Kitchen Reference

We’re giving you the keys to the kitchen, so you can unlock your inner chef. Find a glossary of terms, techniques, equipment, ingredients and more to improve your skills in the kitchen, and bring your A game to the table.

  Ingredients List
 

Adobo Sauce, Adobo Sauce With Chipotle Peppers, Adobo Seasoning

Description

  • Adobo sauce is a dark red, spicy Mexican sauce or paste made from ground chilies, vinegar and herbs. Other ingredients such as onions, tomatoes and spices may be added.  Adobo means sauce or marinade in Spanish and is used in Mexican or southwestern cooking as a marinade or a sauce.
  • Chipotle chilies are often packed in adobo sauce. 
  • Adobo seasoning is sold in a powdered form.

Buying

  • Adobo sauce is most often sold in the ethnic food section in 8.25 ounce jars.  The adobo sauce with chipotle peppers is often sold in 7 or 12 ounce cans.

Measuring

  • Measure adobo sauce as you would other liquids.
  • When a recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, remove the amount of chilies needed for the recipe.  Sometimes the sauce is also called for.

 Storage

  • Adobo sauce with chilies can be frozen in a well sealed bag or container for a few months.
  • Use by the freshness date on the jar.

Agave Syrup

Description

  • Agave syrup is made from the nectar of the agave or Century plant. It is a cactus-like or succulent plant that grows in the southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. It is considered a natural sweetener.
  • Agave syrup has a sweet mild flavor. It is available in light or amber nectars. It is often sold as an organic product and is sweeter than sugar.
  • Sweeten hot or cold beverages with agave syrup.  The syrup can also be used in baked goods. Lighter syrup is good used for lighter baked goods.  The amber or darker syrup lends a more caramel like flavor to baked goods.

Buying

  • Look for agave syrup in the baking section in jars or in the organic food section.

Storing

  • Keep the jar well sealed and store in a cool, dry place. Use by the expiration date.
  Substitutions
  • Light agave syrup can be substituted for granulated sugar in baking.  Use 2/3 cup for 1 cup of sugar and reduce the liquid 1/4 to 1/3 cup. The amber syrup can be substituted for brown sugar.  Use 2/3 cup for 1 cup of brown sugar and reduce liquid by 1/4 cup. Cookies made from agave syrup will not be as crisp; they will have a more cake-like texture.

Aioli

Description

  • Aioli is a mayonnaise flavored with garlic that originated in the Provence region of France.
  • Aioli is typically served as a sauce or condiment with vegetables, fish or chicken.

Buying and Storing

  • Commercially prepared aioli can be found in the condiment section of the supermarket. Refrigerate after opening

Alcohol/Liquer

  Substitutions
  • Substitute the same amount (volume) of liquid in the recipe as originally called for with alcohol. Depending on the recipe, apple juice or chicken broth often makes a good substitution for wine. When using flavored liqueurs, extracts can be substituted if you make up the balance of the liquid with water.

    For example, if a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange liqueur) you could use 1/2 teaspoon orange extract and 5 1/2 teaspoons water. Just be sure to get the same level of orange flavor. This may take some experimentation.

Allspice

Description

  • Allspice is an aromatic spice with an aroma of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. It has a distinct flavor and is deep brown in color.
  • It is available ground or as whole dried berries.
  • It is a popular spice to use in baking and the whole dried berries are often used in pickling.

Storage

  • Store whole and ground spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Heat, light, and moisture cause spices to lose their flavor faster.
  • Do not store spices above the range or oven.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute for 1 teaspoon ground allspice: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, mixed together.

Almond

Description

  • An almond is the kernel from the shell of the almond fruit tree. Almonds have a tan colored shell and an almond shape. They are sweet, crunchy and flavorful.
  • Almonds are sold unshelled seasonally, and also are sold blanched or unblanched. Unblanched means the skin is still on the nut. They are sold sliced, chopped, slivered, candied, and smoked.
  • Almonds are tasty as a snack and used in many desserts, in baked goods and in some Asian main dishes. One pound unshelled almonds equal about 1/3 pound shelled.

Storage and Freshness

  • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.
  • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh and not be not be rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts may ruin a baked product. Always taste nuts before using.

Almond Paste or Filling

Description

  • Almond paste is a firm, but pliable mixture of sugar and blanched ground almonds sold in a can or tube. It is used to make some desserts and cookies. It is sweet, with a prominent almond flavor.
  • Almond cake and pastry filling is also sold.  This has evaporated milk and other ingredients added and is more fluid. It is used for fillings in pastries and cakes.

Buying and storing

  • Almond paste is sold in tubes and cans in the baking aisle.
  •   Don’t substitute almond paste with the other two products.
  •  Use the product up by the expiration date. 
  • Almond paste may be frozen and thawed before using.

Tip

  • If almond paste is too firm to blend, soften in the microwave for just a few seconds.

American Cheese

Description

  • Process American cheese is very popular and most often sold in 5-pound blocks for slicing in the deli or in 2-pound loaves or slices in the dairy case. Because the cheese is pasteurized it has a longer shelf life than natural cheese.
  • American cheese can be yellow or white and mild or sharp in flavor.
  • Process cheese is made from natural cheese. The cheese is pasteurized or heated and emulsifiers are added to disperse the fat. Other ingredients can be added for flavored process cheese, reduced fat process cheese or to create singles or slices of process cheese. The cheese is then poured into forms or made into slices.  Process cheese melts quickly and smoothly.

Storage

  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap all cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Process cheeses like American have a long shelf life because they are pasteurized. Once they are opened, or sliced in the deli, keep them tightly wrapped and refrigerated to avoid drying out.
  • Freezing cheese is not recommended. However, if you do, freeze cheese in small amounts of less than one-half pound, no thicker than one-inch. Wrap well.
  • To use frozen cheese, thaw slowly in the refrigerator. Thawed cheese may be mottled in color, which should even out after thawing. Frozen cheese is usually crumbly and more suitable for cooking than for serving to guests or using for snacks.
  • What about mold? Most molds are harmless, but to be safe, discard at least one-half inch of cheese on all sides of the visible mold. Tips:
    • Make sure the knife blade is thoroughly cleaned when cutting each surface to avoid spreading mold to the freshly cut surface.
    • Use new wrap when rewrapping, to avoid spreading mold spores to the fresh areas.

Cooking With Cheese

  • Melt cheese at a low temperature for a short time, stirring often. Cheese needs just enough heat to melt and blend with other ingredients. If heated too long or at too high a temperature, the cheese can become tough and stringy, and the fat can separate.
  • Cheese melts more quickly when shredded or cubed. Shred it when cold for easier shredding.
  • A process cheese like American will melt evenly and smoothly with no fat separation. Process cheese can be cubed to speed up melting time.
  • When cheese is used to top an entree, add it near the end of the baking time so it has only enough time to melt.

Cutting and Serving Cheese

  • Cheese is easiest to cut when it’s cold.
  • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the cheese.
  • Cut rectangular, square, and cylindrical cheese into slices.
  • Cheese can also be cut into cubes.
  • Use a serrated cutter to make attractive crinkle cut shapes.
  • If you’re preparing a snack tray, try cutting a variety of shapes using a knife or small canape or cookie cutter.
  • To enjoy the full flavor of cheese, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Be sure to keep it wrapped until it is served.
  • Cheeses are appropriate for all types of entertaining. How much to buy depends on the type of occasion, time of day, other foods being served, number of guests, and even the mix of people in attendance. Below are some good rules to follow:
    • Plan on 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person when preparing snacks or sandwiches.
    • Allow a serving of 3 ounces of cheese when cheese is the only protein source, such as a cheese and fruit platter.
    • A 2-ounce serving is adequate when other food, such as seafood, appetizers or meats, are served along with the cheese.

Anchovy Paste

Description

  • Anchovy paste is made from ground anchovies (a small salted fish), spices, vinegar and water. It has a unique, pungent flavor.
  • Anchovy paste is used in Caesar salad dressing and as an ingredient in some salad dressing and sauces.

Buying

  • Anchovy paste is sold in tubes in the canned fish section of the store.

Storing

  • Store the tube in the refrigerator after opening.

Anise/Aniseed

Description

  • Anise or aniseed is an herb that has feathery, aromatic medium green leaves.
  • The tiny seeds are used whole or crushed in breads, cakes and cookies.
  • The leaf can be used in salads.
  • Anise has a licorice flavor.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week.
  • Store fresh herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Store dried herbs and seeds away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tip

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2 inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried herb in place of 1 tablespoon fresh herb.

Apple

Description

  • An apple is a fruit that has been grown for thousands of years. It is a very popular fruit that comes in many shapes, colors and sizes as well as flavor and textures.
  • Flavors can be sweet to tart, texture can be soft, almost mushy to very crisp.
  • Apples are a good source of vitamins and fiber.
  • Apples are popular for eating and are also used in salads, pies and other baked goods, in applesauce and in many other recipes.
  • Apple cider is made by pressing juice from the pulp of apples and is used as a juice or to make apple cider vinegar. Sweet apple juice will ferment, so it is most often filtered and pasteurized before selling.   
  • Some varieties are:
    • Baldwin is a soft, early fall apple good for baking and sauce. The color of the apple is yellow with a striped red blush.
    • Braeburn is a crisp, sweet/tart apple that holds its shape in baking. It is good for all uses. The color of the apple is yellow with a striped red blush.
    • Cortland is a sweet, tart apple with a somewhat soft texture and is good for pies and baking. It is deep red.
    •  Fireside is a large sweet apple that does not bake well.
    • Fuji is a sweet crisp apple, which is best for eating. It is a yellow green apple with red highlights to an almost all red apple.
    • Gala is very sweet and crisp and best for eating. Gala apples are a red striped to solid red apple.
    • Granny Smith is a tangy and crisp green apple that remains firm when baked. Good for pies and all purposes.
    • Golden Delicious is an apple with a sweet honey-like flavor, is juicy, and has a soft texture. It is golden to light yellow green in color.  It is an all-purpose apple. It retains its shape when baking, but is tender.
    • Haralson is a firm, tart apple that is good for eating and pies.
    • Honeycrisp is a relatively new apple, which has a honey flavor and a crisp texture. It is great for eating and for baking. The color is about 3/4 red over a yellow background.
    • Jonagold is a tangy and sweet apple and is best for eating. It has a red over yellow coloring.
    • Jonathan is tart and tangy apple and makes a good pie.
    • McIntosh is an old time apple which is slightly mealy and falls apart when cooked. The color is a deep red tinged with green.  It is good for applesauce.
    • Paula Red is a round red apple that has some yellow.  It is tangy and good for pies and eating.
    • Red Delicious is semi firm, sweet apple and is best for eating. The skin is a little tough. It has a traditional apple shape.
    • Regent is a sweet apple good for sauce.
    • Rome is slightly sweet apple, which has a crisp texture but cooks down for baking and pies.

Buying

  • Look for apples with a smooth surface without bruises and blemishes. Some apple varieties are only available during certain times of the year. Fall is when a bumper crop of different varieties are at their best.

Storing

  • Store apples in the refrigerator or a cool place.
  • Once apple cider is opened, refrigerate.  Fresh apple juice needs to be store in the refrigerator and used by the expiration date.

Measuring

  • There are 3 to 4 apples in a pound, depending on the size; one pound equals about 3 cups sliced

Tip

  • Some of the best pies and crisps used a variety of apples. Some hold their shape and others soften during baking.

Apple Butter

Description

  • Apple butter is a thick mixture made by slowly cooking apples with sugar and spices and apple juice or cider.  It is most often used as a spread on bread or toast.

Buying

  • Look for apple butter in the jams and jellies section of the store.

Storing

  • After opening, store apple butter in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.

Apple Pie Spice

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a pinch ground allspice for 1 tablespoon apple pie spice.

Applesauce

Description

  • Applesauce is a cooked puree of apples, sugar and sometimes spices.
  • It can vary in texture from smooth to chunky
  • Applesauce can be substituted for oil in some baked goods to reduce calories. Use the same amount of applesauce as you would oil.

Buying and Storing

  • Applesauce can be found in the canned fruit section of the grocery store.
  • It is sold in jars and plastic snack-sized containers.
  • Store in the cupboard and refrigerate after opening

 

Apricot

Description

  • An apricot is related to the peach family. It is small and can be pale yellow to dark orange with a rosy blush and has a balanced flavor.
  • An apricot contains one pit and it splits in half easily.
  • Apricots have a short season, mid to late summer.
  • They are eaten, skin and all. Many apricots are just eaten as a snack but they can be used as a dessert or in cobblers or crisps. Apricots can also be purchased canned or dried.

Buying and Storing

  • A ripe apricot should be somewhat firm, have a rich color with no green. It should yield to slight pressure. When ripe an apricot is sweet, juicy and has a short shelf life.
  • Keep apricots on the counter a few days or store in the refrigerator to keep them from getting too soft.

Artichokes, Artichoke Hearts, Baby Artichokes

Description

  • An artichoke is actually a flower bud of a thistle-like plant. Globe artichokes are the most common. Artichokes are available year round, but are most abundant in late spring.
  • Artichokes consist of the outer leaves, inner leaves, the stem, the heart and the choke. To prepare, the damaged or tough outer leaves are stripped away. Twist off the stalk or stem. Cut off the top third of the artichoke. Once the artichoke is cooked in water (with lemon juice), remove the coarse leaves and the hairy choke. The inner leaves can be dipped into melted butter or a sauce; then the fleshy part is scraped off with your teeth and the leaf is discarded. The heart is the tender part of the artichoke.
  • A bunch of smaller buds grows on the stock and they are sold as baby artichokes. They can be cooked and eaten whole, even the choke.
  • Artichokes hearts are sold canned or marinated in jars. Canned or marinated artichokes are often used in salads, appetizers and main dishes or on an antipasto platter.
  • Artichoke hearts are the tender bottom of the artichoke from which the leaves and fuzzy choke have been removed. The flat disk is the heart or bottom.

Buying

  • Look for compact heads which should be olive green, have no off color or shriveled leaves. You will find them in the produce section almost year round, but late spring to the end of the year is when they are the best.

Storing

  • Fresh artichokes are best refrigerated in a plastic bag and kept dry. They can be kept this way for up to one week. Canned or jarred artichokes should be used by the date on the can or jar.

Tip

  • Use stainless steel or glass to cook the artichoke to prevent discoloration.  Cook until bottoms can be pierced with a knife tip.
  • Cook fresh artichokes in boiling water to which lemon juice has been added to avoid discoloration.

Arugula

Description

  • Arugula is a slightly bitter and aromatic salad green that has a peppery mustard flavor. It is sold in bunches in the spring and is often used in spring mixes of greens.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves. Iceberg heads are often wrapped in cellophane. Others are sold in plastic containers or unwrapped.  Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.
  • Smaller leaves and stalks are tenderer and some are best when they are young. Tender greens need to be cooked only a few minutes.
  • Some greens are quite seasonal and a larger variety may be found at farmer’s markets during the summer.

Asandero Cheese

Description

  • Asadero is a Mexican cheese that is semi-soft. It has a firm, smooth texture and mildly tangy flavor. It has mozzarella-like characteristics and melts well. It can come in braids, loaves, balls and has a smooth, glossy appearance. It can substitute for Monterey Jack and mozzarella cheese. Sometimes it is called Oaxaca, which is where it was first produced in Mexico.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Asiago Cheese

Description

  • Asiago originated in Italy. It is made from cow’s milk and formed into large wheels. It has a rind and a white to yellow interior, depending on the age of the cheese. It can have small to medium openings, or eyes. It becomes hard and grainy as it ages and can be used for shredding or grating. The flavor is mild when young and becomes sharp and pungent as it ages. It is often used in shredded blends of cheese.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Asparagus

Description

  • Asparagus are thin stalks that come in white, purple and green. For many people they announce spring, as that is the prime season for them. At the tip of each stalk are tight pointed buds. Green asparagus is the most common and the stalks are 6 to 10-inches long. They can be tinged with a purple blush at the tip. White asparagus is harvested as soon as is appears above the ground while purple asparagus grows up to 2 inches before being harvested and has a stronger flavor.
  • Asparagus means sprout or shoot. Most asparagus is now grown in California.
  • Asparagus is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
  • Asparagus is good hot or cold. Asparagus is easy to prepare. Try roasting asparagus with olive oil and sea salt. It can also be used in stir frys, soups, risottos or added to salads.

Buying

  • Look for asparagus spears that are firm with tight buds in the produce section. Woody stems need to be cut or snapped off. Thick asparagus stalks can be just as tender as thin stalks.
  • Asparagus can be found in the freezer section or canned.

