My Big Fat Hippie Pantry: A Full Larder For Fall

A friend of mine who’s known me for eight years or so was over a few days ago. She was checking out my pantry and said, “When we met, you had a total Costco pantry. And now it’s a total hippie pantry.”

Excuse me while my heart swells with a little self-indulgent pride over my jars of tomatoes.

At the beginning of the preserving season, way back in May, I talked about the importance of assessing your larder and making a game plan for the upcoming canning onslaught.

Here’s what my pantry looked like back then. Look at that one sad jar of tomatoes I was hoarding. All those jars on the bottom are empties.

Things look different now. We crested the hump of Crazy Canning season some time last month and are now on the easy slide to winter, when we get to live off the larder instead of creating it. Fall food preservation is quite languid generally, as apples and pears and nuts will keep a lot better than tomatoes if you need to push your preservation back a day or two.

So, here is what the pantry looks like now.

My main storage area, still some room for more late-fall preserves and winter stuff like citrus and persimmon and more convenience stuff like meat and stew but close to full. I’m very low on staple whole grains and beans. Those will have to wait until after No Spend Month for a restock.

Booze. More and more of ours is DIY. About half of these bottles are full of our homemade 2011 blackberry wine. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to make a 2012 batch, but there’s always plenty of homebrew if we run low of homemade wine.

Sweets and treats: jams, conserves, syrups, etc. If it looks bare that’s because I pulled some two dozen jars of jam off these shelves and moved them into “back storage” in the garage. Those re-used onion and citrus bags hold cured onions and garlic.

My garlic is cured and stashed right up front.

I store partial boxes of empty jars on the floor. When a box is filled completely with empty jars it goes out to the garage until next season when it will be needed again.

Most of the cleaned and cured potatoes are in the boxes on the floor too, covered with towels to keep out the light. I think I harvested over 100 pounds this year.

Garage Back Stock

Here are those back-up jams. Many will likely be gifted. The kids like jam, but would be taking down over a jar a week if we were responsible for eating it all.

Backstock of canned tomatoes, peaches and pickles are out in the garage too.

Dried Fruit

We like some canned fruit, but find dried fruit infinitely useful for snacking, kids lunches, and both sweet and savory cooking. I like to throw dried apricots into a slow-cooked dish of lamb or add dried peaches and rosemary to braised pork shoulder. And dried pears are essentially a form of currency with my two year old son.

Exceluding the pounds that never even made it into storage and were eaten straight off the dehydrator, we have:

  • 4 lb. 8 oz. dried pears
  • 9 lb. 4 oz. dried plums
  • 2 lb. 2.5 oz. dried cherries
  • 2 lb. 3 oz. dried apricots
  • 1 lb. 11 oz. dried nectarines
  • 1 lb. 10 oz. dried peaches
  • 1 lb. 4 oz. dried Roma’s

Freezer

The freezer is about three-quarters stocked. I have chicken in various cuts, some salmon, a few large cuts of pork, and lots of elk and venison. I did my large bulk purchase in late September, and since I was in the middle of eye surgery hell I just shoved everything in the freezers as best I could and called it good. Organization and a proper inventory will have to wait for a bit.

I would, ideally, have more utility cuts of beef and pork on hand (top round for sandwiches, ground beef for spaghetti, etc.) and would have more salmon and perhaps halibut on hand for fish meals. I have several months worth of sockeye salmon I froze fast-and-sloppy over the summer, but not enough to get to next summer when the 2013 runs start if we eat wild fish once a week, as we try to. Halibut I haven’t purchased at all in two years. It simply hasn’t been affordable, even through wholesale or bulk-buy.

I scored an incredible deal from my meat wholesaler and picked up a case of amazing grass-fed ribeye steaks for $3.95 a pound and two ribeye roasts for $2.95 a pound. That is, to put it in perspective, less than I generally pay for grass-fed ground beef. So our “cheap meal” will be grilled ribeye. Life is Good.

Lots of fruit is in the freezer too. The green stuff in those bags is green tomato, black bean and corn salsa. I made up the recipe and couldn’t guarantee the acidity level so I froze it instead of canning it. Great way to use up green tomatoes.

Homebrew Husband’s house blend of hops is dried and frozen for beer making. Backup bags of whole grain flours and rice get kept in the freezer too for maximum shelf life. 

Fun with Ferments!

The outside fridge is full of various pickles and ferments. The lacto-fermented salsa, crock pickles, cherry salsa, pickled beans and various refrigerator pickles are stored out here. Sauerkraut and various winter pickles will get stored in here too as they are made. Once we eat this stuff down a bit, Homebrew Husband will get to move his beer kegs back in here.

