Does anyone use kitchen canisters on their counters anymore?

cabingirlOctober 24, 2006

HI all,

Do any of you still use kitchen canisters that you keep on the countertop? Our new kitchen is short on cabinet space, and the one I'm using for my pantry won't hold everything so I planned to move flour, sugar, etc. to countertop canisters. Most stores don't seem to have a great selection these days, mostly clear plastic, stainless steel, or else some kind of floral print that doesn't work for me. I did find a set in buttercup yellow at Target.com that I liked, but the whole process got me to thinking...are canisters "out"? Are they a pain to deal with?

Thanks!

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quiltglo

I use them. I bought a 1940's set from eBay. We use the bread box, flour and coffee canisters. I keep the very small one on my microwave because I like to look at it.

I just did a quick search using kitchen and canisters. There are over 3,000 listings. New, used, retro. Whatever you might be looking for. I'm sure breadboxes are "out." My kids think their friends are nuts when they don't know to get the bread out of the breadbox. You mean, everyone doesn't have one?

Gloria

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 1:34PM
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Maura63

I have a three-canister "set". It is glass and you can see its contents.

It is for easy-access to pretzels (a staple here), granola bars, and microwave popcorn and/or cup-of-soup packets.

I like the "help yourself" feature...kids' friends typically look no further: keeps messes to a minimum, and cookies in the cabinet, LOL.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 1:37PM
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bud_wi

I have one canister out on the counter for coffee because I use it everyday and sometimes twice a day. I don't have to go rummaging for my coffee in my cabinets. I always had the problem of my bag of coffee getting shoved around in my cabinets and never being in the same spot.

I don't see the need for canisters of flour or sugar being out on the counter unless you use those things all the time. I think they would just get in the way and you would have to be cleaning them all the time due to dust and grease in the kitchen.

They just take up counter space that you will need when you settle in and start cooking more often in you new home. How are you going to make things like lasagna or meatballs, or roll out cookies and let them cool down after they come out of the oven, if half of your counters are devoted to storage?

Those dinky little 'canister sets' never hold ALL of your flour/sugar/coffee/tea and you would still have to store the remainder in the cabinets.

I am assuming since you do not have a lot of room to put your flour/sugar in the cabinets that you also don't have room for toasters and coffee makers in you cabinets either and are forced to keep all of your appliances out on the counter too. Canisters will just add to visual clutter. You'll be constantly pushing them around to 'make room' for cooking.

Do you have cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling, or are they hung on the wall with a space at the top? If there is room on top of them, you could utilize the space for things that you do not use often.

I don't do a lot of baking so, storing my white flour/wheat flour/sugar/brown sugar/powdered sugar/bran/oats/ect. out of the way so high on top of the cabinets is not a huge hassle, having to pull a chair over to get to them. Of course this would not be a good solution if one bakes bread/cakes/cookies everyday.

What I did, was to get a bunch of those huge glass jars with the white metal lids, that restaurants get their products in, and store all my baking stuff and assorted pastas in those jars high on the top of my cabinets. The row of glass jars gave it a uniformity and you could see what was in each glass jar. It looks nice and keeps my cabinets free for stuff I use everyday AND my counters clear. And the jars were FREE.

Like you said, most of those canister sets either look too utilitarian or have floral designs that do not appeal to most.

If your kitchen is all that small, is there another area in you house that can be used for storage of kitchen items that you do not use that often, thus freeing up some of your kitchen cabinet space? Back when I lived in a tiny apartment with a galley kitchen and little cabinet space, I stored my canned goods in the linen closet in the hallway. Of course the whole apartment was small so it was not like I had to run across a a whole house to grab a can of tomato paste.

Does your home have a basement? I keep kitchen items that I use seasonally on a shelf in the basement - huge turkey roasting pans, serving platters, summer BBQ utensils. This frees up space in the kitchen for items you use everyday or every week.

Do you have a lot of floor space in your kitchen? Maybe you could purchase some 'kitchen furniture' for storage. One of those butcher blocks with storage underneath?

I think the less clutter on a kitchen counter is the way to go.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 2:18PM
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cabingirl

You make some good points, bud. I don't want clutter on the counters but I was having trouble figuring out how to make it work. Our kitchen only has 30" upper cabinets and to make matters worse, in the double cabinet I am using for a pantry, the shelves are not adjustable at all. So my current flour jar, etc. won't fit. Heck, I can't even stand up the cereal boxes.

