My grandmother’s basement pantry had dried herbs hanging from the rafters, bushels of potatoes with earth still clinging to them, and jars of strawberry jam lining the shelves. It was stocked to feed a family through the winter months.
Fast-forward a few decades and today’s modern pantry has now risen to become an honoured place in the kitchen, with loads of gourmet ingredients available at area food shops providing inspiration for great dinners. And while pantries have gone upscale, it doesn’t mean they’re lacking in homemade goodness.
Without spending hours boiling and canning, you can stock your shelves with homemade, gourmet jams just like grandma used to make. You’ll find a great selection of farm fresh jams, preserves and gourmet foods at Springridge, the gastro-farm in Milton. The Royal Wedding Marmalade has a splash of champagne, the Diamond Jubilee Jam has fresh, farm grown, strawberries in champagne, and there’s also Royal Baby Jams in different flavours. Soon to be released is their Mother’s Day Marmalade, made from tree-ripened peaches, oranges and champagne.
Good home cooks are only as good as what they have stocked in their pantry and you’ll get plenty of help from mother and son team, Lynn and Michael Faye. They search Halton and Niagara for the freshest, organic produce to make their preserves. In their store, Family First Organic Meals on Thomas Street in Oakville, you’ll find savoury preserves such as Carrot Relish that works beautifully with roast pork loin, or Sicilian Style Eggplant Caponata for a luscious winter bruschetta. Savoury preserves take the place of sauces, add a punch of flavour, are ready to use and require no fuss or special ingredients.
Thoughtfully stocked pantries have the potential to inspire all sorts of meals. A glance down the aisles of Goodness Me Natural Food Market in Burlington will push your culinary creativity into overdrive. There are premixed bags of gourmet rice in a variety of flavours that are ready in minutes, and salts from all around the world that range from pink to black and fine to flaked. Consider stocking your pantry with Wildbrine Kimchi to top your next Reuben sandwich, or drizzle Yacon Syrup from Peru on top of your next steak. Here you’ll find Wasabi powder to heat up mashed potatoes and bags of “Better Than Cheddar” Kale Chips that are a must on any cheese platter.
No gourmet pantry is complete without a good quality olive oil to bring out the best in a fresh garden salad. At The Olive Oil Dispens
ary in Burlington, you can choose from many oils and vinegars on tap, such as their Hojiblanca oil from Australia. It’s a creamy oil with a vivid green herbaceous flavor, and it pairs well with their apricot white balsamic vinegar. Quality, imported olive oils are just amazing when drizzled on a steamy bowl of soup.
Why not search the region to stock your own gourmet pantry? Include mustard, sauces, spices and honey. Inspiration for dinner can come from a bottle of lemon balsamic syrup to add richness to grilled salmon while dessert can be created from blocks of chocolate. A colourful bag of sundried tomatoes can be the basis for an easy pasta recipe, just as a can of beans can be transformed into a savoury dish of garlic beans on toast. We guarantee you will craft more creative meals and make fewer trips to the grocery store.
Article by Lynn Ogryzlo – Lynn is an international award winning author and Ontario’s Local Food Ambassador.
The Olive Oil Dispensary
Family First Organic
Whole Foods Market
Stir Kitchen Store