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What is a Pantry?

Some people keep small appliances in a pantry.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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Common to many kitchens in both homes and restaurants, the pantry is a special closet that is set aside for the storage of foodstuffs or kitchen appliances. Once located in close proximity to the food preparation area, pantries today may be attached to the kitchen proper or found in the basement or other areas of the home that would otherwise be considered unused space. Pantries usually feature a series of shelves as well as open space for the storage of larger containers. The exact configuration of the interior of the pantry will depend on the type of food storage that is intended for the space.

Originally, a pantry was understood to be a cool and dark place where perishable foods such as freshly baked bread could be stored. In fact, the word pantry is thought to be derived from the French word “pan” which means bread. Over time, the concept of the pantry was expanded from a simple bread room into an area where essentials could be stored in bulk.

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The pantry is often identified by the contents stored in the space. In larger homes that employ a staff of domestics, the butler's pantry would often include space for trays and other common household items that the butler would use in the performance of his duties. A baking pantry would house various types of flour, sugar, oil, and other dry goods were essential to the baking process. A collection of wines intended for use with meals would be stored in a wine pantry.

Today, the kitchen pantry is often a closet located at one end of the kitchen, and serves the purpose of storing an overflow of commercially canned food, crockery, and kitchen appliances that will not fit in the cabinets in the space. In an alternative application, the pantry may be located elsewhere in the home, and used to store food or bottles of wine that are intended for special occasions only.

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