There is 12" above the cabinets, and the way you use that space sounds pretty cool. I bake maybe once a month so it wouldn't be too bad to have to grab the flour down. I could also use part of the base cabinet there, but I seem to have a mental block against putting food in lower cabinets. Would it increase the chance of pests to do that?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 2:29PM
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maddiemom6

I use a set of 5 big glass jars from the Container Store... but then I have tons of coutner space 40+ running feet of the stuff but I don't have any wall cabinets. Honestly flour will stay best in the freezer and the same goes for coffee. That would just leave you with sugar to deal with. It all depends on how you cook and the quanity you buy in. How about making a baking kit?.. take a largish rubbermaid tub and put all your regular baking stuff in it?.. then you just have to pull it out when you bake?. then when done.. put the stuff back and slap on the lid and shove it back down there. If you did have bugs they would find stuff in top cabinets just as easy as botton cabinets so I don't think that is a big worry.. so just do what works for you.

maddie

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 4:25PM
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bud_wi

That's a great idea Maddie, for those of us that do not have pull out shelves in our kitchen.

I use those Rubbermaid plastic dishpans to store all my bath stuff in my linen closet, and grab it and carry it to my bathroom in the plastic dishpan. I have NO storage in my tiny bathroom and don't like a cluttered bath/shower area with shampoo bottles, shaving cream, scrubbbies, yada yada, littering up the area.

I never thought of using the same system in my kitchen! Cool.

I was wracking my brain for small kitchen ideas from my old apartment days. Maybe asking your question in the Small Homes Forum would help with some ideas?

One of the things I did in my apartment kitchen was to store all my pots and pans on an overhead rack by the stove. This could free up an entire cabinet for other storage.

One apartment I had, had a lot of wall space on the kitchen side of the pass through counter, so I put in about a dozen big fancy nails, and hung my pans against the wall under the long counter.

I use a magnetic, metal strip, knife holder that I got at Ikea. It attaches to the wall and the knife blades just stick to it. I got rid of my wooden block knife holder that sat on my counter and also the steak knife holder that fit in the drawer. I found out that you can get these things at hardware stores because they are used to organize screwdrivers and tools in garages and workrooms. They are also cheaper than at Ikea.

You say you have 12" of free space above your upper cabinets; Maybe getting some of those square wicker baskets, or colorful plastic baskets that they sell for kid's room organizers could go there and store things that are not used everyday? It would look cute too.

I had an apartment once where there were no cabinets over the refrigerator. I stored the things I rarely used, like my electric knife sharpener, in two cute wicker baskets on top of the refrigerator. I put a dishtowel *inside* the basket, on top of the things to keep them from becoming covered with dust and grease. If you store things in baskets on top of your cabinets the dishtowel trick saves a day of cleaning everything you store there.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 1:40AM
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Julie_MI_Z5

My baking staples are stored in air-tight Tupperware containers in a lower cabinet. They aren't pretty, but they're out of sight.

I tried the glass containers but thought they were too heavy to be convenient.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 5:55AM
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talley_sue_nyc

I use canisters on the countertop. I like having the flour and sugar where I can get them easily. I don't bake daily; more like every other week.

I tried to eliminate them, but it just annoyed me to have to dig the flour out of the cabinets when Iw ante dto use it for cooking. Even w/ a drawer it was a pain.

I have a small kitchen, and storage is limited, as it counterspace. But I find that I mind the storage loss more than I do the loss of counterspace.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 9:54AM
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wantoretire_did

I have a very small kitchen and not much counter space.

Canisters hold, from small to large, sweetener packets, instant hot chocolate mix, tea bags, and coffee.

I don't bake any more and use very little sugar, which I buy by the 1 lb. box and put the contents into an antique glass jar which I keep inside the cupboard. 2 lb. bag of flour goes in the freezer in a ziploc bag.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 1:57PM
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quiltglo

Am I the only one who uses flour for plain, old, everyday cooking? I rarely bake, but I use flour quite a bit, so the flour canister on the counter is really handy for me.

When living in bug territory, I put my buggables in the fridge. The plastic container made it easier to pick up and carry without getting flour or cornmeal all over the place.

Gloria

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 3:29PM
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marie26

A tip that has worked for me: bay leaves in flour keep the bugs out.

