stacked shelves of a pantry

Your Questions: Food Storage

Homestead Food Storage

Many of you asked about our food storage plans for all of that bulk food from an order I placed at Azure Standard a couple months ago.

I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to show you my new pantry and discuss a little bit about our food storage.

Having recently just shared my woes about little uninvited house guests, my timing might be a bit off here, but in my defense those critters probably took the wide open, nearly empty, carelessly left out bag of steel cut oats as an invitation. I am not the one who left them out  by the way, and in all of the basement clutter, I didn’t notice it sitting there either. (Aren’t I just full of excuses?!)

My pantry is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It’s right off the kitchen which is so much more convenient than in the basement like in our last home. If I open up the cupboard and realize that one of containers is empty, it’s only a few steps away to get a refill.

That, my friends, is homesteading luxury!

The room has many shelves- although hopefully not enough should I ever be able to successfully manage to grow and put up enough food for the whole family for the year-, cupboards for storing my food processing equipment, and a counter. The window makes it bright and easy to see.

In the aforementioned order, the two big items were unbleached, all purpose flour and hard red wheat berries.

300 pounds worth to be exact.

Seems like a LOT, doesn’t it?

Well, I had hoped that it was about a 6 month supply for our family. I don’t know what’s going on around here, but it’s shaping up to be more like a 4 month supply. The take home message being that when I order 300 pounds of bread making ingredients, I’m not planning on an incredibly long storage time so what I do isn’t as meticulous as someone who is storing up for an emergency would need to be. (Such as using mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.)

Homestead Food Storage

Cheesemaking, canning, and milk straining supplies… The labeled plastic baskets are for mason jar rings and lids- one for wide mouth one for regular mouth.

In the cupboard are my foley mill, food strainer, water bath canner, and a spot for a pressure canner (when I actually get one.)

See the pantry moth trap on the top shelf? It’s a just-in-case item. Thankfully, we haven’t had any here yet and when/if we do get them, I’m prepared. Those traps are inexpensive and work wonderfully. (I bought some from Ace once and these are so much better- a much larger sticky surface, so I learned to be brand specific.)

If you’re worried that pantry moths are coming into the home in the grain bag- which is how I believe our problem got started before- then sticking your bags in the freezer for a while before transferring them to the 5 gallon buckets would be one solution to nip the problem in the bud before it becomes a disaster.

Not sure if you have pantry moths in  your food supply? Look for small bits of grain dust (which is not grain dust, but actually frass) or small sticky cobweb like material that the dust is sticking to. That bag is now chicken food. Lucky gals.

I’m going to do the same thing with just-in-case mouse traps too. We haven’t found evidence that they know the room exists, but I’d rather be safe than sorry!

Homestead Food Storage

Most of our food-grade storage buckets were picked up at a local bakery. We were on a list and they’d call us and give them a load for free. That was several years ago and we were at a point where there were more buckets than we needed or wanted and we stopped picking up our share. Eventually, those buckets were used for projects in the barn etc…, and I found my supply dwindled down to less than a dozen. For months and months we tried to get back on that list and couldn’t.

I was able to pick up a few more from a Craigslist ad in order to store some of the grain from that big order for $2 per pail. There are brand new ones to be had at Tractor Supply for less than $4 per pail so make sure you pay less than that while shopping.

The lids we use are either what came with the buckets or gamma seal lids. (Like this one here.) They spin on and off easily so I prefer them. We switch out a couple lids at a time whenever we’re at a store that sells them.

Standard lids are nail breakers (in the case you actually have any nails left to break) so a tool like this one is almost a must-have in the absence of gamma lids. That or get yourself a teen-aged boy to open them for you. The former might be cheaper… and eat fewer wheat berries in exchange for his labor.

Homestead Food Storage

In the buckets I’m storing unbleached all-purpose flour, wheat berries, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, sea salt, steel cut oats, popcorn, rolled oats, brown rice, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar.

Homestead Food Storage

See the white scoop? It came with a waffle iron I bought years ago. It’s a handy tool for scooping out of the buckets. Something like this might work just as well.

Otherwise, I’m keeping empty jars on this shelf for now.

Except for the box has onions in it. And the huge roll of butcher paper on top. Which is going to soon be wrapped around small pieces of Gus.

Homestead Food Storage

Apple sauce, whole blackberries, grape juice, apple butter, apple jelly, blackberry jelly. (I’ve since added elderberry syrup.)

