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What do you use to store dry goods-- flour, lentils, etc?

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I need to organize my pantry and would love suggestions.

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  1. 1 and 2 quart mason jars with plastic screw-on lids, thanks to this board. :-)

    (they are not totally airtight as most screw-on lids aren't, and are clear which can be good or bad depending on your needs).

    1. OXO pop up containers! Like them a lot.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hobbybaker

        Agree. The nicest feature is that you can open/seal them with one hand.

      2. It depends on the quantities you're talking about.

        For small amounts of things that really need to be air tight, I have a set of small canisters (for things like bulk tea that are very light-sensitive) and stackable lock-and-lock type containers. I also would second the suggestion for mason jars -- pint, quart, 2-quart, or gallon are very useful. (You can often get gallon jars quite cheap with pickles. I've been known to buy a gallon of pickles on sale just for the jar.)

        Those are the kinds of containers actually in my pantry cabinets -- well, not the gallon jars, which are stored elsewhere. Many of the containers are clear or translucent, but that's not a huge deal because the pantry cabinets are dark.

        For bulk storage of larger quantities, I have other options. Most of my specialty flours that I don't use everyday, big bags of rice, etc. live in bags in my grandmother's metal flour can (originally meant for 50 lbs. of flour). Things stay quite fresh in there -- it's airtight and doesn't let light in. My bulk flours (bread, high gluten, and pastry) are stored in large plastic containers that have a very good seal and can hold ~20-25 lbs. of flour, which I found at a professional baking store.

        1. I get this mango juice that comes in tall glass jars. The lids are air tight, the jars are attractive. I use them to store all my dried pulses, beans, pasta other than spaghetti or ravioli (the sides slope in so its not good for tall straight things). Now that I think of it, I could probably use them to store flour as well, but it wouldn't be very convenient to measure out of because they have (relatively) narrow mouths. Sugar would work out ok though - that's pretty pourable.


          I'm big on saving glass jars and plastic containers for food storage. My son thinks I'm nuts. What can I say. He's probably right.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ZenSojourner

            We drink mango Looza, too. Makes a cheap, delicious (if somewhat inauthentic) lassi. Never thought of doing anything with the jars other than recycling them, though.

            1. re: Isolda

              I think they look quite decorative, all lined up full of pretty Indian dahls, or pasta like bowties or ditalini.

              I wouldn't worry too much about the "authenticity" of your lassi recipe. As the infrastructure and transportation and availability of foods and refrigeration has improved in India, availability of ingredients has shifted a lot of cooking habits. In some places lassi is made with buttermilk; in others, with yoghurt. In the past this has been at least partly dictated by the lack of refrigeration; both buttermilk (which is nothing like what you get in the dairy case here in the states) and yoghurt are ways of preserving dairy product in the absence of refrigeration. Now that refrigeration is much more widely available, cooking habits - and ingredients used - are changing.

              When Indians emigrated to Western countries like the US where there was wide-spread refrigeration, and often ingredients common in India (say bottle gourd) were difficult to impossible to find here, cooking styles changed to accommodate local conditions. The same has happened in India as varieties of vegetables that were once uncommon in a region get shipped in regularly. There has been a lot of change over the last 20 years. Cuisine is always a growth process, I feel. Things change and mostly its not better or worse, it just IS.

              I have Indian friends who have for years used milk and mango puree as the base for their mango lassi. It may not be the way it was traditionally made 50 years ago, but its the way they make it now, and that makes it "authentic" enough for me.

              If you want truly "authentic" lassi, you would need fresh mangos and yoghurt or buttermilk made from water buffalo milk, LOL!

          2. I have started to use Cambro storage containers from the local restaurant supply house. It's what EVERY restaurant uses to store dry goods. They stack easily for good organization, they nest when not in use, they're made of very tough material, and they have all kinds of sizes. Round ones start and 1 quart, square ones at 2 quarts, and both go up to 5.5 gallons. And they make your pantry look like a restaurant's dry storage room, something I find quite satisfying.

            8 Replies
            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              JK, can you pls link to the model you have? The ones I found on Amazon appear to be made of polycarbonate which I thought had BPA (?) -- do you know what yours are made of?


              1. re: iyc_nyc

                They're polycarbonate. If this is of concern to you, my only advice is to never go out to eat again. Like I said, Cambro products are in use in pretty much EVERY restaurant in the country.

                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  Good to know - thanks. Don't plan to live in a bubble or stop eating out, but try to minimize potentially unsafe items when relatively easy to do.

              2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                I second the Cambro containers. I use lots of flours, etc. and found mine in the King Arthur Flour online catalog. JK, thanks for your link - I didn't know about the square ones.

                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  Totally agree with you. Love my Cambro...use them for flour, different sugars, pastas,rice etc. Very tight seal and come in all sizes.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    i'm pretty sure that those cambro containers are not bpa free - which is why we stopped using them.

