Preparing a special dry storage place for dry foods at home is important for the proper protection of these foods. It not only provides the convenience of combining all dry foods in one place but is also necessary for keeping them in a long-lasting condition. Of course, there are some tips for preparing a special storage area for your dry foods.
Planning Dry Storage Space
When choosing where to store dry foods, it is essential to remember that they need cool, dry, and preferably dark conditions. The best storage space for them is in a cabinet or hutch in the coolest part of the kitchen. Alternatively, dry foods can be stored in a basement larder.
Dry Storage: Pantries
- Siting cabinets: When choosing cabinets for dry storage, keep in mind that they should be cool and dry. A cold outside wall is better than an internal one – ideally, it should be at a temperature of about 50°F (10°C).
- Choosing shelves: Store foods on narrow shelves wherever possible, so that you can easily see and reach items. The ideal width for a shelf is about 5 in (13 cm).
- Lining shelves: Before filling cabinets with food, line the shelves with a wipe-clean surface such as plastic laminate, sponge-able shelf-lining paper, or aluminum foil.
Dry Storage: Arranging ingredients
Ideally, you should aim to store large, lightweight foods such as cereals on the top shelves. Heavy bottles and cans are easy to remove if stored on lower shelves, and small spice jars should be located at the front of a shelf.
Dry Storage Space
The warm and often steamy conditions of many kitchens are not ideal for storing dry ingredients. Careful storage and the appropriate choice of containers can help keep moisture and heat from damaging stored foods.
Dry Storage Space Containers
Before buying expensive extra shelving or elaborate storage containers, take a look at the dry storage facilities already available in your kitchen. Economical, space-saving ideas and recycled containers such as coffee cans can provide efficient dry storage for foods at little cost.
Making Maximum Use of Cabinet Storage Space
- When choosing containers for storage where space is limited, make sure that they stack easily, allowing for containers to be arranged in two layers to make the fullest use of the space between shelves.
Storing Plastic Bags
To store plastic grocery bags for reuse, make a fabric tube about 8 x 20 in (20 x 50 cm), gather the ends, and secure them with elastic. Hang the tube from a hook inside a broom closet door.
Dry Storage: Creating Hanging Space
To keep small packs of herbs, spices, and nuts organized and to save on-shelf space, use a clear plastic shoe organizer. Hang it from a hook inside a food pantry door for easy access.
To save on shelf space, keep frequently used small items and condiments on racks hung inside cabinet doors. Put the items on butcher’s hooks and in clip-on baskets attached to the racks.
- As free dry storage, you can store dry goods in containers such as thoroughly washed coffee cans, which are airtight.
- To make sure that dry storage jars are airtight, wrap a strip of masking tape around the lids.
- If you do not have any airtight dry storage containers, place a whole package of a dry ingredient such as flour into a zip-top plastic bag.
Dry Storage: Inventing Shelf Space
Making an extra shelf: Make maximum use of deep shelving by adding an extra shelf for storing small items between two existing shelves. A simple, wipe-clean wooden shelf built with two sides about 6 in (17 cm) high will be the most useful. Improvise with a quick, temporary version by resting a narrow length of wood on cans placed at either end of a shelf. Use the extra space for storing small cans and jars.
Cleaning and Labeling Containers
To make the best use of dry ingredients, it is important to store them correctly. Make a note of use-by dates, and always finish the contents of a container before refilling it to avoid mixing old and new ingredients. Wash and dry containers regularly to prevent odors.
Dry Storage: Cleaning Containers
To remove odors from containers, fill them with hot water and add 1 tbsp (15 ml) of baking soda. Let them stand overnight, then rinse and dry before use.
To clean a dirty bottle or jar, fill it with warm water and a few drops of detergent. Add a 1 cm layer of dried beans or rice, then shake it to loosen the debris.
- Using package labels: When transferring food from a package into a dry storage jar, cut out the name and cooking instructions from the package and tape them to the jar.
- Using color-coded containers: Instead of labeling individual containers, use color-coded plastic containers to store different types of ingredients. For example, use blue for beans and green for dried fruits so that you can identify the ingredients at a glance.
Opening Tightly Sealed Jars and Bottles
Food jars and bottles can be difficult to open when food becomes stuck between the jar or bottle and the lid. To loosen them, use a firm grip, tap the lid upside down on a flat surface, or try one of the methods below.
Loosening Metal Lids
Hold a metal lid under hot water to expand the metal. If the jar or bottle has been chilled, start with lukewarm water and gradually increase the heat to prevent the glass from cracking.
Preventing Sticky Lids
Before reselling a jar or bottle with sticky food, wipe the rim and lid with a paper towel that has been dampened with hot water.
Loosening a Tightly Sealed Jar
If a jar or bottle lid is difficult to twist open with a normal grip, wear a rubber glove to give you a firm hold on the lid. Alternatively, you can grip it with a rubber band, a piece of sandpaper, or a damp cloth.
To loosen a tight lid on a bottle or jar with a narrow neck, use pliers or a nutcracker, but do not exert too much pressure. Place a cloth over plastic lids to prevent them from being damaged.
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