My “Pantry”

“The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living…”
― Dione Lucas

Yesterday I spent nearly all afternoon in the basement where I keep all the things I’ve canned. I’m not sure you’d call it a pantry, because it is just a corner in one of the sectioned off rooms, but it is “my pantry.”

For weeks I have been trying to get down there to add another shelving unit so I could get all the canned goods I’ve made in the past two months out of the boxes that were stacking up on the floor. It was nearly impossible to find anything down there.

What I thought would just be a quick project of throwing together the shelving unit and putting it in place, turned out to be a complete re-hauling of that area. Of course, nothing ever goes easy, but this was exceptional. All of the old shelving units had to be moved which meant every can on them had to be moved as well. This was very time-consuming. Thankfully my kids gave me several hours of their time and that part of the job went smoothly.

All the boxes on the floor hold home-canned goods.

All the boxes on the floor hold home-canned goods.

These are where the kids helped me move all the canned goods that were on the shelving units -- this in only half of it.

These are where the kids helped me move all the canned goods that were on the shelving units — this in only half of it.

After the shelves were cleared and removed from the “pantry” I had to empty the chest freezer so I could move it. Knowing I was going to be working on this project, you’d think I would have planned ahead and started reducing the stock of meat and vegetables in there — not me. I went to SAM’s just last week. Not much on thinking ahead.

Once that was done the shelving could be put back in the room and the organization process began. It took me nearly two hours to somewhat alphabetize the canned goods and organize the shelves by Jams/Jellies/Preserves, Whole Fruits & Pie Filling, Concentrates & Juices, and Vegetables. With all the boxes emptied and all the cans that had been removed put back on shelves I have less than a shelf to spare.

The chest freezer was moved so three of the shelving units could run along one wall.

The chest freezer was moved so three of the shelving units could run along one wall.

Going completely across, the top two rows are jams/jellies/preserves; next two rows are fruit; next row is juice and concentrates; and last two rows are vegetables.

Going completely across, the top two rows are jams/jellies/preserves; next two rows are fruit; next row is juice and concentrates; and last two rows are vegetables.

I couldn't get a picture of all three units, but this is pretty close.

I couldn’t get a picture of all three units, but this is pretty close.

Now comes the difficult part: Where am I going to put the beans, apple chips, and guava jams that are sitting on the kitchen counter? I thought that one shelving unit would be enough, but I was wrong. Trouble is, there is no space for another unit and no other spot in the basement I can use. Typically we go through a minimum of five or six jars of something or other every week, but at that rate, there still won’t be enough space once canning season is at it’s heighth.

The good news, I now have an excellent handle on what is in my pantry and know that I definitely do not need to make sweet cherry jam, prune plum jam, apple syrup or sauce, or szeghetti peppers for at least another year, possibly two. Instead I can experiment with rhubarb, work on pie filling (which I just started making this year after discovering Clear Jel), green chilies, jalapeno peppers, pickles, and various types of beans.

My pantry project is behind me (for now) and I am getting organized, almost ready for summer canning; and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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