Food In The Cupboard

By: Francis Chang

What I keep in my cupboard will be different to what is in yours. But there are certain items that most of us will keep. Come and discover new ingredients to store.

This article brushes on the basics of two ingredients that interest me the most - Oils and Vinegars.

OILS

Using a good quality oil is essential in the kitchen. Oil can be used as an ingredient in cakes, muffins, marinades and salad dressings as well as being important for frying, brushing foods before grilling, and simply drizzling over food to flavour and garnish it.

Oils kept in a cool, dark place will keep for 10-12 months. Buy specialist oils in small quantities as once open they will deteriorate more quickly..

Olive oil

If you like salads, it is worth buying olive oil because dressings made with it are far superior due to the wonderful flavour. You can also cook with olive.

Extra-virgin olive oil

This is the most used oil in our household. It varies in colour from pale yellow to a rich green, often depending on its country of origin. Use it for salad dressings and pasta, and for drizzling over grilled vegetables.

Sunflower oil

This ia an all-purpose oil, which can be used for all cooking methods. It is a light oil with very little flavour so it can also be used to make dressings.

Corn oil

A cheaper oil with quite a strong flavour, which some people find unpleasant. It is suitable for deep-fat frying, so if you often cook fried foods this is a good buy.

Soya oil

This oil is cheap and has a high smoke point (smokes at a very high temperature), so it is suitable for deep-frying. However, it has quite a strong flavour, which some people do not like.

Groundnut oil

A light oil, which is suitable for all types of cooking. It has a very mild flavour and is good for mayonnaise and dressings.

Sesame oil

Go very easy on this one - only use a very small amount. This is a dark, nutty oil that is often used in Chinese and Thai cooking. It has a strong flavour and aroma, sweet and very pungent. It will burn easily. It makes a delicious dressing for oriental salads -just mix it with a little lemon juice and soy sauce.

Nut oils

Walnut oil, hazelnut oil, macadamia nut oil - they all have delightful flavours for dressings. They work well drizzled over vegetables and pasta and are particularly good when served with a salad containing a few similar nuts.

VINEGARS

There are many different types of vinegars and there are many uses for them. Keep vinegars in a dark, cool place for up to 6-12 months. Buy small bottles so that you can use them up at their best.

Balsamic vinegar

Originating in Modena, Italy, this vinegar has become very popular of late. It is the richest of all the vinegars, with a deep brown colour and a fruity sweet flavour. It is worth spoiling yourself and buying a little bottle of balsamic vinegar that has been aged in oak barrels for 25 years. Be warned it can be expensive but is worth the cost. Use it in salad dressings and sprinkle it over simple fish dishes, pasta and roast vegetables.

Cider vinegar

A light vinegar with a slightly fruity flavour. Often used in recipes with apples. Also called for in pickling fruit and making salad dressings.

Malt vinegar

This comes in a colorless variety and is used for pickling onions. The other is a brown color and good for fish and chips. Don't use malt vinegar for anything else, it's strictly for pickling or fish and chips.

Sherry vinegar

I must admit this is not one I have used. It has a smooth flavour and is often used in Spanish recipes and salad dressings.

Red wine vinegar

A good, all-round vinegar with a robust flavor. Often used in salad dressings.

White wine vinegar

A good, all-round vinegar with a mild flavor. Often used in salad dressings.

Flavoured vinegars

There are many flavored vinegars available - raspberry vinegar - walnut vinegar. However, it has been my experience that these are bought on a whim and then left in the cupboard.

Happy Cooking
Francis Chang

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