Storing

  • If the asparagus will be used within a few days, store in a plastic bag in the produce bin. Some people like to trim the ends and place them in a tall glass filled with some water.

Tip

  • Asparagus spears that are a uniform size make for more even cooking or roasting.

Avocado

Description

  • An avocado is actually a fruit grown on a tropical tree. The avocado can be green or almost black, depending on the variety. There are more than twenty varieties of avocadoes.
  • Avocadoes are available all year long. They are used on salads, for guacamole, in sandwiches or as a garnish on Mexican dishes.
  • Avocadoes have a buttery texture and a somewhat nutty flavor. They can be pear or round shaped and range in size from ounces to pounds.
  • A Hass avocado has an almost black slightly rough, pebbly skin. The flesh is pale golden yellow.  A Fuerte avocado is green and has a smooth skin and pale green flesh.

Buying

  • Avocadoes are picked before they are ripened. Look for unblemished fruit. A ripe avocado will yield slightly to pressure.

Storage

  • If ripe, avocadoes keep 2 to 4 days in the refrigerator. To ripen, place in paper bag for 2 to 4 days at room temperature. Once an avocado is cut and exposed to air it darkens. Lemon or lime juice applied to the surface will help prevent some discoloration. Wrap a cut avocado well with plastic wrap and refrigerate. You may need to cut away some of the discoloration to use.

Tip

  • Add avocado to salad and sandwiches at the last minute to avoid discoloration, wrap with plastic wrap until served.
  • Have all the other ingredients ready for the guacamole and just mash the avocado in right before serving. Lime juice is added to guacamole and that helps prevent discoloration.
  • Avocado slices can be brushed with lemon or lime juice to prevent discoloration.

Baguette

Description

  • A baguette is a long, narrow cylindrical loaf of bread that has a crisp exterior and a chewy interior.
  • Baguettes are used sliced for appetizers like bruschetta, as bread with a meal or for a sandwich.

Buying and storing

  • Baguettes are best eaten the day they are purchased. Freeze in a freezer plastic bag if not using immediately.

Baking Chocolate

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1-ounce unsweetened chocolate for 1-ounce baking chocolate.

Baking Powder

Description

  • Baking powder is a chemical leavening agent that is a combination of baking soda, plus an acid such as cream of tartar, plus a moisture absorber such as cornstarch. 
  • In the presence of heat and moisture, the baking powder reacts to form carbon dioxide gas in a baked product to make it rise. 
  • The most common type of baking powder is double-acting baking powder. Double-acting baking powder produces gas twice.
    • During mixing when baking powder gets wet.
    • During baking when the heat completes the reaction.

Storage

  • Store baking powder tightly covered in a dry place.
  • Baking powder stays fresh for about one year. Check the container for the expiration date. 

Measuring

  • Use a standard measuring spoon and be sure the spoon is dry when measuring. Fill a standard measuring spoon to the top and level with a spatula or knife.

Testing for Freshness

  • Place 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup hot water. If the mixture foams, the baking powder is still good. If it does not foam, replace your box of baking powder.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon corn starch for 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Baking Soda

Description

  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is used as a leavening agent when a recipe contains acid ingredients.
  • Baking soda, an alkaline ingredient, plus an acid ingredient, such as buttermilk, vinegar, molasses or sour cream creates a chemical reaction to form carbon dioxide gas in a baked product making it rise and become light and porous. 
  • Heat is not necessary for the chemical reaction, so the reaction begins as soon as liquid ingredients are added. Therefore, products leavened with baking soda should be baked immediately after mixing or the gases will escape and the product will not rise. 

Storage

  • Store baking soda tightly covered in a dry place. Baking soda loses strength with age, so fresh is best. It stays fresh for about one year. 

Substitutions

  • There is no substitution for baking soda. 

Measuring

  • Use a standard measuring spoon and be sure the spoon is dry when measuring. Fill a standard measuring spoon to the top and level with a spatula or knife.

Testing for Freshness

  • Place 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon vinegar. If the mixture fizzes, the baking soda is still good. If the mixture does not fizz, throw out the old box and buy a new one.

Banana

Description

  • A banana is a popular tropical fruit. They grow in bunches and develop flavor and color after they are picked. Bananas are available year round.
  • There are many varieties of bananas. Cavendish, the yellow supermarket banana, is the most popular in the United States, but there are bananas in many colors and many sizes. Some bananas are finger size, others are chunky and are sweeter.
  • Bananas are popular for eating, topping cereal, banana bread and banana pudding. Bananas are the base of banana splits!

Buying

  • Look for bunches of bananas that are plump and even-colored. Avoid those that are soft, discolored or have bruises (unless they are on sale and you want to make banana bread!).

Storing

  • To ripen a banana: Keep the banana at room temperature or place in a paper bag to speed up the ripening process. Ripe bananas can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days. The skin will darken but the interior will be creamy white.
Tips
  • There are about three medium bananas to one pound and one pound equals about 1 1/2 cups mashed banana.
  • Too many ripe bananas all at once? They are great for baking. Freeze the bananas, peel and all. When ready to use, thaw on counter top for a few minutes or microwave on defrost setting for 10 seconds or until slightly soft. The banana will pop out of the skin with slight pressure and be soft and ready to measure for great banana bread, cakes and muffins.
  • To prevent bananas in a fresh fruit salad, brush cut surfaces lightly with lemon juice, or just add at the last minute.

Bananas

Description

  • Bananas are a popular tropical fruit. They grow in a bunch and develop flavor and color after they are picked. Bananas are available year round.
  • There are many varieties of bananas. Cavendish, the yellow supermarket banana, is the most popular in the United States, but there are bananas in many colors and many sizes. Some bananas are finger size, others are chunky and are sweeter.
  • Bananas are popular for just eating, topping cereal, banana bread and banana pudding. Bananas are the base of banana splits!

Buying

  • Look for bunches of bananas that are plump and even-colored. Avoid those that are soft, discolored or have bruises (unless they are on sale and you want to make banana bread!).

Storing

  • To ripen bananas keep at room temperature or place in paper bag to speed up the ripening process. Ripe bananas can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days. The skin will darken but the interior will be creamy white.

Measuring

  • There are about three medium bananas to one pound and one pound equals about 1 1/2 cups mashed banana.

Tip

  • Too many ripe bananas all at once? They are great for baking. Freeze the bananas, peel and all. When ready to use, thaw on counter top for a few minutes or microwave on defrost setting for 10 seconds or until slightly soft. The banana will pop out of the skin with slight pressure and be soft and ready to measure for great banana bread, cakes and muffins.
  • To prevent bananas from browning in a fresh fruit salad, brush cut surfaces lightly with lemon juice, or just add at the last minute.

Barbecue Sauce

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 cup ketchup and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke seasoning for 1 cup barbecue sauce.

Basil

Description

  • Basil comes in many varieties. A common variety has large oval pointed leaves with a warm, slightly spicy flavor. Lemon basil has a lemony scent, Greek basil has tiny, compact leaves and dark opal basil has crinkled purple leaves.
  • Basil is a key ingredient in pesto. It is found in many tomato dishes as it complements that flavor. Basil is an important culinary herb. The flavor intensifies with cooking, but also discolors the leaf. Fresh basil is available in the produce section year round, grows well in container gardens and is also available dried.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
  • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tip

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Bay Leaves

Description

  • Bay leaves are leaves of the aromatic bay laurel tree. Bay leaves are most often used dried. There are two types, the Turkish which has a subtle flavor and is oval and the California bay leaf which is stronger flavored and has narrow leaves.
  • A leaf or two of bay leaves is all that is needed in soups and stews. It is used in bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme and parsley). Bay leaves need to be removed before serving, as they can be a choking hazard. They have a long shelf life if the jar is tightly sealed and kept in a cool, dry place.

Buying

  • Dried bay leaves can be found in jars in the spice section of the store. Sometimes fresh bay leaves can be found in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section.

Storing

  • Store dried bay leaves away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Beans (Canned, Dried, Frozen)

Description

  • Legumes or beans come in many shapes, flavors and colors. They are high in fiber and contain many nutrients and are low in fat. They are used in many recipes, from soups to main dishes.
  • Dried beans can be purchased packaged or, in some stores, in bulk. Most are available in cans; the cooking is done for you. Some are available frozen.
  • Most dried beans need to soak before cooking (see tip). Lentils and black eyed beans (peas) do not need to be soaked.
  • Some types of dried beans are:
    • Black beans are also called turtle beans or Mexican black beans. They are kidney-shaped and have black shiny skins and a somewhat earthy flavor. These beans are used in soups, bean dips, enchiladas, salads. They are available canned in the Mexican section of the grocery store and in the canned bean section, as well as with the dried beans. One cup dried equals 2 cups cooked.
    • Black eyed beans (peas) are a cream colored bean with a black spot. They have a mild flavor and smooth texture. They are said to bring good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day. They are used in a dish that combines black eyed beans, rice and bacon called “Hoppin’ John. They are available dried and canned.
    • Cannellini beans are also called a white kidney bean. These beans are large, white, have a smooth texture and a slightly nutty flavor. They are used in bean soups, bean salads, minestrone and other Italian dishes. They are available dried and canned. One cup dried beans equals 2 1/2 cups cooked.
    • Chickpeas, see Garbanzo beans below.
    • Chili beans or pink beans are similar to the pinto bean but are smaller and rounder. They are used for chili and refried beans.
    • Cranberry beans are a pink bean with beige streaks used in soups and stews. They are available dried.
    • Fava beans are large, orange-colored, plump beans in a large tough pod. They have a somewhat strong flavor and most often are used in soups and stews. Fava beans can be purchased dried, canned and fresh. See Beans, Fresh for fresh fava bean information.
    • Garbanzo beans are also called chickpeas. They are not a pea - although they grow in a pod - they are a legume. These beans look like a small hazelnut and have a slightly nutty flavor. Garbanzo beans are high in protein. The white garbanzo bean is considered the best. Garbanzo beans are used in salads and soups as well as hummus and falafel. They are available dried or canned. One cup dried beans equals 2 1/2 cups cooked.
    • Great Northern beans are a mild white bean used in soups and stews. They are available dried and canned.
    • Lima beans are also known as butter beans and are a large, flat white bean used in succotash, bean bakes and soups. Lima beans are a bit mealy or starchy. Seasonally lima beans can be sold fresh and are removed from the pod before cooking. They are available fresh, frozen, dried and canned. See Beans, Fresh for fresh lima bean information.
    • Navy beans are also called white beans. They are small, oval and white. Boston Baked Beans are made with this bean. They are also used in soups. They are available dried and canned. One cup dried equals about 2 1/4 cups cooked.
    • Pinto beans are beige with brown streaks. They turn a pinkish brown color when cooked. They are used in refried beans and chili. They are available dried and canned. One cup dried equals about 2 1/4 cup cooked.
    • Red kidney beans are also known as a chili bean. They are high in protein. They are used in chili and refried beans. They can be deep red or bright red. They are available dried and canned.
    • Soybeans are hard round beans found in many colors. They grow on a small bush like plant. The pods contain 2 to 5 round beans. Fresh soybeans are called Edamame, see Beans, Fresh. Soybeans are quite bland and can be used in soups and salads. Most soybeans are used to make oil, soy-based sauces or tofu. One cup dried equals about 2 1/2 cups cooked.

Cooking tips

  • Dried beans must be soaked in water before cooking. Some dried beans have been presoaked, so they do not need this step. Sort through the beans and rinse. Beans can be soaked overnight, but a faster method is to cover the beans with 2 to 3 inches cold water. Quickly bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes and then let stand, covered, off the heat for 1 hour. Discard the liquid.
  • Always simmer, do not boil as the beans break and the skins separate.
  • See foam appearing on the surface of the water while cooking beans? It is just water soluble protein and will absorb back into the liquid, no need to skim off.
  • A bean is cooked when you can mash it with 2 fingers or a fork.

Measuring

  • Generally one cup of dried beans equals around 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked beans. One can (15-ounce) equals about 1 3/4 cup drained beans.

Tip

  • Salt and acid make beans tough. Add ingredients like lemon juice or tomatoes at the end of the cooking time.

Beans (Fresh)

Description

  • Legumes or beans come in many shapes, flavors and colors. They are high in fiber and contain many nutrients.
  • A bean is a seed pod from a legume. The pods hold one row of seeds. Beans have been used as food for centuries. Many beans are sold fresh or dried or canned. See Beans (Dried, Canned, Frozen)

Green beans or snap beans, and yellow wax beans are sold in the pod and cooked and eaten in the pod. Yellow wax beans have a subtle flavor. Green and yellow wax beans are sold fresh, canned and frozen. Now most green beans are stringless and personal preference determines if the ends are snipped off. French style green beans just mean that the green bean was cut in half lengthwise.

Haricot vert is French for green bean. These are very tiny, slender, straight green beans found seasonally in the produce section. They are soft and tender when cooked.

Flat or pole beans are larger, flatter beans that grow on a tall plant and are often steamed and seasoned with bacon. These are available fresh during the growing season.

Miscellaneous beans that are somewhat more common dried, canned or frozen, but are available seasonally fresh

Edamame is the Japanese name for fresh soybeans. When in season they are picked when not quite mature and sold in the slightly fuzzy green pod. They are legumes that come 4 or 5 beans to a green pod. Edamame can be steamed or cooked and then popped from the pod and eaten as a snack or a vegetable, in soups and main dishes. They are high in protein. Frozen edamame, shelled or unshelled, are also available. Edamame is available seasonally fresh, but is most commonly found frozen in the pod or shelled. The shell is not eaten. Store fresh edamame in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

Fava beans are flat beans inside large pale green pods. The beans are tightly packed inside. They have a sweet flavor and a good texture when fresh and young. Seasonally, fava beans may be found fresh at farmer’s markets or in the produce section. Remove the beans from the pod before cooking. Fresh, tender fava beans need to be just shelled; older beans have a waxy skin around the beans. This needs to be removed. Blanch the beans in boiling water, then plunge in cold water. Pull off the skins. Cook the beans until just tender. A flavorful cream sauce goes well with fava beans. Fava beans can be purchased dried and frozen.

Lima beans are also known as butterbeans and are large, flat green beans used as a side-dish on their own, in succotash or bean dishes. It is a mealy or starchy bean that is removed from the pod before cooking. It is sold fresh in season, canned, frozen and dried.

Buying

  • Fresh beans should be firm, unblemished and have a good color.

Storage

  • Fresh beans can be kept tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Measurement

  • One pound of green beans equals about 3 1/2 cups whole beans.

Beef Broth

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 cup boiling water and 1 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube) for 1 cup broth.

Beets, Beet Greens

Description

  • Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable. They are available most often in a deep red, but yellow and other color beets are becoming more common.
  • Smaller beets can be used for pickling. They also cook faster and are tender. Tender, small beet greens can be used in salads and larger greens and stalks can be cooked and used as a vegetable. Cook trimmed beets until tender and then place in cold water and the skin slips off. Roasted beets are very good used as a side dish or in salads.
  • Beet greens are known for their sturdy texture and flavor. Fresh beets are often sold with the leaves attached. Small greens can be used for salads. Larger greens and stalks can be cooked for a vegetable.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for firm, unblemished beets without soft spots. They are often sold with the tops on. Canned and frozen beets are also available. Look for fresh beets in the produce section. To store, cut off tops and place in plastic bag and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Berries

Description

  • Berries are a popular soft fruit. Some are only available seasonally, although many of the berries they can be found year round. Berries are fragile.
  • Berries are eaten fresh and used in fruit salads, sauces, pies, desserts and jams.
  • Some common berries are:
    • Blackberries are the largest of the berries and are purple to black. They are sweet and juicy. The green cap comes away easily from the berry leaving a white core. They are usually eaten by themselves, on cereal, in fruit salad, desserts and jams.
    • Blueberries are round and deep blue with a slight silver frost on them. Cultivated blueberries are larger, sweeter and juicier than wild blueberries. Blueberries are popular for eating, in blueberry muffins, pancakes, cakes, pies and coffeecakes.
    • Raspberries are jewels of the berries. The raspberry is made up of many drupelets; each has its own seed. These drupelets are connected around the core or center of the berry. Raspberries are available in red, gold and black. They are fragile. The flavor and aroma is great and they are often eaten plain, with cream or baked in pies or desserts. They tend to be expensive, like blackberries. They are sold with the hulls off.
    • Strawberries are a very popular berry now available year round. Some are huge. They are purchased with the stems on. Look for bright red berries with fresh green caps. As with all berries, wash before using and use within a few days. Wash before removing the caps, otherwise they soak up the moisture. Sliced or whole, in a bowl or on cereal, for strawberry shortcake, desserts and smoothies, strawberries are an attractive and welcome fruit. Strawberries are good with chocolate. A strawberry, picked from the garden when ripe, has a great aroma and flavor. They are often smaller and solid. Commercial berries tend to have a hollow middle, especially the larger ones.