Until then, the beer lives in the garage and is just served a bit warmer than we would prefer. Right now we have 3 of 4 5-gallon Corny Kegs in production.

So, that’s the larder. I think if we really wanted to, we could basically not buy any groceries for…a while. Months. I love that feeling. In reality, we will still be hitting up the market occasionally for dairy and “essentials” like dark chocolate and sushi nori. But I have some pretty serious savings goals for the next six months and these stores of food are going to help us achieve them.

How’s your larder looking?

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Comments

  1. Andrea Richards says:

    Hi, I have only recently stumbled upon your site (via Tipnut – I think) and you are absolutely INSPIRING!!!
    Keep up the good work,
    Andrea.

  2. Wow! just holy F-ing crap Wow! Not only am I jealous of how much space you have to grow all of that, I am especially jealous of your peaches… I know you didn’t grow them… BUT I am allergic to them, and didn’t used to be… I see those things as shining jewels that I will never ever be able to get my hands on :(

    This is amazing!!!!

  3. Erica, that larder of yours looks amazing. Mine is not too bad either, though not like yours :) I made tomato sauce, pizza sauce, four different types of chutneys, 2 types of jams (apricots and peaches with lavender) chili sauce, peaches in syrup, pickled bell peppers, and artichoke (sotto olio. that was in April I guess, just 2 jars left). That should be more than enough for me, as i live by myself; though some will be given as gifts.

    I have a question, where do you keep your dried fruits? in the same larder as the rest or in the fridge? Excuse me for my ignorance, as I’ve never tried making them and would love too. Do I need to have a dehydrator or a hot oven will do the trick?

    Another thing, do you use a vacuum sealer? I have a friend here who uses it even for jars! and they keep fine?

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful larder with us; your blog is such an inspiration. I’m so glad I have stumbled upon it few months ago. The free info when get here is priceless and in my view much better than the so many homesteading magazines.

    • Cyrene … you can dry fruits in the oven on the lowest temperature setting, but it may take *hours* … 6-8 or even overnight. However, that’s what they did in the old days, so go for it. During the war (WWII) they used to light a sulfur candle and treat apple slices with sulfur smoke, one by one, do keep them from going brown. The sulfur candles are now banned (for good reason) so use lemon juice.

      • My mom dried apples and peaches on a piece of cloth laid out on tin. She put them out in the sun, then gathered the cloth that evening and put them back out the next day until they were as dry as she wanted them. She didn’t bother peeling peaches, just rinsed them and cut the bad spots off, then sliced them. She lived through the depression, so every bite counted. I’ve been toying with the idea of canning our venison instead of freezing it, any pointers?

      • Thanks Grace, I will certainly try that :)

        Ruth, my mum used to dry tomatoes in the summers just like you mum did with her fruits. It is amazing what those ladies did with their limited resources. These days it is so darn easy to do things but still people don’t bother and want every thing ready, packed in plastics!

  4. Wow, what a lot of hard work! Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

  5. That is amazing. So much hard work is visible there. I’m impressed.

  6. SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL. I know where I’m going when the zombie apocalypse hits.

  7. What fantastic work! It might be exhausting, but it sure is worth it in end to see all those sparkling jars on the shelves, isn’t it?!

  8. Nice job! I wish I had that kind of variety, but I don’t GROW that kind of variety. Kind of a correlation there, eh? : )

  9. GORGEOUS! So much work, paying off in dividends!
    I hate to even admit what my pantry looks like this year. We did practically NOTHING. I am totally regretting it now, but this summer was a bit emotionally crazy for me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to get stuff done. I’ve been kicking myself for a good month already.
    QUESTION: how long can you keep your fermented foods in that fridge? I know the cold slows the fermenting, but will they eventually go “too far?”

    • Hey the nice thind about living in the modern age is that you can choose to do this and you can choose not too when life gets in the way. There’s always next year. The fermented foods are good refrigerated for about 8 months in my experience, but I think some ferments are “sturdier” than others. We are still enjoying the last of the 2011 sauerkraut, for example. Last year’s LF salsa lasted well from Sept – April when, as I recall, we finished it. Pickles get more and more tangy and fizzy and softer. Those have only about a 6 month life to our taste which is why we did vinegar pickles this year too. We’ll eat the LF first and then move on to the canned pickles.

  10. AMAZING! This is so inspirational; thank you for sharing.

  11. Awesome! You make me wish I had a pantry.

  12. Woah – that is incredible! I totally aspire to having a pantry like that someday – I’m completely impressed with the amount of food you have there, and the work that I imagine went into it.

  13. DROOL!

  14. ps: when the end times comes, party at Erica’s!

