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Cocina Crushing: How to be a Pantry Pro

Organize your pantry

Two basic ideas hold true on being a pantry pro. One is great aesthetics and organization and the other is shelf life awareness. Michio Kushi, a Japanese scholar who popularized the macrobiotic diet in the United States, helping to change the way health-conscious Americans eat, once said, “Peace begins in the kitchens and pantries, gardens and backyards, where our food is grown and prepared. The energies of nature and the infinite universe are absorbed through the foods we eat and are transmuted into our thoughts and actions.” 

Taking this into account, it’s important that we create that perfect pantry that’s both beautiful to look at and contains the freshest go-items items we need on a daily basis. Like magicians reaching into their top hats to pull out something awe-inspiring, we reach into our pantries to reach for our spices, oils, vinegars, grains, flours, dried fruits, and nuts in order to create a little magic at every meal.  Here are two key factors when it comes to crushing it with your cocina’s pantry.

2 Easy on the Eyes Pantries with Open Shelving and Matching Containers

Has life dealt you a small and narrow space in your kitchen for all your beloved pantry goods? Then consider open shelving as the solution. Enclosing doors and hinges are the enemy for small spaces that beg for walls and shelving in neutral colors to light up a room. Within this open shelving, nothing looks as shocking as dozens of different packaging styles, sizes, and labels screaming out at you. One of the quickest and simplest ways to make your pantry look neat and tidy is to transfer all these different items into matching or similar containers.

Aim to find similar jars, baskets, and bins to store everything so you can add uniformity to your kitchen. It’s pleasing to the eye and makes everything appear neat and tidy. Your dried fruits, flours and small snacks will look fantastic when displayed in clear glass jars for instance. Then label the glass jars with various colored label makers or small index cards and classic black markers so it will look arty and fun. Add expiration dates, too.

1 Throw Away Pantry Item After a Year

Nothing lasts forever, they say, especially when it’s not refrigerated. Most things in your pantry only have a yearlong shelf life so don’t get too attached to their cute packaging and deceptive durability.  Flour should be replaced every six to eight months and whole grain flour is much more perishable and will go rancid after one to three months at room temperature. Instead, seal them in an airtight bag and store them in the fridge or freezer. While spices don’t spoil, their flavor fades over time, say in eight to ten months. So toss those dusty two-year-old jars of turmeric and basil you’ve been cooking with because it’s making your food taste just plain dull. Wondering why your dried frijoles seem to take an eternity to turn tender? They’re old, baby. A year maximum and it’s time to toss them. Use it or lose it should be your new pantry mantra from now on. 

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