When I had a kitchen with an open space (window) into the dining room, I used to keep canisters up there because I liked how they looked. I don't keep them in this kitchen because of an extra thing to move when cleaning the counters. I do keep a baking cupboard with the sugar, etc. but I like the hint of putting all the baking supplies into a rubbermaid-type of container and pull that out when baking. This would work for me since I don't bake that often.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 4:57PM
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elizabeth10029

No canisters on the kitchen counter. One tea cup full of sugar (a week's supply if not baking) plus pretty spoon.

On one of the many bluestar threads, someone posted a picture of how she used her narrow shelves. I never figured out the connection to bluestar but never mind. I followed her advice and removed all my back up foil, kitchen garbage bags etc, which could go anywhere, and put all my baking goods, canned goods etc. on narrow shelves in a pantry closet. Now I can see what I have at a glance. Works really well, though I do have to carry things Rachel Ray style to the prep area. I keep things like flour in its store bought container inside a plastic ziplock bag. I find it hard to keep cannisters clean and full to the right level.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 9:23PM
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talley_sue_nyc

the biggest reason I like canisters is that I hate having to wrestle w/ the bag to try and scoop the flour/sugar/cornstarch out of it.

So for those paper-bagged dry goods, transferring to a container removes an annoyance that matters to me (it may not matter to other people).

And Gloria, I too use flour for ordinary cooking--for dredging chicken, sprinkling over sloppy joes. I don't cook that often anymore; DH does. So probably the flour could go down below.

Mostly it's that I'm *used to* finding the flour and sugar on the counter, and there's no "cost" to me in having it out (it's not in my way, etc.).

But I do like the idea behind elizabeth10029's "just stick the container from the store into an airtight bag and be done with it" approach. There's a tremendous simplicity in that (remember Dan Ho, and his "we make chores for ourselves" philosophy?). There are some areas in which I follow this concept--storing pasta (no putting it into see-through plastic canisters for me!).

I think if I had more of a pantry, I'd get a deep tray to hold the baking goods instead of a Rubbermaid unit. I'd rely on those plastic bags to keep each item airtight.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 9:35AM
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talley_sue_nyc

Elizabeth10029's "keep it in the store-bought package" approach is what I do w/ spices--I cannot be bothered switching them out to a similar-size container.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 12:14PM
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Lena M

LOL Talley Sue!

Thank you all for sharing some inspiring ideas.

I admit I put bulk spices into smaller jars for use at the stovetop. Salt goes into the flip top box, sugar goes into the sugar shaker. I keep a Wondra *tm flour canister in the cupboard for thickening sauces.

Snark alert: OK, does anyone else snoop at kitchen photos to look at their spices, and think 'do those people really cook or do they just like matchy-matchy containers?'

I'll share mine :-), heavy on spices for good Indian curries.

-Lena

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 4:19PM
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elizabeth10029

Don't even need a picture for my indian / mexican spices. I bought them from a spice store and triple bagged them in baggies (an idea from some thread here) and put them all in a see-through lucite Container store Box at the back of a deep cabinet but raised up on a metal post-market shelf. When I cook Mexican or Indian, I can reach in and take the whole box out, gather what I need, use it, return baggies to box and return box to shelf. The spices are in the dark, away from heat. They take up very little room.

Still have a Brookhaven spice rack with the more daily stuff that I use.

I keep the Wondra with the oil and vinegar -- use that much more than baking flour.

(I love all these micro-details. As Talley Sue has pointed out before, each little thing you do makes a percentage improvement so why not.)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 10:04PM
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marge727

Once you have dropped a large glass jar with flour off the counter and had to clean up glass & flour it sort of takes the charm out of making those cookies. Now I use a large plastic container which holds the flour in the bag now and keep it in the cabinet. We also use wondra plus if you ever cooked Louisiana style you always keep containers of already browned floor for Roux. That goes in jars in the cabinet.
We are finally moving in to the house and I will be fighting to keep cabinets spiffy and counters empty and will be reviewing some of your great advice for organization if I ever recover from bronchitis. If I don't --the house will have one angry ghost after waiting so long to move in.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 6:44AM
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elizabeth10029

About bronchitis -- my biggest health fear, since during every even minor renovation DH and got serious bronchitis. Not this time -- I keep posting about this: Blueair air purifiers recommended by post-constructon cleaning crew. Two of them ran non-stop for 5 months and no one has had any problem at all. Worth every penny.
I just spent two hours re-arranging my shelves with my first really enormous shopping for staples since the kitchen began working last March. (Perhaps no big shopping until Jan. I hope.) I just noticed for the first time that my market has started packaging legumes and beans, etc. in small, dated, clearly-labelled-on-the-sides, plastic, stackable containers. Makes storing much easier than plastic bags or cannisters. They actually look nice in the pantry shelves. Maybe this idea will catch on and we will get other products in the same easy to store packaging.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 1:03PM
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bud_wi

I cringe when I see excess packaging in stores and often base my buying decisions on how much of an impact the packaging has on the enviroment.