  15. I got called “hippie” just the other day, some car full of guys yelled it at me looking to insult. I took it as a compliment and beamed with pride! Now, at the end of any sentence in which I talk about canning we end it with… hippie! ;)

    I love your pantry layout, I just have random gorilla shelves in the basement. Maybe I’ll dedicate an entire wall and make myself a glorious pantry! As 6512 and growing says: DROOL!

  16. Erica … can you please break down your calendar … i.e. How many pounds of tomatoes in September yielded XX amount? I put up 20 lbs of tomatoes in sauce and ketchup and I only have 12 jars to show for it. I have another counter full of green tomatoes that I’m about to pickle, but I’ld like to know more about how MUCH I should be ordering from the farmers. Thanks!

    • Elizabeth says:

      A canning guide should tell you these things. Do you have a book, like the BALL BLUE BOOK or PUTTING THINGS BY?

  17. I missed the window for a cow this year, I think, so we’re eating more poultry, alas. Maybe I can score some venison from local hunters. The best takeaway I have from your post, though, is the storage for empty jars. Mine tend to live in front of the cabinets, and it makes filling them difficult. New canning shelves will be on the project list for next year, I think.

  18. Ours is fairly well-stocked, but it looks like a disorganized mess right now. Canned goods are in the basement, deep freezers and extra fridge are in the garage, small working pantry for odds and ends (oils, coconut milk, purchased condiments, etc.) are also in the garage. We have quite a bit of canned or frozen fruit and veg, and I’ll be working up green tomatoes this week into salsas, ketchup, etc. Our meat stores are a little low right now. We have lots of rather spicy pork breakfast sausage, a few pounds of bacon, a ham and some hog jowl left from last year’s hog, as well as several pounds of paddlefish and catfish and one lonely package of venison. We have this year’s hog at the processor; the fresh cuts are frozen and ready for pickup, but it’s a drive, so I’m waiting for the cured cuts to be ready before I go. Deer season is coming up and we’re going to try to get at least two. THEN we’ll be all set.

  19. Where do you buy your grains and beans (and what storage containers would you recommend)? Thanks!

  20. Wow. This is seriously enviable. You are amazing! Something to aspire to!

  21. I cannot decide whether I love you or hate you! This is such an awesome display of organization and hard work and creativity and blah, blah, blah, that it puts me to shame. I am a canner and preserver, but you are so totally out of my league…and you had eye surgery, too. You are a dynamo and I hereby annoint you Queen of Food Preservation.

  22. Jeanne-Anne Jensen says:

    “Cured” garlic, onions, and potatoes? How are they cured?

    • I would love to know this also!

    • Curing is the term used for drying onions, garlic and potatoes. It basically means to let them sit in a moderately warm, totally dry spot with good airflow for a few days or weeks (depending on temp – in the pac nw it’s usually weeks) before putting those crops into long-term storage. This drying process ensures that the crop is dry enough to store without molding.

  23. That pantry is truly a beautiful sight. Good work, friend! Enjoy the fruits of your labors…

  24. I’m jealous. As in not just a little bit, but super jealous. Mostly about your growing space and the things which grow in your area but not mine. Blackberries and peaches and citrus? Not a chance! We’ve got the meat preservation thing down (mostly moose and salmon and halibut hunted or caught by friends and family–I have a moose roast in the Crockpot today) but I’m still making slow progress on growing and preserving fruits and veggies. I try to remind myself that life would be pretty sad if I didn’t have any goals for self-improvement. :)

  25. Wow! Just found your site via Two Men. And, even though I am diagonally across the country, I still appreciate your lovely larder.

  26. I am definitely envious of your urban homsestead! I have built many a “garden in the air” for when I live somewhere with an actual yard. Right now I rent and have some space between my apartment and the back alley in which I grow a decent amount of food, mostly by ignoring spacing directions and planting everything close together. Overall it seems to work out ok. My carrots are all different sizes, but this means the snacking ones are already carrot stick size with no chopping needed, potatoes were the same (quarter-size to hand-size), the onions never did grow much, and the tomatoes took over the world.

    My larder isn’t as fully stocked as yours, but there’s also just me, and I have a winter CSA bringing me root veggies, cabbage, and squash until March. Canned: peaches, pears, applesauce, dilly beans, peach jam, peach butter, pickled peaches, green tomato chutney, tomato sauce. Frozen: peaches, apples, pears, mulberries, raspberries, rhubarb, cherries, blanched beet greens, roasted tomatoes, roasted bell peppers. Still working through the half pig I bought last winter, although I’m mostly down to pork chops and the larger cuts (roast, ribs, etc). I’m learning to hunt this fall, so will hopefully be adding a turkey or two to my freezer between now and Thanksgiving, and may get some venison from friends who hunt.

