Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hidden Potential - a space for a pantry

Its spring showers today, which is greatly needed. So I'm focusing on indoor projects. I've been working to organize a pantry storage area that will be tucked under the stairs and take a portion of the old bathroom space. It will be a great spot for storage of canned goods and seeds, etc since it has no windows and is along the north side of the house. The old bathroom space tended to be colder then the rest of the house, which wasn't favorable for anyone using the bathroom but will be quite beneficial for a "root cellar" style storage space.

We first had to remove all the cabinets and stored things that were placed in the space.

Then following the clearing out of the space, we have to begin removing the old plaster wall that separates basement landing (entrance via the kitchen) from the future pantry. The space is ideal for cold storage (ie root cellar storage) since it stays a little bit above 34 degrees in winter and in summer is in a cool north area of the house.

We are also looking at opening up some of the unused space under the stairs, in the area of the basement staircase access. This area will be housing reclaimed drawers that will hold various items that normally take up space in the "junk drawer" and items such as specialty utensils used for canning or food processing that is only used during short periods of the year and stored the rest of the time. Moving them from the main area of the kitchen storage just makes sense, while at the same time keeping them readily available to the kitchen.

With access from the kitchen, via the basement landing, we will be able to place "long term" storage items such as canning supplies and surplus canned goods in the area. My major goal is to place the large cooking pots, slow cookers and other appliances that are only used occasionally, on large shelves in the back area of the pantry. Thus freeing up the kitchen cabinets for more frequently used appliances and supplies.

Another aspect of the space is "root cellar" storage.

Many people are unaware of how long carrots, cabbage, winter squash and other produce items can be stored on shelves or in crates, if placed in a cool dark space. By purchasing onions, potatoes, cabbage, winter squash, carrots and other long storage produce (research which kinds keep well), during their peek of season, I can stretch my purchasing power even further.

Those mentioned above don't require canning equipment to store. Merely a dark, dry, cool space with plenty of air circulation around the stored produce. Some reading is important so that you know how to store each type of crop and what not to store it near. Some crops need a higher moister content, while others need a dry environment. But with a little reading, you can learn how all these needs can readily be met.

You can find numerous sources talking about methods of produce storage:

(1) Storing Vegetables
and Fruits at Home

(2) Stocking the Root Cellar
It's not just for tubers anymore

(3) Storage of Home-Grown Vegetables


(5)Successful cold storage

(6)Root Cellaring Primer


(8) The Return of the Root Cellars,

(9) Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables in Root Cellars ,

(10)Root Cellars: Post Harvest Treatment & Low Cost Storage of Produce

Even fruits such as apples, pears, grapefruit and oranges can be stored. Making the need to buy these fruits and vegetables at their higher out-of-season prices less common.

Will try to get pictures posted asap.

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