Ünd vat’s een your hübschen pantry?
I’m always fascinated by what other cooks keep in their pantries. Why? Maybe it’s just culinary curiosity. Or maybe it’s survival instinct – that primitive part of my Northeastern Pennsylvania cerebral cortex that tells me to get thee to the market and stock up the day before a big snow. Today, I’m off to Wegman’s to find the perfect pantry products with which to keep my bounty full. My staples are of course extra virgin olive oil (find great deals at MaineSource in Scranton’s Keyser Oak Shopping Center), sea salt (Everything Natural in Clarks Summit has the best stock) and whole black peppercorns (Weg’s). But what are other great finds to keep on hand? Here’s a list of goodies that can keep you feeling warm and fuzzy for a few days from Better Homes and Gardens:
What is a pantry?
Forget all about grandma’s closet full of dusty, moldering jars and canned goods. The pantry isn’t really a place as much as a state of mind. It’s a way of thinking and planning ahead when you shop so you always have basic food items on hand. After you’ve stocked your pantry, supermarket trips may be less frequent. You’ll only need to shop for perishable foods and depleted pantry items. The physical pantry in your home is any cool, dry place you can store food items for a length of time, including kitchen cupboards, shelves — even a little floor space in a closet will work. Your refrigerator and freezer are part of the pantry, too!
How does it work?
Pantry items are considered dry goods or staples, things you always have on hand. Ideally, they will keep for a long time in storage, or are fresh, perishable foods regularly used up before they spoil. The idea is to subvert the need to go grocery shopping every time you cook — a major hurdle when getting food on the table. You don’t have to buy everything at once; just buy what you think you’ll eat fairly often, and in small quantities so foods stay fresh. Build up your pantry gradually. Of course, not all ingredients work as pantry staples — fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and other foods are perishable.
Refrigerated and Frozen Items These foods generally have a short shelf life. Buy only those that you consume frequently, such as milk or eggs. If celery gets all noodly before you finish the bag, buy only as you need. On the other hand, some refrigerated foods that you use fairly often, such as cheeses, are considered staples. Cheese that keeps well in the refrigerator includes parmesan and romano. Some frequently used soft cheeses such as mozzarella and cheddar, may also be considered staples if you use them so frequently they don’t spoil. The freezer is an excellent place for pantry items. Often-used meats, such as chicken breasts and bacon, can be stored for short periods of time in the freezer.
Herbs and Spices Store dried herbs and spices in a cool, dry place (not above the stove) to keep them at their peak of flavor. They will lose much of their flavor after a year, so buy small containers.