Buying

  • Look for berries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Strawberries are sold with their green caps or hulls, raspberries without their caps.

Storing

  • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don’t wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Blueberries can be frozen right in the container.

Berries (Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries)

Description

Buying

Storing

  • Berries are a popular soft fruit. Some are only available seasonally, although many of the berries they can be found year round. Berries are fragile.
  • Berries are eaten fresh and used in fruit salads, sauces, pies, desserts and jams.
  • Some common berries are:
    • Blackberries are the largest of the berries and are purple to black. They are sweet and juicy. The green cap comes away easily from the berry leaving a white core. They are usually eaten by themselves, on cereal, in fruit salad, desserts and jams.
    • Blueberries are round and deep blue with a slight silver frost on them. Cultivated blueberries are larger, sweeter and juicier than wild blueberries. Blueberries are popular for eating, in blueberry muffins, pancakes, cakes, pies and coffeecakes.
    • Raspberries are jewels of the berries. The raspberry is made up of many drupelets; each has its own seed. These drupelets are connected around the core or center of the berry. Raspberries are available in red, gold and black. They are fragile. The flavor and aroma is great and they are often eaten plain, with cream or baked in pies or desserts. They tend to be expensive, like blackberries. They are sold with the hulls off.
    • Strawberries are a very popular berry now available year round. Some are huge. They are purchased with the stems on. Look for bright red berries with fresh green caps. As with all berries, wash before using and use within a few days. Wash before removing the caps, otherwise they soak up the moisture. Sliced or whole, in a bowl or on cereal, for strawberry shortcake, desserts and smoothies, strawberries are an attractive and welcome fruit. Strawberries are good with chocolate. A strawberry, picked from the garden when ripe, has a great aroma and flavor. They are often smaller and solid. Commercial berries tend to have a hollow middle, especially the larger ones.
    • Look for berries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Strawberries are sold with their green caps or hulls, raspberries without their caps.
    • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Blueberries can be frozen right in the container.

Black Walnuts

Description

  • Black walnuts are hard to shell, so are sold shelled and chopped. They are found inside a shaggy husk which holds the tough nut and needs to be cracked.
  • Black walnuts are more expensive than walnuts and are found in the baking area with the other nuts. They have a unique, dominant flavor and are used by those who love the flavor in cookies, cakes and candies.

Storage

  • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Black walnuts are high in fat, so become rancid quickly.
  • Freeze black walnuts if you aren’t using them up quickly. They can be frozen for up to 1 year or in the refrigerator for 6 months.
  • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.

Blackberries

Description

  • Blackberries are the largest of the berries and are purple to black in color. They are sweet and juicy. The green cap comes away easily from the berry leaving a white core. They are usually eaten by themselves, on cereal, in fruit salad, desserts and jams.

Buying

  • Look for blackberries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet-looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Blackberries are also available frozen.

Storing

  • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

Blue Cheese

Description

  • Blue cheese is a semi soft cheese that has a bacteria culture added to create blue-green veins in the white cheese. Blue cheese has a salty, pungent taste. Blue cheese is hard to slice as it crumbles easily. It is used on cheese trays and also on salads. Blue cheese is sold crumbled, in wedges and in chunks in the deli specialty cheese section and the dairy case. It should not have a smell of ammonia.
Storing
  • Strong, aromatic cheese such as blue cheese should be kept in a covered container.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.

Blueberries

Description

  • Blueberries are round and deep blue with a slight silver frost on them. Cultivated blueberries are larger, sweeter and juicier than wild blueberries. Blueberries are popular for eating, in blueberry muffins, pancakes, cakes, pies and coffeecakes.

Buying

  • Look for blueberries in the produce section. They should be an even color, not bruised or wet looking. Most are sold in half pints, pints or quarts. Blueberries are also available frozen.

Storing

  • Berries are fragile and so buy what you can use in a few days. Don't wash until you are ready to use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage

Description

  • Bok choy or Chinese cabbage is a cabbage with crisp, dark green spoon shaped leaves and firm, white ribs. It does not form a head. Bok choy has a mild sweet flavor and is crisp. The leaf and stalk can be eaten. Boy choy is used in salads, soups and stir fry.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for this cabbage in the produce section. It should be dark green with no signs of wilting. Store this cabbage in a plastic bag for 3 to 5 days in the produce bin of the refrigerator.

Bouquet Garni

Description

  • A bouquet garni is the French name for a bundle of herbs, sometimes bundled in cheesecloth, that is added to soups, stews and broths to add flavor. You can also tie the herbs with string or place the herbs (removed from the stems) into a tea infuser.
  • The combination of herbs can vary but the classic combination is 4 springs parsley, 3 springs thyme and 1 bay leaf.

Tips

  • Remove and discard the bouquet garni before serving.
  • If the herbs are tied with a string, tie the end of the string to the pot handle to easily remove the bouquet garni after cooking.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leave and 1 bay leaf (crushed) for 1 teaspoon bouquet garni.

Brazil Nuts

Description

  • Brazil nuts are from the rainforest of the Amazon.
  • The shell is dark brown and the nut has a brown skin with a white interior and the flavor is rich, sweet and milky.  Brazil nuts are big and are somewhat triangular in shape. 
  • Brazil nuts are high in protein, omega 3 fatty acid and calcium.
  • They turn rancid quickly, so freeze them if not using soon.
  • They are sold in the shell in the produce section, so you will need a nutcracker to snack on these nuts. They are often sold in bags in a mixed nut variety. Some are used in fruitcakes. 

Storage and Freshness

  • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster.
  • Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.
  • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.

Brie Cheese

Description

  • Brie cheese is easiest to cut when it's cold. Use a clean sharp knife to cut the Brie wheels into wedges or thin slices.
  • Brie is a soft ripened cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk. The rind is covered with a downy coat of edible white mold and the interior is pale creamy yellow and buttery soft. The flavor can be mild to pungent.
Buying and Storing
  • Brie is sold in small or large wheels or wedges. Brie should give to slight pressure. Most Brie is eaten as is with crackers or fruit. Brie is often wrapped in pastry and baked for an appetizer. Look for this cheese in the specialty cheese section.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap or aluminum foil to retain moisture.

Broccoli

Description

  • Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family. It resembles a tree with the sturdy green stalk and the branches bearing the compact green bud heads.
  • Broccoli consumption has soared in the last 20 years. Eat raw, cook as a vegetable, use in salads and stir frys.
  • Some recipes may call for baby broccoli. Others may call for a vegetable that is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.

Buying

  • Look for broccoli with an even green color and compact bud heads or florets. As broccoli gets older some of the buds can turn olive or yellow. This can be trimmed off before using. Broccoli is available year round in the refrigerated produce area. Some stores sell bags of just the florets, no stalks. Broccoli is also available frozen in spears or just the florets.

Storing

  • Store the unwashed broccoli in an opened plastic bag in the produce bin for up to one week.

Tip

  • Don't overcook. The broccoli will turn olive green and be strong tasting.
  • Trim the stalks and cut in strips or slices and cook with the broccoli florets buds until tender. Remove the florets if they are cooked before the stalks, or cook separately.

Broccoli Rabe

Description

  • Broccoli rabe is a flowering stalk that looks like tiny broccoli heads but is actually a member of the turnip family. It does have a bitter, pungent flavor. It is used in Italian dishes and can be fried, braised or steamed and used in soups.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for green, not yellow flowering stalks. Store in plastic bag in the produce bin and use within a week.

Broth, Bouillon (Beef or Chicken)

Description

  • Broth or bouillon, often called stock, is made by cooking a meat, poultry or fish with water and vegetables like celery and onions. The liquid is strained off and used as a base for soups and sauces. Many home cooks make their own. Cans of bouillon or broth can be purchased in vegetable, beef and chicken varieties.
  • Bouillon cubes are compressed cubes of concentrated broth. These cubes are salty. Cubes are reconstituted with hot water before using. Cubes come in beef, chicken and vegetable flavors.
  • Bouillon granules are the same product only in a granular form.
  • Consommé that is sold in the condensed soup section has some tomato puree and gelatin added. It thickens a little when heated.

Buying

  • Bouillon, broth and consommé are sold in the soup aisle in cans.
  • Bouillon cubes are sold in boxes or jars.
  • Bouillon granules are sold in the soup aisle in jars.

Storing

  • For cans and jars store in a cool dry place and use by expiration date.

Tip

  • One bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon of granules dissolved in 1 cup hot water equals 1 cup broth.
  Substitutions
  • One bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon of granules dissolved in 1 cup hot water equals 1 cup broth.

Brown Sugar

Description

  • Brown sugar is white sugar combined with molasses which results in a soft textured sugar that is moist and sticky.
  • Light and dark brown sugar both have molasses but in varying amounts. Light brown sugar is more delicate in taste. Dark brown sugar retains more of the molasses flavor.
  • Muscovado brown sugar is the darkest brown sugar and is moist with a lot of flavor.
  • Demerara sugar is a dry, light brown raw sugar that has some molasses remaining and has golden large crunchy crystals. It is most often used in hot beverages.
  • Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that has been steam cleaned. It contains about 15% molasses, so the sugar has a slight molasses flavor. The color is dependent on how much molasses remains. It is light tan to golden brown in color and the large crystals make a crunchy and an attractive topping on quick breads, muffins or cookies

Buying and Storing

  • Brown sugar and raw sugar are usually sold in 1-pound bags or boxes and can be found in the baking aisle of the supermarket.

Tips and Substitutions

  • To measure brown sugar, pack it firmly into a dry measuring cup. Brown sugar should retain the shape of the cup when turned out.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar for 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar. (Slight flavor differences will occur.)

    Substitute 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons molasses for 1 cup light brown sugar.

    Substitute 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar for 1 cup granulated sugar. (Flavor will be affected somewhat.)

Brussels Sprouts

Description

  • Brussels sprouts grow on a sturdy stalk. They look like miniature cabbages, from marble to walnut size and deep green in color. They are high in protein. Brussels sprouts are available year round, although the peak season is fall.
  • The smallest sprouts have the sweetest taste. They have an unpleasant odor if overcooked. Roasting Brussels sprouts brings out their sweetness.

Buying

  • Look for firm, compact heads with bright green tight leaves. Avoid off color ones or those with holes in the leaves.

Storing

  • Store them in the produce bin in a plastic bag for 3 to 5 days.

Tip

  • Don't wash Brussels sprouts until you plan on using them.

Buckwheat

Description

  • Buckwheat is technically an herb and not a whole grain.
  • It has an earthy and nutty flavor.
  • Buckwheat does not contain gluten.
  • Soba noodles are made from buckwheat.

Buying and Storing

  • Buckwheat flour is found with the other flours. Freezing the flour will extend the shelf life.

Bulgur

Description

  • Bulgur is wheat kernels that are steamed, dried and cracked to remove the bran. Bulgur has a nutty flavor and a tender, chewy texture.
  • A common use for bulgur is tabbouleh.
  • No need to always cook bulgur. Place bulgur in boiling water and allow to stand for about an hour to absorb the liquid. Bulgur can also be cooked. Bulgur can be eaten like rice or as a cereal.

Buying and Storing

  • Bulgur is found with grains, rice and beans or in the ethnic section of the store. You can store bulgar in the freezer for a longer shelf life. Use by the expiration date.

Butter

Description

  • Butter tenderizes a baked product.
  • It also adds color and flavor that is impossible to replicate.
  • Butter is available salted (salt acts as a preservative) or unsalted. Unsalted butter offers a delicate, cultured flavor.

Storage

  • Store butter in its original container in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door, for up to one week beyond the date printed on the package.
  • Fresh butter should have a delicate cream flavor and pale yellow color. Butter quickly picks up off-flavors during storage and when exposed to oxygen; once the carton is opened place it in a resealable plastic food bag or airtight container.
  • Store butter away from foods with strong odors, such as onions or garlic.
  • Keep butter refrigerated between serving times.
  • Butter may be frozen for up to four months. Place the butter in a resealable plastic freezer bag.

Measuring

  • Land O Lakes® Butter comes in stick form with markings on the paper indicating tablespoon and cup measurements. Use a sharp knife to cut off the amount needed for a recipe.
  • Butter Measurements:

    2 cups = 4 sticks = 1 pound

    1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 pound

    1/2 cup = 1 stick = 1/4 pound

    1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tablespoons
  • If using Land O Lakes® Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil, in the tub, spoon into dry measuring cup and pack down firmly with spatula, spoon or knife.
  • If using Land O Lakes® Whipped Butter, measure by weight, not volume.

Handling Butter: Browning

  • Browning butter enhances butter’s rich flavor. To brown butter melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter just begins to turn a delicate golden brown color. (Butter will bubble and foam. WATCH CLOSELY.) Immediately remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

Handling Butter: Clarifying

  • Melt butter over low heat in a small skillet or heavy saucepan. Remove white froth with a spoon as it forms on top. As fat rises, milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan. Pour off clear yellow clarified butter; discard milk solids. Store in refrigerator.

Handling Butter: Creaming

  • Beat butter or butter and sugar until soft, smooth and creamy. Use an electric mixer or food processor for easy mixing.

Handling Butter: Cutting-In Butter

  • Mix in cold butter by gently pressing pastry blender into the butter and flour mixture. Butter is cut-in when the mixture is crumbly and looks like coarse meal. This may take a little bit of work. You may have to use a knife to clean off the pastry blender once in awhile.
  • Cutting the butter in coats the proteins in the flour and helps prevent the gluten-forming proteins from joining together with water and with each other.
  • Use two knives to cut-in the butter if you do not have a pastry blender. With knife blades close together, move the knives back and forth in opposite directions as in a cutting action. This will take more time, but it does work just as well as a pastry blender.

Handling Butter: Softening

  • Soften butter slightly for easier mixing by removing from refrigerator and letting stand 30 to 45 minutes at room temperature.
  • To soften butter quickly, cut into chunks and allow to soften at room temperature about 15 minutes. If time is limited, place a stick of cold butter between sheets of waxed paper and hit it with a rolling pin on each side to smash butter.
  • The Land O’Lakes Test Kitchens recommend that you do not soften butter in the microwave for use in baking. The butter can quickly melt even when watched carefully.
  Substitutions
  • Unsalted butter may be substituted for salted butter or vice versa. It is not necessary to alter the amount of salt in the recipe.

    Whipped butter may be used as a substitution based on weight, not volume. For example, if a cake recipe calls for 1cup (2 sticks) butter, you may use 8 ounces of whipped butter.

    Stick margarine made from vegetable oil may be substituted for butter in most baking applications except pastry recipes and candy, made from boiled syrup. Using margarine will produce a softer dough than one made with butter, and may not have the same flavor as butter.

Buttermilk

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1 cup for 1 cup of buttermilk. Let stand 5 minutes.

    Substitute 1/2 cup plain yogurt plus 1/2 cup milk for 1 cup buttermilk.

Cabbage

Description

  • Cabbage comes in many colors and shapes. The two most common are green and purple or red cabbage. Cabbage is crisp and mild when raw.
  • Cabbage is used raw in slaws, as a cooked vegetable and in soups and in other main dishes such as stuffed cabbage leaves.
  • Cabbage is a good source of fiber and vitamin C.
  • Chinese cabbage, or bok choy is a cabbage with crisp, dark green spoon shaped leaves and firm, white ribs. It does not form a head. Bok choy has a mild sweet flavor and is crisp. The leaf and stalk can be eaten. Boy choy is used in salads, soups and stir fry. Look for this cabbage in the produce section. It should be dark green with no signs of wilting. Store this cabbage in a plastic bag for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Green or white cabbage has a firm, compact head. Use uncooked in coleslaw or cooked in stuffed cabbage leaves, boiled dinners and as a boiled or sautéed vegetable. This type of cabbage is used to make sauerkraut.
  • Napa cabbage is a cylindrical cluster of pale leaves with white ribs. It has a delicate flavor and used in Asian cooking. Use shredded in slaws.
  • Red cabbage is a reddish purple color. It comes in a compact round head and has a robust, slightly peppery flavor. Adding a few tablespoons of vinegar to the cooking water helps to avoid loss of color. Red cabbage is used in slaws, as a cooked vegetable and shredded into salads.
  • Savoy cabbage is a loose globelike head of light green curly or crinkly leaves with white ribs on a short stem. It is tender with a mellow flavor. It is a fall and winter cabbage.

