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How to organize your pantry staples

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organizing pantry staples
One question asked by those new to food allergies is what would be the best way to store all these pantry staples. If it's not a wheat-based flour or plain old cane sugar, what to do with it?

The short answer is that it's going to depend largely on that specific item. Different staples require different types of storage so they don't go rancid, harden, or otherwise become unusable. There is no point in wasting money on foods that cannot be used because they were not stored properly.


How to store meats, fish, and shellfish

Let's get basic food safety out of the way: meat, fish, and related proteins must be refrigerated or frozen quickly when purchased. If it's raw, freeze until needed. Once cooked, freeze in individual portions if possible so you don't defrost and reheat more than you need.

How to store starches

Starches and similar baking additives are shelf-stable. These can be stored in an airtight container in the pantry. This includes:

Arrowroot starch

Baking soda

Corn starch

Potato starch

Tapioca starch

Tartaric acid

How to store whole grains, pseudo-grains (seeds), beans, and nuts

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and the non-wheat flours made from them are not shelf-stable due to the proteins and fat content. Nuts and beans are especially prone to becoming rancid if left at room temperature. These foods should be stored in the freezer, preferably in their whole form to be ground into flour as needed. I like to use large mason jars for this purpose. Take the jar out of the freezer to thaw a bit about half an hour prior to using it. This includes:

Amaranth

Almonds

Brazil nuts

Buckwheat

Chickpeas

Corn

Hazelnuts

Macadamia nuts

Millet

Pecans

Pistachios

Quinoa

Rice

Sorghum

Soy

Teff

Walnuts

How to store herbs, vegetables, root vegetables, and fruits

Fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables in general simply need to be kept cool rather than frozen. Herbs can be stored in airtight jars in the refrigerator until needed.

If you have a root cellar, use it. Otherwise, store fruits and vegetables in open baskets at the bottom of a cool pantry or in the refrigerator. They need air circulation to avoid rot and mold. Potatoes in particular do not freeze well.

Tip: Don't store potatoes and onions next to each other. They sprout and rot each other.

If you have time for prep, slice fruits and certain vegetables such as broccoli and bell peppers, then freeze them in individual portions for ease of use. Jars of chopped onions and garlic allow you to take out only what you need at that time.

Chestnuts

Coconut

Potatoes

Tapioca

How to store oils

Oils will go rancid quickly. Keep a small amount out for daily cooking and store the rest in the refrigerator. Don't buy in bulk unless you can use it quickly.

Coconut oil

Shortening

How to store sugars

Sugar is shelf-stable, and will be fine in the pantry in an airtight jar. Granulated sugars such as coconut or maple may harden if they sit for months, however, so I recommend the use of a terra-cotta "sugar saver" to keep them soft. Soak the saver in water for about an hour prior to use, and re-soak it when the sugar starts to harden up.

Liquid sugars such as honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar may likewise crystalize if left for months. These may re-liquify if heated gently.

Organize your pantry

organizing pantry staples Once you have all the foods sorted out, label all the containers while you remember which food is which. All fine white starches look alike, for example.

Foods which belong in the refrigerator or freezer should be corralled into groups of like items. Use small plastic trays or baskets to keep all your lunch portions of proteins together, for example. Make it easy to find what you need. You don't want foods getting lost at the back of the freezer!

If you have anything at the bottom of the pantry, use crates or bins to keep the potatoes away from the onions, or the apples away from bananas. Place lightweight yet less-used foods at the top of the pantry while keeping the frequently-used items within easy reach.

Happy cooking!

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto
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