                    1. re: redgirl

                      Cambro make containers out of three materials. The clear ones are made of polycarbonate, which, of course, contain bisphenol A, as it's what you make polycarbonate out of. The translucent ones (with part numbers containing (usually ending with) PP) are made of polypropylene. (These are transparent enough that you can easily see what's inside them.) The cheapest ones are made of polyethylene, and are pretty opaque (you can tell level in them, but you couldn't tell sugar from flour without opening the lid.) Neither of those contain BPA.

                      1. re: dscheidt

                        thanks. i stand corrected. i'll look for the translucent ones now. i like them for storing leftovers.

                  2. I use mason jars (with the rubber gasket) in all different sizes that I buy at Ikea for pasta, beans, rice, grains, etc.. They are inexpensive, hold a lot and look good.


                    I keep sugar and flours in SnapWare plastic storage containers. I like them because they are plastic and have a grip and I am a klutz, since they get pulled out of the pantry often. They also have wide enough openings so I can fit a measuring cup inside and the large size holds 5# of flour.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Divamac

                      I use the SnapWare containers for flour and sugar, also, for the same reasons as you. They also fit perfectly in the shallow top drawer of the freezer (french door fridge w/ bottom freezer). I also like the hinged lid; makes them very easy to open/close with one hand. And the large sized ones (not sure of the exact measurements) perfectly hold a 5 lb bag of sugar or flour.

                    2. For the most part, I use 26-ounce and 32-ounce screw-top glass Mason jars that originally contained Classico pasta sauce (one of the few commercial brands that I like enough to keep around for quick meals), with the labels removed. For things that I buy in larger quantities, like sugar and flour, I have some 2- and 3-liter glass storage jars with rubber gaskets, hinged lids, and wire closures, similar to the Ikea jars referenced in Divamac's post.

                      1. I just had an 'ah-ha' moment. I cleaned/organized/attacked my pantry today and some of the suggestions above made me have a moment. I live in NYC and my "pantry" consists of one set of floor to almost ceiling cabinets that are very deep but narrow (and for those I am very thankful, believe me). The recs above gave me lots of ideas for storage maximization, without a budget-busting trip to the container store. Thanks!

                        1. We have flour and sugar in canisters that are older than me that used to be my mother's. (I remember coffe and tea canisters as part of the set, but as I recall my mother didn't use them and who knows where they went). For things like lentils, beans, rice and other grains that are purchased from the bulk bins, we put them into used plastic coffee whitener containers.

                          1. I use mason jars in various sizes, from 4-ounces (for some spices) and up. I buy plastic screw-on lids separately; they're available in wide-mouth and regular sizes, and I like them a lot better than the 2-piece lids.

                            1. I picked up a bunch of FoodSaver vacuum canisters (1.5 and 2.5 qt) some time back. They're heavy duty plastic, air tight and I have the option of storing items under vacuum if I'm not going to use them for a long time.

                              1. I will be in the minority -- I store most of our grains, legumes, flours, grits, et al in a large freezer. After a batch of small bugs invaded some porcini mushrooms, they go in the freezer as well, ditto for wild rice. The things in the pantry are all stored in Cambro containers or Italian glass storage jars of varying sizes. The storage jars have a rubber ring and metal latch that closes the lid.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Sherri

                                  I keep my more perishable things in the freezer, too (whole wheat flours for example). I have had issues with nasty creatures and I fear finding crawlies in my dry goods. The plastic SnapWare containers I use are freezer-friendly.

                                  1. re: Sherri

                                    I store some of my mason jars (per my earlier post, they are my main storage method) in the fridge and freezer. Also did it after an infestation I hope to never have to go thru again!

                                  2. I use large glass containers with aluminum screw top lids called cracker jars which are made by Anchor Hocking. You can buy them in a set of three from Crate and Barrel or on-line from the Anchor Hocking store. Right now, the on-line store is having a sale on shipping charges.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: honu2

                                      this is what we use. they are great. container store carries them and i got a set in chinatown also. i have in all sizes.

                                    2. I use old aqua glass canning jars with lids and bottles in sizes from 1/2 pint up to 5 gallons. They let in less light than clear ones and have a certain charm.

                                      1. I bought these huge (maybe 2 gallons?) glass storage jar from Target for about $20. They are made by Anchor Hocking and they are great. The lid is mad with metal and they are air tight.
                                        I bought one and loved it so much that I bought 2 more to store 2 types of flour and sugar.

                                        It looks like Amazon now carries them.


                                        1. My favorite storage container for dry goods is this kind of glass jar with a hinged glass lid. I don't know what it's called.


                                          I don't have a lot of these, though, and some of my stuff is in RubberMaid containers. Otherstuff I just keep in the original bag or box and then enclose that in a heavy duty ziplock bag.

                                          Good luck.

                                          1. OXO pop tops containers for my pantry and I use IKEA's cylinder containers on my countertop. Oh I also have a few OGGI square air-lox containers that I think were/are trying to rival OXO - they just aren't as pretty as OXO.