The holiday season is just around the corner and to start gearing up, The Kitchen suggests a fully stocked pantry. Here are some tips that will assist you in setting up the perfect pantry for holiday baking.
Step 1: Assess and Refresh Your Pantry
Storing Flours and Sugars:
Decant your flours and sugars into containers with units of measurements. By doing so, you'll know how much you have at a glance. Either buy containers that have visible measurement marks or use tape and a marker to make cup marks on containers you already have. To do this, add flour and sugar to their respective containers 1 cup at a time, marking after each cup.
- Sugars are best used within 2 years of opening.
- Open flour will last about 6 months if stored properly in an airtight container.
- If you're a once-a-year holiday baker, throw flour into the freezer after the holidays and it will last up to a year.
Pro Tip: When decanting brown sugar, include a terra cotta disk (available online or at kitchen stores) to help it stay soft. These small disks help keep brown sugar moist so that you avoid clumpy, dried-out sugar. First, soak the disk in water for 15 minutes, then pat dry. Place the soaked disk directly onto the sugar and close the container tightly. Check the disk periodically to ensure that it stays moist. If the sugar begins to dry out, remoisten the disk.
Another pantry refresh is to buy shortening in sticks instead of tubs. The individual wrappers maintain freshness and you can easily assess how much you have left at a glance. One stick is usually equivalent to 1 cup, but consult your package for accuracy.
Baking soda left unsealed in your cabinet can absorb unwanted odors. To avoid this, store new baking soda in resealable airtight containers or purchase it in pre-packaged resealable canisters.
If your baking soda has been in your kitchen for a while, get a new one, but don't toss the old one just yet. Baking soda that's past its prime can be used to refresh your carpets. Sprinkle on, let sit for 10 minutes and then vacuum up to freshen things up. It can also be added to laundry for an extra cleaning boost or stored in the fridge to absorb strong scents and keep your fridge smelling clean.
Step 2: Build the Basics:
Using a lazy Susan is a great way to organize your spices and extracts.
Be sure you have the typical baking ingredients on hand such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla extract and vanilla beans. Consider adding in a few new spices for the holiday season--we like rosemary, lavender and cardamom. They smell amazing and work great in baked goods like shortbreads and biscotti.
To ensure that your spices are fresh, consider buying them in smaller jars so that you get through them before they lose potency.
Step 3: 'Tis the Season to Try New Things:
Locate all your cookie cutters and replace any damaged ones. For something new and fun, try new cookie cutters that emboss the top of the cookie. These are great for unfrosted cookies, but also for decorative pie crusts.
To make the holidays easier, you can order cookie and cake decorations online to save time and money. It's a great way to look for new products like edible glitter, sprinkles and even edible confetti.
Buying gel food coloring instead of liquid gives you a broader variety of color options. It's simple to mix into icings and frostings and it lasts longer!
Now that you've got all your new baking items, you need a place to put them. You can store all of your baking goodies in 1 holiday baking container that is easy to pull out when you're ready to bake!
Now with your updated pantry you can make delicious and beautiful cakes, pies and cookies.