Fear of an empty pantry, part two – the baking editionJuly 16, 2020 by Jenny
Earlier this month, Darcie wrote a piece entitled Fear of an empty pantry. I think we can all relate to battling our fears of ingredient shortages since we’ve been dealing with the pandemic.
A friend once called me MacGyver because every time she needed anything while we were at the park with our kids, I had the item in my car. Extra ball – look in my trunk. First aid kit, I’m there. The same can be said about my larders. I am the first person neighbors call for a missing ingredient and 99% of the time I deliver.
My baking pantry is stocked with different types of flour, sugar, vanilla extract, yeast, and baking soda and powder. I have enough baking supplies to get through the holidays and beyond. Some advice before September arrives and flu-season begins, if you are a baker make sure you have enough to get through the holiday months. If I couldn’t bake my bagels and keep my family in cookies and cakes, things would not be pretty in the Hartin household and things are scary enough here.
This weekend I began organizing my baking supplies so I can easily grab everything I need. I am a visual person and need to see things out and about. My kitchen is a working kitchen, not a showplace and because I have a serious obsession with all things cooking and baking – space is at a premium.
Some tips to prepare for holiday baking especially during this unparalleled time:
- Check to be sure your baking soda, baking powder, and cream of tarter are fresh. Same thing with yeast. Yeast can be stored in the freezer to extend its life.
- Do a mental checklist of the types of flours and ingredients you will need for your holiday baking. Sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar were sometimes difficult to find earlier this year.
- Another item that was difficult to find and became very expensive was chocolate chips. Pick up a few extra bags. When I couldn’t find them reasonably priced, I headed to Nuts.com where you can get myriad baking supplies and nuts! They also having baking chocolate available. I store my nuts in the freezer to extend their shelf life. (Nuts.com doesn’t know I exist. I recommend them because I love their prices and products.) Addendum: As I mention in the comments, local health food stores often have chocolate and other baking items.
- Check your cocoa powder because the holidays call for chocolate! Cocoa powder has a shelf life of three years if unopened. An opened container, if it’s stored properly, has a shelf life of one year.
- Be sure to have eggs on hand. They don’t have an extra-long shelf life but one thing I did was freeze a container or two of egg beaters – which can be frozen if unopened so that I could use those for breakfast dishes and savory dishes. Check out dried eggs, too. (My husband won’t let me get a chicken coop filled with chickens. No eggs for him.)
- Milk and milk products: I froze a few half-gallons of milk as well as stocked up on evaporated milk and powdered milk for baking. Purchase a can or two of powdered buttermilk which comes in handy when you can’t get out to the store.
- Sour cream, plain yogurt: I use these two products a great deal in baking – I kept a few extra containers in the back of my fridge where it is extremely cold. There is also dried sour cream powder available and heavy cream powder.
- Butter: A baker must always have butter. I pick up a few pounds during my weekly shopping trips and am freezing them for the holidays.
- Check your extracts to be sure to have plenty on hand.
- Food gels: If cookie decorating is your thing you want to be sure your food gels are up to snuff, along with piping bags, parchment, and sprinkles!
- Citrus, juices, and the like for baking. Fresh lemon and citrus juices are always best but hard times call for hard measures. I keep a small bottle of lemon juice in the fridge now. You can also freeze zest and fresh juice (small ice cube trays work great for this purpose) for later use. “Place the zest in a single layer on a piece of parchment or waxed paper and quick freeze it. Once frozen, transfer the zest to a zip-top plastic bag. Label it with the date and type of citrus zest, and store it until needed. The zest will keep frozen for about six months if kept tightly sealed.”
- Salt, peppercorns, and spices – cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, etc.
- Optional depending on your baking plans: peanut butter, powdered peanut butter, rolled oats, malt syrup, maple syrup, corn syrup, molasses, gelatin, freeze-dried fruit, fresh fruit (frozen to use for muffins, etc.), candied fruit, coconut, shortening.
Of course, the only thing that truly matters is that we all remain safe and healthy. In the grand scheme of things being without flour isn’t the end of the world, but if baking makes you happy and we all deserve to be happy – be prepared.
Other helpful posts:
- Bread recipes, how to cultivate your own yeast
- Pizza crust, two-ingredient dough recipes
- Pantry recipes
- Weighing the options, is this recipe egg worthy?
Note: Please shop sensibly. This is not a rallying call for people to begin stockpiling. I am notorious for always forgetting one or two things that I need for a recipe and these are just suggestions to avoid going out when the flu season begins. Prepare now within reason and enjoy baking during any potential shelter in place restrictions.
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