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What is a Larder?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A larder is another word for pantry — essentially a cool storage place for various foods. Because larders were common in homes before refrigeration was possible, some older homes may still feature them, or at least generously sized storage closets with wonderful storage options for people who like to shop at warehouses, or who can their own foods and need a good place to keep them. Some larders adapt well to the storage of wine, since they are usually cool. However, if they’re in old homes, you should check carefully for signs of dry rot or mold, because wine corks can absorb these flavors.

The origin of the word larder does not come from the word “lard,” which is congealed beef fat. Instead it is likely derivative of the word lord. A lord, sometimes spelled as lard or laird was the keeper of his home, including the food. He kept the keys to the larder and decided who had a right to be fed in his home. In actuality, housekeepers and wives, especially of true lords, usually kept the keys to pantries and larders, and lords had little to do with food storage or preparation. This was the traditional role assigned to women.

One thing a lord, or essentially any male might do was hunt. Old larders may feature hooks for hanging meat. After meat was cured or salted, placing it in a cool, dry place, away from insects and rodents if possible, helped to keep food from spoiling. To keep larders cooler, they were often placed on the shadiest side of a home, and were usually in close proximity to kitchens.

While few people may actually need a larder today, it's undeniable that extra storage in a kitchen can be well worth having. Especially if you do tend to shop in bulk, or even just like to take advantage of occasional sales to buy large quantities of an item, you’re likely to appreciate having a nice place to store these items without overcrowding your kitchen space. For this purpose, some people still build larders, pantries, or simply storage closets of many different types. When these are relatively cool places, and kept very dry, they may be excellent places to store a variety of foods that need to be kept cool but not cold. Many oils for instance, last longer in a larder than they will if exposed to light and heat.

Given the conditions of the larder, you might consider using the top shelves of one to store medications. Most medications need to be stored in cool, dry places, and a well-constructed larder provides just that. However, be sure that any meds you store in larders are well out of reach of children.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon64501 — On Feb 07, 2010

I never knew my last name would be so interesting.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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