Ingredients – what should you stock in your pantry?
Here are just some of the ingredients that i regularly stock up on. Basic ingredients such as flour, sugar, salt and pepper i will assume you have at your finger tips when ever you need them. Its worth keeping in mind when shopping for ingredients that quality is important, if you use poor quality ingredients you run the risk of your dish coming out not at its best.
I start with stocks because i think its one of the best ingredients when made yourself, too many people use store bought stocks which is ultimately up to them (and you) but i urge you to try making your own at least once. When you realize how easy it is you will question why you ever used the rubbish from the store. Here are some super basic stocks for you to try. Super easy and you can freeze it in any quantities you wish for use whenever you need it.
Beans and legumes
These can be bought at your local superstore in bags, but if you have a health food market close by then use it, you will get the freshest ingredients, at least fresher than the packaged variety. more often than not you will find that your health food market will have little bags and scales to allow you to pick and weigh your own, allowing you to avoid damaged produce. Other than a great taste fresh produce will cook more accurately time wise.
Extra-virgin olive oil
If your lucky your local store/market will allow you to taste the different olive oils they have to offer, flavors are intensified in a pressure cooker so you want to make sure you actually like the taste of the oil you use, it makes sense to taste them first as you will be using this oil quite often when using your pressure cooker. Ask the person at the counter for cold pressed olive oil as it has the most flavor. Did you know? Olive oil isn’t only common in cooking but commonly used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals also.
Find yourself some quality canola oil, its a versatile oil and has a neutral taste, it also has much less saturated fat than other commonly used oils in the USA, which is a bonus.
Its always a good idea to stock extra butter for those days when family members appear uninvited expecting something delicious to eat, i’m using butter to make this point but it applies to all ingredients listed. I recommend you use unsalted butter as this allows you to keep full control of the salt content in your dish.
One of the more important ingredients in my opinion. You should try to buy the freshest garlic possible, garlic that isn’t fresh or dried lacks potency which means you are missing out on flavor, in fact in some circumstances i have actually noticed an odd taste when i have used garlic that’s no longer fresh . When picking your garlic check for firmness, this is a good indication of freshness.
Pretty much all herbs lose their potency when they are added to a pressure cooker, with a couple exceptions such as thyme and rosemary, these two cook well under pressure. Adding fresh herbs to your dish after its cooked will bring freshness to your dishes.
Since most of us have no access to fresh spices the next best thing is dried, there is nothing wrong with using dried spices, they do a superb job of adding wonderful fragrance and flavor to our meals. The only real way to tell if they are potent enough is to have a good sniff, if you get a strong aroma from the spice then you can be pretty sure you got what you need, however if there is little or no aroma then chances are its not going to have any influence in terms of flavor.
I like to stock up on aged cheese’s, the king of ingredients when it comes to making rich sauces or adding a different dimension to your dishes. Save any left over rinds and freeze them for later use in soups and sauces. Which cheese’s you choose to use is entirely dependent on your tastes and which cheese’s you prefer, although i highly recommend you add a quality aged Parmesan cheese to your stock of ingredients.
Shallots and Onions
Onions and shallots (baby onions) give great flavor to dishes. If you have an awkward member of the family who despise onions (as does my son) you can just put the onions in a blender which will chop the onion down finely. Once your meal is cooked they wont notice any difference, but you will have a tastier meal.
If you grow tomato’s as many people do because its so easy then you have quality fresh produce straight from the garden, if not then organic tomato’s from your local food market will suffice, canned or fresh. If you are using fresh tomato’s simply remove the skins and chop them up before adding them to your pressure cooker.
Quite a lot of desserts recipes you will cook in your pressure cooker will ask for vanilla, its possibly one of the most used ingredients for flavor in desserts, how factual that may be i don’t know but most desserts i make call for vanilla so it just seems that way. I recommend you purchase vanilla bean paste, it can be stored for up to a year.
These are just some of the main ingredients i like to make sure i’m stocked up with. Over time as you progress with your pressure cooking you will have an ingredient inventory of your own.