ONE MORE BITE
SPRING CLEAN YOUR PANTRY
Finally, the Nor'easters are over and spring weather is here. To welcome the flavors, aromas and freshness of spring in my home, I like to start by refreshing my pantry. Here are some easy guidelines to rejuvenating -- or shall we say "resuscitating" -- your pantry.
Start by throwing away all of those items that have expired or have been open for a year. Check all dates and be sure to pay special attention to "use by" and "best before" dates. Definitely toss anything that exceeds the "use by" date. You can keep using items that exceed the "best before" date. "Best before" dates are concerned with quality, not safety. For example, spices may exceed the "best before" date in that they may not be as potent when used after that date.
Oils may be a little tricky. Olive oil and vegetable oils can become rancid. Light, oxygen and heat can cause the chemical composition of the oils to break down, causing "off" flavors and odors. Olive oil that is rancid may smell like crayons or stale peanuts. Usually oils will last about a year in a cool, dark place, such as your pantry.
Nuts and seeds will taste bitter or have a fishy odor when rancid. If you don't use the nuts often, store them in the freezer to keep them fresh. The same holds true with flour. If you aren't doing a lot of baking, store flour in the freezer. Flour will usually last up to 8 months in an airtight container or resealable bag.
Next ... clean, clean, clean. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner is an all-natural way to clean your shelves and surfaces. Their honeysuckle and lemon verbena scent will bring instant freshness to your pantry. Or, try an E-Cloth. This product is great if you are allergy-prone, because the cloth is totally chemical-free.
When you're done cleaning, rotate your stock. Be sure to bring the older items forward on your shelves, and move the newer items in the back. Reorganize your shelves so that dry ingredients, such as flour, grains and sugar, are on one shelf, and your oils, vinegars and extracts are on another shelf.
Now, refresh your pantry. Restock with newer items to broaden your palate. For example, try a new olive oil or a different vinegar. New Calivirgin Flavor Crush Olive Oil is great to be used as a finishing oil along with your favorite olive oil. I like to drizzle the Bountiful Basil over fresh mozzarella and sliced ripe tomatoes. Consider using sherry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar for your dressings and marinades. Columela Sherry Vinegar from Spain is as versatile as it is delicious.
Last but not least, stretch your comfort zone and palate by adding something totally new. A new jam or spread can add interest to your cheese board or a smile to your morning toast. Divina Sour Cherry Spread, with its tart-sweet flavor, will do just that. On the exotic side, try Mina Tagine Sauce. This Moroccan sauce is perfect for simmering meats, poultry and fish. While you're at it, try Mina Harissa. This hot chili paste will replace yesterday's sriracha.
Get ready for spring! Open your windows, your pantry and your palate, with Eddie's.