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the importance of a stocked pantry

Updated: Jan 20

The most important part of any recipe is its ingredients which usually means fresh produce. What I refer to as the pantry is longer life ingredients, salted meats and fish, dried ingredients (fruits, mushrooms, herbs, nuts seeds), cheeses, pickles, chutneys, relishes, mustards, jams, dressings, vinegars, ferments, miso, sambals, syrups, oils the list can go on and on, each item offering an endless list of derivative variations.

All of these ingredients rely on fresh produce to make a meal, they are on hand to make whatever you are preparing effortless, playing the supporting roles.

Making these items (stocking the pantry) makes a complicated dish a breeze. Its like going to the gym, going once in a while sucks, it hurts and is too much effort, it puts you off going again the next time. little by little your cupboard will grow. When you find the joy in cooking you can happily find an hour or two stirring a pot while you do other things, filling a jar with salt and vegetables takes minutes to do. other products like cheese will take a full afternoon, it doesn't mean you are standing over a stove, quite the opposite, I make brie once a month and spend my time on the potters wheel while it does its work, I just need to be in the house for an 8 hour period.

A lazy Saturday making cheese could be a lazy Saturday watching films, setting an alarm on your phone every 30 minutes and taking a moment to turn the baskets before returning to whatever you where watching on the sofa..

miso takes days to culture, but with basic equipment there is only about 10 minutes active time, and only needs to be checked once a day. something which is an intimidating prospect can easily be achieved in a 9-5 working week with a small bench.

When you start out there maybe something similar available to buy from a market or shop to substitute, they are convenient, they are good. but once you make your own kimchi and you get the recipe dialled to how you like it is hard to go back. The benefits in health and your wallet are a great added bonus.

I wanted to start this blog with a little explanation of how we did things at the pub. when I explained to guests what we do the reaction was we carried an insane workload, it was hard work, every good kitchen is. but it is manageable. I believe that once you make your own vinegar, to make your own mustard to make your own mayonnaise you will enjoy this simple pantry item more than ever. It sounds like a lot, but when all you had to do was put the vinegar in a bottle when it was ready. the mustard in a jar in a cupboard when it was blended then all you need is an egg and the worlds greatest salad dressing can fall into place without breaking a sweat.

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