- 🏞Take everything out
- 📜Make a list of everything you have
- 🗓 Check expiration dates
- ⚖️Evaluate your baking kitchenware and tools
- 🔎Don’t forget the fridge
- 🧽Time to clean
- 🔅It’s all seasonal!
- 📥 📤Get organized: suggestions for storing,
- 🍊The Feng Shui approach
- 🌎Be green and eco-friendly
If tidying up is your thing, this article is for you. It features 12 practical ways to organize your pantry. And some wisdom from the experts. And by pantry, I mean your kitchen cupboards and cabinets where you may store food, dry ingredients, oils, spices, and everything else that involves food in the kitchen. However, I will only focus on the ingredients that you need for your baking and dessert making because you are on a desserts blog after all. The list provides practical tips and the Q&As will hopefully answer your questions. Let’s go!
🏞Take everything out
Take everything out of the cupboards, shelves, drawers, or cabinets. There are different reasons to do so. First, you will assess what you have in your pantry. Then, you will clean it. When was really the last time you cleaned your kitchen pantry? And finally, you will find out what you need to buy soon to keep your baker’s pantry stocked.
📜Make a list of everything you have
Make a list of everything you have: from flours to sweeteners to dried fruit and nuts. Are you surprised with the findings? Did you find the baking powder you bought five years ago? What do you miss? The idea is to have in your possession everything you need to make a last-minute dessert, from a simple vanilla cake to chocolate mousse.
🗓 Check expiration dates
Ingredients do not last forever. Make a note of the expiration date of everything you have just taken out. If an ingredient or product has expired, is stale or old, you have two options: compost or toss. If there are items close to being expired, put them towards the front of the cabinet or shelf so that they are used first. Check canned foods like coconut cream for example. Cans that expire have to be restocked and cans that are dented or rusty should get thrown away. Oils can become rancid, so they need to be consumed within the expiration date. In short, clear out anything that’s no longer usable.
⚖️Evaluate your baking kitchenware and tools
Are all your baking tools in good standing order? Can you check for broken bowls or cracks in mason jars? Dessert plates that are broken need to be replaced with new ones. What about the standing mixer that you haven’t used for more than a year? Is it working?
Take a detailed inventory of what you need to toss, recycle, or donate. Then, once you know what is necessary, you can buy in your favorite store. It’s time to give your baking tools a makeover!
Recycle: Good Will accepts donations of slightly damaged items. Check it out. Other local stores and even department stores may often do.
🔎Don’t forget the fridge
Once you are done with your cabinets, move to the fridge and repeat the same process. What do you refrigerate for your baking needs? Butter, milk, cream, and eggs are the commonly used ingredients for baking. Many also keep nuts in the refrigerator and maybe nut butters. Check for expiration dates. Did you find a double cream bottle from 2019? Toss it! Keep ingredients fresh so are not a damage to your health.
⌛️ How long can they last?
- Oils can be become rancid sitting in the pantry unused, especially if they pass the expiration date.
- The Baking Soda: Unopened baking soda lasts two years, but an opened box is only good for six months. But even if it’s past its best for baking, you can still use this for cleaning
- Baking powder. Keep in mind that baking powder is sensitive to moisture and humidity. Generally, it has a shelf life of six months to one year. Toss it if it is older because it will no longer be active, so it won’t be of a great help to your baking needs.
- Nuts can last for a long period, but it is much better to keep them in the fridge. Many freeze them and thaw them in room temperature when it is time to use. I personally don’t freeze nuts, but you can try.
- Flours: All-purpose flour can last longer compared to any flour type like rye flours or nut flours
- Sugars: Granulated sugar has a long shelf life, up to two years after opening. It never spoils and can be used after expiration day. Alternative sweeteners last for a very long time. Honey for example can last for ten years if it is stored properly. Always check expiration dates on the jar or bottle.
- Ground spices and herbs should be used within a year of opening.
By rule of thumb, molasses, and sugars last longer than spices and butters. Creams and milk have the shortest life time.
🧽Time to clean
Once everything is out of the pantry, start the cleaning process at the top of each shelf and work your way down to the bottom. Grab your favorite environmentally friendly cleaning product and do a thorough scrub down; wipe off all ingredients that are sticky or oily and make the cupboard messy or smelly. If you use shelf liners, look for the ones that are damaged or torn and replace them. It couldn’t be a better time as now the cabinets are completely emptied.
🔅It’s all seasonal!
There are also ingredients that are used mostly during certain seasons. During winter and fall periods, favorite ingredients are pumpkin puree, apples, heavy creams for the holiday season pies, and winter friendly spices. If you clear out your pantry for the annual spring cleaning, maybe it is time for lighter desserts and flavors. So bring the berries in and eliminate the apples.