Buying

  • Cabbage is available year round in the produce section. Look for heads with compact leaves and a head that is heavy for its size.

Storing

  • Store in the refrigerator in produce bin for a week or longer. A plastic bag will help retain moisture.

Tip

  • The core of the cabbage is tough. To remove, cut the cabbage in quarters and cut off the base of each at an angle to remove the core.

Camembert Cheese

Description

  • Camembert is a soft ripened cheese made pasteurized cow's milk. The rind is thin and covered with a downy mold. The texture is soft and almost oozing. The flavor is rich and sweet. It is eaten as is with crackers or fruit. Look for this cheese in the specialty cheese section.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.

Canola Oil

Description

  • Canola oil is made from rapeseed. It is lower in saturated fat than other oils and has a neutral flavor.
  • It is good for cooking, stir frying, marinades and salad dressings.

Buying

  • Buy canola oil in amounts that can be used in a few months to avoid rancidity problems. Canola oil is found in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • To keep oil from becoming rancid, store it where it is not exposed to heat and light and keep the container sealed. Use by the expiration date.
  • Canola oil can usually last 6 months if kept in a cool, dark place. 
  • Sniff all oil before using to make sure it isn't rancid.

Capers

Description

  • Capers are green flower buds that have been dried. They can be sold dried or packed in a vinegar brine or olive oil. They come in various sizes. Capers become saltier as they are cooked. You might want to rinse them before using. Caper berries are larger than capers but can be used in the same way.
  • Capers are used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking and as a condiment. Buying
  • Look for capers in small jars in the condiment section or near the olives.

Storage

  • Keep refrigerated after opening.

Caraway Seeds

Description

  • Caraway seeds are from a plant with feathery green leaves. The small dark brown caraway seeds are aromatic. Caraway is found in rye bread, cabbage, some sauerkraut and meat dishes. It is also delicious in cream sauces.

Buying

  • Caraway seeds are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Cardamom

Description

  • Cardamom is a seed related to the ginger family that is used in Indian cooking such as curries. It is the main ingredient in garam masala, an Indian spice mixture. It has a floral smell and a lemony flavor.
  • It is also used in the ground form in cakes and breads or for flavoring sugar.

Buying

  • Cardamom pods or seeds and ground cardamom are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger for 1 teaspoon ground cardamom. (Flavor will vary slightly.)

Cashew Nuts

Description

  • Cashew nuts are a rich nut with a sweet, buttery flavor. They are tan and kidney bean shaped. The shell is poisonous, so they are sold shelled and roasted in cans.
  • They can be used as a snack and in some bars and cookies. Cashew nuts are also popular for salad garnishes and in stir frys.
  • They have a high fat content so can become rancid quickly.

Storage and Freshness

  • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place. Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster. Refrigerate shelled nuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months.
  • Shelled nuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.

Cauliflower

Description

  • Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family. Creamy white florets are surrounded by green leaves curled around the edge of the head. Cauliflower is now available green, as well as the more familiar white head.
  • Cauliflower is eaten raw and used in salads and other vegetable dishes. It can also be used as a cooked vegetable, mashed and served like a potato for a low carbohydrate substitute. Cauliflower is also good roasted. Cauliflower can be cooked whole or separated into smaller pieces, often called florets.

Buying

  • Cauliflower is available all year round in the produce department. Look for a compact, creamy white head. Brown patches that appear after the cauliflower is purchased can be trimmed away before using.

Storing

  • Store the head of cauliflower in the produce bin. It should keep for a week or more if well wrapped.

Cayenne Pepper

Description

  • Cayenne pepper is a dull red powder ground from hot chili peppers from the Cayenne region of French Guiana. Since the pith and seeds are used it is pungent and hot. Use sparingly.

Buying and Storing

  • Cayenne pepper can be found with the spices in the baking section of the store. Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Celery, Celery Salt, Celery Seed

Description

  • Celery is a green vegetable that has ribs or stalks attached to a stem. It is topped with green leaves. Some celery has strings, but the most popular, Pascal is practically stringless. White celery is available in the winter and is tender and less bitter.
  • Celery ribs or stalks break cleanly off the stem when celery is fresh. The darker the stalks, the stronger the flavor.
  • Celery is cut in strips and eaten raw, or sliced for salads and soups and main dishes. It is also a popular ingredient in chow mien and potato salad. Celery leaves are attractive and can be used as a garnish and used in soups.
  • Celery seed is a seasoning sold in the spice section composed of tiny celery seeds. This tends to be a bit expensive. Celery seed can be used in slaws, potato salad, canning and soups.  It adds a mild celery flavor.
  • Celery salt is a seasoning sold in the spice section and is made up of ground celery seeds and salt.

Buying

  • Celery is sold in the produce department in plastic bags year round. Hearts of celery are trimmed stalks with some of the outer stalks and the leafy portion removed. It should be green and crisp looking and have no wilted looking leaves. Celery seed and celery salt are sold in jars in the spice section of the store.

Storing

  • Celery can be stored in a plastic bag in the produce bin for up to two weeks. Limp celery can be used in soups or revived by standing it in a glass of water.
  • Store celery seed and celery salt away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Cellophane Noodles

Description

  • Cellophane noodles are also called glass noodles or bean thread vermicelli. They look like a rice noodle but are firm and won't break.
  • They need to be cut with a scissor and soaked before using. They absorb other flavors well.

Buying

  • Cellophane noodles are found in the ethnic or Asian section of the supermarket, in boxes or cellophane packages.

Storing

  • Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration date.

Cheddar Cheese

Description

  • Cheddar cheese is a very popular cow's milk cheese. It can be semi-firm to firm. It has a smooth, firm texture. Cheddar is sold in white or orange yellow color. Cheddar is a cheese that is sold aged, which means it was held under ideal conditions by the manufacturer for months to years. It is labeled mild, medium, sharp or extra sharp. As the cheese ages it becomes stronger in flavor and firmer and drier in texture. Cheddar is popular in grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, many other main dishes, sandwiches and just for eating. It is found most often in the dairy case or the specialty cheese section of the store.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Cheese

Description

  • There are over 2,000 different types of cheeses in an amazing variety of flavors - from mild to extra sharp, tangy to spicy. And the textures range from creamy and soft to granular and firm.

Storage

  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Strong, aromatic cheese, such as blue cheese, should be kept in a covered container.
  • Wrap all cheese tightly in the original wrapper, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.
  • Firm cheeses, such as Swiss and Cheddar, will keep longer than softer cheeses.
  • Process cheeses have a long shelf life because they are pasteurized. Once they are opened, or sliced in the deli, keep them tightly wrapped and refrigerated to avoid drying out.
  • Freezing cheese is not recommended. However, if you do, freeze cheese in small amounts of less than one-half pound, no thicker than one-inch. Wrap well.
  • To use frozen cheese, thaw slowly in the refrigerator. Thawed cheese may be mottled in color, which should even out after thawing. Frozen cheese is usually crumbly and more suitable for cooking than for serving to guests or using for snacks.
  • What about mold? Most molds are harmless, but to be safe, discard at least one-half inch of cheese on all sides of the visible mold. Tips:
    • Make sure the knife blade is thoroughly cleaned when cutting each surface to avoid spreading mold to the freshly cut surface.
    • Use new wrap when rewrapping, to avoid spreading mold spores to the fresh areas.

Cooking With Cheese

  • Melt cheese at a low temperature for a short time, stirring often. Cheese needs just enough heat to melt and blend with other ingredients. If heated too long or at too high a temperature, the cheese can become tough and stringy, and the fat can separate.
  • Cheese melts more quickly when shredded or cubed. Shred it when cold for easier shredding.
  • A process cheese will melt evenly and smoothly with no fat separation. Process cheese can be cubed to speed up melting time.
  • Shred natural cheese so it will melt quickly at a low temperature.
  • When cheese is used to top an entree, add it near the end of the baking time so it has only enough time to melt.

Cutting Cheese

  • Cheese is easiest to cut when it's cold.
  • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the cheese.
  • Cut cheese wheels into wedges.
  • Cut rectangular, square, and cylindrical cheese into slices.
  • Cut wedges or triangular cheese into thin wedges.
  • Cheese can also be cut into cubes.
  • Use a serrated cutter to make attractive crinkle cut shapes.
  • Soft goat cheese is usually cut into rounds or served as a spread.
  • If you're preparing a snack tray, try cutting a variety of shapes using a knife or small canape or cookie cutter.

Serving Cheese

  • To enjoy the full flavor of cheese, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Be sure to keep it wrapped until it is served.
  • Sample cheeses beginning with the mildest cheese to more robust, such as American to Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
  • Label cheeses so guests can identify what they are sampling.

Selecting Cheese

Natural Cheese

  • Cheeses are appropriate for all types of entertaining. How much to buy depends on the type of occasion, time of day, other foods being served, number of guests, and even the mix of people in attendance. Below are some good rules to follow:
    • Plan on 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person when preparing snacks or sandwiches.
    • Allow a serving of 3 ounces of cheese when cheese is the only protein source, such as a cheese and fruit platter.
    • A 2-ounce serving is adequate when other food, such as seafood, appetizers or meats, are served along with the cheese.
    • Look for cheeses with different textures and flavors. For a large group, try 6 different cheeses on the cheese tray. For a smaller group, 3 different cheese may be adequate.
    • Variety is the key when planning for a cheese tray. Try a blend of hard or semi-hard cheeses, like Cheddar, a mild semisoft one, like Monterey Jack, and a soft, ripened cheese such as Brie or Camembert.
    • A good rule: 4 ounces or 1/4 pound cheese = 1 cup shredded cheese.
    • Process cheese is made from natural cheese. The cheese is pasteurized or heated and emulsifiers are added to disperse the fat. Other ingredients can be added for flavored process cheese, reduced fat process cheese or to create singles or slices of process cheese. The cheese is then poured into forms or made into slices. Process cheese melts quickly and smoothly.
    • Process American cheese is very popular and most often sold in 5-pound blocks for slicing in the deli or in 2-pound loaves or slices in the dairy case. Because the cheese is pasteurized it has a longer shelf life than natural cheese.
    • Natural cheese is made from pasteurized milk. This can be cow, goat, sheep or buffalo milk. A starter culture is added to begin fermentation of the milk and this also helps develop the final flavor and texture. A microbial enzyme is added to coagulate the milk. Curds develop and whey is drained from the curds. Salt is added and the curds are pressed into desired shapes or forms. Many natural cheeses are aged to develop the flavor and texture.
    • Imported cheese must be made from pasteurized milk. Artisan cheese is sometimes made from unpasteurized milk in this country, but must be aged before it is sold.
    • Many natural cheeses are sold in the deli, in the dairy case, in chunks, wedges or shredded.
    • There are various ways of classifying cheeses. For this purpose the cheeses will be defined as soft ripened, semi-soft, semi firm, hard and hard grating.
    • Some common types of natural cheese are:
      • Soft ripened - These cheeses have a higher fat and moisture content and are easier to spread and have a creamy texture. Examples are Brie and Camembert. See individual cheese entries for more information.
      • Semi-soft - Varieties include blue cheese, Gorgonzola, Feta, fontina, Havarti, Roquefort or Chevre (goat cheese) and Hispanic or Latin American cheese such as Cotija or Queso Blanco. See individual cheese entries for more information.
      • Semi-firm or firm - Varieties include Cheddar, Colby, Edam, Gouda, Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Muenster, mozzarella, provolone, Swiss or Emmental and Hispanic or Latin American cheese such as Chihuahua, Enchilado or Manchego. See individual cheese entries for more information.
      • Hard - these cheeses, often grated, are low in moisture. Varieties include Asiago, Parmesan, Romano and Pecarino Romano. See individual cheese entries for more information.

Cherry

Description

  • Cherries are small round fruit that can be bright or dark red or yellow. They contain one pit.  They are available beginning in early summer till early September.
  • There are sweet and sour cherries. Sweet cherries, which are eaten fresh, are large and plump and eaten as is or used in desserts. Two common sweet cherries are Bing cherries which are large, sweet and juicy and have a deep garnet color, and Queen Ann. The Rainier Cherry is a sweet golden cherry with a pink blush that is available July through September.
  • Sour cherries are sour. They are often cooked with sugar for desserts, canned for pie fillings or used for juice or jam. They can be purchased year round in cans and sometimes frozen.
  • Maraschino cherries can be found with the ice cream toppings and in the baking area. They are sold in a flavored sugar syrup and can be purchased with or without stems.

Storing

  • The Rainier cherry is quite perishable, as are most types of cherries. Buy what you can use in a few days. Wash just before using.
  • Look for colorful, plump cherries with stems attached. Refrigerate ripe cherries in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
  • Maraschino cherries should be kept in the refrigerator after opening.

Measuring

  • 1 1/4 pound equals 3 cups whole or 2 1/2 cups halved cherries.

Chervil

Description

  • Chervil looks like parsley. It has a delicate parsley or anise-like flavor and can be used like parsley. It is rarely used as a seasoning by itself because it is so mild flavored. Add the fresh leaf at the end of cooking. It also is sold dried and as a seed.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
  • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tip

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Chihuahua Cheese

Description

  • Chihuahua is a cow's milk cheese that is often found in wheels, balls or braids and can be off-white to pale yellow. It has a delicate mild, slightly sour, salty flavor and is used like mozzarella cheese. This cheese melts well.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Chili Oil

Description

  • Chili oil is a vegetable oil which has been steeped with hot red chiles in it to release their flavor and heat into the oil.
  • It is red-colored, spicy and hot and a favored ingredient in Asian cooking.

Buying and Storing

  • Chili oil can be found in the ethnic Asian section of the supermarket and in Asian specialty markets.
  • Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Chili Paste

Description

  • Chili paste or chile bean paste is made of fermented fava beans, flour, red chilis and sometimes garlic. It is most often used in Asian cooking.
  • It can be very hot and is often used in Szechuan-style dishes.

Buying and Storing

  • Chili paste can be found in the ethnic Asian section of the supermarket and in special Asian markets.
  • Store in the refrigerator after opening.

Chili Powder, Chili Flakes

Description

  • Chili powder has cumin as a key ingredient. It is usually made from a variety of dried chiles. It is hot, but not as hot as cayenne pepper. Each brand varies in ingredients and heat level. Chili powder is finely ground and deep red. Chili powder is used in chili soup and other main dishes. It often is used as an ingredient in rubs for meat.
  • Adventurous bakers have added it to dark chocolate brownies, mousses and other desserts.
  • Chili flakes are flakes of dried hot red peppers and are also used in cooking and as a favorite addition to pizza.

Buying and Storing

  • Chili powder and chili flakes are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.
  • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Chili Sauce

Description

  • Chili sauce is a thick red condiment that is made from tomato puree, vinegar, salt, onion, spices, flavoring, garlic powder and other ingredients depending on the brand. It can be mild and sweet or very hot and spicy.
  • Chili sauce is used to flavor Thai dishes but is also used in American dishes like meat loaf.

Buying and Storing

  • Chili sauce can be found in jars in the Asian section and in the condiment section of the store. Store chili sauce in the refrigerator after opening and use by the expiration date.

Chinese Five Spice Powder

  Substitutions
  • Substitute a mixture of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground fennel, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise and 1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns for 4 teaspoons Chinese Five-Spice Powder.

Chives

Description

  • Chives are related to the onion family and have hollow stems. The flavor is very mild and onion-like. Use freshly sliced in salads, sandwich spreads, omelets, cottage cheese, potato salad or as a garnish. They add nice flavor to savory biscuits and muffins.
  • Add at the end of cooking to retain flavor and color. Dried chives are available, but are low in flavor. Chives are available year round in the produce section.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
  • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tip

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Chocolate

Description

  • Chocolate used for baking comes in many forms: bars, morsels, chips, chunks, unsweetened cocoa powder and melted chocolate.
  • There are several types of chocolate used in baking:
    • Unsweetened baking chocolate contains chocolate liqueur and between 50% and 58% cocoa butter.
    • Bittersweet chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liqueur, sugar and vanilla.
    • Semisweet and sweet chocolate contain between 15 and 35% chocolate liqueur, sugar and vanilla.
    • Milk chocolate contains 10% chocolate liqueur, sugar, vanilla and at least 12% milk solids.
    • Melted chocolate, which is unsweetened chocolate packed in 1-ounce packages, is found in the baking section of the grocery store. It is made with vegetable oil rather than cocoa butter. It does not have the same intense chocolate flavor as other unsweetened chocolate.
    • Unsweetened cocoa is cocoa liqueur that has been dried and ground into powder.
    • Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with an alkali to help neutralize chocolate’s natural acidity, creating a richer, darker product than regular unsweetened cocoa.
    • White chocolate is not “true chocolate” because it contains no chocolate liqueur, though it is a mixture of sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids and vanilla.
  • Chocolate chips are available in milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark chocolate, mint flavored and many more. These small pieces of chocolate (mini candy kiss shape) are used most often in cookies, cakes or coffeecakes or melted to make frosting. Make sure to buy real chocolate chips or chunks, not artificial or chocolate flavored as they will not taste the same or melt the same as the real chocolate chips. Chocolate chips come in 6 and 24-ounce bags in the baking section. Store tightly sealed in a cool place and use by the expiration date.

