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Pantry construction (split from General Topics board)

c oliver Oct 28, 2010 01:45 PM

(Note: This topic was split off from this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/742965 -- The Chowhound Team).

Instead of saying what's in it, I'm going to show what it is. That's the stainless storage unit that Costco sells for about $100 if I remember correctly. The space it's in was dead space under stairs that go to the second floor. After the addition/remodel got to about 4x our original budget (ha!) we decided to temporarily not put doors there and I got a couple of cheap, washable curtain panels from WalMart. Five years later I'm glad I did. I have full access to every inch. Like someone mentioned above, I have NO food in my kitchen cabinets which is a very big deal for me. Anyone who has some extra space might want to consider this. I think they also have one about half that height.

ETA: I also have some extra shelves in the laundry room and I'm considering changing the door to the upstairs to swing in the opposite direction so I can some shelves on the other side. Where there's a will there's a way.

 
  1. s
    Sherri Oct 29, 2010 04:32 PM

    In addition to a European pull-out pantry next to the ovens (oils, vinegars, pasta, etc) and pull-out spice rack at the cooktop, I have floor-to-ceiling 4" deep shelves for one can-deep storage. It makes use of some dead wall space behind a door to the patio and has been great. Nothing gets lost because it's right in my face. I don't have a lot of stored canned items because there are just two of us - no jello, no Campbells soup, no kid food at all. I shop at a Farmers' Market and am pretty much a "scratch" cook.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sherri
      c oliver Oct 29, 2010 04:45 PM

      I've been meaning to ask this for quite a while. "They" say that spices should be kept in a cool, dark place. It seems storing them by the cooktop which is how I've always seen that setup isn't exactly the coolest spot in the kitchen. Could you enlighten me please?

      1. re: c oliver
        LindaWhit Oct 29, 2010 04:53 PM

        I've always stored my herbs/spices in a cabinet away from the stove/oven as well, c oliver, based on what "they've" always said.

        1. re: c oliver
          s
          Sherri Oct 29, 2010 05:16 PM

          c.oliver, This really isn't a "fair" answer because we built this house from scratch. The sides of the cooktop are heat-shielded with ?????? I know it's not asbestos (!) but some material was used to prevent exactly what you are describing - heat transfer. Also, since this is a cooktop and not full range, there isn't much bottom to the unit. Underneath are storage drawers. It's plenty dark in the spice pullout and the thermometer in there usually reads lower than the room temperature. Why? I can't answer that one either.

          I've long wanted to meet the famous "they" who were the bane of my childhood. "They say" is an invitation to me to question. Who are "they"? Do they really know about this issue? or are they repeating information they've heard elsewhere. In the case of herbs and spices, I've found that it is a good idea to keep them away from heat but light is worse.

          Edit: Most spices are from hot places around the globe. It is the dried herbs that really suffer from the heat/light. Most spices are more stable.

          1. re: Sherri
            c oliver Oct 29, 2010 05:21 PM

            Perfect answer. An intellectual exercise for me as my drawers on each side of the range are overcommitted but I've always wanted to know. And, yes, mine are in a pretty dark place. Plus a warm summer day here is about 75 so heat is definitely NOT an issue. Thanks,Sherri.

          2. re: c oliver
            Caroline1 Oct 29, 2010 09:37 PM

            Take what "they" say about spices with a grain of salt. And maybe a dash of pepper too? There are so many variables that come into play when it comes to long term storage of spices and herbs that there just isn't any way to say this spice or that herb will go stale after X amount of time if you store it that specific way. Archaeologists have reported finding herbs and spices (and wine) that have been "stored" for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years, and on tasting it said it was certainly usable and still had the characteristic flavors. Light will bleach the color of many dried spices but not necessarily damage the flavor. The label on the front of a spice jar will shield that area from light-bleaching and if the back of the jar is against a wall, that will certainly slow the process, if not banish it altogether. I have had some dried herbs, such as freeze dried chives, retain their color but lose their flavor. The ONLY reliable way to tell if a spice or herb is still good is to taste it. If it tastes right, you're good to go!

            But sometimes with really delicate or special things I use with great discretion, I put their well sealed jar or container in a zip lock bag and stick it in the freezer. I have a couple of cups of dried morel mushrooms stored that way now... I'm still thinking about thawing one of the venison roasts and using some of the morels with it... Decisions, decisions! The venison is from my brother's last hunting trip. I'm waiting for the weather to get a bit "crisper." AND I need some fresh cranberries and apple wine. But the way we can manipulate the life time of foods and food stuffs today that our forebears couldn't even imagine is really quite remarkable. And VERY rewarding to the taste buds! '-)

        2. Bada Bing Oct 29, 2010 04:20 PM

          Here's my system--crude but effective:

           
          3 Replies
          1. re: Bada Bing
            c oliver Oct 29, 2010 04:42 PM

            Effective being the operative word.

