Friday, August 6, 2010

so how long can I keep this around?

That's right, I missed my garden post yesterday. I didn't have time to collect all the images I need. The post will be a collection of surprising front yard vegetables around the city. Things have really changed in the past 4 years! There are sections of the community that are very traditional when it comes to their front yards. I'm pleasantly surprised at what I'm finding this summer and how people are working these beautiful vegetables into the landscape.

It's Friday and cleaning my way through Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook continues. This week I was entrenched in the kitchen chapter. Oh, there's so much to tackle in the kitchen! Food storage, essential pots and pans, tools and gadgets, how to stock your you can imagine the list goes on and on. What I chose to focus on today was what to keep in the pantry and how long.

During the fall and winter I bake a lot; can I keep those half bags of flour, sugars and baking staples around safely for a few months, or a year? What can be frozen? Below is an abbreviated list of some of the pantry staples, their shelf life and how to store them according to Martha:

Unbleached all-purpose white, whole wheat, cake (not self-rising) and almond -store wheat flours in airtight containers at room temperature up to one whole year. Almond and nut flours can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Baking Staples
Pure vanilla extract will last several years; leavenings lose their potency after about a year, and should be discarded on their expiration date - don't go through the time and expense of a recipe just to have it flop because of spoiled ingredients. Cocoa powder, unflavored gelatin, dry yeast, and corn starch should all be stored in airtight containers away from heat and light sources.

Spices and seasonings
Most spices will lose their potency after about a year, but the flavor will deteriorate faster if stored improperly. Keep them in airtight, light proof containers away from heat. Choose an accessible drawer or cabinet or a wall-mounted rack (not above the cook top)

Aged balsamic, cider, white wine, red wine, rice wine, and sherry-keep all types of vinegar in their original bottles, and store them in a cool spot for up to one year.

Extra-virgin olive, vegetable, peanut, and corn; especially oils such as toasted sesame and white truffle-store vegetable oils in their original bottles, unrefrigerated, in a cool, dark place up to six months. Refrigerate nut oils (such as walnut), and use within three months.

Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook goes on to cover storage safety for meat, fish, eggs and dairy, canned goods and vegetables. Whether you brief yourself using this book, or another, the information is important for organizing your kitchen. Taking inventory and checking your dates will definitely spur you to start cleaning out the cabinets and refrigerator, or you might find that you were throwing away things that would have been perfectly good for a couple more months. I remember hearing famed chef, Patrick O'Connell say that Americans treat their refrigerator like a pantry, so afraid of spoilage that they stick everything in there. As you can see from the list above, many items are just fine for up to a year if kept dry and out of the light.
I love to cook and taking the time to organize my kitchen and arm myself with the right tools will make the experience even more pleasurable.

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1 comment:

  1. Oops. I've been keeping my walnut oil in the cabinet. Looks like I should move it to the refrigerator. Why wouldn't it say that on the label?!



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