And some wheat berries and flour that are still waiting for us to find a few more buckets….

Did I forget to mention anything? Where do you store your bulk food?

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  1. HI I am a Senior in Highschool and I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I don’t know anyone that I can interview to get a better grasp on what I want to do, so a friend suggested I connect with some bloggers. So that’s where this is coming from haha. I was just wondering what you actually majored in and what you were doing before you started homesteading. Also, how is it that you are making your living now? Thanks for your time!

    1. I never could figure out what I wanted to do with my life either πŸ™‚ I can’t tell you how many majors I considered and applied to college for because I can’t even remember them all! Turns out the Lord had plans I never considered (because frankly they’re demeaned by society in general) and I ended up staying home instead and serving my husband and children (I was married at 18 and for a while afterwards still considered my going to college.)

      Now, I can’t imagine doing anything more fulfilling than raising and loving the next generation! Ultimately, for our family, homesteading is simply part of that mission so that our children grow up with skills and a work ethic that will serve them throughout their lives.

      My husband’s earnings are our sole financial income (although once we get to the point where we are providing our own needs from the land we’d like to do some branching out and explore entrepreneurial endeavors). For my part, I contribute through finding creative and some not so creative ways to stretch his paycheck as far as possible such as no daycare expense, scratch cooking from bulk goods, sewing, homemade cleaners, diy projects, growing our own food, seed-saving, etc…

      Hope that was helpful to you McKynzie. Blessings!

  2. When we built our house a pantry was a must (so was a mudroom but that was overlooked πŸ™ see how food rates higher than dirt around here). Love your pantry!
    Anyhow, about moths: when there is an infestation and you NEED to save your product, place the item in the freezer for a few days. Then run your flour, cornmeal, etc. through a sifter. There are hardly ever more than 3 or 5 “thingies” and they are too shriveled to identify and gross anyone out. But they are easily found this way in tidy little clumps. Or as my mama always says, “it’s extra protein”!

    1. LOL- I may have been known to say that in the past! Once though they were in the rice so bad it was just as much dust as rice, I swear! I can’t remember now if I was able to bring myself to sift the rice out. But that’s a great tip- thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the inspiration! What a lovely pantry. I would like to just go in and see all the lovely things, knowing the work that went into them (job well done) and the peace of mind from having plenty.

    We just moved in to a larger house, but no pantry room. There is a large cupboard pantry which seems to hold much more than I previously feared. We also have an elongated kitchen area. There is a counter running down one side, and I store my large buckets under it. There is also a large built-in sideboard area at the far end of the kitchen with cupboards to store less used items. We also have room in the kitchen area for a stand-up freezer (beside our regular fridge!). I still haven’t filled up the storage areas yet, so I count myself lucky.

    1. Sounds like despite not having an official room designated for it, you’ve been blessed with plenty of storage space! No doubt it is a challenge to keep large quantities of food without a place to keep it all. I’m thankful there was at least the basement in the last home. I knew this home was a gem when I found it since so many little things like the pantry were taken into consideration in the building πŸ™‚

  4. I have pantry envy, yours look so good. I can’t wait to see it full to the brim some day. We installed two shelved above the two doors in our tiny kitchen, they work wonders in such a small space and I don’t mind having to climb a latter to get to things. It is so much better than no storage πŸ™‚

  5. Beautiful pantry. My favorite thing is to stand back and look at all my pretty jars of canned goods. I loved seeing yours… all the pretty colors. I super loved your labels! The braid of garlic is also lovely. Thanks for sharing with us!

    1. Thanks Tangi! I had fun making the labels, but they’re a pain once you’re done with what’s inside. I was thinking of going the custom vinyl label route someday, but it’s not exactly cheap if you’re going to put up too much food. We’ll see πŸ™‚

  6. I rarely comment but I love seeing your posts. I love seeing how you organize your home, butcher your animals, manage your homestead and family, etc. Seeing how you manage things and what has worked for you is so much more interesting than all the how to articles I come across.

    1. Thank you so very, very much Amanda! Honestly, I go through periods of blogging depression where I feel like I don’t have anything of value to contribute to the conversation that’s out there on the web. To hear you say this is such an encouragement to me when I feel such pressure as a blogger to do the “how to” posts when those are what generates the most interest. Those are the ones I tend to personally pass by so hate to write myself. (It’s my hope that I don’t come across as any sort of authority in matters that have such flexibility for accommodating individual circumstances. )