            1. re: Bada Bing
              Caroline1 Oct 29, 2010 09:14 PM

              I like your solution! Plus it has one great advantage that mine doesn't. When your doors are closed you don't see the spice storage. That's a GREAT solution!

              1. re: Caroline1
                Bada Bing Oct 30, 2010 11:55 AM

                Thanks! I do love it. I can't believe that it still doesn't hold all my spices, but it's close. The rack on the interior of the pantry is store bought, and it seems providential that it was shallow enough to allow room for spice racks on the doors (which I built) and also left some space on the side of the cabinet, where I hang drying racks and pizza peels and the like. That pantry space is used about as efficiently as I can imagine.

            2. Ruth Lafler Oct 29, 2010 10:24 AM

              I was having pantry envy one day reading chowhound, so I was inspired to take another look at the limited pantry space I had: two tall, narrow, shallow openings on either side of the passageway between the kitchen and the dining room. My first thought was that I might be able to make one of them deeper, which didn't pan out, but my second thought was to make them more usable by installing pull out shelves. There are two great things about pull-out shelves: you can reach everything on the shelf easily, and (2) because you don't have to worry about having clearance space with the shelf above to view/remove items, you can put them a lot closer together, thus maximizing your storage space. I looked at some custom pull-out shelves online, but eventually realized that the smallest size vertical Ikea cabinet -- which can be fitted with their pull-out shelves -- would slide right into the space. I think it ended up costing me a couple of hundred dollars for the cabinet and the shelves, plus feeding the guy who helped me install it, but I'm really happy with how five shelves on which I could never find anything have turned into eleven shelves where I can see and reach everything.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Caroline1 Oct 29, 2010 11:22 AM

                If you're talking about the kind of shelves I think you are -- they're tall and narrow and you pull them forward and a whole tall rack of shelves that are accessible from both sides comes out? -- I want some of those puppies built into my refrigerator for condiments! I keep writing about them here hoping some appliance manufacturer will read me and send me a complimentary first model for the idea. So far, no knocks on my door. <sigh>

                1. re: Caroline1
                  Ruth Lafler Oct 29, 2010 11:50 AM

                  No, I just have regular shelves that pull out like drawers: I used these (they have fronts that you buy separately) in a 15-inch pantry cupboard: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30107066 . I've seen ones like you've described, though, especially a spice rack that's designed to fit in your base cabinets. Ooh, here's one I haven't seen before that you can use to retrofit an existing cabinet -- if all my base cabinets didn't have drawers I'd get one: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?pa...

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Caroline1 Oct 29, 2010 12:48 PM

                    I LIKE that! I wonder if I could make it fit in my refrigerator? '-)

                    I think my next kitchen project is going to be somehow modifying my canned goods cupboard so it has those racks you put cans in on their side at the top and then there is a series of "Z" curves that eventually feeds them out at the bottom and you just take one and the rest move on down the line. The way things are now, I have small cans stacked on top of medium cans stacked on top of large cans and if I'm not careful, I have heavy cans landing on my toes...! Gotta fix that. There's gotta be a better way!

              2. Caroline1 Oct 28, 2010 04:05 PM

                I'm a believer in open shelves! I had a big blank wall at one end of my island (houses the cook top) so here's what I did with it. I love having the spices so handy! They're alphabetized so I can find them easily and anyone else can put them away without a diagram. That's the end of the island on the left, and I have more things there as my "mise en place." Cooking wines, oils, salt box, stuff like that. I bought the corbels cheap on-line, then picked up some one by fours at Lowes, and voila! No more, "Where in blazes did I put the damned marjoram!" '-)

                 
                26 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1
                  ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 04:09 PM

                  I like that!

                  If I ever own a house again, I'd reclaim some of that lost space taken up by inside walls - rip off the wallboard inside the kitchen, paper over the back of the outer wallboard, and put shelves between the 2x4 studs for this kind of thing. A little sanding, a little paint, and it can look quite nice AND be useful.

                  1. re: Caroline1
                    c oliver Oct 28, 2010 04:11 PM

                    With the corbels and all the colors, it's like a painting. I love it, C1. Really.

                    1. re: Caroline1
                      mamachef Oct 28, 2010 05:04 PM

                      I LOVE this. This is like art, Caroline 1. I want one for me just like yours. I have ENVY again, because it most assuredly is not in the budget anytime soon. Lucky lady. :-)

                      1. re: mamachef
                        Caroline1 Oct 28, 2010 05:25 PM

                        You would probably be surprised at how inexpensively it can be done. Here's a website where you can get urethane corbels for cheap! I looked all over for them when I bought mine and could only find wood, which are not just more expensive, but also heavier, harder to mount, and require more maintenance through the years. You don't have to buy them all at once if they're open stock, and interior grade 1X4s are inexpensive. You can even buy paint today that has the primer built into it so you only have to paint once. And sometimes you can find incredible architectural details like corbels at salvage yards for the price of popcorn! Check in your area to see if Habitat for Humanity has a salvage store. Incredible stuff! So if you really want it, go for it! '-)
                        http://www.corbels.com/corbel-materia...