Storage

  • Store chocolate tightly wrapped in a resealable plastic food bag in a cool (60° to 70° F) dry place.
  • Unsweetened, bittersweet, and semisweet chocolate stay fresh for years when stored properly.
  • Unsweetened dry cocoa powder will keep indefinitely.
  • Milk chocolate and white chocolate should be stored for no longer than nine months because they contain milk solids.
  • If stored at warm temperatures, chocolate will develop gray surface streaks and blotches called “bloom”. The gray blotches are cocoa butter that has risen to the surface. If stored in damp conditions, chocolate may form small gray sugar crystals on the surface. In either case, the chocolate is still safe to use and will not affect the quality of the final baked product.

Melting Chocolate

  • Melt chocolate in the microwave, over direct heat, or over hot water.
    • To microwave: Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, set power to Medium (50%) and heat, stirring occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes until melted.
    • To melt over direct heat: Place chocolate in pan over very low heat. Chocolate scorches easily. Do not cover the pan.
    • To melt over hot water: Melt chocolate slowly in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of hot water. Be sure not to get even one drop of water into the chocolate because the chocolate will clump or harden (seize). If this happens, try stirring in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for each 6 ounces of chocolate. Stir until smooth. (You may have to discard the chocolate and start over.)
  • Chocolate may be melted with liquid from the recipes (at least 1/4 cup of liquid).
  Substitutions
  • Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate may be used interchangeably in recipes, but there may be slight differences in flavor and texture.

    Unsweetened cocoa and Dutch-processed cocoa may be used interchangeably in any recipe although the Dutch-processed cocoa will produce a milder-flavored, richer, darker product.

    Substitute for 1 ounce semisweet chocolate: use 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate pieces or 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tablespoon sugar.

    Substitute for 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate: use 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter, melted.

    Substitute for 1 ounce sweet baking chocolate: use 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 4 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons butter.

    Do not substitute chocolate syrup for melted chocolate in any recipe.

    Do not substitute instant cocoa mix for unsweetened cocoa. Instant cocoa mix contains milk powder and sugar and could alter the flavor and texture of the finished baked product.

Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped, for 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Chocolate, Bittersweet

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 (1-ounce) square semi-sweet baking chocolate for 1 (1-ounce) square bittersweet baking chocolate.

Chocolate, Semi-Sweet

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 3 tablespoons chocolate chips for 1 (1-ounce) square semi-sweet baking chocolate.

    Substitute 1 (1-ounce) square bittersweet baking chocolate for 1 (1-ounce) square semi-sweet bittersweet baking chocolate.

    Substitute 1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened baking chocolate and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for 1 (1-ounce) square semi-sweet baking chocolate.

    Substitute 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 7 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 cup butter, margarine or shortening for 6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate.

Chocolate, Sweet Baking

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 teaspoons sugar and 1 tablespoon butter, shortening or vegetable oil for 1 -ounce sweet baking chocolate.

Chocolate, Unsweetened

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or shortening for 1- ounce unsweetened baking chocolate.

Chocolate, White

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1- ounce milk chocolate for 1 ounce white chocolate. (Color and flavor will vary.)

Chorizo

Description

  • Chorizo is a pork sausage that is highly spiced with cayenne, sweet red pepper and garlic. It is available in different heat levels and is most often used in Mexican cooking.

Buying and Storing

  • Chorizo is sold in various size links and in bulk, cured or fresh. The casing on links can be removed before cooking.
  • Chorizo is sold in the ethnic section of the refrigerated area near the tortillas and other Mexican items. Cured chorizo will be in the ethnic section of the store or in specialty markets. Use by expiration date or freeze.

Chutney

Description

  • Chutney is a condiment or relish made with pickled fruit or vegetables. It is sweet and spicy and originated in India. Some are quite hot. Mango chutney is one of the most common.
  • Chutney can be used as a sandwich spread, eaten with curries and used in cheese balls.

Buying and storing

  • Buy chutney in the condiment section or ethnic department. It is sold in jars. Refrigerate the jar after opening and use by expiration date.

Cilantro

Description

  • Cilantro is also called Chinese parsley and is an herb that has bright green leaves and stems. It is often mistaken for flat leaf parsley. It is from the coriander plant. It has a very fragrant aroma and a unique flavor that is often an acquired taste. The dried leaves are also available in the spice section of the store.
  • It is used in Mexican and Caribbean cooking. Add this herb at the end of cooking as it is sensitive to heat. It is best in cold dishes. Guacamole and salsa often use this herb. Some baked goods call for cilantro, especially paired with lime.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Cilantro will keep in a plastic bag for a week or longer. It helps if the leaves are not wet from the spray in the produce department. Cilantro is sold in a bunch in the produce section year round. Wash and snip before using. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tip

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Cinnamon

Description

  • Cinnamon comes from the quill or inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. These quills are cut into 3 to 4-inches pieces for cinnamon sticks or ground into powder.
  • Cinnamon is a popular spice. It has a fragrant warm aroma and sweet, spicy flavor. Cinnamon sticks are used in hot cider and other hot drinks, applesauce and rice pudding.  The sticks are removed and not eaten.
  • Ground cinnamon is a very popular spice used in baking cookies, cakes, apple pie and many more foods. Cinnamon goes well with many fruits and sometimes is included in sweet dips. Cinnamon/sugar sprinkled on toast is popular. Cinnamon butter is good on toast, waffles and pancakes.
  • Cincinnati chili uses cinnamon in the sauce. Other cooking applications include using cinnamon in Mexican mole sauce, in spice rubs for meat and more.

Buying

  • Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom for 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Citron

Description

  • Citron is a citrus fruit related to the lemon that has a thick rind and can weigh up to 20 pounds. It is grown for the thick, spongy rind which, along with the pulp, can be candied, diced and sold as pale yellow candied citron for use in baked goods and fruitcake. It is moist and sticky. Citron is also used to make marmalade.

Buying and Storing

  • Candied citron is sold during the holiday season in small plastic tubs. It can be frozen.

Clotted Cream

Description

  • Rich raw milk is heated and a semi-solid layer of cream forms at the top. This is removed and bottled. It is used as a spread on scones or for topping fruit desserts.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for this in the refrigerated section in small bottles. It is highly perishable, so keep refrigerated and use by the expiration date.

Cloves

Description

  • Cloves are the aromatic unopened dried buds of a tall tropical evergreen. They are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, dark brown and somewhat nail-shaped.
  • Cloves have a pungent aroma and flavor.
  • Whole cloves can be used inserted in the surface of ham to flavor the meat and are used in some hot beverages.
  • Ground cloves are used in spicy cookies and desserts like gingerbread.

Buying

  • Whole cloves and ground cloves are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Cocktail Sauce

Description

  • Cocktail sauce is a tomato-based condiment that is made from chili peppers, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish, among other ingredients. It is pourable, red and often used with shrimp as a dipping sauce. Horseradish gives it the zingy taste.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for cocktail sauce in the condiment section. Store opened cocktail sauce in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.

Cocoa, Unsweetened

  Substitutions
  • Substitute equal amount of Dutch-processed cocoa for unsweetened cocoa.

Coconut

Description

  • Coconut is the large oval brown husk-covered fruit of the coconut palm tree.
  • Fresh coconuts are available year-round with the peak season being October through December. Once the outer shell is broken the white coconut meat is exposed.
  • Coconut is sold as fresh, whole coconut or as processed coconut, sold in cans or bags, or in bulk. It is sold sweetened or unsweetened, shredded, flaked and grated and dried moist or frozen.
  • Other coconut products are also sold:
    • Coconut Water — It is the liquid drawn from the center of the fresh coconut. 
    • Coconut Milk — It is made from water and coconut meat, and is not sweetened. Light coconut milk is available in cans. It is 60% reduced in fat and calories.
    • Coconut Cream — It is a thick syrupy sweetened mixture sometimes known as cream of coconut.
  • One medium-sized fresh coconut will yield 3 to 4 cups grated or flaked coconut and 1 cup of liquid. Do not pack tightly when measuring grated or flaked coconut.

Storage

  • Store fresh whole coconuts at room temperature for up to 1 month. Once a coconut is opened, store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The high oil content of coconut makes it turn rancid rather quickly if not stored properly.
  • If unopened, canned coconut can be stored at room temperature for up to 18 months and in plastic bags up to 6 months. Refrigerate both after opening up to 3 - 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • If shredded, coconut becomes dry, soak it in milk for 30 minutes, then drain off the milk and pat dry with paper towels. You can use the drained milk in recipes or blended drinks within 5 days.

Opening A Fresh Coconut

  • First, drain any liquid inside the coconut by piercing the coconut 2 to 3 times with an ice pick. Crack the shell with a hammer and break the white meat away. Use a knife to peel away the dark inner skin.

Tinting Coconut

  • Create colorful coconut to decorate baked goods by combining 1 cup coconut with 3 to 5 drops of food color in a bowl; toss until evenly coated.

Toasting Coconut

  • Toasting coconut enhances the flavor and lightly colors the coconut a very light golden brown color. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet with shallow sides. Bake at 325°F., tossing occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

Coffee

Description

  • Coffee is big business. It is a popular beverage at home and in coffee shops. There are hundreds of types of coffee. Coffee beans grow in pairs inside the seeds or berries of the coffee tree. The bean is stripped from the pulp, parchment and skin. The bean is then cured before roasting.
  • Coffee is consumed hot, cold, in mocha combinations, in lattes and many other forms. Coffee, instant coffee or espresso powder are sometimes used in cooking as a flavoring to add a rich coffee flavor.
  • The flavor of the coffee bean depends on where it was grown and how it was harvested and roasted. Flavored coffee beans are very popular. Flavors include hazelnut or spices added.
  • Coffee comes in caffeinated and decaffeinated forms.
  • How the bean is roasted affects the flavor. Light roasted coffee beans are pale to medium brown and make a medium-flavored coffee. Dark roasted beans are dark and glossy and the coffee has a slight bitter flavor. American or regular roast makes a moderate brew, French roast is stronger. Espresso beans are glossy black and they have a definite roasted, bitter flavor.
  • Instant coffee is a fine powder made from coffee concentrate. Freeze-dried instant coffee granules are made using freshly brewed coffee which is freeze dried to produce the crystals. The flavor is thought to be superior to the powdered instant coffee.
  • Coffee beans can also be found coated in chocolate and eaten as a treat or used as a garnish.

Buying

  • Coffee beans can be bought in bulk, in packages and in instant form in the beverage aisle.

Storing

  • Coffee lovers believe that coffee should be freshly ground as needed and the whole beans should be used within 2 weeks. Coffee beans can be frozen to increase the shelf life.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 cup hot water and 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or espresso powder for 1 cup strong brewed coffee.

Colby Cheese

Description

  • Colby cheese originated in Wisconsin. It is a semi-firm cheese that is easy to slice. Colby is made from pasteurized cow's milk, is most often yellow orange in color and has a semi-firm to firm texture with some small openings. It has a mild flavor and smooth, creamy texture. Colby cheese is most often sold in the dairy case in 8 or 16-ounce chunks. A large 13 pound cylindrical shape called longhorn is used for slicing in some delis. Colby is popular for snacking and for sandwiches.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Cold Pack Cheese

Description

  • Cold pack cheese is made from a blend of natural cheeses such as Cheddar and other ingredients. This cheese mixture is packed into molds, often in plastic containers. It is spreadable at room temperature. Cold pack cheese is most often used eaten with crackers or for appetizers.

Buying and Storing

  • Buy cold pack cheese in the dairy case, store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.

Collard Greens

Description

  • Collard greens are a type of cabbage which does not form a head but has a bunch of straight, broad leaves. It is fibrous, so requires a long cooking when it is mature. Remove the ribs and cut the collard greens in strips to cook more quickly. It is popular cooked with ham hocks. Collard greens are popular in the South.

Buying

  • Look for greens that are not wilted and don't have yellow leaves. Smaller leaves and stalks are tenderer. Some of these greens are quite seasonal and a larger variety may be found at Farmer's markets during the summer.

Storing

  • Store these greens unwashed in a plastic bag in the produce bin and use within a few days.

Tip

  • These green shrink when cooking as they are full of moisture. Allow 8 ounces per serving.

Conserve

Description

  • A conserve is made from fruit and often raisins or nuts are added to the mixture.
  • Conserve is often spread on biscuits, scones or crumpets.

Storage

  • Conserve has a high sugar content and can be left in the cupboard. Once opened, conserve should be refrigerated. Use by the expiration date.

Cooking Sprays, Baking Sprays

Description

  • Cooking sprays are convenient and are sold in aerosol cans. There are many types available: original (often soybean oil), olive oil and butter-flavored sprays. Baking spray has flour added to it. There is even a grill spray. Use sprays to grease (and flour) pans.

Buying

  • Look for these sprays in the baking section of the store or with cooking oils.

Storing

  • Store in cool dry place and use by expiration date.

Tip

  • If using on non-stick pans or surfaces be sure to clean pans thoroughly after use to avoid residue build-up.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute vegetable shortening to prepare baking sheets and baking pans.

Coriander

Description

  • Coriander is related to the parsley family. It is an aromatic herb. The flavor of the seeds is described as a blend of lemon, sage and caraway. The seeds are often toasted and used in Indian and Asian dishes or in pickling. Ground coriander is found in curries. The leaves are called Cilantro (see Cilantro). Buy in the spice section of the store.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
  • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tip

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Corn

Description

  • Corn is a native American plant. Plump kernels grow in rows on a cob. It is actually considered a grain and cornmeal and hominy are made from corn. Sweet corn sold on the cob is available during the late summer and very early fall.
  • Sweet corn on the cob should be purchased as soon after picking as possible and cooked and served the day it is purchased. The "milky" kernels are high in sugar and as soon as it's picked, the sugar in the corn begins to turns to starch and lessen its sweetness.
  • Popular varieties of sweet corn are white, yellow, white and yellow combined and shoepeg.
  • Tamales are made with the husks of corn.
  • Cooked corn kernels are also popular in many entrees and side dishes and even in baked items such as corn bread.
  • Baby corn is tiny corn, 3 to 4 inches long, that is eaten cob and all. It is popular with Thai and Chinese cooks.

Buying

  • Sweet corn on the cob is at its peak in mid-to-late summer through early fall. Look for plump ears with green, moist husks and corn silk tassels at the tip that look fresh.
  • Corn kernels are also available canned and frozen and small ears of frozen corn on the cob can be found in the freezer section of the store.

Storing

  • Use fresh corn on the cob as soon as possible to prevent it from turning starchy. Keep it in a plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator.

Tip

  • Corn on the cob can be boiled, cooked in the microwave or put on the grill without husks or with damp husks. Don't overcook.

Corn Syrup

Description

  • Corn syrup is a thick sweet syrup that doesn’t become grainy. It is used to make candy, frosting and is used in many pecan pie recipes. Cornstarch is processed with acids or enzymes to produce this syrupy liquid.
  • Corn syrup comes in light or dark varieties:  Light corn syrup is clear and has a delicate flavor. It has vanilla added to it. Use it in pecan pie or candies and frosting. Dark corn syrup is dark brown and has caramel coloring and flavoring added. It has a slight molasses flavor. It is good in barbecue sauces, gingerbread and pecan pie.
  • In most cases these syrups can be used interchangeably:  Pancake syrup is an inexpensive version of maple syrup made from corn syrup that may contain a low percentage, maybe 2%, of maple syrup or uses artificial maple flavoring. Some contain butter flavor. This syrup is used on pancakes, waffles, etc.

Measuring

  • Use a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eyes are level with the markings on the cup. If you first lightly spray the measuring cup with no-stick cooking spray, the corn syrup will not stick to the glass.

