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Organizing Your Pantry

The Martha Stewart Show, November 2006

If you haven't gone through your pantry lately, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are the perfect time to refresh ingredients like sugars, spices, herbs, and other staples. Getting fresh stock will also help your recipes taste better, since things like spices and seasonings will lose their potency after about a year.

Flours, sugars, and other dry goods -- key ingredients for pies -- should be transferred from their packaging into wide-mouth, airtight containers as soon as you get them home. This will not only help keep them fresh, but also make them easier to scoop with measuring tools when you're ready to use them. If you don't use up ingredients quickly, then it's a good idea to note the date of purchase on the containers.

Sugars should also be put into airtight containers, and be sure to keep them in a low-humidity environment. Moisture can make solid sugars lumpy, so be sure to double-wrap brown sugars to keep them soft.

All of these items can be kept up to a year if properly stored, but oils for things like marinades and vinaigrettes have a bit shorter shelf life, and should be kept in original bottles for up to six months.

Spices for side dishes should be put into labeled tins where no light can reach them, because light and heat can cause them to lose their flavor more rapidly.

If you have everything organized and you stock up now, then you won't have to scramble for things later, which is a great way to stay stress-free.

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