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Spring cleaning the pantry

Last post Sun, Nov 23 2008 11:45 PM by Joyous. 13 replies.
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  • Sat, Mar 31 2007 6:04 PM

    • Pat
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    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Spring cleaning the pantry

    Since it's spring, many (some?) of us are doing a little spring cleaning. For me, that means cleaning out the pantry and the spice stash. 

    What do you do with spices that are too old to use in cooking?

    There are some answers here: Old Spices, but let's put our heads together and add to that.

    My bright idea was to tie some old ginger up in a small bag and toss it into bath water. You get a little zing and it's supposed to be good for your skin.

    What else can you do with old spices?


     


     

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  • Sat, Mar 31 2007 6:39 PM In reply to

    • helen
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Mar 29 2007
    • Posts 176

    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    Oh I love these spice ideas! I have a whole spicerack of spices to be tossed - the jars (which I'd asked specifically for, for christmas, having seen them in a catalogue) are cute but not airtight. So with our humid summer the spices are spoiling. So I'm going to repurpose the jars to organize some beading supplies.

    Even the basil and oregano will smell nice wafting around the house.

     Mint deters aphids - perhaps a mint spray?

     
    I actually spent most of yesterday sorting my pantry, labelling everything. Trying to make it easier to find things so that I don't waste them or buy the same thing (I have enough instant yeast to last me a year!)

     
    I've labeled a couple of empty boxes (crackers, biscuits, cakes) for things that I often bake or buy,  even though there aren't any at the moment, as I figure they will usually be there so they need an allocated space.

     
    It is also becoming painfully aparrent the things that I buy thinking "I must make that" and never get around to. Wasted spices, and last week I threw out some outdated spelt flour. So I've hunted down recipes for things I want to make (buckwheat flour) and made a mental note to think twice before I buy any exotic ingredients! Some thinks that I thought were expensive at the time, like Maple Syrup, actually last well, and you only need a little, so are worth it.

     Also learned a lesson about packaging: the plastic screwtop seal of the Golden Syrup jar wasn't antproof - there were a load of dead ants floating in the top of it! Eeew! And the fancy clip-lock storage boxes from the supermarket (which I bought in preference to Tupperware, because it is getting so expensive) aren't totally airtight either. Okay for lentils or things that are used quickly, but no good for storing cookies for a fortnight.

     Does anyone use large produce jars with screwtop lids for pantry storage? Are the thin flat lids they come with robust enough for frequent use?
    I'm thinking of looking for some bulk jars of products that I like so that I can re-use the jars - that way I get glass storage (less plastic has got to be a good thing) without spending extra.



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  • Sun, Apr 1 2007 9:29 AM In reply to

    • Pat
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    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
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    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    I use all kinds of jars for pantry storage and they hold up pretty well most of the time. It's just that, as you discovered, they're not air tight once they've been opened. Most of them would keep out ants or other small bugs, though.

    I went digging on the internet and came up with some more uses for old spices. It seems that rosemary, mint, thyme and cloves will repel moths, and  fennel and rosemary repel fleas, cloves are said to repel flies. I'll try that one for sure. This area has a lot of flies and I hate them. That would even be worth buying it at the dollar store if it works.

     

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  • Sun, Apr 1 2007 11:15 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
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    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    I never thought about reusing old spices except cinnamon for things other than cooking. Thanks for pointing out this article, that was helpful info.

    My favorite tip was sprinkling spice outside around the door.

     

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Mon, Apr 2 2007 8:43 AM In reply to

    • kabin
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Mar 29 2007
    • Indiana
    • Posts 1,618

    Re: Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    Something my Grandma used to do when storing pantry items in jars was to add a layer of wax paper on top of the opening before screwing the lid on. It helps to keep the jar air tight and pests out.
  • Mon, Apr 2 2007 8:50 AM In reply to

    • kabin
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    • Joined on Thu, Mar 29 2007
    • Indiana
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    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    I like to simmer spices on the stove when it's cold out. In warmer weather I just open the windows and let the fresh air scent the house. It smells so good and great way to use them up when they are old. Another thing I do now when I have old spices like oregano or thyme is to crush them in my mortar and pestal to help release the oils or aroma. I have never used them in my drawers, although I think rosemary and thyme are my favorite scents, next to cinnamon and orange on the stove. I never thought of spreading them around my garden to keep my cat out. hmmm, maybe would keep those bunnies out too? Thanks for the article Pat!

  • Mon, Apr 2 2007 2:20 PM In reply to

    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    Too old for cooking? Hmm I must admit, i have some spices that I had when my mom was still alive...and she passed away in 1997! I still use them, and I haven't noticed a problem. They are just spices that I only use rarely.

     

    What about spring cleaning the freezer?

    I have several unitentifiable packages lurking towards the back of my refrigerator freezer compartment and the bottom of my chest freezer. Like the geat sale on smoked sauage links that I bought and discovered it was nauseatingly greasy.....

    Michelle in Northern Michigan

    "Those who would surrender liberty for security deserve neither" - Ben Franklin

  • Mon, Apr 2 2007 2:51 PM In reply to

    • Pat
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    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    Michelle, you can salvage the sausage by boiling it, if it's link sausage. Just pour off the greasy water when you're through and they should be fine. I've had good luck doing that.
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  • Mon, Apr 2 2007 3:11 PM In reply to

    • Jim
    • Top 500 Contributor
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    • Posts 104

    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    Pat:
    Michelle, you can salvage the sausage by boiling it, if it's link sausage. Just pour off the greasy water when you're through and they should be fine. I've had good luck doing that.

    Save the water you boil the sausage in, let cool, take the congealed fat off (and do what ever with it) the boiling water makes nice soup stock.  Also save the water you cook your veggies (including potatoes) in for adding to soup stock too.  I've heard of saving knoodle water for this as well, but have never done it myself.

    And if you have freezer burnt meat, soak it in vinegar  water to thaw.  If it's real bad, soak in a marinade and cut it up small and stew it.  I once salvaged a badly freezer burnt roast by boiling it, then I used the boiling water for soup, and ran the meat through the meat grinder and cause it was so bland from being boiled added spices etc and made a real nice sandwich spread.

  • Mon, Apr 2 2007 3:17 PM In reply to

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Re: Spring cleaning the pantry

    Jim:

    Pat:
    Michelle, you can salvage the sausage by boiling it, if it's link sausage. Just pour off the greasy water when you're through and they should be fine. I've had good luck doing that.

    Save the water you boil the sausage in, let cool, take the congealed fat off (and do what ever with it) the boiling water makes nice soup stock.  Also save the water you cook your veggies (including potatoes) in for adding to soup stock too.  I've heard of saving knoodle water for this as well, but have never done it myself.

    And if you have freezer burnt meat, soak it in vinegar  water to thaw.  If it's real bad, soak in a marinade and cut it up small and stew it.  I once salvaged a badly freezer burnt roast by boiling it, then I used the boiling water for soup, and ran the meat through the meat grinder and cause it was so bland from being boiled added spices etc and made a real nice sandwich spread.

    Yep, good ideas, Jim. I probably would have saved the water myself. I didn't know that about soaking meat with freezer burn in vinegar water, though, thanks! I will try that next time it happens.  

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