In the Pantry

21/07/2012 19:51

The better stocked your Pantry, the easier your meals will be to prepare.  The pantry is your saviour, whether you need to save money, need to whip up a meal in an instant or you simply don't fancy that  trip to the shops.

Dried Food- Rice, Pasta, Noodles, Beans & Lentils, Oats, Pearl Barley, Couscous.
Baking Supplies - Flour, Sugar, Baking powder, Cocoa Powder, Cornflour, Salt, Vanilla, Yeast
Dried Fruits  - Apples, Apricots, Currants, Figs, and Raisins, Sultanas.

Nuts  Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Walnuts
Dried Herbs & Spices - keep on hand the ones you use the most, herbs & spices, lose their flavour over time.
Condiments - Mustard, Vinegars, Oils.
Canned Fish - Tuna , Salmon, Crab, Mackeral, Anchovies

Canned Fruit & Vegetables -Mixed beans, Tomatoes, Sweetcorn + Home canned
Jams, Pickles & Chutneys



Rice ~ is known to have been cultivated in China as long ago as 5,000 BC and has been and still is a staple food in various countries. Though there are many different types, the rice we buy is mainly of two kinds: long grain- most brown and white rice and short grain - risotto and pudding rice. Its cheap, nutritious and versatile- stock up on this staple!

Pearl Barley ~ One of the main ingredients of the traditional soup Scotch broth. Originally native to the middle East and fermented to make beer, pearl barley is the husked and polished grain. It adds a distinctive flavour to dishes and also thickens soups and stews.

Quinoa ~ is a small seed that when cooked has a fine texture similar to couscous or bulghur wheat. Once a sacred food of the Incas, quinoa (keen-wah) is a versatile accompaniment to a variety of meat, fish or poultry main courses. It is particularly good served with main courses that have lots of sauce. It can be eaten hot or cold and combined with ingredients such as chopped pepper, salad onions and nuts to make a quick and easy salad dish.

Oats ~  are a type of grain, rolled oats are made by steaming and rolling whole oats to make them quicker and easier to cook. Rolled oats are used to make porridge, muesli, flapjacks and a variety of biscuits and cakes. Oats can be stirred in crumble toppings to add extra texture and flavour. Oatmeal is made by stone-grinding the oat grain. Fine, medium, rough and pinhead grades are available. Used in foods such as haggis, oatcakes and porridge.

Couscous ~ a staple of Moroccan cuisine and the North African table, and is now appreciated worldwide.  Much of the couscous sold in stores is quick cooking or instant. This Couscous needs very little cooking, it can be simply heated, steamed, or cooked in a microwave. Couscous has a light, fluffy texture when cooked and is good served as an accompaniment to meat, fish and poultry dishes, much like rice or potatoes. There are endless ways of flavouring it with a variety of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Couscous readily soaks up the flavours of other ingredients.

Polenta ~  is made from ground cornmeal, it can be ground either coarsely or finely, and may be made from either yellow or white cornmeal. Choose from instant powdered polenta which is known as maize meal or ready to use polenta which is sold in a solid block. Maize meal can be heated with water and be served as a 'bed' for grilled meat, chicken or fish, butter. Ready to use polenta or cooled, cooked maize meal can be sliced and cooked and used as an alternative to potatoes or bread. Top cooked polenta slices with grilled meat or fish, slices of cheese or fried eggs.

Sugar ~ The majority of the sugar that is used nowadays is extracted from sugar cane which is grown all over the world. There are a wide range of different cane sugars available. Variations in flavour, colour and texture depend on their molasses content and the degree of refinement.

Brown sugars are either unrefined or partially refined.  Turbinado sugar and Muscovado sugar are  a natural brown sugar, and has no added dyes or chemicals added to it. It is made from sugar cane extract, by crushing freshly cut sugar cane, then the juice which is extracted will go through a evaporation process, which then leaves behind large golden brown sugar crystals. There is more molasses in natural brown sugar, which gives it a higher mineral count. Where as other regular brown sugars are really refined white sugar, which has been coated with molasses to add colour and flavour. In Britain, we call Turbinado sugar  "Demerara" and it is very popular used for cooking and baking.