                        1. re: Caroline1
                          ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 06:02 PM

                          2x4s are even cheaper, and less likely to sag across a long run.

                          If you live in a rural area you can often get raw lumber - it was nearly always oak in my area - for half the price or less of dressed lumber at a lumber yard.

                          1. re: ZenSojourner
                            c oliver Oct 28, 2010 06:05 PM

                            You will not be getting good priced oak 2x4s. I'd go for MDF usually but C1's application isn't desinged for single items that weigh much at all. The weight is distributed plenty evenly.

                            1. re: ZenSojourner
                              Caroline1 Oct 28, 2010 06:19 PM

                              When is the last time you were in a lumber yard and sighted down a few 2X4s trying to find some that were unwarped? It ain't easy! And they have knots, which is a finishing problem. And they just plain flat out look like two by fours no matter what you do, and that's a clumsy look. If 1x4s are a bit warped or tend to sag in the middle, it's a very simple matter to compensate with small, unobtrusive "L" brackets that can be painted over and will hardly be noticable. There are several other ways you can prevent possible sagging of 1X4s that are pretty much invisible. A MUCH more satisfying solution aesthetically to 2x4s.

                              As for any "savings" you may gain from raw lumber you will spend in sanding and sealing before you can paint it. Interior grade pre-sanded lumber is a bargain in comparison. Unless you're wildly in love with sawdust! There are times when saving money is the expensive way to go. '-)

                              1. re: Caroline1
                                ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 06:29 PM

                                I built my own house in the 90's, so yes, I do admit that bowing can be an issue. But you just pick through them until you find the half dozen or so you need unbowed for shelving. I don't find them clunky at all, I prefer them myself, but everyone has their own sense of aesthetics. I find them solid, not clunky.

                                Try picking through the piles looking for enough straight unscarred lumber to build a whole house, LOL!

                                I wouldn't dream of painting raw oak. I have used raw oak for shelving, and it looks quite nice actually. At least mine did.

                                1. re: ZenSojourner
                                  c oliver Oct 28, 2010 06:35 PM

                                  Yes, everyone certainly does have their own aesthetic. But raw, unsanded, unsealed wood of any type for any use seems to offer more problems than solutions. Just MY opinion and I live in a "cabin."

                                  1. re: c oliver
                                    ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 06:43 PM

                                    What kind of problems? I never had any problems with mine.

                                    I did get them finished on one side though, now that I think of it. I think it cost me like 5c a board foot extra.

                                    1. re: ZenSojourner
                                      c oliver Oct 28, 2010 06:49 PM

                                      Dirt. Splinters. Those are the first things that came to my mind. Oh, you didn't finish them yourself? Well, that makes it easier. The non-painted wood in our house, I sanded multiple times, a light stain and then three coats of a urethane product, sanding between each coat. Next time I'm taking the C1 route :)

                                      1. re: c oliver
                                        ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 06:55 PM

                                        When I say "finished" I meant they ran them through the planer.

                                        I didn't stain or sand or coat them with anything. Jess bare naked wood. I used them for bookshelves. There was no leakage of sap or anything. My guess is having them planed a final time before bringing them home saved me from dirt and splinters.

                                        1. re: ZenSojourner
                                          c oliver Oct 28, 2010 07:05 PM

                                          But the subject IS pantries. I wouldn't want that where there's food. Stains too :)

                                          1. re: c oliver
                                            ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 07:13 PM

                                            Yeah, I don't see how having once used them for bookshelves precludes using them for anything else. We're talking about OAK. In fact all my shelves were of oak from local mills, including in the kitchen area.

                                            I didn't have any staining. I mentioned using them as bookshelves because it seems to me that was the most likely venue to have noticed such staining, and there was none.

                                            Maybe you're confusing "raw" lumber with lumber that's actually green?

                                            1. re: ZenSojourner
                                              c oliver Oct 28, 2010 07:22 PM

                                              No. I lived almost 20 years in a small town in So. Oregon, former logging community. I'm well aware of terminology and usages.

                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 07:23 PM

                                                Well all I can say is my raw oak never stained or bled sap, looked quite nice, and did not come encrusted with dirt or splinters.

                                                Maybe they were just extra nice about planing it for me at the small Ozarks mills I was living near.

