Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

If I were to title this post it would be... When Bad Things Happen to Good Pantries.

My kitchen cabinets had a never-anticipated situation last weekend when the container of coconut oil leaked.  By the time we realized it, there was about a quarter inch of a gooey mess on the bottom of everything on that long shelf!

It took two days to clean, replace, and get everything back to order.

This was not my worst pantry disaster, that one happened about fifteen years ago when I lived in the larger house and my pantry filled a small basement room.  It was an expensive lesson in listening to the experts.

I had read that the newer plastic gallon containers had been re-engineered to disintegrate over time. So I should not have been surprised when I entered my basement pantry only to find one of the gallon water containers had indeed sprung a leak. 

I never thought they could disintegrate within a few months.  (These are the same gallon containers one buys milk and water in at the grocery store.)  What was also a surprise was how much damage a gallon of water could do to everything on the shelf, much less disintegrate the press board shelf itself!

Perhaps the biggest lesson I took from that mini-flood was to take seriously the advice offered by pantry experts.  There is something about human nature that we think "I can get away with... whatever".

Now, you can't protect yourself from ever pantry disaster.  I still haven't a clue why the coconut oil developed a leaked.  But most of the time we can avoid spoiled food, insects, and leaks.

Most of the battle is won by storing the food properly and/or purchasing food prepared for storage.  For instance, that is why I mentioned before that if you want to store dried milk for a very long time, it is worth the extra money to purchase it prepared for long term storage.  But most of the time, we'll stock our pantry from the grocery store or our own garden produce.

Which is why the deeper we want to keep a pantry, the more careful we must become in how we set it up and maintain it.  I have lots of links to excellent information on the sidebar (scroll all the way down).  There is always something one can learn!

We also learn from what we do... once again talking about gaining experience.  I'll be certain not to set my coconut oil in the back of the shelf again "just in case".   But it is also from experience that I've learned not to assume things cannot go wrong... like when I try to store brown rice in a hot garage.

My extended pantry is on a set of shelves in the garage since we don't have a lot of room in our kitchen.  As soon as it warms up a bit, I will be taking a few days to sort through the cans, bottles, and boxes on those pantry shelves.  (It isn't that I have so much, I can only work a little at a time.)

In my part of the world, late winter or early spring is the time to check the pantry shelves in the garage.  I look for anything which should be brought to the front to be used soon, items to throw away (which hopefully don't happen often but there is always something), and to see if anything needs to be stored differently (like moving the wheat into a sealed pail).

This is also the time, before the heat of summer, I bring inside items that could not withstand summer heat... like chocolate chips!

Bad things will happen to good pantries but by giving them a little TLC once in awhile, we can prevent most of it.  :)


Nadege said...

So, how does one store water? I had the same experience where many of the plastic water containers leaked and caused damage before I realized.

suzanne said...

thanks for this post, brenda. good reminder! you have mentioned several times that you grind your own wheat for flour....what exactly do you use? is there an all-purpose food mill one might purchase? i don't have a food processer, but would like to make my own almond/peanut butter someday. what to use?

Anonymous said...

I buy cider in the gallon glass jars just to have the jar. It is kind of expensive but those jars are worth it to me. Sometimes bad things even happen to good pockets. Guess what happens with three chocolate Dove hearts and a cell phone in the same pocket when a warm baby is pressed against the pocket for a reasonabe length of time? :-(
Vicky L.

Vee said...

This one hit home because this past month has been spent going through everything and being ruthless. I did write on the jars...good thing no one sees the fridge except John and me. I have started to realize that shortening doesn't taste good forever and grapefruit juice in cans is just wrong. I didn't know about milk bottles breaking down...must remind John of this as he sometimes uses them in the shop.

Anonymous said...

Naturally the more expensive oil was the one to leak! :). I was cleaning our my storage two weeks ago and found one can puffed out. The others bought the same time and of the same thing and way in date were find. I was so glad though I got that bad one pout before worse happened. I love doing the straightening too as it reminds me of what needs using and again what to watch good sales for to fill in here and there. I hope in the future they start designing the basic homes with pantries again. Good pantries with sturdy shelfs. We have to store most everything in another room cause the kitchen is way too small. I can't imagine how we would store the huge amount some families stock up on!! :-) I so far have never had a water bottle break but we only store a few store bought ones at a time and in a place we wouldn't have to worry about it. I heard David Horowitz the consumer aware personality, say years ago he had lots of water bottles leak years ago. He warned about them after that!! Sarah

mdoe37 said...

Those water jugs! Fortunately mine let loose in an unfinished room of the basement, so no damage. Meijer has gallons of water in a heavy clear jug rather than the milk-type jugs. I've been giving those a go.

You can store water in 2 liter pop bottles, well cleaned of course. Its of a different plastic. From what I have read there really is not need to treat city water before you store it. I'm not too sure about my well water though.