So, let’s talk about perishable pantry basics! I’m talking about the staples you should always keep on hand so you can whip up a meal at the drop of a good ol’ hat! These things might also get lumped in with “groceries” as some of what I’ll be mentioning definitely needs to be kept in the fridge. I’ll also be talking about the best places to store items! It’ll be an informative time with little delicious food pictures to look at but we can’t always be having fun and games here, can we?
Perishable Pantry Basics
What do I mean by perishable pantry basics? Well, I mean anything that will eventually rot or go bad. While in our last Pantry Post (I’m loving this alteration!) I discussed things like the everlasting canned goods, this week, it’s a whole different ball game. Now, some of these items will go bad faster than others so we are going to separate this into Long Life Staples and Short Life Staples! I debated if that was how I would organize it because I also could have done “In the refrigerator” and “out of the refrigerator.” Too keep this post from getting too unwieldy, I’m going to split it into two! Today will be Long Life and next time we’ll tackle those Short Life Pantry Basics!
Perishable Pantry Basics #1: Long Life Staples
By Long Life Staples, I’m talking about things that can last at least a month. I’m talking your potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, flour. In fact! Those are exactly the things I’m talking about! Yes, this section will not go over a lot of things but I’ll be talking about the best way to store them and why you should keep them on hand! All of today’s perishable pantry basics also have the benefit of being generally cheap. You won’t need to take a payday loan out to buy any of these!
So, I feel like potatoes are the most obvious and versatile thing to tell people to keep on hand. Why wouldn’t you want to keep potatoes in your house? Do you not like mashed potatoes? Do you hate french fries? Loathe scalloped potatoes?! Abhor roasted potatoes?!! Of course you don’t! Or, maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t like one of them or a few of them. If that is the case, this section isn’t for you. For the rest of the population that loves potatoes in all of their forms, let us continue. While there are lots of kinds of potatoes, the ones I like to keep on hand are gold potatoes. They are good for roasting, mashing, and baking! Pretty much all purpose. I’ll do other potatoes depending on what I’m making but we’ll cover that another day.
Potatoes should be stored in a dark, well ventilated place: A pantry or cupboard works well. I have a little kitchen caddie with baskets where I keep my potatoes. You can put them in a paper bag somewhere cool but don’t leave them in the plastic bags they come in. Plastic bags don’t allow excess moisture to evaporate and can contribute to your potatoes go bad quicker. You want to avoid rotten potatoes because they smell and get… really messy. Like… oozy goup with an odor that resembles rotten garbage. Check on your potatoes guys. Potatoes last between 3-5 weeks out of the fridge and longer in the fridge. Make sure that after 3 weeks you check on them and make sure there are no rebellions happen.
Ah, onions! Onions are the base for many sauces, a pop in a salad, a caramelized delight for burgers or hotdogs. Their uses are endless and varied. Even if you don’t love raw onions, I’d recommend keeping them on hand because they create a great base for a lot of recipes. Onions come in many forms and one day I will do a post about the different kinds of onions and where you should use them but I’m going to talk about the ones I most commonly use are yellow onions. They are a good “all purpose.” I use them in stews, pasta sauce, broths… the list goes on.
You should store onions in a well ventilated place at room temperature. The counter top in a basket or a paper bag works. You can also have them in your pantry just keep them out of the fridge. Keeping onions in the refrigerator makes them soften quicker. Yuck. I keep mine in another basket of my kitchen caddie. One common mistake people make is to store it with their potatoes but this is also a big mistake. Onions secrete a gas that causes potatoes to sprout so keep them separated. Onions shelf life depends on how humid it is where you live. When it is colder and less humid, they can last up to 6 months but if you live in a warmer, humid climate (or, ya know, it’s just summer) onions last one to two months.
Garlic is another one that I think speaks for itself (provided you don’t HATE garlic). I use garlic in almost everythingggggggg. And I mean, everythinggggggggg. I chop it up for marinades, sauces, pasta, stews, omg anything. In fact, there are very, very few things I won’t put garlic in. As far as storing goes, it’s similar to onions and potatoes: dark, cool, well ventilated. I keep mine with onions just for ease of access. Generally, when I make something that involves garlic, it involves onions. Garlic generally lasts about a month unpeeled.
Carrots feel like an odd thing when paired with our first three items but they are also super useful to keep around! Whether you like them raw for a crunchy snack, shaved in a salad, or roasted in the oven, carrots are a versatile way to get some veggies in. And! Stored properly, carrots can last up to a month! Carrots last up to four weeks in the fridge unpeeled and uncut. They recommend removing the green leaves (if yours come with them) and putting them in a shallow bath of water. I, however, am not about a dish of water and carrots taking up room in my fridge. So, I just leave my carrots in a plastic bag partially opened. They need to retain moisture but also have some air!
So, there you have it. These are my Long Life Perishable Pantry Basics (ain’t that a mouthful!) you should keep on hand for versatile, easy meal making! You might have other things you chose or you might really hate carrots. Next week we’ll go over things that don’t last as long and, eventually, I’ll do a post of the must-haves for a well stocked freezer.