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Friday, 27 March 2009

In Praise of the Pantry

I think I have been very lucky during my life-time so far in that I grew up in a family that has always loved its food and has always done something along the line to add to or to produce their own food. The philosophy being that the better your food was the better it was for you after all it is the engine's fuel. My grandparents lived in a cottage/bungalow which originally had 6 acres of land. Pop my granddad sold 4 acres or so off at £30 a plot when I was just a babe in arms. What was left was mostly down to apple orchards, to the back of the house was a large garden lawn surrounded by a copper beech hedge, espaliered apples and pears down the side. Then to the side of that was the plum and pear orchards then down the bottom there was a big chicken coup with outside run and apple trees in and then two big vegetable gardens one of which was left fallow every year. Oh and then there were the pig stys as they kept their own pigs as well and had Geese in the orchards throughout the year.

They were apple sufficient, Nan used to bottle the plums as well as bottle rhubarb - all that sort of stuff and they had their own meat from the pigs and chickens and had to have somewhere to store it. They had a large long pantry and my Nan used to see to all of the food production; my earliest memories of her are that she was always on the go and only ever sat down for a quick cup of tea - if you wanted to talk to her you had to join her in whatever she was doing.

Anyway back to the pantry - young children were never allowed in to this hallowed place we were allowed to peep in but never actually right in until we were older I think this is because nan had bottles and goodness knows what (think it might have been cider and wine all stacked precariously in there and a big meat safe at the bottom. Nan and the Pantry were always there - that was her domain.

Moving on many years I married and my ex-hsuband and I purchased our own home which had a pantry. The kitchen was a scullery kitchen with the larder/pantry on the end with an outside loo. The kitchen just contained a sink with a wooden draining board. But by the by we managed and I used that pantry for storing all my home made pickles and jams in. It wasn't very big, not as big as my Nan's but I loved it. In the course of time we upgraded the kitchen knocked the outside loo out and unfortunately lost the pantry as well and had the kitchen extended into these areas and all fitted out. It was nice it was clean but I always regretted losing that pantry.

Many years have long since passed; my first husband and I have now parted and my Nan is no longer with us and neither is the family home. I presently live with my current OH in a rented Victorian Terrace and it has a pantry. I use it and I love it but it is not big enough for what I want to do and I have overspilled to the cupboard under the stairs as well.

I have come full circle with pantries and I personally feel that new homes should have one, not tiddly ones but proper walk in ones. After all it is the food storage centre of the home and new kitchen units do not to my mind hold or store enough properly. I still think the Victorians had the right idea when it came to food storage. They didn't have fridges but cold slate or marble shelves.

With today's problems with regard to the credit crunch and a lack of funds, more and more people are returning to the old ways or discovering them for the first time. People who have pantries/larders or cellars are starting to put them into use again and people who do not have these luxuries are creating a stockpile in the event of emergencies, in an alcove, cupboard, or even under the bed.

Most people have the capability of being able to drive to wherever they want to but unfortunately I do not have that luxury. So any trips out I make the most of within my means and thereon in I am very grateful for my pantry and my understairs cupboard. I just wish that I could have things practically arranged as I would like but that will come in time.

Do you have a pantry/larder and/or Stockpile. I would love to hear from you with what you store in yours and how you use it.

Builders when you start building again please bring back the pantry.

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