Fall is here and the first step to getting ready is prepping your kitchen. It is good to clean out your pantry and kitchen at the beginning of each season. I am not saying, throw everything away, but it is smart to reorganize and take inventory of what you have – you don’t want to be caught baking a pie and realize you are out of a main ingredient. Here are fall pantry staples I know you will be using the entire season.
- Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, turmeric
- Almond butter
- Canned pumpkin
- Whole-wheat flour
- Old-fashioned oats
- Nuts: pecans, walnuts, and almonds
- Brown sugar
- Dried thyme, rosemary, sage and bay leaves
- Your favorite whole-wheat pasta
- Root vegetables
- Chicken stock – canned or homemade
- Winter squashes
Make sure you keep a collection of hearty recipes close by for those cool fall nights to keep you cozy.
Here is one that is filling and light that everyone will enjoy:
BUTTER PECAN MASHED SWEET POTATOES
- 4 sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds) – peeled, diced and cooked to be tender
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter – I use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or Country Crock
- 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Mash sweet potatoes until desired consistency, put into a serving dish and set aside. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted. Stir butter, milk, and salt into potato mixture and top with pecans. You can use a small amount of natural brown sugar mixed in to add a little sweetness. Serve warm with your favorite meat.
Did you know that more than 200 million pounds of spices are consumed annually? Spices are what makes food more piquant and appetizing. Storing spices properly will help you bring out the best flavor in each spice to ensure a delicious, aromatic dish.
The most important thing you can do to maximize the flavor of your spices is to purchase them whole, not ground. Ground spices tend to deteriorate after about three months, especially if stored improperly. Crushing spices as you need smaller amounts is the best way to ensure better flavor and freshness.
Step 2: Dry and dark is best
Spices are best preserved if stored in a dry, dark space. Light, air, moisture and heat are spices’ biggest enemies. These four factors keep spices from performing at their highest potential. Avoid clear bottles for storage, especially if using a spice rack hanging on your kitchen wall, as the spices will be exposed to too much light. Steel tins and canisters work best to ensure light-proof storage. Always keep your spices away from areas that will expose them to heat and affect the flavor.
Step 3: Know when to throw them out
Even though storing spices properly helps maintain freshness and flavor, everything does expire eventually and it’s important to know when to throw old spices out. A good rule of thumb is once a year; an easy way to remember when you need fresh spices is to throw them out every year during spring cleaning; or write the purchase date on top of each spice so you can track it. If the spice begins smelling musky or has no odor, or changes color, replace it, it has expired.Hope you enjoyed and learned from this blog; flavor is very important for all recipes.
Storing Foods: Garlic, Onions, and Shallots
The correct way is to store these items is in a paper bag with holes punched in the bag.
What you would need:
- Brown paper bags, lunch bag size
- Hole punch
- Paper clips
- Make sure the onions, garlic, and/or shallots are firm and blemish free.
- Punch holes in the bags.
- Fill each bag half full and fold over the top; do not mix the vegetables in the bags.
- Label the bag with the description of the contents then paper clip it to hold the top down.
This punched paper bag method should extend the life of onions, garlic, and shallots in most situations. However, their specific life may vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and light conditions where the bags are stored. Do not store potatoes in the same area as they give off gases that will accelerate spoilage of each other.
These will last the longest in a dark, cool (but not cold), dry storage area. I’ve successfully kept them in my 65-70ish degree kitchen drawer for up to 3 months. A cool, dark basement is a good choice or a cellar, if you happen to have one. Onions should not be stored for an extended time in the refrigerator because the cold temperature will soften their texture; plus, onions will impart their flavor on surrounding produce.
No plastic bags: Don’t ever store onions in plastic bags. That will accelerate sprouting and spoilage because of the lack of air circulation.
Refined Flours: all-purpose, bread, cake, self-rising
- Place your flour in the freezer for 48 hours to kill any weevil or insect eggs that may be present.
- Transfer it to a food-grade container (plastic, glass, etc.) with a tight-sealing lid. This will keep your flour from absorbing moisture, and ensure that insects and other pests cannot get to it.
- Tight-sealing containers also prevent the flours from absorbing odors or flavors from other foods in the same area.
- Store your flour in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Flour will keep up to six months in the dark pantry.
- If you wish to keep your flour longer, store it in the freezer instead. It will keep there for several years, but is best used within a year.
To use: just scoop out whatever you need. There’s no need to thaw it out or bring it to room temperature.
Did you know it is important how you store your foods: eggs, baking soda, flour, vanilla extract and more.
Speaking of vanilla extract: you should store it at room temperature in a dark place, such as the pantry. Good quality vanilla extracts often come in darkened glass to protect the vanilla from light. So take a look in your baking supplies and make sure your vanilla stays fresh longer.