  27. That is awesome. I don’t have that much but have managed to do pickles, salsa, spicy beans and pasta sauce.

  28. I really hope that some day, say when your kids are in school, you decide to write a book. The nuts and bolts of it all. A real how to.

  29. And you did all that with a toddler underfoot and a pirate eye. Most admirable, if a bit scary.

  30. I stood in my garage for a good 5 minutes last night thinking how pretty everything looked, and how I wanted to take a picture of it. Your post makes me happy!

  31. The great thing about this is that you could shop ONLY sales for the next half-year (at least) and still eat like royalty :) Plus if you shop only sales, you can spend your budget on stocking up on Great deals and you may never have to purchase another full price grocery item again for a long while.. (except ‘essentials’, of course).

  32. I think everyone else who commented has it covered! *AWEsome* and *Jealous*! Congrats! ; )

  33. Wow! Jealous! I’d love to know where you get meat that cheap!! Where do you buy your flours, grains and beans in bulk?

  34. Neeloufar Gharavi says:

    I am deeply impressed and inspired! Thank you so much for taking the time to blog about your homesteading so wannabes like me can envision the goal and the road for achieving it!

  35. Very impressive! It must feel so liberating to know how to provide so many different foods for your family. My larder is not nearly so well supplied. What I do have is lots of honey. I don’t know if you have been thinking about bee keeping, but it sounds like it is right up your alley. I kept bees for 3 years before I developed a bee allergy, but we got 15 gallons of honey from 2-3 hives during that time. It is lots of fun.

    We didn’t use alot of jam either until we started mixing it with plain yogurt and in smoothies.

    I love your website! It is very inspiring. I found it when. I was looking up hugelkulter. I hope your beds worked well.

  36. That’s an impressive larder! We’re starting to build ours up, starting with the purchase of a freezer earlier this year. We shop the meat sales and stock up when we find good deals. My hubby is more than happy to chop up a whole chicken so we get numerous meals from the three or four we’ll buy when they’re on sale (one kept whole for a roast, of course). We have pickles and dilly beans left from last year – good thing because we didn’t get enough beans to can this year and I didn’t have room for cukes at all! I got a bag of apples from the neighbor, and we now have three batches of apple sauce frozen for future use. Not a huge larder, but perfect for the two of us!

  37. What a fantastic post! I have loads of questions for you. I’m in Seattle, so several are area-specific. :-)
    - would you share the name of your meat wholesaler?
    - do you store your cured potatoes in the garage or pantry?
    - do you cure potaotes/onions/garlic inside or outside?
    - where are you purchasing your bulk fruit for canning/drying/freezing?
    - what is your preferred method of potato cultivation (I need to downsize my potato bed for other veggies but don’t want to decrease production volume).

    And thank you for your blog. It is a joy to read and full of wonderful, useful and inspiring information.

  38. The comment above reminds me that I would still LOVE to know where you buy your beans and grains in bulk (I saw someone else wondering about the flours–I wouldn’t mind knowing that, either). Thanks!

  39. April Drake says:

    WHERE did you get that deal on Grass Fed Beef???

  40. Kate Young says:

    I love how much you have put up and prepped for! What tips do you have for someone with not a lot of space to do this? We have some freezer space and I am working on maximizing our cupboard shelves for more canned items but do you have any ideas for storage that doesn’t have to be temp regulated? We don’t have a garage either unfortunately :] Thanks!

  41. Diane Laszakovits says:

    I love your site and your pantry! I’ve been canning for years, and usually my pantry shelves look a lot like yours. Unfortunately for me this summer, I broke my arm, making cooking, let alone canning difficult, lol. I wanted to share that I also can a few meats, chicken, chuck roasts cut for stew, and corned beef. I buy them when on sale. It’s easier than pickling, but takes a few hours and a pressure canner. The meat is used in soups and stews, or in the case of the 8 oz jars of corned beef, hash for breakfast. I feel like a sister here, lol. I have fruit trees, large garden, but no chickens! I buy my eggs from a lady 2 miles from the house, fair trade. I fertilize my garden with horse manure from a friend. He gets produce and canned goods in exchange. My neighbors and I co-ordinate our gardens, and share… yes it’s more work, but tastes great, is a healthy way to live and as you’ve said… life is good!

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  1. [...] by pretty cool people, and he passes this on to me. Northwest Edible is pretty awesome. This link is one that Mateo sent to me. Someday I will have a hippie pantry!! I found Mr.Money Mustache [...]

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