Are these plastic containers recyclable at least?

I noticed many years back that in Europe things like sauces and soups came in square, very thin, flexible, plastic containers rather than glass jars or metal cans. They fit real nice in the pantry. I'm sure shipping costs were saved, as these square packages could be shipped with no wasted space like round cans/jars, and they were lighter weight.

When empty they could be flattend, saving space in the refuse can. I do not know if they were sent for recycling.

I'm starting to see this type of packaging show up at import stores on some items.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 12:02AM
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Lynne_SJO

I have a small kitchen w little storage too. But having cluttered countertops drives me nuts bc I do a great deal of cooking and bakiing.

I have just enough room in the cabinet over the countertops for click-clacks. That's what I use for my flour, sugars (one for white, one for brown). I also use them for pasta, legumes and the like. The flour and sugar ones are round, the others are square and can be stacked, which is a big help. For unopened overstock - esp flour - I leave the unopened bags in the garage freezer inside a large ziplock, to keep them fresh and moth free.

L

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 4:36PM
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liz_h

bud - do you know someone in the restaurant business, or did you just ask for empty jars at area restaurants? Years ago my aunt had some of those jars. I loved them then and would love to have some now - though the filled weight might be a deterrent.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 10:03PM
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lisad71

I have my flour and sugar in clear, airtight canisters, but I keep them in the pantry. I hate clutter and I'm constantly cleaning my countertops here in buggy Florida so having that stuff on the counter isn't an option.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 9:16PM
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bud_wi

liz_h :

I did collect them from working in restaurants and bars, but they are easy to come by. They just get thrown out in the garbage when empty and most places wouldn't mind giving them to someone. I used to take them home all the time and give them to friends who wanted them.

It is not unusual for places to get requests for things such as this. I have a bartender friend who saves all the blue glass bottles he empties for a woman who uses them for mosaics. Lots of people request unusual liquor bottles too. The Cuervo 1800 bottles are especially popular, as are the Galliano bottles. People use them for infused oils and vinegars and homemade bath salts that they give as gifts.

I got all my kitchen jars years ago when they still used metal lids on all of them. I think those look better than the plastic lids that are more common on the jars nowdays.

You will have better luck asking for jars from bars. The olive and cherry jars are still being made with glass. It is more common for restaurant items like relish and mayo, to come in plastic jars these days. Also, relish, and pickled mushroom and pepper jars tend to have smaller openings than the olive and cherry jars do. Olives and cherries are usually scouped out with a soup ladle so the openings are made bigger.

Olive and cherry jars have lables that are usually easier to soak off.

Also, by asking at bars you get to talk to the actual worker(s) who use the jars and are more likely to remember to save them for you. Restaurants are not going to let you into the kitchens to ask workers to save you the empty jars and the owner/manager is not going to be bothered with a request like this. That is unless you are friends with them or a "regular" at the place.

Try to find out when the jars are likely to be available, and pick them up right away as they will not hold them for days and weeks for you.

You will have better luck asking at a place that is privatly owned rather than a big chain. Big chains sometimes have "policies" they are required to adhere to.

Best of all these jars are FREE! I saw some big glass jars with metal lids at KMart under the Martha Stewart line that looked very similar and they were $7.95 EACH!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 3:22AM
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mustangs81

Granted, my pantry needs to be pared down because there is way too much for two people, and I haven't shown the other half on the right hand side. But the point is I keep plastic containers in the pantry for sugars, flours, cereals, etc. They are labeled on the lids so they are easy to identify and easy to pull out :

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 1:52PM
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ourguys

Please, where did you get those straight-sided bins? All I can find are tapered, bigger at the top.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 5:37PM
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mustangs81

They are the drawers from a three drawer storage cabinet. I got 2 cabinets from Big Lots for $8 each so the 6 bins cost $16. I threw away the frame, but this isn't the Money Saving Forum.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 7:10PM
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