The pantry is a place of many secrets. In old days, it was a dark and scary cellar that held jars of who-knows-what. Nowadays, we have the luxury of filling our pantry with store-bought items that our friends in factories and on farms have prepared for us. While it’s nice to have pre-prepared pantry items around, cooking these from scratch pantry items can take your dishes and flavors to an extraordinary level.
Think of the many items you use in the pantry for your baking. Things like flour and baking soda and oils may be a little more difficult to create on your own, as they often require expensive machinery and intricate practices. But items that you add to recipes, like flavorings, candies, sugars and sweetener, are easier to create in your own kitchen.
Try your hand at making utterly easy scratch pantry items to use in your recipes. Many call for little else than sugar and two other ingredients. We know you’ll have a blast creating a custom kitchen with our Imperial sugar and other quality items.
Flavored sugar comes together quickly and adds a special touch to desserts. For a bright-flavored sugar, try herbs like mint, lemon verbena or citrus zests. For something more flowery, lavender and vanilla will do the trick. Just add your flavoring of choice and 2 cups of sugar to an airtight container. Let it sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks, and then you’re ready to use. Add to berries for a new signature treat or mix up puddings and pie-fillings with your new flavors.
All you need to make these scratch pantry items are some bittersweet chocolate, Imperial granulated sugar and a piping bag. Place the chocolate and sugar in a bowl over a boiling pot of water. Keep stirring the chocolate as it melts. When the chocolate is about ¾ of the way melted, remove from the heat and combine with the sugar. If you want to flavor your chocolate with chili, cinnamon or cardamom, here’s where you’ll want to do it.
Let your mixture cool slightly and then put into a piping bag. Put a silpat mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer. Then, pipe small chocolate chip kisses onto the pan. When you’ve piped everything out, place in the freezer until cool. Store the chocolate chips in a cool and dry place.
It’s simple to make fruit and flavoring extracts, like almond, orange, mint and vanilla. It’s a similar process to how we make our cordials. Except, for extracts, you leave out the sugar.
For a simple extract, combine vodka and your flavor of choice. We like to do this by weight, using about 4 oz. of vodka to every 1-2 oz. of flavor. Combine the muddled flavoring and vodka in small jars and let sit for about two weeks, shaking the ingredients every day. Feel free to leave the fruit or herbs in as you cook with the extract, the flavor will only intensify over time.
Extracts in pretty glass bottles make excellent gifts.
Sweetened Condensed Milk or Coffee Creamer
Sugar, vanilla and milk simmer together to create this decadent milk that’s perfect for glazes and coffee creamers. Just place three parts milk to one part sugar in a sauce pan. Set it to simmer until the mixture has condensed by about half. Then, stir in a tiny bit of vanilla extract (perhaps your homemade variety). Place the mixture in a jar and set in the fridge to finish thickening. It should last you about two weeks.
Sometimes, powdered sugar gets forgotten. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve arrived home to make heirloom cakes and cookies, only to realize the essential powder is nowhere to be found. When running back to the store isn’t an option, here’s a simple way to get almost exactly what you’re looking for.
Add any amount of granulated sugar to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a fine powder. Take the sugar out and weigh it. Then, sift the sugar together with 3% of the sugar’s weight in cornstarch. The cornstarch is what helps the sugar firm up in icings and meringues.
When you’ve got extra time, taking a moment to create homemade scratch pantry items is worth it. You get the satisfaction of being your own artisan and knowing exactly where your food comes from.