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I grew up with a set of matching ceramic canisters on our kitchen counter. They were labeled “flour,” “sugar,” “coffee,” and “tea,” all descending in size like a Russian doll set. The first two were appropriately filled, but “coffee” actually contained takeout condiment packets, and “tea” was filled with matchbooks. As a kid, I thought it was the silliest thing that the contents didn’t match what was being advertised. I would play a trick on friends when they were over for sleepovers, offering them coffee with their frozen crinkle-cut fries, only to pull out a ketchup packet, and dissolve in a fit of giggles at my bait-and-switch.
While this trick was hilarious to 9-year old me, I put more emphasis on practicality than entertainment value when it eventually came time for me to stock my own grown-up kitchen. I knew I only wanted two containers: one for flour, and one for sugar. What I ended up with is the same style of two-gallon glass canisters that grace the countertops of Ina Garten herself.
I wasn’t shopping specifically for canisters when I bought them. But when I spied them at the store, I knew immediately where I had seen them before. If there is any word that describes Ina Garten, it’s iconic. I had spent many hours lounging on my parents’ couch, watching Ina on TV fluff and scoop her flour out of this massive container. Such indulgence! Such luxury in her Hamptons kitchen! I figured, if they’re good enough for Ina, they’re good enough for me. I was barely out of high school and on my own for the first time, and these canisters felt like that would surely cement my status as an adult. I had to have them.
You would think anything Ina owns would be wildly expensive (“good” ingredients and tools often come at a high price), but these are all of $20 a piece. In total, that $40 I spent has been a sound investment. Made by Anchor Hocking, they’re sturdy. They’ve been with me in four different kitchens in two states for nearly 15 years. That’s a dollar and change a year, and I see them lasting far beyond.
They are admittedly huge, but that’s what makes them amazing for avid bakers. Their two-gallon capacity holds more than 10 pounds of flour, and 15 pounds of sugar. The containers’ wide openings makes it easy to scoop and level off your measuring cups without making a huge mess all over your counter. Their clear glass means you always know how much you have on hand. And they’re really easy to clean between refills. While there isn’t a gasket to seal the lid, I’ve never had any issues with bugs or freshness. The containers live on my counter instead of hiding in the pantry with the less-used grains and alternative flours, which, along with high turnover, keeps everything in good shape. And I really love the statement they make sitting on the counter: “The person who lives here bakes.”
Their value has been especially high since the pandemic hit. During my final stock-up before we fully locked down here in California, I knew I needed to make sure my canisters were full. A few weeks later, I was still sitting pretty when everyone was scrambling to source flour. I might not have had the instinct to fill the cabinet with toilet paper, but was OK with my choice to prioritize chocolate chip cookies and pancakes.
Now instead of turning a jar of coffee into ketchup and soy sauce packets, I delight in turning my flour and sugar into Friday night pizzas, Tuesday afternoon banana bread, impromptu biscuits on a Saturday morning, a quick cake to bring over to a neighbor. These canisters may have been an impulse purchase, but many years and hundreds of cookies later, “How bad can that be?” Thanks, Ina!
Do you have favorite storage containers? Let us know in the comments!