What is a Larder Cupboard?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A larder cupboard is a specifically designed structure originally intended to contain foods that needed to be kept cool before being prepared for meals. Before refrigerators were invented and became common in households all over the world, a larder cupboard would be used to help keep foods from spoiling. The cupboard featured doors that could be closed to keep animals and insects away from the food, though many such doors featured window openings that could be covered with mesh to allow air to flow through while still protecting the food from insects.

The specific design of a larder cupboard will vary according to the particular model one purchases. Antique larder cupboard models were made for functionality, so they are likely to be designed differently than larder cupboard models designed for aesthetics or for storage of dry foods that do not need to be kept cool. Some antiques may feature a thrawl, which is a stone stored in a cool, dark part of the cupboard on which foods could be placed to be kept cool as well. Other antiques and modern models may feature hooks screwed into the top of the cupboard from which meats were hung before they were prepared and cooked.

More modern larder cupboard models are designed with new food storage techniques in mind. Drawers can store dry foods commonly kept in a pantry, and shelves can be used to store bulkier items and boxed items like cereal boxes. Some cupboards even feature sliding drawers that can be pulled out for easy access and pushed in for storage, with the drawers hidden behind the doors of the larder cupboard. The doors of the cupboard may be full-length doors that run the entire height of the cupboard, or they may be half doors that open only the top half of the cupboard or the bottom half.

These cupboards can be modified to fit modern applications as well. Some owners renovate the lowest part of the cupboard into a wine rack to keep wines cool and dry. Others install shelves on the doors themselves to add even more storage room for smaller items such as bottles of herbs and spices. Some cupboards feature no windows at all, and the doors are instead solid to retain a cool, dry interior temperature. Modern kitchens include a built-in larder cupboard that is not an independent unit like antique cupboards.

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