With the season here, the leaves have turned brown, and coats have come out of the cupboard (in theory, we could still have an Indian summer!), it’s that time to organise your kitchen area and its contents and find out what you really need, and what you certainly don’t! Be ruthless but creative and plan what you can use and have a good declutter. Come on guys, what’s lurking at the back of your cupboards that hasn’t come out of its box, or what half empty packets that are past their sell by dates, I know we all have those! Let’s not forget about the fridge!
Kitchen Cleaning: Where to Start?
So, your larder or store cupboard is the best starting point. I know that every time I approach the cupboards, I find so many out-of-date spices, pasta, rice and dried pulses. Whilst they lose their flavour, they won’t harm you, they just won’t taste right! Spices will lose their depth and aroma, losing the whole point of using them. Hot becomes much milder and medium will virtually add nothing to a curry or chilli if they are way past their shelf life.
Going through your actual kitchen unit cupboards and equipment can be a real revelation. The crockpot may never even have got out of its box, you bought new things to replace old and never thrown the old ones a way ‘just in case’ – you recognise that scenario? Get that crockpot out, put it in a convenient place and use it! It’s the onset of cold winter months and they are invaluable for casseroles and other hot dishes. It’s great to make stews and casseroles in advance and freeze them, so last minute ‘knee jerk’ meals will become a thing of the past.
I do apologise if you already know all of this, but some people honestly don’t, and it never occurs to them either. Get efficient and then you have time for yourself as well. A brisk walk, kicking the leaves as you go, then home in front of the fire, feet up and watching an old movie sounds like heaven and it’s good for the soul.
Once you can see what you have clearly, make a list of items you know you will use and buy some in advance. If you haven’t got any airtight jars, do get some for use when making jam, curd, pickle, relishes etc. There will be a ton of ‘slacks’ i.e., unused fruit and veg that you need to use up yourself, certainly in the UK, farmers give them away to clear their land for the next season. Soft fruit is a really good bet for jams etc, pick your own as they are beginning to ‘turn’ and you will either be charged an absolute pittance or nothing at all. Pickling is a fabulous way of using up almost any fruit or vegetable in a chutney or relish. As long as you are not allergic to them, incorporate nuts, such as walnuts into your chutney, i.e., apple and walnut (add a touch of celery and it goes perfectly with a lovely cheese or meat platter). Or you can give them out at Christmas as an extra present by putting pretty labels on them.
Tips for stocking your autumn kitchen
Hot off the press today! There will apparently be a shortage of pumpkins this year – yes, believe it! If you are a fan of pumpkins whether its carving or making delicious pies or muffins, look out for local farm and shops and get them now! There is a glut at the moment, but as there are not enough pickers and packers (a lot of workers have gone home to Eastern Europe due to the pandemic) no heavy goods drivers, so pumpkins are currently sitting in the fields and will soon start to rot. You don’t want to miss out on Halloween or Thanksgiving, do you?
Again, if we are to believe what is in the media, people will start to panic buy, so if you love baking or any form of cooking during this season, get well stocked now with your favourite warming spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, all spice, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.
Equally so, plenty of nuts, dried fruit and seeds such as mixed dried fruit (including cranberries, sultanas, currants), candied peel, canned beans and lentils. Also think of brown sugar, icing sugar and perhaps marzipan for your Christmas cake!
Do you like stuffing your turkey? Don’t forget to freeze old breadcrumbs in bags and have dried sage and plenty of onions or shallots to hand.
A lot to think about and stock up with! But I love the autumn into Christmas season. When you open your front door and delicious aromas flood your senses. My grandchildren hurtle into the house and straight to the kitchen, seeing what I have baked that day to fill their empty tummies after a hard day at school and a frosty walk home. I must be quick, so I have some left to freeze! Yum, is all I can hear from them and its heart-warming!