Avoid last minute runs to the grocery store this Thanksgiving by stocking your pantry with these classic staples. Once you're equipped with these basic ingredients, preparing your feast will be as easy as pumpkin pie.
All-Purpose White Flour
Uses: Baking, thickening gravies and sauces
Shelf Life: 6 to 8 months
Storage Tips: Store flour in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. In humid weather, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Alternatives: Bread flour, cake flour, Wondra flour, whole wheat flour, tapioca flour, rice flour, semolina flour, teff flour, self-rising flour
Granulated White Sugar
Uses: Baking, sweetening beverages
Shelf Life: Properly stored, granulated sugar can have a shelf life of more than a year.
Storage Tips: Store granulated sugar in a covered container in a cool, dark place.
Alternatives: Brown sugar, confectioners' sugar, brownulated sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, fruit juices, and fruit purees
Turkey/Chicken Broth (Canned or Boxed)
Uses: Soups, gravies, and sauces
Shelf Life: Most canned or boxed stock will last one to two years, unopened.
Storage Tips: Store unopened box in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry. Once opened, stock must be refrigerated in an airtight container and can be used for up to 7 days.
Alternatives: Homemade broth, water, vegetable broth, beef broth
Dried Poultry Seasoning
Uses: Turkey seasoning, soups, stuffing
Shelf Life: Commercially dried spices do not spoil but they do lose their potency over time. To test whether a spice or herb is still potent enough to be effective, rub or crush a small amount in your hand, then taste and smell it. If the aroma is weak and flavor is not obvious, the spice should be replaced.
Storage Tips: Poultry seasoning should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place
Alternatives: You can make your own poultry seasoning by combining equal amounts of the following dried herbs: rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, marjoram and thyme.
Uses: Baking, cleaning
Shelf Life: Unopened packages last approximately 18 months. Optimum freshness for opened packages is maintained for just three months. To check for freshness, add a teaspoon of the baking powder to a cup of tepid water; if it fizzes vigorously it's still good.
Storage Tips: Baking powder that you intend to cook with should not be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Baking powder picks up odors, and the condensation that accumulates on the can will cause the ingredients to react inside the can. Store baking powder in a cool, dry shelf away from direct sunlight.
Alternatives: 1 tsp. baking powder = 1/4 tsp. baking soda + 1/2 p. cream of tartar + 1/4 p. cornstarch.
Uses: Baking, cleaning
Shelf Life: An unopened box is good for approximately two years; once it's opened, its shelf life is reduced to about six months.
Storage Tips: Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Baking soda that you intend to cook with should not be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. To test for freshness, place a teaspoon of the baking soda in a small cup and add vinegar; if it fizzes, the baking soda is still fresh.
Shelf Life: 8 to 12 months unopened; 4 to 8 months once opened
Storage Tips: Store shortening unopened in a cool, dark place. Shortening may become rancid under extended or improper storage conditions, so give it a sniff before using.
Alternatives: Butter, oil
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Uses: Pies, pancakes, sweet potatoes, cookies, cakes
Shelf Life: Commercially dried spices do not spoil, but they do lose their potency over time. To test whether your pumpkin pie spice is still potent enough to be effective, rub or crush a small amount in your hand, then taste and smell it. If the aroma is weak and flavor is not obvious, the spice should be replaced.
Storage Tips: Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, such as your pantry.
Alternatives: 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe Yields: 7 1/2 teaspoons.
Uses: Evaporated milk, a concentrated form of milk, is often called for in recipes to add richness to a dish. Evaporated milk can be substituted in equal amounts for cream or half-and-half in most recipes. Do not confuse evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk.
Shelf Life: All cans of evaporated milk should carry a "best before" date. It is not advised to use the product beyond that date.
Storage Tips: Canned milk is best stored in a cool, dry area and inverted every two months to avoid separation of water and solids, according to the National Dairy Council. Once opened, it should be poured into a covered opaque container, refrigerated, and used within a few days.
