Every home-chef knows that a great cooked meal begins in the pantry. And, if you can keep it well-stocked and well-organized, it will serve you well. Here at my farm, we took advantage of this week's cold, dark, snowy days of winter to reorganize and clean some of my kitchen cabinets. It can be a time-consuming task, but once you start, you will be so pleased with the results. Plus, cleaning the pantry periodically not only keeps it in good order, but eliminates unnecessary trips to the store.
Enjoy these photos.
In the back of my Winter House kitchen are my pantry cabinets – several deep shelved cabinets where I keep most of my everyday cooking staples.
This cabinet is mainly used to store my olive oils, vinegars, condiments, pastas and salts. Recently, I decided it was time to clean and organize the space, so items could be found more easily.
The first step was to remove everything from the shelves. This is also a good time to consolidate like items if possible.
As items were removed, they were organized by group – these are different types of salts that I have collected.
Slowly, each shelf was emptied out onto the counter. As items are moved, heed expiration dates; otherwise, most canned and bottled goods, such as preserves, pickles, and relishes, can be kept, unopened, for up to one year.
My assistant, Shqipe Berisha, is an excellent organizer, and enjoys helping with these tasks.
The condiments were grouped according to type and size.
These upper shelves are used for my vast olive oil collection. I often purchase different types of olive oil during my travels.
It is amazing to see how much can fit into these storage spaces.
My shelves are lined with stainless steel sheets to protect the shelf surfaces. Stainless steel sheets can be found at hardware stores and cut to various sizes.
The next step was to thoroughly clean the stainless steel shelves. Shqipe uses a damp cloth. Most surfaces also respond well to mild cleansers; rinse with a damp sponge, and dry with a clean, absorbent cloth to stop streaks from occurring.
It’s a good idea to get trays, such as these stainless steel ones to keep smaller items together.
The Brother P-Touch is one of my favorite “can’t live without” tools. We use it to label so many things around the farm.
I use a lot of these plastic deli containers in various sizes to store many things. They are easy to stack, easy to label and easy to keep organized.
Place the labels on the sides of the containers, so they are visible. Everyone can now know exactly what each item is.
Many spices and baking staples lose potency after six months to one year, so get rid of these items as you clean.
Organize cabinets in a logical manner, storing items closest to where they’re used.
All the vinegars were returned and organized by height, so every label was easy to see with most used items in the front. Keep all types of vinegar in their original bottles, and store them in a cool spot up to one year.
Olive oils were organized by height also. Store vegetable oils in the original bottles, unrefrigerated, in a cool, dark place up to six months. Refrigerate nut oils, such as walnut oil, and use within three months.
One entire shelf was dedicated to all my different pastas – assorted shapes including spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, fettuccine, lasagna, orzo, and couscous.
Dried pasta can be stored in its original package until opened, then transferred to airtight containers. It is best used within one year of purchase.
Less used items can be placed on lower shelves – always with labels facing front, so things are easy to identify.
Everything looks so much better already – just a couple more items to return and then everything will be in its proper place.
There are lots of great tips in my “Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home”. Everyone should have a copy. http://www.amazon.com/Martha-Stewarts-Homekeeping-Handbook-Everything/dp/0517577003