Larder Staples for Seasonal Cooking
We’ve been easing ourselves quietly and gently into the new year, avoiding the “new year, new me” narrative which feels erroneous during this hibernation period. And while resolutions have been retired there has been an unhurried inclination to sort and organise. Thankfully, as the weather outside is so dreary, there is plenty of opportunity to pop on a calm playlist, light my favourite candles and have a clear out in preparation for the big spring clean which ebbs ever closer.
Next on my list is the larder, clearing it out and ensuring its fully stocked for the months ahead. During the months we spend more time at home and have time on our side if you’re anything like me you’re more inclined to cook and bake from scratch, making a well stocked larder even more important. TikTok may tell us to glass jars and label makers are the key to a perfect pantry, for us, this is less about influential aesthetics and more about the practical staples you will need throughout the coming months.
Before you begin you’ll want to give your space a good clean. This might be a larder or kitchen cupboards, either way, clear them out and give them a good scrub.
Discard things which you’ve not used in the last year. If you’ve not used it in 12 months you likely won’t in the coming weeks and months. Also discard anything past a “use by” date. Best before dates are often arbitrary, use your eyes and nose to assess and try not to throw away useable items. If it is in date but you don’t use it in cooking then donate.
As keen cooks we’ve tried to think about larder staples which form the basis of many meals but don’t mean heaving cupboards overflowing with ingredients. Of course, you can add items you particularly enjoy cooking with or use a lot to this, but the list below will form the base of an excellent larder for seasonal cooking. We’ve also made a beautiful shopping list download which you can find at the end of the post.
Oils & Vinegars
The best quality extra-virgin olive oil you can afford, neutral cooking oil such as rapeseed oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar.
Herbs & Spices
Bay leaves, black peppercorns, cayenne pepper, chilli flakes, Chinese five spice, cinnamon, cumin, curry paste, curry powder, fennel seeds, garam masala, garlic granules, mustard powder, nutmeg, oregano, sea salt flakes, smoked paprika, thyme and turmeric.
Tins & Jars
Your favourite good quality pasta sauce, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, chicken, vegetable and beef stock pots, tinned fish (we keep tuna, salmon, sardines and anchovies), coconut milk, baked beans and tinned fruit.
Pasta, Grains & Legumes
Long grain white rice, basmati rice, quinoa, dried spaghetti, dried pasta shapes, kidney beans, butter beans and chickpeas (you can choose which you prefer, dried or tinned), dried lentils, panko breadcrumbs and noodles.
Preserves & Pickles
Fruit jams, savoury jelly for meat such as crabapple and sage, redcurrant or mint, olives, capers, preserved lemons, kimchi and pickled onions or cornichons.
Condiments & Sauces
Dijon mustard, English mustard, mayonnaise (buy the best quality you can), ketchup, Sriracha, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce and harissa.
Plain flour, self raising flour, cornflour, dried active yeast, baking powder, vanilla extract (avoid essence like the plague) light brown sugar, icing sugar, oats, raisins and your preferred dried fruits, cocoa powder and chocolate chips (I like to keep dark and milk).
Walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter and almond butter.
Honey, granulated sugar, caster sugar, maple syrup and golden syrup.
Lardons or bacon bits, cheese rinds (great in soups and risottos), chicken bones (until you’re ready to make stocks), frozen fruit for smoothies and deserts, frozen vegetables (peas and spinach are our must haves), stock frozen in ice cube trays, frozen chopped onion and garlic (time savers!) and fish fingers for children’s teas or adult sandwiches.
This may seem a lot but we’re confident you’ve probably got most things already. If not, you can add to your larder gradually as you need ingredients, it doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive shop. One of our favourite ways to add to our larder is to work with friends. I swap my autumn-made crabapple jelly with friends, some of who are amazing at kimchi (which I’ve never made) and sloe gin which while not a larder staples never goes to waste! There’s nothing better than swapped homemade treats punctuating a larder.