how do you store your ingredients?
how many flours do you keep, in what sort of quantity and container? how do you keep your yeast, and other ingredients?
My flour is stored in their original bags - all stashed in large plastic lidded bins in my utility room. Post-it notes with the purchase date are stuck to the bags so I can pull out the oldest bag instead of the latest.
I keep KAF high-gluten, bread, AP and rye flours on hand. Also some speciality flours on occasion, such as KAF first clear, semolina, and French style flours. I also have Arrowhead organic whole rye and KAF white whole wheat in the refrigerator. Those are stashed in their original bags, contained in plastic zip-locks.
Ten pounds of Gold Medal bread flour is always on hand in the cupboard, which is used solely to feed my sourdough culture. For my weekly baking, two one-gallon screw lid glass jars contain bread and AP flours (jars are kept in a cold pantry).
SAF instant yeast, diastatic malt powder, and nondiastatic malt powder are kept in the freezer. A small container of yeast is kept in the refrigerator, replenished when needed from the yeast in the freezer. An assortment of bagged seeds are also refrigerated.
Quantities? Around 100 pounds of flour, always unbleached and unbromated. The total amount varies by what's on sale.
What's in your stash, RiverWalker?
All flours are stored in 5 pound plastic storage containers. I like a brand that has a rubber gasket for a good seal. Can't remember which brands I use, I have a couple of different types. I write on them with permanent marker and this can be removed as needed with rubbing alcohol to change containers to something else. I use my whole grain flours pretty fast but if you don't, keep them in the freezer in ziplock baggies.
I have other containers that are smaller for corn meal, millet, bulger wheat, and other sorts of items that I don't have in amounts that are kept in smaller quantities. Same types of containers, just smaller. The containers generally come in boxes, mixed sizes and I can also buy a bunch of one size seperately as needed.
Very small items such as cardomom, dried mushrooms, fennel seeds? I haven't found the best answer for yet. I get them in the bulk bins at Sprouts, our health food supermarket and they come in little ziplock baggies. I have been storing this in a plastic container all together. I need to come up with a more organized fashion. Maybe, when I get out of the RV I'll think of something.
I recommend going to a container store, they are full of ideas.
I generally have on hand, All-purpose flour, bread flour, whole-wheat flour, whole rye flour, first clear flour, semolina flour, durum wheat flour, and brown rice flour.
The first two, AP and Bread flour, I keep in plastic zip-lock bags, at room temperature. Here in Florida, we keep all grain and cereal products in closed plastic containers to keep insect pests out. So far (8 years) we've been successful.
Secondly, I use about 5 lbs of each every 10 days to two weeks. I keep an additional 5 lbs of each in reserve (in plastic, at room temperature), so I'm replacing my in-use and reserve, every month. I also buy these flours from stores I know have a high turn-over rate. That way I feel I'm getting reasonably fresh flour, without going to a lot of trouble.
All other flours I keep in the freezer, in plastic freezer containers. I think this is especially necessary for flours with high fat content, e.g., whole wheat. I buy whole wheat and rye also from stores I know have high turnover. Furthermore, I open them immediately, and smell them: rancid flour has a sharp, unpleasant smell, and if used, contributes an unpleasant bitter taste to bread. I learned this the hard way decades ago, and have kept whole wheat flour in the freezer ever since.
I'm using all the other flours only for the first time in the past year, with a couple exceptions (I"ve made fresh pasta for years with semolina and/or duram). I keep all of them in the freezer, mainly to preserve freshness since I use them less often, although I suspect first clear flour, and possibly rye flour will also go rancid.
I weigh out what I need, and return the remainder immediately to the freezer. I may do this the night before I bake, or just before I bake. I control the final dough temperature with the water temperature.
This has worked well for me this year of obsessive baking. Fortunately, I have the freezer space to do it. One shelf is devoted to frozen breads, and most of the door shelves are devoted to flours.
Other things: I store baking powder at room temperature, in a bug free container. Also, if I haven't used it up, I replace it every six months. Arrowroot starch, corn starch, baking soda, hasa marina, corn meals, grits, and pearl barley, I keep at room temperature in sealed containers. I don't have a schedule for replacing them, but they are all used up within about 8 months or less. Yeast (IDY) i keep in the freezer, and replace it once a year.
Not exactly storage related, but, although we enjoy excellent, unchlorinated well water, I always filter the water I use to make bread and feed sourdough starters.
at the moment I have a bag of KAF Whole Wheat, Gold Medal Bread Flour and AP flour, and a partial thing of cake flour. been keeping them mostly in plastic cannisters that look similar to these: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/acrylic-yeast-canister but of a size that fits most of a 5lb bag of flour. I also have some stuff in rectangular sort of larger plastic cannisters. David, do you simply get better results replacing baking powder every 6 months? I don't think I've heard of that before, and I'm curious as to why. hopefully I'll be finding a source soon to be able to get larger amounts of flour for cheaper, and have more of an issue. but reading people on this site getting big 50lb bags of flour and such, even for home use(or so it sounds...) and it boggles me how that much would be stored, even if someone does a LOT of baking, thats quite a bit.
oh, and my yeast, I get from a store near me that has a lot of health food, hippie stuff, lots of herbs and tea's and such in bulk. I have a small relatively heavy glass container for the yeast.
when what I have on the yeast goes bad or is used up, I think I may go to getting a pound of instant yeast, since that seems to be what most people prefer here.
Eight quart plastic buckets with tight lids keep my AP and bread flours nice'n-spiffy. Rye is in a smaller container -- again, air tight. All at room temp.
Yeast -- in the freezer. I take it right from the freezer to warm water or milk to bloom.
I am not one of the cognoscienti who bake sourdough. I did that for a year or so, but got too lazy chasing starter... and admire those who do!
BTW -- Check out a restaurant suply store for those plastic buckets -- marked in 2 quart increments for proffing. About $4 each, rather than about $16 each at some Mart-or-another, or online. Same goods.
I get 5 gallon food grade plastic buckets from my local grocery store bakeries, they have the z-seals and the're allready food grade, the usually had icing in them or something. The're usually about 1$ each and the lids are a bugger to mess with, so thats my bulk storage. I buy 50 pound bags of flour from the local wheat montana store, so I have 4 of those buckets at anytime with white and whole wheat, then I have smaller ones for rye and such (pink icing is a smaller bucket).
look into those, the're the best, with handles and they stack if you buy the quantity of flour I do.
Just got back from a Home Depot run. I recommend looking in the paint department for their 2 1/2 quart plastic paint mixing containers. If they're a little over $2 in Hawaii they have to be cheaper everywhere else. They're calibrated on the side and are used by a number of local foodies here for both baking and cooking.
On a slightly different topic, the drywall section of HD has plastic "mud troughs" for $2 that look to be interesting baguette proofing containers; they also come in stainless (!) for ~ $14 which could actually be baked in... In the same area, sets of three plastic mud spreaders are a little less than $4. I use the 10" one a great deal. There are also $10 stainless ones but I'm afraid of dinging the counter top, thereby upsetting "she who must be obeyed"....(^-^)
Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii