My Tips for a Homesteading Pantry

This pantry is a place to keep preserved foods that you've likely grown yourself.

preserves on a pantry shelf

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Having a pantry filled with homegrown produce is a dream for many homesteaders. It can also be a pressing need for those trying to make ends meet.

Whether you have a large tract of land and a basement, cellar, or garage, or just a small pantry cupboard in the corner of your kitchen and some raised beds or even a few containers outside, creating a homesteading pantry is a worthy goal. It will take some hard work, but it is something almost everyone can do. 

As I am currently working on relocating my preserves to a new pantry in an old stone barn that my husband and I are in the process of turning into our forever home, I thought I would share a few basic tips for those who are interested in creating their own homesteading pantry. 

Embrace a Range of Preservation Methods

Freezers are a wonderful invention and few of us could live without them today. But as we know, this can come at a cost, both financial and more broadly to people and planet. I do freeze some of my homegrown produce, but there is no way I would be able to freeze everything. So I embrace traditional methods for food preservation, such as canning, dehydration, and fermentation.

If you want to start a homesteading pantry, learning more about the various ways to preserve and store the crops you grow is a great place to begin. As with so many things, diversity is key, so try as many safe preservation techniques as you can. Just make sure you understand clearly how to do things right in order to keep everyone safe.

Grow, Store, and Preserve What You Like to Eat

One big mistake people often make when new to food preservation is following recipes blindly without considering whether the recipe allows them to make something that they and their family actually like to eat.

Pickling is a popular way to preserve food, but if you do not like vinegary things, don't make them. If you don't enjoy jams or jellies, steer clear. Just because other people preserve food in certain ways does not mean those recipes will be right for your household.

Instead of researching recipes without focus, try to hone in on foods you like to eat. Find ways to make homemade alternatives for the things you might previously have bought. Try small batches of things and experiment to find the right recipes for you.

pickling beets

Nat and Cody Gantz / Getty Images

Plan, Prepare, and Take Notes

Experimentation is certainly one thing that is key to creating a homesteading pantry. But you also have to be organized to achieve the best results. Plan what you grow and understand when you will harvest. Plan your gardening and preserving calendar to make the most of your garden, your produce, and your time.

Make sure you take notes to remind yourself about what works and what does not, what you and your family liked and what you didn't, what you might make more of next time round, and which recipes you might let fall by the wayside.

Know What You Have

In a homesteading pantry, you need to know what you have in order to make use of it. Remember, a homesteading pantry is not about stockpiling food; it is about eating it throughout the year. Making an inventory and meal plans using the produce you have preserved will help keep your stock in rotation and ensure that you have a working pantry, not just pretty jars lined up on shelves.

Eat the Oldest Items First

Don't leave preserved food languishing in the back of the pantry. Keep the oldest food up front, so you can eat the previous year's preserves before you get onto this year's ones. That way, you'll ensure good rotation and continue to eat preserves before they pass their best.

Throughout the year, a pattern should emerge as food goes into your pantry and food comes out again for your family to eat. Over time you can develop a circular system that works for you and your family.

There is a lot to learn about food storage and preservation, of course. But even if you start on a small scale, growing and preserving at least a little of your own food is something most people can do.