Buying

  • Look for corn syrup in the baking aisle or in the pancake section of the supermarket.

Storing

  • Keep corn syrup in a cool place and use by the expiration date.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 cup light corn syrup for 1 cup dark corn syrup. (Flavor will be affected somewhat.)

    Substitute 3/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/4 cup light molasses for 1 cup dark corn syrup.

    Substitute 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water or liquid used in recipe for 1 cup light corn syrup.

Cornmeal

Description

  • Cornmeal is made from corn kernels which are dried and ground. Cornmeal can be yellow, white or blue. It can be ground into fine, medium and coarse grinds. Cornmeal has a sweet flavor and a soft texture.
  • Stone ground or water ground cornmeal retains some of the hull and the germ of the corn, so doesn't keep as well as commercially ground cornmeal that has the outer hull and the germ removed by steel rollers.
  • Self-rising cornmeal is popular in the South and is white or yellow cornmeal with salt and leavening added.
  • Cornmeal is used to make polenta or grits (see Polenta). Cornmeal is also used to make cornbread, corn muffins, used to bread fish, roll out pizza dough on and cornbread-type toppings on Mexican casseroles.
  • White or yellow cornmeal is often enriched with B vitamins and iron to replace that lost with the removal of the hull and germ.

Buying

  • Look for cornmeal in the baking aisle or the section with cooked cereal products. It is packaged in cardboard boxes or bags.

Storing

  • The stone ground variety can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 months or in the freezer for two years. The more common cornmeal can be refrigerated for up to 6 months or stored in the freezer. If the cornmeal is used within a few weeks it can be kept in the cupboard. Storing it a tightly sealed container will help extend the shelf life.

Cornstarch

Description

  • Cornstarch is a fine white powder made from the endosperm or starch of a corn kernel. It is used in cooking as a thickener in puddings, soups and sauces. When cornstarch is used with wheat flour it makes a fine textured cake or pastry.
  • Cornstarch is usually mixed with cold liquid before adding to a hot mixture. This will prevent lumps from forming.
  • Cornstarch sauces are clear, rather than opaque. Cornstarch is often used in Oriental cooking. 
  • Cornstarch is an anti caking ingredient in powdered sugar.

Buying

  • Cornstarch is sold in a 1-pound box in the grocery store baking aisle or in a plastic container with a lid which helps in extending shelf life and makes it easier to measure.

Storage

  • Keep in the box or in a sealed container and use-by date on package.

Measuring

  • Use a standard dry measuring spoon or cup. With a dry spoon fill and then level off with a knife.
  Substitutions
  • Use 2 tablespoons flour for 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

Cotija Cheese

Description

  • Cotija is a cow or goat milk cheese and is very firm or moist like feta. It is white to ivory in color, salty and tangy and becomes more pungent as it ages. When it is young it is smooth, firm, salty and slightly crumbly. As Cotija ages it becomes dry, hard and granular. Since aged Cotija is crumbly and salty it is most often used to season or to garnish Mexican such as enchiladas or refried beans.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Cottage Cheese

Description

  • Cottage cheese is a soft and unripened cheese in a curd form. The curds are white and appear clotted. Cottage cheese is made from pasteurized cow's milk. The milk is coagulated without rennet. It comes in small, medium and large curd sizes. The flavor is fresh and milky. The curds are in a cream that can contain up to 4% butterfat. Cottage cheese is high in protein.
  • Cottage cheese is sold in different forms: Whole (4-8% butterfat); partially skimmed or low fat in both 1 and 2 % butterfat; and fat free cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is also sold with added fruits or herbs, such as chives.
  • Cottage cheese is eaten alone, with salt and pepper or fruit. Sometimes it can be substituted for ricotta cheese in recipes, although it is higher in moisture. It can be blended and used in place of sour cream, although it will not be as rich tasting.
  • Baker's cheese is cottage cheese with some of the moisture drained off. It is slightly more acidic and has a tangier flavor and often used in cheesecakes.

Buying

  • Buy cottage cheese in plastic tubs from 8 ounces to 32 ounces in the refrigerated section.

Storing

  • Store cottage cheese in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date. Do not freeze.

Couscous

Description

  • Couscous is pasta made by moistening wheat with water, coating it with flour and rolling this mixture into round pellets.
  • Couscous can be cooked by adding it to boiling water, removing it from the heat and allowing it to stand till the liquid is absorbed.
  • Couscous is used in side dishes, salads and soups. Some couscous is packaged mixed with herbs, cheese or other flavorings.

Buying and Storing

  • Couscous can be found with rice, grains and sometimes with pasta.

Crackers

Description

  • There are many types of crackers. Most are thin, dry wafers that are plain, salted or flavored and made from flour, salt, sometimes fat and water. The may be leavened or unleavened and often are pricked on the top and baked until they are dry. The common saltine cracker is an example, as is the graham cracker. Oyster crackers are round dime to nickel-sized crackers that may have a ridged edge and are used in soup. Hundreds of snack crackers are available in the cracker aisle.

Buying

  • Usually crackers are sold in a box with a waxed paper or foil liner or in a bag. They are in the cracker or snack aisle.

Storing

  • Keep crackers sealed well and avoid moisture. Use by the expiration date.

Cranberries

Description

  • Cranberries are found in the produce section late fall until early winter. They are native to North America and grown in marshes and bogs. These small, scarlet round berries are popular in sauce or jelly, cranberry relish and in baked goods.
  • Dried cranberries are cranberries that are split in half and injected with sugar. They are plump and dark red and used as a snack, in baking, cereals, granola bars, muffin mixes, etc.
  • A huge array of cranberry flavored and 100% cranberry juice products can be found in the section with juices. Seasonally cranberry orange relish may be found in the freezer section. Cranberry sauce and cranberry gel are available in the canned fruit section

Buying

  • Cranberries are found in late fall to January in good crop years. They are most often sold in 12-ounce bags in the refrigerated section of the produce department. The berries should be bright colored and not soft.
  • Dried cranberries are found in the dried fruit or baking section. They are usually sold in a resealable package. Sometimes they are sold in bulk in bins near the produce section.

Storing

  • Cranberries can be stored in the produce bin in the refrigerator for a week or two. They can also be frozen right in the bag.
  • Keep dried cranberries tightly sealed and use by expiration date. They have a long shelf life.

Tip

  • When cooking cranberries, cook until they burst. Don't overcook.

Cream

Description

  • Cream is a dairy product that is produced from the butterfat from milk. Cream is sold with different percentages of fat content and that determines the best use of the cream. It is widely used in baking and cooking.
  • Half and half is a mixture of milk and cream and contains from 11 to 18% milk fat. It is most often used with coffee. There is a fat free half and half on the market.
  • Light cream, which is sometimes called coffee cream, has a fat content of approximately 20%. It cannot be whipped.
  • Heavy cream may also be called heavy whipping cream and has a milk fat content of 36 to 48%.  This cream is used for whipping.
  • Ultrapasteurized cream is cream that is briefly heated to 300⁰F to kill microorganisms that may sour the cream. It has a longer shelf life than fresh cream because of the heat treatment.  It also may take a little longer to whip.

Buying

  • These dairy products are found in the refrigerated dairy case section of the store. They are sold in 1/2 pint, 1 pint and 1 quart containers.

Storing

  • Store the product in the original container in the refrigerator at 35⁰F to 40⁰F. Use by the expiration date on the carton.

Measuring

  • Measure cream in a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eye is level with the markings on the cup. To measure in a measuring spoon, fill the spoon to the top. Do not pour the cream into a measuring spoon over other ingredients in case there is spillage.

Whipping Cream

  • When whipping cream make sure the cream, beaters and bowl are very cold. Beat whipping cream in the chilled bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar, if desired, until still peaks form.
  Substitutions
  • In cooking and baking applications where the cream is not whipped, substitute whole milk.

    In recipes that call for the cream to be whipped there is no substitution.

Cream Cheese

Description

  • Cream cheese is a smooth, creamy, spreadable (at room temperature) cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk. Salt and stabilizers are added. It has a mild, sweet flavor that is slightly tangy. It is sold in blocks in foil or plastic wrapped that sometimes are in a cardboard container. The most common sizes are 3 ounces and 8 ounces.
  • Cream cheese is used in baking, frostings, dips, cheese balls and desserts like cheesecake.
  • Cream cheese may have herbs, fruits or vegetables added.
  • Cream cheese is available in the following varieties:
    • Full fat Cream cheese
    • Neufchatel cream cheese (American variety) is slightly lower in fat (approximately 1/3 less fat) and calories so it contains more moisture.
    • Reduced fat cream cheese has an even lower fat content.
    • Non-fat cream cheese has no fat and has more starches added.
    • Whipped cream cheese is easy to spread because air is whipped into the cream cheese. It is soft and fluffy and good for spreading.
    • Cream cheese spread comes plain or flavored in small tubs. This is most often used on bagels.

Buying

  • Cream cheese can be purchased in 8-ounce or 3-ounce foil wrapped package in the dairy case section. Whipped cream cheese is most often sold in round plastic containers or tubs.

Storage

  • Keep in foil package or containers and use by the date on the package.

Cream of Tartar

Description

  • Cream of tartar, also referred to as tartaric acid, is a fine white powder that is used in candy and frosting for a creamy consistency and to prevent crystallization. Cream of tartar is also used with egg whites to stabilize and add volume during beating (often for meringues).
  • Cream of tartar can help prevent discoloration of green vegetables. Add 1/2 teaspoon to the cooking water when preparing artichokes to help retain the green color.

Buying

  • Purchase cream of tartar in small plastic containers in the spice section.

Storage

  • It has a long shelf life when kept dry and in a cool, dark place.

Measuring

  • Use a standard measuring spoon. Fill the spoon and then level off with a knife.

Crema

Description

  • Crema is the Hispanic version of sour cream. It comes in different varieties, some are the consistency of whipping cream, and some are thicker like sour cream.

Buying

  • Look for crema in the dairy case with other Hispanic refrigerated items. It is sold in plastic bottles.

Storage

  • Keep refrigerated and use by expiration date on container.

Creme Fraiche

Description

  • Crème fraiche is a slightly thick and richer than sour cream. It has a velvety texture and is high in fat. It does not curdle when heated.
  • Use crème fraiche in desserts and cream sauces or as a topping for fruit.

Tip

  • To make your own crème fraiche heat 1 cup whipping cream to 100 degrees. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sour cream, cultured buttermilk or yogurt. Allow to set at room temperature for 9 hours before refrigerating.

Buying

  • Look for crème fraiche in the dairy case in stores.

Storage

  • Keep refrigerated and use by expiration date on the container.

Croissant

Description

  • A croissant is a flaky crescent shaped roll made from puff pastry. It can be eaten with butter and jam or used as a base for a sandwich. Mini croissants are also available.

Buying and Storing

  • Croissants are often found in the bakery section of the store. Use within a few days or freeze for a few weeks and thaw before using.
  • Tubes of unbaked crescent roll dough can be found in the refrigerated bread section of the grocery store and baked at home. They can be used as a base for tarts, in appetizers and savory dishes.

Cucumber

Description

  • An old saying goes “cool as a cucumber,” and that is an apt description. The long slender green vegetable is full of moisture, but is crisp and cooling. Cucumbers have a thin dark green skin and a pale green interior with white edible seeds. They need hot weather to thrive during the growing season. Cucumbers can be eaten peeled or unpeeled. If a cucumber is too big it will be full of seeds. Cucumbers are eaten as is or in salads. Slices top cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches or appear on vegetable trays. Cucumber slices also make a good edible garnish.
  • English cucumber is a thin-skinned, long, narrow cucumber that has no seeds. It is often sold wrapped in plastic wrap.
  • Small cucumbers, such as Kirby, are used to make pickles, but they are not commonly used for eating like the long slender cucumbers.

Buying

  • Look for cucumbers 7 to 9 inches long that are green and slim with no soft spots.

Storing

  • Store cucumbers on the counter if using within a day or two. They should last a week or longer when refrigerated.

Cumin

Description

  • Cumin is available in a seed likes look like a caraway seed; they are aromatic and nutty. They can be toasted.
  • Cumin is also sold as a ground spice that is dark reddish brown. It is common in many Indian and Hispanic dishes and spice blends.
  • It has a sharp, slightly bitter flavor. It is used in chili powder and is also the base of many rubs.

Buying

  • Cumin seed and ground cumin are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Curry Powder

Description

  • Curry powder is a complex spice mixture made of up to 20 chilies, spices, herbs and seeds. Some of the ingredients used are cumin, cilantro, black pepper, black mustard, ginger and dried chilies. Curry powder is used for curries, dips, Indian cooking.

Buying

  • Curry powder can be found with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container.

Dates

Description

  • Dates are the sweet and fleshy fruit of the date palm. The color ranges from tan to dark brown depending on the variety. They are sold fresh in season but the fruit is most commonly found dried.
  • Dates can be eaten as is, stuffed with nuts or cream cheese and used in baking fruitcake, date cookies, date bread and other baked goods.
  • They also appear in savory dishes such as stews.
  • Dates are sold whole, diced, pitted, unpitted and in other forms.

Buying

  • Dates are often sold in plastic tubs or packages. In late fall they are often in the produce section or year round in the dried fruit area or baking area.

Storing

  • Since dates are sweet when dried they have a long shelf life. After opening packages they should be kept in a cool dry place or in the refrigerator. They also can be frozen.
  • Store fresh dates wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Dill

Description

  • Dill has tiny feathery green leaves. These lacy, aromatic leaves can finely chopped and used in dips with cream cheese, with fish, cucumber salads or used whole as a garnish. The fresh leaves are sensitive to heat. Spicy, pungent dill seeds can be used in pickles, potato salad or cabbage.
  • Fresh dill and dried dill leaves (dill weed) are delicious in savory baked goods. The dill flower is added to dill pickles during canning.
  • Garnish cooked fish, use in cold dips and appetizers. Fresh dill is available seasonally.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried dill seeds and dill weed are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
  • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. 
  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tip

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Edam Cheese

Description

  • Edam is often sold in small rounds with a flat top and bottom. It is often coated in red or yellow wax. The color is pale yellow and the texture is smooth with small eyes or openings. It has a mild flavor. 
  • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the rounds into wedges.

  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.

  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Edamamae

Description

  • Edamame is the Japanese name for fresh soybeans. When in season they are picked when not quite mature and sold in the slightly fuzzy green pod. They are legumes that come 4 or 5 beans to a green pod.
  • Edamame can be steamed or cooked and then popped from the pod and eaten as a snack or a vegetable, in soups and main dishes. They are high in protein. Frozen edamame, shelled or unshelled, are also available.

Buying and Storing

  • Edamame is available seasonally fresh, but is most commonly found frozen in the pod or shelled. The shell is not eaten. Store fresh edamame in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

Eggnog

Description

  • Eggnog is a dairy-based beverage made from cream, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg.
  • Eggnog can have rum flavoring, be low fat or full fat.
  • Eggnog powder can sometimes be found in the grocery store.
  • Eggnog is used as a beverage and can also be used as an ingredient in desserts and baked goods.

Buying and Storing

  • The refrigerated section is where to find eggnog during November through January. Store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.

Eggplant

Description

  • Eggplant is called a vegetable but is actually a fruit that comes in many sizes, shapes and colors. Eggplant has a spongy texture and an off-white pulp. A large egg-shaped eggplant that has a smooth glossy purple skin with a rigid stem is the most common one. These large eggplant can be fried, stuffed or roasted and have a white flesh that turns somewhat grey when cooked.
  • Eggplant is rarely eaten raw. It can have a slight bitter, but fairly bland flavor that absorbs other flavors. Eggplant do contain tiny edible seeds. It is often peeled before cooking.  Typically eggplant weigh 1 1/2 to 2 1/1 pounds.
  • Another eggplant which is becoming more popular in the produce section is the narrow and small Japanese eggplant. It has a fine texture and a sweet flavor. It is often grilled or can be stuffed.
  • Baby eggplants are purple and white striped.

Buying

  • Look for plump eggplants that do not have soft spots. The skin should be glossy and the stem not shrunken.

Storing

  • Eggplant can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week or longer.

Eggs

Description

  • Eggs add flavor and color, tenderize the product, add lightness when beaten, contribute to the structure and provide liquid in a recipe.   
  • Brown-shelled eggs have the same flavor and nutritional value as white-shelled eggs.
  • Eggs are graded for quality (AA, A, B) by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The best grade, AA, has a firm yolk that stands up higher and a white that spreads less than a lower grade egg when broken. All three grades are suitable for baking.
  • Liquid pasteurized eggs and pasteurized eggs in the shell are available in some markets in the United States. These eggs may be substituted for unpasteurized eggs in recipes.

