Spring Cleaning the Pantry

After we moved to New Hampshire, we looked at a lot of different houses before we found “the one”. When our realtor showed us this one, we walked in the front door, and the girls pointed to the distinctive mouldings around the doorways and windows, and looked at me with thrilled looks on their faces. We all noted with delight the black hardware on all the doors. Nice paneling in the formal dining room. We wandered into the family room…good size. We glanced at the kitchen…just a shell then. The girls moved beyond to the next door, took one look, and Colette turned around and said to me, “Mom, don’t scream.” I knew what it had to be…a walk-in pantry! A walk-in pantry like my grandparents’ pantry that I had fallen in love with so many years ago! I think the house was sold at the first glance at that pantry!

“Slow but sure wins the race.” That’s been my motto with spring cleaning this year. It’s nearly done. I’m not quite sure if I feel exhausted or exultant. Last week I decided to tackle the pantry. Technohubby said, “That will take two days.” I thought he was being sarcastic. Turns out he was decidedly accurate. Even though I’ve done lots of tidying of the pantry in the past, this time it needed a comlete reorganization.

I started small. Just inside the door, hung vertically, is an old wooden crate. I started there. I love this crate and the things it houses, because tasty, homemade goodness comes from them. There is ground sage, dried basil, and dried oregano from our garden. There are bay leaves lovingly sent to me from a friend whenever I’m in need. (Her bay tree thrives! I killed mine.) There’s citric acid and cheese salt for cheesemaking. And there’s star anise and large cinnamon sticks that I purchase whenever I can find a bargain on them. The star anise were a purchase of a cheaper Mexican spice company on my last trip to southern California. And the cinnamon sticks were a steal at a Mennonite grocery store in Amish country (just barely over $2.00 for enough sticks to fill a quart canning jar!

All the jars were dusted and the crate was re-filled. Those are our hand-dipped beeswax candles hanging there too!

Then it was time to think big and turn my attention to the rest of the room. Almost everything moved out. I have plans for this room someday. I’d like 18th century-style adjustable, open shelves on one wall. (I even took a photograph of exactly what I want while on a visit to Mystic Seaport once.) And I’d like a free-standing colonial cupboard on another. And I’d like a couple of small work tables, and a wooden bar hanging from the ceiling with hooks for hanging baskets. But those are plans for another time. Cleaning was the task at hand.

The pantry measures 5′ x 9′. What a load of goods a small room can hold! I had NO idea! Everything moved out and into the kitchen. Needless to say, we were unable to eat dinner at the kitchen table that night…or breakfast there the next morning.

Everything was dusted, thrown out, consolidated, and reorganized. I tried to purge my pantry of plastic many years ago (the blue-lidded plastic pieces seen above belong to Colette’s business). I love how it all looks when everything is stored in glass, wood, ceramic, and baskets! Baskets are great for holding: all our stainless steel water bottles, canning supplies, mixes, flavorings and food coloring, cookie cutters, onions, garlic, potatoes, and more. Voila! The newly reorganized pantry!

I created one area I thought would delight Colette and Max…a hot cocoa station….everything you need: cocoa mixes, cocoa in a shaker for sprinkling, flavored syrups! Yum!

Sorting through everything really made me realize how depleted I’ve allowed our basic pantry staples to become. Time to start stocking up! For Pete’s sake, even the chocolate chip cannister is empty!


  1. Wow to your pantry, and I love your kitchen also! love,andrea

  2. Well, the fact that you love my kitchen when it looks like THAT tells me that you are a woman with a lot of vision! Thanks!


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