How to store everything in your Italian pantry!
It may not be as flashy as learning a new language, starting an exercise routine, or setting up a self-care regimen, but there’s one New Year’s resolution we’re really excited about: improving our pantry game. Taking a few minutes to store your precious ingredients properly and keep the pantry organized and efficient can have a huge impact on your day-to-day. You’ll find cooking easier and more enjoyable, prevent food waste, and reduce your grocery bills to boot!
A cluttered pantry doesn’t serve you if you can’t see what you have in there. One of the biggest culprits is half-opened packages of dry goods, which are hard to store and let food go stale quickly. You don’t have to shell out tons of money for a gorgeous matched set of storage containers to solve the problem (though we love their tidy look)—just get in the habit of washing and keeping glass food jars as you empty them. To remove the labels, soak for several hours in hot water with 1 teaspoon dish soap and 2 teaspoons baking soda to every cup of water. You’ll have a container for your every need soon enough, and you’ll always be able to see what you have to cook with.
Then, do as chefs do and get in the habit of labeling everything. Keep a Sharpie and a roll of painter’s tape in the kitchen, and label jars and food containers with the date it was first opened. This helps you see at a glance how long that carton of chicken broth or jar of marinara in the fridge has been open—and, a result, when it’s time to say goodbye. Spices and dried herbs’ flavors fade over time, so be sure to do this with your spice rack, too, and replace any that are more than a year old.
Here's how we store a few of our most-loved ingredients:
Pasta & Grains: We love the classic paper packaging that our Setaro pastas come in, but once you’ve dipped into that 2lb bag of gemelli, it’s best to transfer the remainder to an airtight container. Same with grains like rice, farro, and quinoa—unless they are stored in an airtight glass jar, they can get stale quickly and can be susceptible to pests like grain weevils.
Flour: Because they contain the oil-rich outer husk of the wheat grain, whole-wheat flours can go rancid quickly in the cabinet. The solution: store them in the freezer! The low temperature will keep the flavor fresh and keep away flour mites and other pests.
Cheese: Don’t keep cheese in the plastic packaging it came home from the store in—it invites mold. The best way to store blocks or wedges of cheese in the fridge is wrapped in paper, which keeps it clean while allowing it to breathe. You can buy specially made cheese paper, or just wrap well with a paper bag.
Fruits & Veggies: Leafy greens should never be kept in a closed plastic bag, but should be wrapped loosely in a kitchen towel or paper towels and placed in your fridge’s crisper drawer to regulate moisture and keep them from becoming slimy. Nearly everything does better with a little air circulation, with one unexpected exception: Berries last so much longer if you rinse and dry them well as soon as you get them, then store in a paper towel-lined airtight container. On the counter, air circulation is still key (take everything out of plastic bags asap!), but even more important is what you store together. Onions, garlic, apples, and bananas emit a harmless gas called ethylene, which can encourage ripening (and, eventually, spoiling) in other fruits and veggies. So while potatoes, garlic, and onions all do best in an open basket or bowl in a cool spot, make sure you keep them separate.
Olive Oil: While we love to keep our favorite olive oils close at hand when we cook, if your kitchen counter gets much sun during the day, it’s best to keep your olio bottles somewhere shadier. Sunlight can degrade the compounds that give each olive oil its unique flavor, leading to a flat, slightly bitter oil with no nuance. What a waste!