jars everywhere…in the kitchen pantry, primarily on the shelves in the laundry room, on top of the freezer / or washer whichever one I don’t need into at the moment….sigh.
I am a cook book fiend…. please let me add some to my ever increasing spread of good cook book material… I have virtually no closet space or kitchen space in the house i currently reside in…. I am longing to move so that I can find sneaky little places to store things….
My last home had a dark, cold basement with a wall of glorious wooden shelves. The new home is a not so glorious over sized bathroom wall cabinet that doubles as my dry/bulk goods and canning pantry. The only advantage is it happens to be located right off the kitchen which means no more trips into a creepy dirt floor basement!
I have canned stuff everywhere, it seems. I have a 12-foot-long, 2-shelf unit that holds about 130 quart jars, a converted bookcase that has about 100 jars of all sizes on it, a window seat storage compartment that has another 150+ jars and our newest addition (because all the other areas were full), a small wire shelving unit with 36 quarts on it. I’ve been busy this year!
Our pantry is a closet in our back room. I have one shelf for store bought stuff and on shelf for home canned. I need another shelf for each as they are both full right now.
My Grandfather, in rural Alabama, used to have two large gardens going every spring to fall. Additionally, the family hunted wild game as season after season passed and harvested pecans from the orchard. He had a room next to his garage that housed two deep freezers full of wild game, chickens he raised, nuts, etc. and the shelves above were entirely lined with jars of preserved veggies and fruits, sauces, jams, jellies, pickles and chutneys. There was a refrigerator for eggs from his chickens and he also did some homemade wine making. He had the equipment in there along with the different “vintages”. Definitely my dream pantry, especially after living in NYC apartments for the past almost ten years.
I wish I had a pantry. Truly it on the things to do list when we move the washing machine out of the hallway next to the kitchen. Soon. My husband promises. Until then I store my canning in an old yellow barrister that serves as a cabinet in the kitchen, and the overflow is under my dog’s grooming table. Or at camp. Or next to the dining room table. Or wherever there is “cool, dry space” in our tiny house. Much of it disappears over the holidays, though, and then we can reclaim the spot next to the dining room table.
I don’t quite have a pantry. I have cupboards that are short and deep and can never find anything! Luckily, I have a hall “linen” closet that I now use as a pantry. I’d had it in use for a good 6+ months before my husband discovered all of the yummies I have stashed away!!
My pantry is a work in progress right now. I’m getting/have the 3rd bedroom. It’s all cleaned out and now for the shelves next. I’m thinkin next year it will be done. I can’t wait. Other then that my cans are all over the place. Were I can squeeze a small amount of space.
I have a lot stashed in cabinets throughout my living room. However, the most interesting place I have it is under my girls’ bottom bunk bed. I have 6 cases there now. I made sure to only put sealed canned jars and not dried fruit there to prevent midnight snacking.
Food is everywhere! It’s driving me crazy! Well, it’s not so bad now, hubby installed me some shelves in the basement so that I can store my newest addiction, quite a few jars of canned goods 🙂 Our kitchen island stores more foods but I just can’t wait to redo our kitchen next year, we’re gutting it out 🙂 It’s small, but I know I can make it work and I should be able to keep my canning tools IN the kitchen. Woo Hoo! Did I mention that hubby likes my new addiction? He just got himself a dozen half pints of fresh homemade hot sauce!
Love your dry sink storage area. So cute and inviting. I’ll bet your jars love it in there 🙂 My storage area for my canned goods is in built-in cupboards in our garage. But since we’ve grown a large garden the last couple years, I’m doing more freezing than canning. We have a large upright freezer, also in the garage, that is positively jammed full at the moment with freezer pickles, julienned green peppers, freezer olallieberry jam, roasted tomatoes, etc. etc. I love to open that door and peek at the abundance. It makes me so happy 🙂
I just moved into a new house a few months ago, which is generously paid for (in part) by my wife’s employer. The house is lovely but the kitchen is teensy weensy. And I LONG for a pantry. I have a few cabinets above the stove that I use for pantry-like purposes, but it’s quite sad. Someday I will own a home, and on that day I will have a fabulous pantry!
oh dear. My pantry is HUGE and STILL unorganized. I keep thinking I need to buy those canned goods (I stock up via coupons which make them less than .40 a can, and I’m addicted to coupons) stairs so I can actually see what I have. It’s a huge mess.