Granulated Sugar/ White Table Sugar ~ The most popular type of sugar, with its medium-sized crystals it is the one type that most people will have a packet of in their cupboard. Granulated sugar is very versatile. Use as a sweetener for coffee and tea and for sprinkling over breakfast cereals. In baking,

Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar~ Very fine crystals make this sugar excellent for sprinkling and including in recipes. Use for Sprinkling over fresh fruit or cereals or including in creamed mixtures, meringues and baking.

Golden Caster Sugar ~ A raw cane sugar with a fine free flowing texture and a light golden colour. It is different from standard caster sugar because the light presence of molasses adds a delicious flavour and aroma. Ideal for baking, particularly sponge cakes.

Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar ~ With its distinctive dark brown colour, this raw cane sugar has a rich flavour and aroma. Ideal to use for dark fruit cakes and puddings.

Light Brown Soft Sugar~ has a soft, fine grained texture. It has a rounded flavour with more character than white sugar and it is a light golden colour. In baking it will give a subtle caramel flavour. Idea for baking, especially in light fruit cakes and biscuits.

Demerara Sugar~ A raw cane sugar from Mauritius that has a molasses content of about 2%. The molasses gives it a delicate flavour and delicious aroma. It has a moist texture with large, clear sparkling crystals. Traditionally served to sweeten after-dinner coffee. Demerara sugar is also used in cooking and baking.

Icing Sugar / Confectioners' Sugar~  A versatile ingredient in cooking. Its fine texture makes icing sugar ideal for dusting over cakes, pies and pastries to sweeten as well as to add an attractive decorative touch. It is also used to make icings and fondants for cakes, as well as butter cream fillings for cakes too.

Vanilla Sugar ~ Fine caster sugar which is flavoured with vanilla pods. Use to sprinkle over home-made sponge cakes and biscuits, or to sweeten fresh fruit such as strawberries and raspberries.
Make some Vanilla sugar : add a split vanilla pod to a jar of caster sugar, and allow three or four weeks for the flavours to develop, then just keep topping your jar up with sugar as you go. This gloriously fragrant vanilla sugar is marvelous used in cakes, ice-creams, sweet pies and milk puddings. A good-quality pod which has plenty of vanillin crystals, will remain potent for as long as four years.

Preserving Sugar  ~  is perfect for making marmalades, jams and preserves using fruits that are naturally high in pectin. These large sugar crystals dissolve slowly and do not settle in the bottom of the pan, which in turn reduces the risk of burning and the need for all that stirring and skimming, the preserving sugar produces less froth. This sugar is good to use with fruits such as plums, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, greengages, damsons and Seville oranges.

Dried Fruits

Dried fruits and berries can be eaten out of hand as a snack, or used dry or rehydrated in many sweet or savoury dishes, like stews, rice dishes, muesli mixes, puddings, cakes, pastries and cookies. So stock up the pantry with a few bags!

Sultanas ~ These popular dried fruits are made from white seedless grapes and differ from raisins and currants in that they are made from different varieties of grape. They are a pale golden brown colour and larger than raisins and currants, they are sweet and moist and have a mild, slightly fragrant taste. They are also known as 'Golden raisins'. Use them in sweet and savoury dishes, in cakes, biscuits and puddings. They are also used in Middle Eastern and Indian meat and rice dishes, and are also a popular snack for children.

Currants ~ These are dried muscatel grapes and although they are smaller, sweeter and tangier than raisins, they can be used in place of raisins. Use them in cakes, puddings and in salads and also in savoury rice dishes.

Raisins ~ These are dried grapes, smaller and darker than sultanas but larger and lighter coloured than currants. They have a sweet flavour.  Use them in cakes, puddings, in salads and in savoury rice dishes.

Dates ~  One of the most popular fruits in Arab countries, where they grow in abundance, dates have a naturally sweet flavour and a rich, chewy texture. Dates are available semi-dried and dried. Used in baking and desserts, in sauces and puddings or added to vegetable salads and meat stews. Candied dates are a traditional Christmas treat.

Cranberries ~ With their flashy colour and tangy flavour, dried cranberries are a good alternative to raisins in many recipes. Dried cranberries are excellent in sauces, cakes, muffins, desserts and stuffings.

