2.12.12 The winter pantry

With many months remaining before the next growing season, February is a good time to take stock of what we have in storage. When we bought our house we knew we wanted a full basement, but never anticipated using it to store food. Over the past few years we’ve created and modified different spaces, seeking an optimal combination of cold and humidity for cellaring vegetables. It’s still very much trial and error.

Bins of carrots, cabbages, celeriac, turnips, daikon radish, and leeks (above left) are stored in the bulkhead off the basement, about 38° to 42°F. The trend of warmer climate has made this less reliable for cold storage. In the main part of the basement, canned goods (above right) are stored at around 60°F year-round. 


Winter squash are stored in ventilated bins next to the canned goods. Due to poor growing conditions, most of the butternut squash failed to store well; we’ve primarily Delicatas (above left) now remaining. Of the larger winter squash, four are still in storage in a cool room upstairs.  We purchased locally grown onions (above right) in bulk at the beginning of the season, and keep them in the wine cellar, a closed-off section of the basement with winter temperatures of around 50°F.


Garlic is stored along with the onions. The German Extra Hardy (above left) lives up to its name, and should take us through the rest of the season. Potatoes (above right) are also stored in the wine cellar, but in a separate corner from the garlic and onions.


The chest freezer holds meat (above left) and vegetables. We’d bought the second smallest size and have found its capacity limited. With the recent addition of 20 bags of shrimp (above right), it’s once again full. 


Frozen fruit and prepared foods are stored in the freezer compartment of the basement fridge (above left), and include cooked beans, stock, roasted tomatoes, pestos, and goat cheese. The rest of the fridge contains storage bins of beets, parsnips, a rotating supply of eggs and extra fresh greens. Bins of both cooking and eating apples (above right) are replenished through the season from the Winter Farmers’ Market.

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17 Responses to 2.12.12 The winter pantry

  1. kitsapfg says:

    Your supply areas are well organized and well stocked still! Good work! There is something quite comforting to have food put by – particularly when it is from your own growing efforts and brings with it the prospects of good taste and high nutrition.

  2. Bee Girl says:

    Wow! What an inspiration you are!!! I hope to be as organized (and productive) as you someday!!! Amazing!

  3. wilderness says:

    What a nice set up you have for storage. A part of my garage which was my DH’s work shop I do heat in the winter to about 40-45 degrees so have now named that my root cellar. I keep potatoes, onions and the alike out there and has worked well this winter. I can also keep apples out there but have them in an old cooler since the mice love to eat them and have no way of keeping the mice out. They don’t seem to bother anything but fruit.

  4. Barbie says:

    You make me feel very inadequate. LOL. There is not storage for anything remotely like that in Florida. The heat and humidity limit any cellaring at all here. Pity. I’d LOVE to have something like that. I do have a heck of a freezer though! ;-) Love your stocks. You’ve done a wonderful job.

  5. Norma Chang says:

    Everything is so neat and organized. One of these days, I keep promising myself, I will make an extra, extra effort and try to be organized. The problem is, years ago I did make the effort and did pretty good but my creativity was stifled and I needed to make a choice. You can guess who won. Now that I have matured may be I should try again.

  6. Amazing … wish I could say more … amazing … that is the only word that comes to mind!

  7. Really interesting post. I was particularly interested in the canned items as we do not traditionally here in South Wales,UK, can a great deal apart from chutney, jams, marmalade, pickled onions etc.

    Look forward indeed to hearing about you storing everything this year, pro and cons etc…

    All the best!

  8. Looks like a nice amount of food in storage! I wish we had a basement. That will be one of our top priorities when we get a new house.


  9. Liz says:

    Oh wow – that is fabulous – it’s amazing how fresh everything looks. I’m interested in how you store your garlic – I’ve always thought the cold made it shoot. Is that not the case? Also do you find it stores better cut like that rather than plaited?

    • leduesorelle says:

      We grow hardneck garlic — it doesn’t store as well as the softneck varieties, but is more suited to Northern growing conditions. You raise a good point, the hardneck needs a period of cold to trigger sprouting. We hope the temperature we keep them at holds them dormant. Alas, the stiffness of hardnecks make them difficult to braid!

  10. GrafixMuse says:

    It must be such a good feeling to have a pantry full of quality food. Like money in the bank.

  11. maryhysong says:

    I am looking forward to the day when I can have a root cellar. My least freezer crapped out and destroyed about $300 worth of meat. I haven’t bought another one. Since I can grow year round I’ve decided that I want to mostly eat from the garden on a daily basis, canning some convenience food like spaghetti sauce and tomatoes, chili and such along with preserves and pickles.

  12. Julie says:

    Wow! What an organized and abundant pantry you have. I hope to someday grow enough veggies to have a winter pantry.

  13. amazing…just beautiful! I hope to have something close to this some day.

  14. Kallie says:

    I hope one day to have a pantry of this nature! Great work!

  15. Pingback: Surviving winter eating local: Grist readers’ advice | Grist

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