OK,so once someone gave me some granola which contained…dread dread dread….pantry moths!!! Evil,evil,moths that got into everything and nibbled and were almost impossible to erradicate. That’s my pantry story.
I store my canned goods mostly in the outdoor pantry. But my indoor pantry is beautifully organized and I keep a few in there.
I actually organize pantries for friends. I’ve been doing this for a few years and we usually trade services. They clean something of mine or watch the kids and I organize the pantry..that’s my pantry story.
My husband and I put together some metal shelves in our entry-way/room off the garage, to display them out in the open. The nice thing is that all winter long, I can keep it at a constant cool 59F while the rest of the house is roasty toasty.
This summer I’m on the hunt for an old hutch, or some sort of desk that I can strip and repaint a bright turquoise maybe??
In the little country home I was brought up in, we did not have closets. So my mom had shelves in the laundry room along an entire wall. This is where all the canned goods from the garden were stored thoughout the year. I can just visualize it now…..and wish I could go back in time….
IF I could get my garage cleaned out that would be the perfect place for my jars of goodies BUT they are now stored in my spare bedroom. Hope I don’t have any company for a while!
Thanks for the giveaway. My old house had a nice cool basement and we put shelves up along the north wall. They weren’t covered, but I don’t think they got very much light. Now we have to store our jars in the closet in the laundry room, which stays cool enough as long as we keep the door open when we’re doing laundry.
In my house growing up, there was a laundry room in the back where there was a tall metal cabinet, like you find in offices. This was the pantry, situated next to an absolutely massive freezer. I have fond memories of being a child and exloring all of the cans, jars, and boxes of goodies stashed away in there.
Our pantry was outside in the garage growing up. Oh man, there were SO many mystery jars out there! We grew up in the woods, so who knows what you’d find some nights when you’d wander out for another jar of peanut butter or a new box of cereal. We also had a SERIOUS problem with miller moths which is why, like you, I am IN LOVE with jars. Miller’s can’t chew through glass, suckers!!!
When my gram passed away and I went to NY to clean her place out I came across some ball jars and huge pot that resembled a stock pot..I took these items home unsure of what to do with them. But I kept them nonetheless..then last year I put in my first vegetable garden to get with the organics and be in the know. ahaaaa i had my first epiphany and decided to buy a BALL cookbook and use the jars..Ive been canning since then from salsa to applesauce and jams and soups and stews and beets and holiday jam..what a great way to live! Im almost 50 and so its never to late to start and youre never to old to learn new tricks!
My husband has built the most beautiful shelves and cabinets in our cold room/basement for all of our jars. It is a beautiful green with lots of shelving and two corner cupboards for some of our kitchen collectibles. Unfortunately, we are still in need of more shelves and our jars end up in an unused tub as well.
We will ever crazy-organized like Martha! …she has people to do it for her! We live in the real world.
Anyway, we love your apartment the way it is, and we love our new house, even though the area that was the pantry now houses the fridge…maybe some day we will have a little cellar…that’s my dream at least.
when I was younger and had a pantry I never used it. Now that I’m older and need one, I don’t have one. I had to buy a sturdy metal shelving unit to put in an extra bedroom. Now I’ve outgrown that.
My mother has converted one of the two coat closets in her farmhouse kitchen into her pantry and is currently creating another one by walling off the nook that is made by the stairs. I hope to someday have one giant pantry.
I just started canning this last August, and have made quite the little larder- However, we too live in a tiny apartment (halfing your 1,100 square feet!) and literally don’t even have a closet to spare. I struck a deal with my husband when it was clear my canning was taking up all the space on our existing only pantry shelf and we squeezed in a small 3 shelf unit. Now I’ve got that space and nothing else. If it gets too full, I’ve gotta eat or give! (but, shh! don’t tell him about the 2 quarts of apple pie filling, 2 pints of crushed tomatoes and 3 pints of pickled peppers I have hidden by our blender!)
Funny story…back in May when I really kicked up the canning and found out much I loved mason jars I was sure that I could store all my jars in neat piles in my dining room.HA! I ran out of room real quick and began piling them in my closet floor.I soon realized if I did not organize those jars with a quickness I would run out of room in the closet.Well I get them all arranged and find 5 more recipes to make. I am now back to storing the last 2 recipes I canned,yep you guessed it,in the dining room in a neat pile of sorts.Hooray!