Summer Larder

Joel often speaks of the importance of a larder, a pantry space for canned goods from last year’s produce and a visual of personal food security. Sheri led a blog discussion on the Folks, This Ain’t Normal chapter that deals with this topic here.

In preparation for this summer’s cooking bonanza, I’ve been preparing my own larder.  I’ve been roasting chickens, pulling the meat off to freeze, and then making stock. I’ve been making lard (you can too!), making pizza crusts and lasagna and sloppy joes to freeze and contacting GMO-free farms for bulk items like flour, rice and beans. And I’ve been filling up a reserve of vegetable recipes to have on hand for when each variety is ready for harvest. Because I’m not only cooking for 20 people each night – I’m cooking for 20 broiler pen-moving, hay-making, 5 gallon bucket-carrying, ravenous farmhands. Which is really like multiplying that by two, if you think of it. And that is going to take a larder.

Is there anything you routinely buy or make in bulk that saves you time (and sanity)?

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About Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies and had to begin asking about the source of every single thing she put in her mouth. This led to an interest in all things food and she sought out a way to learn how it can be produced ethically and sustainably. Her desire is to help people shift their focus from counting calories, being intimidated by their kitchens, and being disconnected from the land to one that experiences the life-giving enjoyment of food. Having completed the internship in summer 2010, she now assists with the buying clubs and sales building, leads school tours of the farm, and will be the summer 2012 farm cook.

21 Responses to Summer Larder

  1. michael says:

    Brie, we make our own salad dressings, mayo, and barbecue sauce. We can spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, peaches, dilly beans and pickles. It’s sooooo nice that dinner can be as simple as grabbing a few jars from the shelf and warming them up…. and DIY condiments do save us money.

  2. Erin Phelan says:

    Brie, I would say that you are fully prepared and capable of handling the job of feeding the crew at Polyface this year.
    I hope that we have a fairly good harvest from our garden so that I can do quite a bit of canning this summer to stock up for the winter 🙂
    Enjoy your meal preparations!

  3. Laura says:

    All the work is worth it – no running out to the grocery store at the last minute, and SO much better for you! I can and freeze a lot of different fruits and veggies, and this is our second year raising Cornish X, which we also freeze. When I prepare certain foods, I’ll sometimes freeze or can them in specific amounts to use in recipes. For instance, I’ll freeze 3 cups of shredded zucchini together in a freezer bag because that’s the amount I’ll need for a couple dozen muffins. Same with pumpkin puree, chicken stock, etc.

  4. Sandy says:

    Every year I work on filling the shelves in the root cellar, almost the same as Michael’s list. I buy olive oil in bulk. We have belonged to food co-ops over the years but they have all fallen by the wayside as our kids grew up. Now I am on a hunt to find a supplier within a days drive to buy non GMO bulk oats, flour, brown rice etc. I break the 50# bags down into buckets I get from the baker in town, then I can stack them in the freezer. We have wild caught halibut and salmon and pork in the freezer. Last summer I put 12 pans of eggplant parmesean in the freezer, along with lasagna. The madness starts the middle of June and just keeps going until November. This year would love to try my hand at sun dried tomatoes…….. could use a few more hours in my day 🙂 I love baking bread once a month and freezing the extra for the entire month.
    My husband has always lamented how awful our basement was in this old house, dirt floors and fieldstone foundation. It is the best place to store canned goods, onions, squash, potatoes and all the other stuff you put in a root cellar. It’s perfect and so glad we don’t have “rec room”! Told him the front half would be a wonderful wine cellar…….. he’s thinking about it 🙂

    • Mrs H says:

      How does frozen eggplant Parm come out!? Oh my … that is one of my husbands’ favorite dishes, how happy would he be if we had a few in the freezer … !!

      We dried a bunch of roma tomatoes last year while canning the rest of the batch; we store them in those sealed-air-suctioned bags in the freezer, and just pull ’em out and stuff into a jar, pour olive oil (and any desired seasonings) over and store in the fridge for use …

  5. I remember growing up as a kid in California and Iowa where the family got together and harvested the garden. Then we’d all share in putting up preserves and other canning duties. I miss that lifestyle.

  6. Glenda Spencer says:

    My kids are all grown and I live by myself but I still make big pots of soup, spaghetti sauce and other things. I freeze all in individual servings. These are my quickie meals. They are tastier and more nourishing than the instant, chemical laden food in the grocery stores. I, also, have veggie gardens and can those veggies.

  7. LPJohnson says:

    I recently started roasting chickens 2 at a time. We eat the legs and wings immediately, then I make something with the breast later in the week. I usually do the same thing with beef or pork roast, making one much bigger than we need with leftovers for stew or pulled pork, etc. When I make rice i do a double batch, because the kids like “fried rice” (scrambled eggs with ham, veggies, and rice) for breakfast. I’ve been corning our venison roasts, and just this morning I decided I’m going to do a large batch when my potatoes are ready and can up corned venison hash. That will be a welcome change from sausage with our eggs for a quick breakfast.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I discovered Joel on Food, Inc. and have been devouring his books and Michael Pollan’s book as well as purchasing Food, Inc and Fresh to show everyone I love who wants to listen! I grew up on garden food and helped my mother can and freeze and went on to do it for myself for 15 years. I had to move to an apartment in the city and have missed home grown everything. I have resealed my canner, am pulling out the freezer boxes, etc. and getting going again! Yippee! One of the things I did was make stuffed green peppers and freeze them. I used to have so many peppers in the garden and it makes a nice change in the middle of winter to pull those out with little preparation and enjoy for dinner. My mom canned potatoes specifically to use for potato soup in the winter after all the potatoes were gone. We also made our apple pies ahead of time and froze them to bake in the winter, spring, and summer until the next batch of apples arrived.

