In an age of robot vacuums and app-based grocery shopping, a return to simpler times is plain ol’ nice to see. Which is probably why we’re so smitten by the “cold larder,” an old-school refrigeration method that’s currently undergoing a chic renaissance. But what actually is a larder? We had the chance to experience the larder’s charm in person at the opening of cupboard maker Plain English’s U.S. showroom and we’ve gotta say: It’s now topping our dream home wish list. If you’re contemplating a kitchen reno, you’re gonna want to read this first, friends.
First thing’s first: What is a ‘larder’?
It’s the old-fashioned European term for the American “pantry.” The earliest recorded use of a larder was 1305—and it tided folks over for a casual 600 years (until 1913 when home refrigerator was invented). Essentially a large, often walk-in cupboard used for storing food, cold larders rely on adjustable vents, which lead to the outside of the home, to both cool the temperature and air out food products naturally. You’d be hard-pressed to find them stateside, but cold pantries are still a feature across Europe, where many folks believe modern refrigeration alters meats and cheeses.
Cool. So how will they save me money in the long run?
Simple: They’re energy efficient. Most produce is actually happier in a cool room as opposed to a refrigerator, as are provisions like eggs, bread and hard cheeses. By outsourcing these items to your larder, you can buy a smaller, more efficient and affordable refrigerator—and thus, save money on your monthly energy bill. Plus, the natural process can preserve dry goods like spices and grains even longer.
Into it. So how do I get one?
While we wish we could say this was a simple feat to DIY, it’s a considerable reno project. Depending on the bones you’re working with, you could transform your existing pantry or cupboard into a cold larder by drilling holes to the foundation (this is what allows the warm air out and the cool air in), installing hit-and-miss vents, then outfitting a shelf or two with cool stone slabs. Get inspired—then get a contractor.
Bespoke Plain English larders start at $11,000.