During the summer months, fresh, colorful fruits are favorites like melons, peaches and watermelons. If you plan to make icecream or sorbet, you may need lighter sugars and syrups, and some tropical fruits too. You may even try to introduce some vegan ingredients for a healthier version of the same dessert dish. This may affect the use of kitchenware too. Where is the icecream machine maker? When fall approaches, you repeat the same process, and you introduce once again the fall and winter favorites. You get the message.
📥 📤Get organized: suggestions for storing,
Marie Kondo, the Japanese expert in tyding up, is a great fan of decluttering and organizing thematically. What this means is that you start with one specific item area and then proceed to the next. If you want to declutter and organize your clothes, you start with all your clothes independently of their location. You may have clothes in the closets, on the floor, in the bathroom, in your office etc.
If you apply this in the baker’s pantry, organize the ingredients thematically as well. What does this mean? All flours will be on the same shelf or cabinet for example. This will make your life easier when you use two or three types of flour. Follow the list below for all baking ingredients that you need when you bake and store them on the same shelf, in the same cupboard or drawer:
- Flours: all-purpose, cake, whole-wheat, buckwheat, oat, almond, paleo flour mix, coconut, and others
- Leaveners or baking agents: baking soda, baking powder
- Starches: tapioca, corn
- Sugars: granulated, confectioner’s, brown, light brown, coconut, date
- Sweeteners: maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, date syrup, simple syrup, coconut nectar
- Nuts & seeds
- Nut butters
- Dried fruit 🍓
- Chocolate for baking and baking chips 🍫
- Coloring and sprinkles
- Oils: olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil
In the fridge you will keep together:
- Butters: dairy, plant-based 🧈
- Eggs 🥚
- Milk 🥛
- Nut butters
Where should I store dry ingredients?
Glass jars, including mason jars are perfect for storage as they close tightly with no incoming air and are transparent so you can see what you have. Airtight containers are also great for storage especially for nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. They are lightweight and affordable to buy. You can also use recycled jars but make sure they don’t have an unwanted smell (garlicky pasta sauce jar? No!).
- Glass Jars
- Mason Jars
- Airtight Containers
- Recycled Jars
🖋 How to label jars and containers
Labeling is a good idea so you know what you have and you don’t mix flour with tapioca starch. You can be as creative as you want. Some ideas are below:
- Handwritten: pick your best calligraphy lettering and make amazing and fun stickers for your jars and containers
- Reusable and waterproof labels that are so easy to buy and use.
- If you feel like a pro, Embossing Label Maker is the way to go. Use them for DIY gift labeling and even for your scrap books if you have them
Where should I put my containers and jars?
Ideally, you should organize your contains per shelf in a way that makes sense to you and satisfy your daily baking activities. Some ideas follow below but by no means are “mandatory”.
If the bottom shelf is the highest, place all flour glass jars and also the leavening agents and starches. You could also consider to use it for everyday baking needs.
Place oils, sweeteners and sugars. Add chocolate and chocolate chips. 🍫
Keep it for seeds, nuts and dried fruit. You can add canned goods like coconut cream, condensed milk, canned fruit for cakes etc.
You can place flavorings, food calorings, sprinkles and spices used for baking. You can also place spices on a separate spice rack.
Use this shelf to store alternative flours for baking, for example the gluten and grain free flours if you wish.
Where should I keep my baking tools and appliances?
Tools and small appliances like a handheld mixer or a grinder should be stored in one of the shelves for convenience or in a separate cupboard if you need more space for your baking tools.
Baking sheets, baking pans, muffin pans, cookie cutters, and everything else related to baking, should ideally be stored in a separate large cabinet or cabinet drawer next or not too far from the oven.
Blenders, food processors and stand mixers should be ideally located on the kitchen’s counter.
💡 Hang your measuring cups and spoons on the inside of a cabinet door.
🧼Marie Kondo‘s thoughts for storing:
Store things in an upright position if the packaging allows and group them by category.
The goal is that you when you open a drawer or gazing upon your pantry shelf, you should be able to “tell at a glance where everything is. It should only take a moment to assess all you have once your pantry is in order”.
Marie Kondo: Ask yourself whether cooking with this ingredient will bring you joy.
🍊The Feng Shui approach
Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese technique, is more about balancing energies. The most important thing is to clear, declutter and energize your pantry. This will allow the energy to flow without obstacles.
- If you don’t have enough cabinet storage space, don’t overload the countertop and do not turn it into a storage shelf.
- If you need more space, add more storage units or expand your pantry. Otherwise, reduce your kitchen inventory.
- Cabinets should always be built to the ceiling. You don’t want to leave space between the overhead cabinets and the ceiling. This space creates stagnant chi that is considered clutter. You can prevent the backed up chi energy by placing live plants in this space. Ideally, you should keep these free of dust to prevent stagnant chi energy.
🌎Be green and eco-friendly
During the cleaning and decluttering process, you have a few options. You can only do a few things but make sure that you are mindful of your choices below:
- Toss or discard
- Reduce 👍
- Re-use ✔️
More baking tips? Check this article
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