For a lot of us, our childhoods have to some degree revolved around experiences in the kitchen. Whether you were making items yourself, or helping a parent or adult, a lot of us relished those times when we had a spatula in our hands.
As any consummate home baker will tell you, the same ingredients are used regularly again and again for this, that and everything else. So, what are the staples you should have in your kitchen at all times?
Eggs matter and when we say they matter, we mean the quality of the egg will be extremely integral in the quality of the dish. If you can use organic eggs you should expect that the food will taste better, because simply, the eggs do. Eggs are in everything, so have them on hand at all times.
Another must have – bicarbonate of soda is an acid which releases carbon dioxide and encourages foods to expand. It’s necessary for a number of baking tasks. Baking powder is also useful to have an has added tartar to increase acidity.
Salt marries flavours together and the quality of the salt once again impacts on the dishes flavours. Salt accentuates flavours and can be used to enhance as many dishes as the grains it comes in. Fine grain is often better for baking as it’s easier to sieve and measure.
Dried Fruit and Nuts
These are also used in a variety of great dishes and just ensure that the nuts aren’t salted when using them as this will impact on sodium levels in baking. Fruits are great too and rehydrated they can be used in numerous cakes, tarts and foods.
Of course, flour is a mainstay in baking and the biggest difference between them is gluten content. Different flours create different results. Some are very specific in their use, some come with raising agents and some are almost all purpose. Plain flour is ideal for most uses and it’s best pay a little more for the organic kind to limit toxins and other potential problem causing additives.
There are a range of other flours including:
Cake flour – softer and bleached
Pastry flour – same as cake flour with more gluten
Bread flour – high protein and milled
Whole wheat flour – made from kernel of wheat and with a higher fibre content
Semolina flour – hardest flour and ideal for pasta.
Sugar is also a necessity and like flour comes in a range of different types. Sugar is used for obviously sweetening, but also for preserving, browning, leavening and tenderising. Sugar varies by granule size.
Granulated – most common form of sugar
Confectioners or Icing Sugar – finely ground and used for whipping cream and icing or decorations
Coarse sugar – large texture and ideal as a garnish
Brown sugar – retains some molasses syrup and is very distinctive and comes with a full flavour.
Fats are also essential in a well-stocked kitchen and are used in the vast majority of cooking. Ideally, having a mixture of butter, olive and vegetable oil means that there is plenty of apt choice there and particular fats for particular needs. For instance margarine or butter often works better in puddings or lemon cheese cake, while quality olive oil provides a better option for seasoning and some meat dishes.
Garlic is one of the best herbs there is out there and it can be used in a variety of dishes and is utilised in all sorts of cooking. Aside from health benefits, it’s a tasty herb that is used in everything from Italian to Indian to Thai food.
Stocks are also something of a necessity and are a must have in the kitchen as they are used in soups, casseroles, rice and meat dishes. Ensuring you have a variety of beef, vegetable and chicken is a must.
Pasta is inexpensive, has no expiry date and is extremely versatile as it can be thrown into a number of dishes and added to most meats. There are also a variety of types and each has its own particular use.
Dry beans are used in a range of different foods and are inexpensive, nutritious and filling. The dried variety also have zero preservatives or additives and once you allow time for soaking are great in all sorts of dishes and are great for health.
These are some of the most important things to have in your pantry and are the building blocks of healthy, nutritious, tasty meals.
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David O’Keefe is a lover of all sorts of foods and loves to spend time in the kitchen. He has loved cooking since childhood and encourages his children to do so too. He often uses http://www.anchordairy.co.uk/ for recipes.