    Do you have sites that you go to to find GMO free flour, etc? I live part time in Indiana and Michigan. Thanks! Have fun preserving! There is nothing like opening up the door to your pantry and seeing all that you put up the summer before.

    • Mrs H says:

      When I was on the West Coast, I purchased much of my organic baking supply from (they don’t deliver this far East). In Virginia, I am just getting ready to start my first purchase with (they don’t deliver to your area, though). You might try calling either of those companies and ask if they know of similar companies that serve your area; I know Azure has recommended other places to me, as we’ve moved about the country.

      • Micahman says:


        Mrs. H mentioned using Azure Standard, they are making their way further and further out east. I’m from Illinois where they’ve been adding drops for the last few years. They are starting drops in Indiana and further east. If you’d like the phone number for their office I could give it to you or you could visit their website as Mrs. H mentioned. We’ve been very satisfied with the quality, quantity of items, and prices that Azure has to offer.

  9. daisyglitter says:

    Brie, do you guys grow wheat for flour or do you buy it? I was thinking about growing it but I don’t know how much it yields or how well it grows in Michigan. Good luck on feeding all of those hungry bellies!!

    • Mrs H says:

      “Backyard Homestead” has some fun info on grain growing! It’s put out by Storey Publications, I believe the author is Carleen Madigan

  10. Kris Porter says:

    For prep for summer we are currently – roasting chickens to shred and freeze, making soap nuts liquid to freeze in ice cube trays for cleaning, making chicken stock, making lard, making ground beef to freeze into patties and also to cook and freeze. We probably should make some ketchup and barbeque sauce from some of our tomatoes from last year…

  11. Leilani says:

    My biggest thing is trying to take advantage of bounty when it is available to save time and money later. Yesterday I put up 3 bushels of silver queen corn as creamed corn. A friends corn in coming in, they have put up more than they need and he said come pick as much as you want. I now have 46 bags of creamed corn in the freezer. While I was there I also picked a 5 gallon bucket of tomatoes so I was cooking down tomato sauce while processing corn last night. Another form this concept takes for me is keeping my dehydrator busy as much as possible. So many of the herbs are “cut and come again” harvesters that there is almost always something to pick and dry. Another trick is my “soup bags”, when there is not enough extras to warrant putting up a batch of a particular veggie the pieces parts get frozen together and used for soups later.

    As for buying in bulk, I try to stock up on all the things I will need when canning and freezing so when these busy times hit I don’t have to stop and go get stuff. Its crazy enough trying to keep up without trips to the store or waiting for things that have to be ordered online to arrive.

    I am not nearly as far ahead of the game as most of my fellow posters but, I am working on getting there 🙂

  12. Last Saturday we visited the farm and met with Leanna, Sheri, and Wendy. Picked up Joel’s latest book and a few other items. We roamed around and had great fun. Read the newsletter article about a larder and it reminded me of my grandma (in the Netherlands, where I’m from) doing all that same great stuff, canning, pickling, putting fruits in alcohol, making jam etc. Unfortunately I live in a small apartment with just my daughter, so there’s no basement or pantry, just the small freezer compartment of my fridge. Yet I do my best to “larder” in a small way! We’ll be back this Summer! Namaste, Monique

    • Mrs H says:

      It’s fun to get creative with places to put your larder! In our last apartment, my husband built wooden shelves and drilled them into the wall; we loaded them down with about a thousand jars’ worth of stuff, and draped a sheet over the front to prevent oxidation of the produce. But did I mention … this was in our bedroom? Every morning, waking up to thirty dozen winking jars of applesauce and fifty quarts of pickles, ha ha. We do what we gotta do, right!

  13. Mrs H says:

    What DON’T we buy in bulk? heh, heh. Even though there are only two of us (soon to be three, as baby prepares to make his/her grand entrance soon!), I purchase everything in bulk so that I can get the best prices. Back home, my mom and I would buy 50 lb bags of rolled oats and split it up into 5 gallon buckets! I love buying molasses by the gallon, aluminum-free baking powder by the 5 lb sack (or just making it myself!)… And of course produce! Since we don’t raise our own produce (other than little porch things), we buy it in bulk from farmers around us. Last year we went through 2,000 lbs of apples with the help of a few friends, making cider and applesauce. Another 700 lbs of green beans went into jars for my mom, mom-in-law, and myself … and never-ending floods of tomatoes, pears, and everything else delicious:) My husband was always pleased to show our annually- stocked larder to friends and assure them that “when zombies attack, OUR house is the place to be!”

    • BouMama says:

      I’m interested to know how I could make my own aluminun free baking powder! How fabulous you are for building that larder in your bedroom! Use what ya got!!!! Thanks!

  14. BouMama says:

    Has anyone found a GMO free farm to buy Oats, Rice, Beans and Heritage Wheat? I am searching searching searching! TIA