New year, new you. What’s on your New Year’s Resolution List?
For many, toward the top of things to accomplish this year is to get organized. Whether that’s your clothes closet, your workflow tasks, your pantry or just that drawer in your desk you have a tendency to just stuff everything in, it’s time to organize.
From shoving things in drawers to color-coding to proper placement with labels, there are many approaches you can take in organizing your pantry. Whether it’s a few shelves or a walk-in storage room, your pantry and other kitchen cabinets can get you easy and quick access to the ingredients you need most.
For some of these specialty food items you may keep in your pantry or cabinets, certain storage conditions help to make the ingredients last longer and prevent unfortunate food spoils.
To help you make the most of your pantry spaces and keep your favorite ingredients fresh and easily accessible, check out these best practices in storing your extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, dipping blends, honey, mustards and jams.
An important element in the quality and taste of an Extra Virgin Olive Oil is in its freshness. There’s a big difference between the flavorful freshness of Fustini’s EVOO and other EVOO that’s been sitting out for a while. Time is not a friend to EVOO, so like many other food products, it does have a shelf life. After about 12 months, that fresh, bright flavor begins to decrease, as will the Vitamin E content. While that specialty oil is indeed special, don’t wait for the perfect time to use your favorite oil. Otherwise, you might miss out on the full amazing flavor your oil has to offer.
How you store your EVOO can directly affect that element of time and how long it stays fresh. To keep it at its freshest and best flavor, store your favorite flavors of EVOO and other specialty oils in a cool, dark place. A pantry or cabinet is a great option. Exposure to heat and light affect that timeframe of freshness, so keeping it out of the sun and in a cooler area can help keep it at its best. But remember, cooler doesn’t mean the refrigerator.
Ever wonder why Fustini’s EVOO comes in dark glass bottles? It’s to shield out the harmful UV rays and light from the quality oil. The darker glass helps preserve and maintain the freshness of your favorite EVOOs.
Like a great vinaigrette, EVOO and balsamic go together. And that includes in the method in which you store them. Like EVOO, balsamic vinegar doesn’t like light and heat. Those dark glass bottles for balsamic are intentional, too. Balsamics are best kept in cool, dark spaces. Remember to put the top on the bottle, as air can also affect the flavor.
One important thing that distinguishes storing balsamic from oil is that balsamic vinegar doesn’t really have a shelf life. After all, Fustini’s 18-Year Balsamic has already been cultivating flavor and health benefits for about 18 years.
Especially when it comes to fruitier balsamics like West Michigan Blueberry or Peach, you may notice some sediment forming at the bottom of the bottle over time. This sediment is normal and is no cause for concern. It’s a result of using real fruit concentrate in the balsamic to provide that full, fruity fresh flavor.
You may also notice that light balsamics can slowly start to become darker over time. This natural process is normal and is a result of oxidation. While the color may turn to more of a golden amber, the flavor and high quality of the light balsamic doesn’t change.
As you continue to organize your pantry and kitchen space, remember to leave a space for your favorite spices and dipping blends. Organization of your spice cabinet can help you find the ingredients you need quickly and easily, without needing to dig through containers as you’re in the middle of preparing food.
Spices, blends and salts do well out of direct sunlight and heat sources. Keeping them in airtight containers with secure lids can also help them to retain their freshness and flavor for a long time. Whether you keep them in your pantry, a side cabinet or out on the kitchen counter, you get to choose how to best access them. Get creative and see what methods work best for your spaces.
Whether you use it in your tea, on top of bread, in your marinades or the hundreds of other ways, honey can be easily stored in your pantry. Simply keep it out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (such as between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit). You can keep it in the same container in which you receive it, since the decorative and specialty bottles are part of the fun.
As honey can get sticky around the lid, you may want to wipe off the top of your honey container every once in a while with a rag to prevent build up of crusted on honey. If your honey has seemed to crystalize over time, you can put it in a glass container and put it in a saucepan of hot water until your honey becomes crystal clear again.
For other pantry items, it’s best to store unopened jars in the - yes, you guessed it - the pantry. A cooler, dark area is your perfect spot for keeping your favorite spreads, tapenades, jams and mustards until ready for use.
But once you turn that lid and break the seal, your storing approach requires the refrigerator. Usually, the shelf life of these versatile pantry items are several months, as noted by a “best by” date on the jar. But once you break that seal, that timeline moves up slightly. Keep your ingredients fresh and flavorful by storing them in the fridge.
If you’ve got it on your to-do list to get your pantry and kitchen in order, use these helpful tips in keeping your favorite speciality food ingredients fresh and flavorful. The key for most ingredients is a cool, dark place - making a pantry shelf or drawer a great spot.
See what spaces you have to use in your kitchen and make your organization your own.
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