Storage

  • Always store eggs in the refrigerator in their original carton. The carton protects them from absorbing odors in the refrigerator.
  • If eggs have been purchased before the expiration date and stored properly, they may be safely used for three to five weeks from date of purchase.
  • Liquid pasteurized eggs may be refrigerated unopened for up to 12 weeks from the pack date. 

Beating Eggs

  • When beating egg whites, make sure that no traces of broken yolk have gotten into the whites. Keep the bowl and beaters free of any fat. Fat, even from the yolk, can prevent egg whites from expanding to their full volume when beaten.
  • Bring egg whites to room temperature for 20 minutes after they have been separated from the yolks. At room temperature, the egg proteins can form elastic bubbles more easily, and egg whites will beat to their highest volume.

Testing for Freshness

  • Fill a deep bowl with enough cold water to cover an egg. Place the egg in the water. If the egg lies on the side on the bottom, it is fresh. If the egg stands up and bobs on the bottom, it isn't quite as fresh. If the egg floats on the surface, it should be discarded.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute for 1 whole egg:
    • 2 egg whites. Flavor and texture of the baked product may be altered when using this substitution.
    • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute. Egg substitutes contain egg whites, nonfat milk, vegetable oils and other ingredients to replace the yolk. If used in a cake recipe the flavor, color and texture may be altered. The baked product may be less tender, more pale and may not taste as rich.
    Substitute for 1 egg white:
    • 1 tablespoon meringue powder plus 2 tablespoons water. This substitution may be made in meringues and royal icing.
    • Powdered egg whites may be substituted in most recipes requiring egg whites. It can be used in angel food cakes or chiffon pies. Follow directions on the container.
    • 2 tablespoons liquid egg whites for 1 egg white in applications except meringue and angel food cake recipes.

Enchilado Cheese

Description

  • Enchilado is a semi-hard white cheese coated with red paprika or chili powder. It has a smooth texture with small eyes and has a salty, milky and tangy flavor. As it ages is becomes drier and crumbly.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Endive, Curly Endive

Description

  • Endive or curly endive grows in loose heads of lacy green leaves with a white center. It has a slightly bitter flavor and can be used in salads or soups.
  • Red endive is crunchy with sweet and bitter flavors. The leaves are red tipped with a white base. They are often used as a base for appetizers.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves sold in plastic containers or unwrapped. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.

Escarole

Description

  • Escarole is sold in bunches and has crisp sturdy leaves that have a mildly bitter flavor. Clean by washing in a bowl of water, rinse and repeat. If tender use raw or cook.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for fresh looking leaves that are crisp, not wilted and with no yellow leaves sold in plastic containers or unwrapped. Keep lightly wrapped in the produce bin and use within a few days. Wash just before using and pat dry.

Espresso Instant Coffee Powder

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 2 to 3 teaspoons instant coffee granules for 1 tablespoon espresso coffee powder.

    Substitute 2 1/2 tablespoons instant cappuccino drink mix for 1 tablespoon espresso coffee powder.

Evaporated Milk

Description

  • Evaporated milk is milk that has had 60% of the water is removed. It is sealed in cans and heat treated.
  • To reconstitute evaporated milk used equal amounts of evaporated milk and water. Many recipes call for using it undiluted. It is used in cream sauces, soups and baking.
  • Do not use evaporated milk for sweetened condensed milk.
  • Evaporated milk is available in regular, low fat (2%) and fat free varieties.

Buying

  • Evaporated milk is found in the baking aisle of the store in 12-ounce cans that contain 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk.

Storing

  • Store unopened cans in the cupboard for up to 12 months or by the expiration date. Opened cans should be well covered and refrigerated and used within a few days. Do not freeze.

Measuring

  • Measure evaporated milk in a glass or clear plastic measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eye is level with the markings on the cup. To measure in a measuring spoon, fill the spoon to the top. Do not pour the cream into a measuring spoon over other ingredients in case there is spillage
  Substitutions
  • A substitute for 1 cup of refrigerated fresh milk is 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of water.

Extracts

Description

  • Extracts are concentrated flavors in a liquid form used in small amount in baking and cooking to enhance flavors in desserts, whipped cream, candies and frosting. Most extracts are made using alcohol, but it is an insignificant amount.
  • Almond extract is made from almond oil and alcohol. It is used in frostings, desserts, cookies and bars. A little goes a long way as it is potent and fragrant.
  • Anise extract tastes like licorice and is most often used in cookies and cakes.
  • Lemon and orange extract have the essence of those fruits and can be used in cakes, frosting and other desserts.
  • Peppermint extract is used in making mints, candies and candy canes. It also is very flavorful and a small amount goes a long way.
  • Rum extract is used to give a rum flavor without using alcohol to drinks, custards, fruitcake, sauces, cakes and cookies.
  • Vanilla extract is used very widely in baking. See Vanilla for more information.
  • Other extracts seen on the shelf are butter, maple, mint, hazelnut, strawberry and coconut, but each store carries basics as well as some of these more specialized extracts.

Buying

  • Look for extracts in the baking section of the store. They are most often sold in small, dark glass bottles.

Storing

  • Store extracts in a cool, dark place with the bottle tightly covered to prevent evaporation and loss of flavor.
  • Extracts will stay fresh for up to 1 year after opening.

Measuring

  • Fill the measuring spoon to the top. Be careful not to let it spill over. Don’t measure extracts or flavorings over the mixing bowl. Any spillage will go in the bowl and you will not know the amount of extract or flavoring that you have added.

Fennel Seeds

Description

  • Fennel seeds are small, olive green flat oval seeds from the common fennel plant. They have a slight anise or licorice flavor. Fennel seeds are used in some sausages and to flavor some meat dishes. They are also used to flavor sweet foods and many liqueurs.

Buying

  • Fennel seeds are available whole and ground with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container no more than 6 months.

Feta Cheese

Description

  • Feta cheese can be made from pasteurized sheep, goat or cow's milk. It can be semi-soft to semi-firm. It is very white, firm, and crumbly, has a milky flavor with a tang and can be very salty. Feta cheese is used in appetizers and on salads and in some main dishes. Feta can be purchased in large or small chunks or in small plastic containers. It is sold in the dairy case or in the specialty cheese section. Flavored feta is popular now. Some deli departments sell it in brine.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Fig

Description

  • A fig is the fruit of the fig tree that looks like a tiny plump pear. Depending on the variety figs can range in skin color from a reddish brown to brown or black.
  • The flesh can also be white, yellow or green. They are sweet and the skin and the many tiny seeds are all edible.
  • Calimyrna and Mission are two common varieties.
  • Figs are sold fresh in the late summer season and dried figs are available year round.
  • Figs that are fresh are usually eaten as is; dried figs can be used in baked goods and commercially are used in fig-filled cookies.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for plump figs with no soft spots. They yield to gentle pressure if they are ripe.
  • They are highly perishable and should be eaten within a few days if they are soft and ripe.

File Powder

Description

  • File powder is made from young leaves of the sassafras tree. File powder is used as a binder or thickener in gumbo and other Creole cooking. Add just before serving the gumbo or other dish.

Buying and storing

  • Look for file powder in the gourmet spice section.

Fish Sauce

Description

  • Fish sauce is made from salted fish and is used in the place of salt in Oriental cooking. 

Buying and Storing

  • Fish sauce is found in jars in the ethnic food section and needs to be refrigerated once it has been opened.

Flour

Description

  • Flour is finely ground and sifted meal of various edible grains.
  • Wheat is the most common source of flours used in baking. Wheat can be categorized in three types, hard wheat, soft wheat and durum wheat. Hard wheat is high in gluten and the wheat flour is good for bread baking. Soft wheat flour is lower in gluten and is better in baked goods like cakes and bars.
  • Wheat flour contains gluten, a protein that forms an elastic network. This network helps contain the gases that makes mixtures such as doughs and batters, rise as they bake. Different flours vary by level of protein, which determines the applications for which that flour is used.
  • All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat and contains 10-11% protein. It is used for a wide variety of recipes, from breads to cookies and cakes.
    • All-purpose flour comes in two basic forms: Bleached and unbleached,which can be used interchangeably.
  • Bread flour is an unbleached, specially formulated, high-gluten hard-wheat flour.
  • Whole wheat flour contains the wheat germ, meaning it is higher in fiber, nutritional and fat content.
  • Cake or pastry flour – fine-textured soft wheat flour with a high starch content. Makes very tender cakes and pastry.
  • Self-rising flour – an all-purpose flour to which baking powder and salt have been added
  • Semolina is ground from durum wheat and is used in the best pastas.

Storage

  • Store all-purpose or bread flour at room temperature for up to 12 months. Temperatures higher than room temperature invite bugs and mold.
  • Store flour indefinitely in the freezer.
  • Flour may dry out with long storage and so at the maximum storage time may lose baking quality and the same results may not be realized as with fresher flour.
  • All flour should be stored in an airtight container. If flour is stored in the refrigerator, the flour should be brought to room temperature before using.
  • The amount of moisture in flour will affect the results of your baked product. Flour absorbs moisture during high humidity; it loses moisture in high altitude, cold weather or during long storage. Moisture in the flour can change quickly, so if the amount of flour to use is listed as a range, begin with the least amount and add additional flour as needed.
  • Store whole wheat flour in the freezer to prevent rancidity. When whole wheat flour is rancid it smells old or stale. Whole wheat flour may be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to one year, as compared to one to four months at room temperature.
  • Store cake flour in an airtight container to maintain freshness. To keep cake flour longer than 6 to 8 months, place cake flour into a resealable plastic freezer food bag and freeze for up to 12 months.

Measuring Flour

  • Stir flour in the bag or canister with a large spoon to lighten it. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife.
  •  Be careful not to tap or shake the measuring cup when measuring.
  •  It is not necessary to sift the flour in baking unless the recipe specifically states to do so.

Sifting Flour

  • Commercial, all-purpose flours today are “pre-sifted” and do not generally require additional sifting. However, if a recipe specifically calls for sifted flour we suggest sifting the flour by:
    • Using a flour sifter
    • Or, spoon flour into a fine mesh food strainer and shake or tap it over a bowl.
  Substitutions
  • Bread Flour: Substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 teaspoons gluten flour for 1 cup unsifted bread flour.

    Cake Flour: Substitute 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for 1 cup cake flour.

    Pastry Flour: Substitute 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour for 1 cup pastry flour.

    All-Purpose Flour: Substitute 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for 1 cup all-purpose flour. Substitute self-rising flour minus the salt in yeast bread recipes for all-purpose flour. Substitute self-rising flour minus the salt and baking powder in quick bread recipes for all-purpose flour.

    Gluten Free Flour: Substitute Gluten-Free Flour Blend for regular flour. To make flour blend, combine 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Use appropriate amount for recipe; store remainder in container with tight-fitting lid. Using gluten-free flour will involve a little experimenting as it's not always a 1:1 swap.

    Self-Rising Flour: Substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt for 1 cup self-rising flour.

    Whole Wheat Flour: Substitute 1 cup minus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons wheat germ for 1 cup whole wheat flour. Substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for 1 cup whole wheat flour.

    Flour as a Thickener: Substitute 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch, arrowroot starch, or 1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca for 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.

     

Fontina Cheese

Description

  • Fontina is a semi-soft pale yellow cheese with a buttery taste. It is most often used for eating with fruit and crackers, but melts well and can be used in appetizers and main dishes. Buy in the specialty cheese section.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Garam Masala

Description

  • Garam masala is a blend of dry-roasted, ground spices often used in Indian cooking. Each cook often makes their own mixture of up to 12 spices and ingredients vary by region. Spices and herbs that may be used include allspice, cumin, anise, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, hot pepper, coriander and chili powder.

Buying

  • Prepared garam masala can be found at some supermarkets in the spice section or in specialty spice shops. Keep the container well sealed. It does not have a long shelf life.

Storing

  • Store away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Garlic

Description

  • Garlic is a member of the lily family and related to onions, leeks, chives and shallots. The garlic head or bulb grows underground and is covered with a white parchment-like skin. Heads contain 6 to 12 cloves depending on variety.
  • Garlic has a strong aroma and flavor. Garlic gets more intense the smaller it is cut or minced. Whole garlic cloves can be mild. Garlic is also milder in early summer.
  • Use garlic in savory dishes, rub on the sides of a wooden salad bowl, or over bread slices to flavor with garlic. Insert cloves into meat before roasting and use in many meat and main dish recipes. Roasted garlic is popular to spread on bread or use in other recipes.
  • Purple garlic is imported from France at the end of summer and is potent with juicy large cloves.

Buying

  • Look for garlic that is firm and plump, not soft. Don't buy garlic that has green sprouts.

Storing

  • Store in a cool, airy and dark place. Leave the cloves on the bulb and they won't dry out as fast as cloves that are separated from the head.

Tips

  • To crush garlic lay the flat side of a chef's knife over the garlic clove and strike the knife firmly with your fist.
  • Roasted garlic becomes mellow and sweeter.
  • Garlic presses do a great job of finally mincing the garlic cloves.

Measuring

  • 1 clove garlic equals 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic.
  • One-half teaspoon prepared minced garlic or finely chopped fresh garlic equals 1 clove garlic.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder for 1 clove minced garlic.

    Substitute 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt for 1 teaspoon garlic salt.

Gelatin

Description

  • Unflavored gelatin is obtained by cooking animal bones to extract the protein, which is the gelatin. It is an odorless, tasteless and colorless powder that is used to gel or thicken liquid mixtures. Gelatin is sprinkled over cold water and allowed to stand for 5 minutes, and then it can be added to hot water. As the liquid mixture cools and is refrigerated, the liquid begins to gel or set up.
  • Packets of gelatin powder, which weigh 1/4 ounce, or leaf gelatin can be used to gel salads and desserts. Leaf gelatin is more common in the foodservice industry. Four sheets equal the 1/4 ounce package. It needs to be put in cold water first as well.
  • Gelatin is used in some desserts like refrigerated soufflés, mousses and aspic and other molded foods. Fruit- flavored gelatin powders are made with gelatin.

Buying

  • Buy gelatin in the area near the fruit-flavored gelatin. There are a number of 1/4-ounce packets in each box.

Measuring

  • To gel 2 cups liquid use 1/4-ounce package or 4 sheets of leaf gelatin.

Tip

  • Fresh pineapple has an enzyme which keeps gelatin from setting.  Use canned pineapple in gelatin-based desserts or salads.

Ginger

Description

  • Fresh ginger is a knobby-looking tan root found in the produce section. The flesh is pale yellow and slightly fibrous. You can buy the amount you want. It smells fresh and spicy when grated.
  • Fresh ginger is used in stir-fry cooking as well as other cooking, in baking gingerbread, cakes and cookies.
  • Minced ginger can be found in a jar in the produce section.
  • Ground ginger is widely used in baking.
  • Crystallized ginger is also called candied ginger. It is fresh gingerroot that has been cooked in sugar syrup and then rolled in coarse sugar. This preserves it. It is strong flavored, so use sparingly in gingerbread, cakes, cookies and muffins.

Buying

  • Look for fresh ginger in the refrigerated produce section in large knobby roots. Snap off a piece the size you want.
  • Crystallized ginger is often found in different spots in the supermarket. Look in the ethnic section, in the baking section, or with the spices. It can be in discs or chopped, in boxes or jars.
  • Find ground ginger with spices in the baking aisle.
  • Pureed ginger can also be found in a tube in the refrigerated section of the produce department in some supermarkets.

Storing

  • Gingerroot can be stored in a plastic food bag for up to 1 month or longer. It can also be frozen.

Tip

  • Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to peel ginger. Then thinly slice across the fibers, to minimize the stringiness, into discs or flat slices. Stack them up and cut in matchsticks and then cut across these and mince.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger for 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger.

    Substitute 1 teaspoon ground allspice for 1 teaspoon ground ginger. (Flavor will vary.)

