Creative Food Storage

Inside of my fridge

Eeek! There's no room for the giant pots of stock I made!

Some houses are built to store food. They’ve got basements and pantries and big cabinets with lots of room. Our house is not that house. Our house barely has closets, let alone dedicated food storage. This presents a particular problem when figuring out how to store all the perishable foods I buy in bulk, my ferments, and large pots of stock that I haven’t had time to freeze or can.

Check out my fridge. That thing is packed to the gills! I’ve got 20 lbs of carrots that have to go somewhere cool! I’ve got a crock of sauerkraut that needs to stay around 40 degrees! I just made two stock pots of beef broth and need to cool it and skim the fat before I can it up! What am I going to do?!

Luckily, we have a closet in our office that faces north and is minimally insulated. It stays colder than the rest of the house as long as we keep the door shut. This is where I stick my ferments and extra produce that doesn’t need to stay really cold, such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, and winter squash.

Pots of stock on my back stoop.

Pots of stock chilling on my back stoop.

But what about those giant pots of stock? Huzzah! It’s January in Portland! That means the outside temps generally stay between 30 & 40 degrees F, perfect for discouraging spoilage until I can get the stock in the canner. And the giant bags of juicing carrots? They go out there, too!
Two bags of juicing carrots on my back stoop.

Two bags of juicing carrots staying cold on our back stoop.

Sometimes I go a little overboard when buying produce to can, freeze, or dry and have to figure out what to do with it until I can deal with it.

I still have about 80 lbs of apples left to process, but don’t quite have the time to deal with them right now. They’re in boxes, so I don’t really want them to get rained on. We have a giant truck that rarely gets driven. So I put them in the cab of the truck. Cold storage and safe from marauding squirrels!

3 boxes of apples in the cab of our truck

We hardly ever drive this thing; may as well put it to good use!

For further reading on storing food without refrigeration, I recommend Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables. It’s a nice book with lots of details on how best to store different fruits and vegetables over the winter.

What about you? What are some creative ways you’ve come up with to store food?

This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Friday Food Flicks, Monday Mania, Weekend Gourmet, Fat Tuesday, Sunday School, Seasonal Inspiration, The Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, Seasonal Celebration Sunday!

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16 comments to Creative Food Storage

  • Jennifer Reyna

    I’ve placed many a thing on our back stoop too!

  • Ah, how I would love a back stoop! We live in an apartment and have no outdoor access, not even a tiny balcony. =( So for now I just have to buy reasonable amounts of things and shove them in the fridge. Luckily we are planning on moving in the spring. We really want to get a little house with at least a bit of a backyard!

  • Wow – you are a busy lady! Talk about a working kitchen… I live in a townhouse in FL – so no basement, and very little storage. It keeps me from being able to buy those bulk foods – I’m so jealous!

    • It is a lot of work and I’m anxious to see how things work out when I’m start working full time in the fall (prime canning season!). I do start my full time student teaching next month, but the late winter and spring is a really slow time for preservation. If I couldn’t buy in bulk, I don’t know how we’d make it. My hat is off to you!

      This is another reason we’re buying a larger freezer – freezing is so much less time consuming than canning!

  • we have a back room(which was just a fast and cheap addon) that doesnt have a furnace vent in it so it stays cold. I put things there as needed. (not in summer though, cause it gets stiffling hot!)

    Ive also used a cab of a truck before too 🙂

  • Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    Share your great fermented food recipes at my Probiotic Food Linky – open through Februray 6, 2012.

  • […] love your pictures and look forward to more. I find myself envying the truck full of apples at The Liberated Kitchen. She could turn some of those into apple sauce and ferment them like […]

  • Helena

    I have a small townhouse with a back porch and a truck but live in Colorado where it is somewhere between 10 and 30 degrees most nights. I have winter squash all over my house, beets in the fridge (we ate all the onions we grew), still some root veggies in the garden and spinach in a coldframe. It’s fun to hear everyone’s creative ideas!

  • Mama when we lived in Maryland we were able to keep things in our very “Uninsulated” basement. No such luck here in Coastal NC. We have to have another fridge in the garage in addition to the freezer to help keep things intact until I can get to them all sometimes especially during harvest season! Love your post!

    • Mama

      We’re glad you liked it, Karen Lynn!
      At my former home, I had a great big basement that was amazing for food storage. The house had even come with a huge set of shelves down there. I had all sorts of things stored and when I ran out of money (as a single mom with two toddlers) that really paid off! These days we have to be more creative. Keeping things at the right temperature and humidity can be a big challenge. I love the cold storage book TinyHands linked above, but honestly it’s got more in it for colder climates, and I’m a bit too lazy to dig a proper hole in my back yard to store things in long term, so we rely on these short term methods, then can or freeze. A girl can dream, though!

  • I so have the very same problem with limited storage but a cold downstairs bathroom and this is what I have to use to store things that need to be kept out of the warm living space! I’m host a weekly linky and would love it if you popped over and linked this post! Seasonal Celebration Linky Thank you 🙂

  • TinyHands, thank you very much for placing this post at Natural Mothers Network’s linky: Seasonal Celebration! You helped make Seasonal Celebration a wealth of intelligent, creative and resourceful information and it’s been such a pleasure for me and many others to read through each post I am really looking forward to seeing you again Sunday evening or Monday! Rebecca x

  • Such a good idea about the closet. I have one that stays cool; I love keeping bottled water in there. It would be perfect for apples. Thanks for the tip!

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