                                                1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                  c oliver Oct 28, 2010 07:27 PM

                                                  There is no way that any wood won't stain if you spill things on them, esp. oily, kitchen type things. It's a porous product. BTW, we had a mill not far from our house. I'm not ignorant about these things. On this note, I'm bowing out of something that seems like arguing for the sake of arguing. I'm busy cooking dinner :)

                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                    s
                                                    Sherri Oct 28, 2010 07:35 PM

                                                    Atta girl, take the high road and make something delicious for your supper instead of continuing a fruitless discussion. My husband is a hobbyist woodworker. When I asked him about raw oak for shelving his first comment was "don't get any moisture near it". Later, he read this part of the thread and commented "Hope the Zen Sojourner person never spills anything on those shelves. There's nothing to prevent stains."

                                                    1. re: Sherri
                                                      ZenSojourner Oct 28, 2010 08:12 PM

                                                      All I can say is I never had a problem with it. If I was still living there I'd probably have gotten around to staining them, but I went back to school instead.

                                                      My goodness, I made a couple of suggestions, got beat up for having made them, and then blamed for having been attacked on the subject, LOL!

                                                      Btw, we were talking about 2 different kinds of stains. I thought C was talking about staining of things put on the shelf FROM the wood. However, I never got any stains ON the wood from anything on the shelves either.

                                                      I certainly never intended to tell people that they MUST run out and get raw wood to make shelves, or that they MUST leave it unfinished! It was only something that had worked for me.

                        2. re: Caroline1
                          LindaWhit Oct 28, 2010 05:07 PM

                          I like that!

                          1. re: Caroline1
                            iL Divo Oct 28, 2010 08:19 PM

                            ....well you at you there little girl! I love it! More pix please more pix, and move over I'm movin in :)))

                            1. re: iL Divo
                              Caroline1 Oct 29, 2010 12:23 PM

                              LOL! There are a couple of more shots of my kitchen on my Photos page if you really want more. One of the cook top, primarily to show my salt box, but it also shows my knife block and all of the jars and bottles of oils and wines and casters of flour and sugar that I keep handy for easy cooking. And then there's one of the cupboard with my dishes in it. This is the largest kitchen I've ever had. The breakfast room is at the other end and has an entire wall of cabinets opposite the picture window (the dishes cupboard is one of them).

                              BUT... This kitchen is far from a faultless! It's the first time in about forty years I have not had a ceiling rack to hang all of my pots and pans from. THOSE are incredible space savers! I'll attach a photo of the one my dad made for me in wrought iron when I lived in Del Mar, CA. Ceiling racks to hang pots and pans from are not only an incredible saving on cabinet space, but one also makes it really easy to decide which pans will work best for what you're about to make. Since the wrought iron pan rack (sold with the house) I've made one from redwood 2x4s in a lattice that worked wonderfully in a 8' x 16' "pullman" kitchen. After that, I made one from wire closet shelf racks, wired them together with copper wire and spray painted them copper and hung it from the ceiling. A pan rack will store pots and pans in a most compact and visually satisfying way that a dozen cupboards and deep kitchen drawers can never match! My present kitchen has a large vent hood over the island which pretty much makes a ceiling rack impossible. I'll stick in a picture of it too so you can see how impossible it is. When I win the lottery this kitchen is in for a LOT of renovating...!

                              It's amazing the number of things that can be done to make kitchens more functional. Most often it requires more ingenuity than money. Money never hurts, but if I could only have one or the other, ingenuity would win hands down...! '-)

                               
                               
                              1. re: Caroline1
                                LindaWhit Oct 29, 2010 03:39 PM

                                Re: the second picture......

                                I WANT! Want! Want! Want! Want! NOW, Daddy - NOW!!!!!! ::::::stamping my Veruca Salt foot!:::::::: I'd be fine without a pot rack if I could have that kitchen, C1!

                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                  Caroline1 Oct 29, 2010 09:19 PM

                                  Life's great joke is that no matter how "perfect" a kitchen is when you first see it or design it or whatever, once you live with its reality a while you are assaulted by its shortcomings! As for pan racks, I have at lest a half dozen cabinets and deep drawers now dedicated to housing pots and pans that used to live on pan racks. That's a whole lot of storage space I would love to reclaim! But thanks! It's a fairly comfortable kitchen and lends itself especially well to friends chatting with me while I cook, but it ain't perfect! '-)

                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                    Ruth Lafler Oct 30, 2010 03:03 PM

                                    Then I must be a genius, because I designed my kitchen almost 20 years ago and I've always liked it. I wish I could have afforded a few more bells and whistles, but the kitchen design itself has served me well.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                      Caroline1 Oct 30, 2010 06:37 PM

                                      More likely I'm just greedy and always want more. '-)

                                      WAIT!!! That didn't come out right! I didn't mean that you aren't a genius. I just meant that I know myself and I am the kind who always wants more. Sorry for any wrong first readings!

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