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Setting Up a Pantry

Martha Stewart Living, October/November 1993

Martha loves the pantry in Westport and often feels inspired to cook simply by seeing the abundance of ingredients on the shelves. More than a source of inspiration, however, an organized pantry streamlines cooking preparations, making it easy to find ingredients and keep track of their need for replenishment.

Keep the following points in mind when setting up your own pantry:

A pantry can be as large as a room or as small as a bookcase--just make sure the space has good ventilation and circulation, low light, low humidity, and a relatively cool temperature.

The shelves of the cupboards in Martha's pantry are wide but not so deep that ingredients are difficult to find.

Store items that are used together next to one another. For example, group baking staples such as baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cocoa, salt, and molasses on the same shelf.

Most items keep best in airtight containers; glass, metal, and heavy plastic containers are least likely to become infested with pests. Containers for oils and dried herbs should be opaque as well as airtight. Martha likes to store grains, dried beans, dried chiles, rice, and dried fruit in tightly sealed canning jars.

Make sure that jars of food you've canned at home are properly labeled and dated. It's a good idea to mark the purchase dates of other foods such as flour and spices as well, so you can tell at a glance if something is past its prime.

A cool, dark space in the pantry is an ideal place to store hardy vegetables such as potatoes and onions. Don’t store potatoes and onions right next to each other, however, as they hasten each other's spoilage.

The pantry is also a convenient place to store non-food items such as lightbulbs, candles, matches, baskets, serving trays, and pet treats.


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