Apricots ~ Dried apricots can be eaten as a snack or added to many sweet dishes, like fruit compotes, and cakes. In savoury dishes for stuffings, sauces and in salads. They can also be served to accompany meat and game dishes.

Figs ~  Dried figs are popular in cakes and puddings and can also be eaten as a snack. Cooked into jam or marmalade. Either dry or rehydrated, figs may be served to accompany many meat and game dishes, and added to various stews.


Flour is the ingredient on which most baked products are based. Flour is made up of starch, protein, sugar and minerals.

Did you know? It takes around 350 ears of wheat to make enough flour for one 800g loaf of bread.

There are lots of different types of flours and because they all have different properties, they are better suited to cooking and baking different things.

White flour ~ includes -  Plain, Self Raising and Strong flours. White flour is extremely versatile and can be used for white breads, cakes, pastry, pancakes, batters and biscuits.

Plain flour ~ is for general baking and cooking. Plain Flour can be white, brown or wholemeal.  This all-purpose flour does not contain a raising agent, and is made from a variety of wheats.
Plain flour is ideal for tarts, pastry, batters, pancakes, biscuits, gingerbread, thickening sauces and gravy, fruitcakes and shortbread.

Self-raising ~ flour can be white, brown or wholemeal flour, with baking powder added.  Self-raising flour is used for baking where the cake needs to 'rise'- such as scones, muffins, crumpets, puddings, and some biscuit and bread recipes

Strong flour ~  also known as bread making flour, is produced from hard wheat varieties, which have a higher protein content than plain and self-raising flour. Strong flours can be white, wholemeal or malted. The high protein (gluten) content of strong flour ensures dough rises well and that it keeps its shape once baked. As well as bread and roll making, strong flour is ideal for traditional white loaves, pizza bases and puff pastry.

Wholemeal flour ~ ( whole wheat ) in the US, refers to flour that uses the whole grain of the wheat. It is used in various baked products, including cakes, biscuits, scones and muffins.

Brown flours  ~ are very nutritious, and extremely versatile. plain brown flour can be used for crumbles, pastry, batters and biscuits. Brown self raising flour is perfect for scones, sponges and cakes, and also for delicious, textured pancakes. Malted Brown flour is ideal for olive bread, sultana and malt loaves, scones and tea breads.

All Flour should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

They're fast, filling, healthy and easy to cook - a great storecupboard standby!
There are so many noodles available. Some are ready cooked, while others need cooking before adding to your dish.

Egg noodles ~ are the most common and most versatile of Chinese noddles. These are yellow and vary in thickness
Use in stir-fries, soups, salads and as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.

Rice noodles ~ these are from southern China and vary in thickness.Rice vermicelli noodles are ver thin and brittle and cook almost in an instantly in hot liquid, so idea for soups.

Cellophane noodles ~ are made from ground mung beans and absorb lots of liquid, so are good used in dishes with plenty of stock or sauce.

Udon noodles ~ these Japanese noodles are one of the thickest types available. They are made from wheat and are very filling, these are sold fresh in vacuum packs. Serve in soups or add to stir-fried vegetables, meat or fish.

Soba noodles ~ these thin grey-brown Japanese noodles are made from buckwheat and wholewheat flours. They are available dried and look similar to dried spaghetti - they are long and straight. Use in soups and stir-fries.

Somen ~ thin, white wheat noodles that are ideal in soups.

Cooking noodles ~ like when cooking pasta, you should have a large pan with plenty of boiling water, cook until the noodles still have a little 'bite' to them. You can cook noodles a head of time and refresh them in plenty of cold water. Then just add to hot stocks, soups or stir-fries to reheat them.
The very thin noodles are fragile and just need boiling water poured over them.


Dried pasta is convenient and widely available, and the basis of many quick and easy meals. Dried pasta is available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. The majority of pasta is plain pasta made with flour (made from hard durum wheat ground into semolina) and water. Plain pasta is best served with simple sauces made from traditional Italian ingredients - tomatoes, garlic and onions - while egg pasta is best suited to creamy sauces. Coloured pastas are also available - green pasta is coloured with spinach, red with tomatoes or red peppers.