Alternatives: You may use cream as a substitution for evaporated milk, although the cream will yield a slightly richer result. You can also make your own evaporated milk by reconstituting dry milk using only 40 percent of the recommended water.
Uses: Kosher salt is easy to pinch and sprinkle, making it the choice of most chefs for seasoning meat, fish, and poultry. It is not often used in baking because the larger crystals do not disperse as well in dry goods.
Shelf Life: When properly stored, kosher salt has an indefinite shelf life.
Storage Tips: Kosher salt should be kept cool and dry.
Alternatives: In most cases, table salt or sea salt can be substituted for kosher salt with a one-to-one ratio for amounts under a teaspoon. If more than a teaspoon is needed, consult a conversion chart.
Uses: It can be used as a seasoning in a plethora of dishes, from salads and soups to meats and fish.
Shelf Life: Whole peppercorns will keep almost indefinitely; ground pepper will stay fresh for about three months.
Storage Tips: Black pepper should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry place. Pepper can also be frozen, although this will make its flavor more pronounced.
Alternatives: White peppercorns, green peppercorns, pink peppercorns
Bagged Bread Cubes
Uses: Stuffing, croutons
Shelf Life: Shelf life will vary depending on brands. Always use by package expiration date.
Storage Tips: Store in original packaging in a cool, dry place
Alternatives: Fresh bread, cut into cubes and air-dried overnight, or dried on a baking sheet at 250 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Canned Pumpkin Puree
Uses: Desserts, souffles, soups
Shelf Life: According to the Canned Food Alliance (CFA), canned goods retain their nutrients for about two years after the date they are processed. For best quality, the CFA recommends eating canned goods within those two years. According to the USDA, though, they should still be safe to eat within five years of the processing date as long as the can is stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, canned pumpkin will last about three days.
Storage Tips: Store unopened cans in a cool, dry place. Pumpkin can be stored out of the can, in a sealed plastic container, for a week in the refrigerator, and up to three months in the freezer. The container may expand when frozen, so make sure that the pumpkin does not go right to the top of the container. The pumpkin may have a separated appearance when thawed due to air bubbles, but this will not affect your recipe.
Alternatives: Fresh pumpkin that has been roasted and pureed.
Uses: Stuffing, desserts
Shelf Life: Raisins are best consumed within six months.
Storage Tips: Storing raisins in the refrigerator in an airtight container will extend their freshness and prevent them from becoming dried out.
Alternatives: Dried cranberries, dried currants
Uses: Vegetable oil is probably the most commonly used of all oils. It has a high smoke point, making it great for frying. The neutral flavor makes it ideal for baking.
Shelf Life: When stored correctly, vegetable oil should last approximately a year.
Storage Tips: All oils should be stored in a cool, dry place away from strong odors, direct sunlight, and sources of heat (stoves, dishwashers, and refrigerators).
Alternatives: Corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil or melted shortening may also be used as a substitute for vegetable oil, although they will each impart a slightly different flavor.
Vinegar (Red Wine or Balsamic)
Uses: Vinaigrettes, meat tenderizer
Shelf Life: Vinegar is a fermented product to begin with, giving it an almost indefinite shelf life.
Storage Tips: Vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration due to its acidic nature. Store it in a cool, dark place
Alternatives: Lemon juice is often a good substitute for vinegar.
Uses: Flavoring desserts
Shelf Life: Properly stored vanilla can keep for 4 to 5 years.
Storage Tips: Keep vanilla tightly sealed in its original packaging, in a cool, dark place.
Alternatives: Almond extract, amaretto, brandy, and maple syrup may be used in place of vanilla but the result will have a different flavor profile.
Pure Maple Syrup
Uses: As a flavoring for dishes such as sweet potatoes and butternut squash
Shelf Life: Unopened pure maple syrup will keep indefinitely if stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, it will keep for up to a year tightly sealed in the refrigerator.
Storage Tips: Store unopened maple syrup in a cool, dark place. Opened maple syrup should be sealed tightly and kept in the refrigerator.
Alternatives: Honey, agave syrup
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