Goat Cheese, Chevre

Description

  • Goat cheese or Chevre, which is French for "goat," is a goat cheese available in many varieties, shapes and sizes. It can be fresh or aged. Most often these are artisan cheeses and are found in the specialty cheese section of the store. They usually have a smooth, white interior and can be nutty, buttery or piquant in flavor. Many of these cheeses have a light acid flavor. They can be used for appetizers and cooking and are sometimes flavored or coated with herbs or pepper.
  • Soft goat cheese is usually cut into rounds or served as a spread.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Gorgonzola Cheese

Description

  • Gorgonzola is a pasteurized cow's milk cheese that can be semi-soft to semi-hard. It is moist, white to ivory with green mold veins throughout the cheese. It becomes crumbly as it ages. It can be mild to pungent. It is not as potent as Roquefort cheese. The mold becomes more pronounced as the cheese ages. Gorgonzola is good in sauces and with fruit and crackers. Gorgonzola usually comes in small foil wrapped chunks in the specialty cheese section.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Strong, aromatic cheese, such as Gorgonzola, should be kept in a covered container.

Gouda Cheese

Description

  • Gouda is a cow's milk cheese that is often sold covered with wax in small wheels or wedges of large wheels. It is pale gold with small openings, or eyes. It has more butterfat than Edam. It has a smooth texture and mild flavor. Look for it in the dairy case or in the deli specialty cheese section. Gouda is attractive on a cheese tray.
  • Use a clean sharp knife to cut the wedges or wheels into thin slices.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Graham Cracker

Description

  • A graham cracker is made with whole wheat flour and graham flour. It is light golden brown, crisp and sweet.
  • Graham crackers are used for eating and in graham cracker crusts for pies and in bars. The popular dessert, "s’mores," uses graham crackers to hold marshmallows and chocolate.
  • Graham cracker crumbs can be purchased in the baking area. This is a convenience product for making graham cracker crusts.
  • A stack of graham crackers are wrapped in a wax-coated paper to extend the shelf life in a box of graham crackers. Usually there are 3 of these packages in the box. A graham cracker is about 5 inches x 2 ½ inches and lightly scored.
  • Graham crackers may be flavored, such as cinnamon.

Buying

  • Graham crackers are found in boxes in the area near the crackers. The cracker crumbs are found in the baking area.

Storing

  • Store the graham crackers in a cool dry place and use by the expiration date.

Measuring

  • Fifteen (2 ½-inch) graham crackers, crushed equals 1 cup graham cracker crumbs.

Grapefruit

Description

  • A grapefruit is a cross between an orange and a pomelo. (A pomelo is the largest citrus fruit. It has a heavy peel or rind and spicy pulp).
  • Grapefruit actually grows in clusters like grapes. Depending on the variety they vary in size, color and sweetness. It is high in vitamin C.
  • Grapefruit are most often used for eating at breakfast or in fruit salads. Grapefruit segments can be found in the refrigerated section of the store, as well as grapefruit juice, which can be purchased refrigerated, in jars or canned.
  • The zest of a grapefruit is not used as it bitter.
  • White or golden grapefruit have a yellow skin and a pale yellow pulp.
  • Pink and ruby grapefruit have pinkish red interiors and are sweeter than the white grapefruit. They peak in January.

Buying and Storing

  • Grapefruit should be heavy for their size as those will contain more juice.
  • They should be stored in a plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator.

Grapes

Description

  • Grapes are a popular fruit. They are actually a berry. They grow on vines in clusters and that is how they are sold. Many grapes are grown in California. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes and also can have seeds or be seedless. Grapes are seasonal and, although red and green grapes can be found throughout the year, many are imported during the winter.
  • Black/purple grapes include Concord grape and the Riber grape. The Concord grape has a skin that slips off, but has lots of seeds and a thick pulpy interior. It is most often used to make Concord grape juice and jelly, although they are good in a pie. They are only available in the fall.
  • Red grapes that contain seeds and come in deep red clusters are large Red Globe and Emperor.
  • White grapes that contain seeds are Calmeria which are long with a mild tangy flavor. Black or white Muscat grapes are often used for raisins and white grape juice. They are plump and juicy.
  • Seedless grapes are very popular. The Thompson light green grape is well known and available all year. It is slightly oblong, sweet and juicy. The Flame is a cross and is red, round and crunchy sweet.
  • Champagne grapes are pea sized grapes and are usually used as a novelty garnish, although they are edible. Usually they are red.

Buying

  • Grapes are purchased in bunches. Each one is attached by a stem to a cluster. Usually you can select the amount you want to buy. Look for plump grapes with no spoiled, crushed or moldy grapes. Concord grapes are sometimes sold in a small cardboard basket.

Storing

  • Store grapes in the refrigerator if not using in a day or two. They last up to one week or longer when they are refrigerated.

Gruyere Cheese

Description

  • Gruyere cheese is a semi-hard to hard cheese. It is made in wheels or squares and is naturally aged. It has an ivory interior with a golden brown exterior. The texture is dense and the flavor can be complex; fruity, earthy and nutty. It is often used in Swiss fondue for the flavor and the way it melts. Look for Gruyere in chunks or wedges in the specialty cheese section.
  • Use a clean sharp knife to cut into wedges or thin slices.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Half & Half

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream for 1 cup half & half.

Havarti Cheese

Description

  • Havarti is a semi-soft to semi-firm cheese that has a smooth texture and some small eyes or openings. It is often higher in fat than some other natural cheese. It is pale yellow. Havarti is often flavored with dill, caroway, herbs or peppers. It is used most often for eating with fruit and crackers. Buy Havarti in the specialty cheese section or sometimes in slices in the dairy case.
  • Keep cheese refrigerated at temperatures of 35°F to 40°F.
  • Wrap cheese tightly in the original wrapper or container, plastic food wrap, special cheese paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and prevent mold.

Hazelnuts (Filberts)

Description

  • Hazelnuts are a round or oblong nut in a brown, slightly acorn-shaped shell. They are harvested during the Fall and found in the baking area with the nuts in whole, sliced or chopped form.
  • Hazelnuts are a crunchy nut with a slightly bitter flavor.
  • Hazelnuts are used in baking desserts and cookies and whole in some drinks. They go well with chocolate.
  • Filberts are cultivated hazelnuts.

Storage and Freshness

  • Store shelled nuts in an airtight container in a cool place.
  • Heat, light and moisture make nuts go rancid faster.
  • Refrigerate shelled hazelnuts for up to four months or freeze for up to eight months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.
  • Shelled hazelnuts should be crisp in texture and uniform in color. They should not be shriveled or discolored. Nuts should smell and taste fresh, not rancid with an off-flavor. Rancid nuts will ruin the baked product. Always taste nuts before using.

Herbes de Provence

Description

  • Herbes de Provence is a mixture of fresh or dried rosemary, basil, savory, thyme, bay and sometimes even lavender, commonly used in southern French cooking. It can be used to season meat, poultry and vegetables.

Buying

  • Dried herbs de Provence is located with the spices in the baking section of the store. It is sometimes sold in tiny clay crocks.

Storing

  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Herbs

Description

  • Herbs come from a plant that does not develop a wood stem above ground and dies after flowering. Often the stem, leaves, seeds and roots of some herbs are all used in cooking. Herbs add flavor and aroma to many foods. For information on specific herbs, see individual herb entries such as Basil, Dill and others.

Buying

  • Look for fresh-looking herbs with no wilted leaves and brown spots. Often they are in plastic containers on hooks over the produce section. Dried herbs are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Use herbs within a few days to 1 week, depending on the herb. Parsley will last longer.
  • Store herbs in the container they were purchased in or in plastic bag in the produce bin of the refrigerator. If the herbs are loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a sealed bag they will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Store dried herbs away from sunlight in tightly closed containers.

Tips

  • To revive limp herbs, trim off about 1/2-inch of the stems and place stems in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash herbs just before using and pat dry.
  • Most herbs do best when added at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs are easy to grow and as you snip what you need, the plant keeps growing. Many produce departments sell the most common herbs in a pot for year round growing in a sunny spot.
  Substitutions
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if substituting them for fresh herbs, start with one half the amount of fresh herbs, for example, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.

Hoisin Sauce

Description

  • Hoison sauce is a Chinese sauce that is thick and deep brown. It is sweet and spicy and has a slight bite. It is made from soybeans, chilies, sugar and salt. Use in marinades for pork or chicken, in stir-frys and other Asian dishes.

Buying

  • Hoisin sauce is sold in the ethnic food section in jars.

Storage

  • Once opened, store the sauce in the refrigerator.

Hominy

Description

  • Hominy is the whole, hulled kernel of maize (corn) which has been soaked and boiled until the outer skin comes off. They look like a swollen corn kernel and are off white. Hominy can also be dried and ground into grits. Hominy is often used in soup; posole is a common one that uses hominy.

Buying and Storing

  • Buy hominy in various size cans in the ethnic section or with the canned beans. Store in the cupboard and use by the expiration dates.

Honey

Description

  • Honey is a thick, sweet liquid made by bees from the nectar of flowers. It is an all-natural sweetener. There are hundreds of different flavors, colors and even thicknesses, depending on the source of the nectar. Clover, sage and orange blossom are just a few of the most common types of honey.
  • Honey helps keep baked goods moist, keeping them fresher longer.
  • Varietal honey is sought out by gourmet honey lovers.
  • Usually, the darker the honey, the stronger flavor.
  • Most honey is pasteurized, but raw unfiltered honey is available in some markets. Honey can also be purchased whipped or in the honey comb where the honey is still in the wax cells. These products have a shorter shelf life than pasteurized honey. Clear honey is heat treated to prevent crystallization.
  • Honey is very sweet and recipes need to be adapted if honey is used in place of other sweeteners. Honey is used as a topping on pancakes and waffles, in baked goods, in ice cream, in beverages, in salad dressings, marinades and sauces.

Measuring

  • Use a glass or clear plastic liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Bend down so your eyes are level with the markings on the cup. If you lightly spray the measuring cup with vegetable cooking spray honey will not stick to the glass.

Buying

  • Farmer's markets and gourmet shops will have specialty honeys. The supermarket may have more common honey in jars and plastic bottles.

Storing

  • Honey has a long shelf life if kept in a cool, dry place. If it crystallizes, gently heat in the microwave for a few seconds until it is free flowing.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar plus 1/3 cup liquid (use whatever liquid is called for in the recipe) for 1 cup honey.

    Substitute 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup maple syrup, light or dark corn syrup or light molasses for 1 cup honey. (Flavor will vary.)

Horseradish

Description

  • Horseradish is a white carrot-like root which is a member of the mustard family.
  • When horseradish is freshly grated it has a harsh, strong aroma and peppery bite. After grating, vinegar is added to stabilize the heat.
  • Prepared horseradish is sold ground or dried, mixed with salt and vinegar, or as cream-style horseradish which is made by adding cream. There is also horseradish sauce which along with vinegar, has oil, sweeteners and and other ingredients added to it. Horseradish can come in fine and coarse grinds.
  • Horseradish is popular with roast beef. Horseradish is best used raw in sauces. Horseradish is the ingredient that gives seafood cocktail sauce its zip. It is also used in some mustards and relishes.

Buying

  • If buying fresh horseradish look for unblemished skin and medium sized roots.
  • Prepared horseradish or cream-style horseradish is sold in glass jars in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Horseradish sauce can be found in the condiment section in jars with condiments.

Storing

  • Keep jars of horseradish sealed well and in the refrigerator. As it gets older it goes from white to brown and becomes less potent.

Hot Pepper Sauce

Description

  • This hot, spicy, peppery sauce is made from hot red chilies, vinegar and salt. It is used to add heat and flavor to many foods.
  • There are flavored hot pepper sauces and verde, or green tobacco sauce. It is made with green jalapeno peppers. Hundreds of varieties with varying degrees of heat can be found in grocery stores, at farmer's markets and specialty stores.

Buying and Storing

  • Although hot pepper sauce is usually used by the drop, bottles up to 23-ounces can be found on the shelf. Keep sealed and store in the refrigerator or cool dry place.

Italian Seasoning

  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves for 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning.

Jam

Description

  • A jam is made from fruit cut into fairly small pieces.
  • Seeded and seedless versions of some fruit jams are available, such as raspberry.
  • Jam is eaten on toast or in sandwiches, but are often used in baking bars or cookies or desserts.
  • Pectin is used to make most jams as it gels the product. Some fruits, like crabapples, contain natural pectin.

Storage

  • Jam has a high sugar content and can be left in the cupboard. Once opened, the jam should be refrigerated. Use by the expiration date.

Jelly

Description

  • ​Jelly is made from fruit juice, pectin and sugar.  It does not have pieces of fruit, so it is smooth.  Grape jelly is a favorite jelly.
  • It is most often eaten on toast or in sandwiches, but can also be used in baking bars or cookies or desserts. Pepper jellies are often used in appetizers.
  • Pectin is used to make most jellies, as it gels the product. Some fruits, like crabapples, contain natural pectin.

Storage

  • Jelly has a high sugar content and can be left in the cupboard. Once opened, the jelly needs to be refrigerated. Use by the expiration date.

Jicama

Description

  • A jicama is a root tuber of a tropical plant. It is quite large, 8 to 12 inches long, and has a light brown skin and a white interior. Jicama can weigh one to twelve pounds and is often sold in chunks. It is crunchy and juicy and has the flavor of a water chestnut. It is most often eaten raw as a snack or in salads, but it is also good cooked, for example, in stir fry. Peel thinly before eating or cooking.

Buying

  • Look for jicama in the produce section. They should have thin unblemished skin.

Storing

  • Jicama keeps well in the refrigerator for over a week.

Juniper Berry

Description

  • The juniper berry is a small blue-black berry which is too bitter to eat raw. It is often used to flavor marinades, sauces and stuffing. It is usually crushed before using and is the flavoring used in the liquor gin.

Buying

  • Juniper berries are sold in a jar in brine or dried and are located with the spices in the baking section of the store.

Storing

  • Store away from sunlight in a tightly closed container. Refrigerate brined juniper berries after opening.

Kale

Description

  • Kale is a mild flavored member of the cabbage family that comes in many varieties and colors. Common kale has frilly dark green leaves around a sturdy rib. Some varieties are red tinged. Kale has more flavor than cabbage. Kale has been used as a cooked green for years, but has become popular in salads. It is sturdy and holds up well with salad dressings. Cut out the rib and then cut the leaves crosswise. There are ornamental varieties as well.

Buying and Storing

  • Kale is sold in bunches, banded at the bottom of the stems. Look for smaller crisp leaves with no yellowing or wilting. Wash and pat dry before using. Store kale in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It will hold up well for over 1 week.

Kefir

Description

  • Kefir is a thin fermented yogurt that is most often used as a beverage. It has a slightly tart flavor. Kefir is sold plain or flavored.

Buying

  • Buy kefir in the dairy case.

Storage

  • Store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.

Ketchup

Description

  • This popular condiment is made of boiled tomatoes that are pureed and strained and mixed with vinegar and may have onions, peppers, sugar and other ingredients added, depending on the brand. It is pourable. Ketchup is sometimes spelled "catsup."
  • Ketchup is used on French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, in salad dressings, barbecue sauces and in many other ways.

Buying

  • Buy in the condiment area in bottles.

Storing

  • Refrigerate after opening and use by expiration date.
  Substitutions
  • Substitute 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon vinegar for 1/2 cup ketchup.

Kielbasa

Description

  • Kielbasa is a smoked polish sausage usually made with pork or beef and flavored with spice and garlic
  • Kielbasa is available in a low fat version which uses turkey meat and the same spices.

Buying and Storing

  • Kielbasa is sold in large, pre-cooked links.
  • Buy in the meat department, store in the refrigerator and use by the expiration date.

Kiwi

Description

  • Kiwi is a tropical fruit originally grown in New Zealand, but now grown in California. This small fruit from a tree is popular to eat or to add to a fruit salad or fruit tart.
  • Most common are the gold kiwi and the green kiwi. The gold kiwi has yellow flesh with tiny edible seeds and the skin is bronze. The skin is edible. The brown kiwi has a fuzzy brown skin with a green flesh and tiny black seeds. Most people peel off the skin. They are juicy and have a mild apple or strawberry flavor.

Buying and Storing

  • Look for fruit that does not have soft spots. If they are ripe they will yield to gentle pressure. They do continue to ripen. Store on the counter till ripe and then refrigerate and use within a few days.

Kohlrabi

Description

  • Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family but has a turnip-like texture and flavor. They look like a floppy-leafed turnip. The pale green or purple bulb has a leafy top and the interior of the bulb is white and crisp. The round bulb is eaten. Large ones can be woody. They have a slight cabbage or turnip-like flavor. Most often kohlrabi is eaten as a raw vegetable or in slaws but they can be cooked.

Buying

  • Kohlrabi is most common in the summer months at farmer’s markets and in the produce section. Look for firm green or purple unblemished bulbs.

Storing