How many times have you put off your inclination to bake your kid’s favorite cake just because the sight of an unorganized pantry with haphazardly stored supplies puts you off? If this happens frequently, you know it’s time to rectify the situation.
Aesthetics aside, the biggest advantage of organizing and storing your baking supplies in a sound manner is that you’re always aware of the items that you need to use first in order to be able to eat healthy and avoid wastage. An organized baking pantry ensures optimal and timely usage of baking supplies.
When was the last time you looked at what’s lurking behind that kitchen cabinet containing the baking provisions? Or are you too afraid to do that? Don’t let this come between you and your love for all things baked. Here’s how to organize and store your supplies correctly.
Flour and Cornmeal
Whether you use cornmeal, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour, or bread flour, make sure you store it at room temperature in an airtight container and refrigerate/freeze it for best results.
This will prevent it from coming in contact with moisture and becoming lumpy. Properly stored flour should hold well for about 6 to 12 months. Although all flour can be frozen over a longer period of time.
It is best to store baking powder inside a sealed container in a cool, dry place. You can use it for up to 18 months from the date of manufacturing, or until the expiration date mentioned on the packaging, whichever is first.
To test the freshness of the baking powder, mix 1 teaspoon baking powder in 1/3 cup hot water. If it starts to bubble vigorously, it’s fresh!
Baking soda can be stored for about 18 months inside an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
To check whether it is good for use, mix a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice with ½ teaspoon baking soda and wait for it to fizz. If it does, it’s safe for use.
Butter or Margarine
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Always check the expiry date on the package when buying butter and margarine. Once bought and opened, store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator away from other foods with strong odors. Most refrigerators come with a separate section for storing butter.
If stored in airtight freezer bags, butter can stay fresh for up to 5 months, while margarine can stay good for use for up to 9 months.
Honey can be stored in sealed containers in a cool, dry place and will last about a year. It can be stored at room temperature. If refrigerated, it can crystallize.
It can be de-crystalized by heating the opened bottle in a microwave for around 30 seconds. Do stir it once before you use it. Another method of liquefying honey entails placing the bottle in a pan filled with hot water on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes.
Chocolate is best stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, tightly wrapped or in an airtight box. Although a lot of people refrigerate it, it is suggested not to freeze chocolate.
If stored properly, dark chocolate can have a shelf life of up to 10 years. Because milk and white chocolate contain milk solids, they should be stored for no more than 9 months.
Typically, cocoa powder should last for 2 – 3 years if stored in a tightly-sealed container and kept in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Eggs should be stored at room temperature in their original carton (made of cardboard). Make sure the larger end stays on top. Even if you refrigerate them, place them in the storage tray provided, away from the rest of the food, which may emit strong odors.
Fresh eggs, if stored properly, can go on for up to 15 days. It doesn’t need to be said that storing or using stale or cracked eggs is a big no-no.
Dried fruits have a knack of quickly absorbing moisture from the air. This makes them lose their crunchy texture and leaves them soggy and clumpy. It is, therefore, important to store them in airtight containers. This way they will be good for 3 – 6 months. Refrigerating works too.
Nuts and Seeds
Most nuts and seeds are high in oil content, and hence, it is suggested to refrigerate them or at least store them in a cool, dark place. They should hold well for 2 – 4 months.
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Sugar has the tendency to form lumps upon coming in contact with moisture. Whether it is the regular granulated sugar, brown sugar, or powdered sugar, it is best to store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
While granulated sugar should hold well for about 2 years, brown sugar can be stored for up to 4 months, and powdered sugar should be good for use for up to 18 months.
Unopened packets of dry yeast can be stored at room temperature in a dry place until their expiry date. However, opened packets of yeast should be refrigerated and stored in airtight containers at the back of the fridge shelves. This will protect the yeast from fluctuating temperatures when the door is opened and closed.
Make it a point to use only pure vanilla extract as it has an indefinite shelf life. It can be stored at room temperature.
Points to Keep in Mind when Organizing your Supplies
Most manufacturers use high-quality packaging for foodstuff as it helps maintain optimal quality levels. Supermarket brands are also a safe bet as a majority of them store their products in the desired way. In most cases, it is only after the consumer opens the package that changes to the product begin.
Do make it a habit to check the manufacturing and expiration dates on eatables and food products before buying them. Organize your products in a manner that enables you to use the ones close to their expiry first.
Refrigeration may keep your baking products cool, but not necessarily dry. Freezers may attract moisture and change the flavor of the products. So be careful with what you’re refrigerating.
Labeling the boxes as per the items stored in them helps, especially if you tend to get confused between similar looking products.
One of the main factors that diminish the urge to bake is an unorganized baking pantry with expired ingredients. Not only does it look unappealing, but it can also cause you to lose track of the ingredients you need to replenish. Proper storage of baking ingredients is vital to keeping food fresh and tasty, and avoid risking food-related illnesses.