Denver, CO (PRWEB) January 20, 2014
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to get organized, especially in a gluten-free kitchen. These tips from gluten-free cooking expert Carol Fenster, author of the new Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking, save time and money because a well-organized kitchen is more efficient and proper storage of gluten-free ingredients limits spoilage.
Buy Wisely and Protect Gluten-Free Ingredients
Buy gluten-free flours, whole grains, rice, and legumes from reputable stores that have a high shelf turnover. Keep these items in food-quality storage containers with tight-sealing lids to avoid spills and deter pests. Label the containers with the date and contents so outdated items can be purged and their contents can be easily seen at a glance.
Clean Containers Between Refills
Before refilling a container of flour or grains, first empty it and then wash and dry thoroughly. Why? Food at the bottom of a container can turn rancid or stale—even when topped by fresh layers—and can produce an off-taste in food.
The same holds true for gluten-free whole grains, says Fenster, the author of 10 gluten-free cookbooks. In fact, whole grains (and the flours ground from them) contain all three parts of the grain (the germ, endosperm, and bran) which means higher oil content that hastens deterioration. Careful storage prolongs the shelf-life of these sensitive ingredients.
Choose Proper Storage Location
Be sure to store containers in dark, dry places away from heat or direct sunlight. Otherwise, a warm location or the hot sun shining on the containers causes moisture to build up inside, hastening spoilage. In fact, says Fenster, who blogs at CarolFensterCooks, many people store flours and grains in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve freshness. But be sure to bring chilled ingredients to room temperature before baking, she cautions, so the chill won’t hamper the leavening’s rising ability.
Clean, Organize, and Label Storage Areas
Shelves, cupboards, and countertops should be cleared and then wiped down thoroughly with an appropriate cleaning solution to remove dirt, but also any spills that can attract pests. Take the time to organize what goes back on the shelf by placing similar foods together. For example, all flours together and all whole grains together in a systematic order for easier access and better inventory management. Knowing what’s on the shelf prevents inadvertently buying duplicates. If a refrigerator or freezer is the prime storage area, clean and organize that area as well.
“It is vitally important,” says Fenster, “that food labels clearly distinguish gluten-free foods from their gluten-containing counterparts so nobody accidentally eats gluten.”
Plan Meals in Advance
Planning meals a week in advance helps avoid hectic rushes to get dinner on the table on busy weeknights. It also avoids waste because groceries are purchased and used for a specific dish in mind rather than spoiling in the back of the refrigerator. Being organized also cuts down on unnecessary trips to the grocery store, says Fenster, whose weekly recipe and menu-planning service GfreeCuisine makes shopping much more efficient by generating shopping lists organized by aisles of the grocery store.
Purge Unused Utensils, Appliances, and Gadgets
Appliances take up precious space, so if they’re important―but not used frequently―relegate them to easily-accessible storage to avoid cluttered workspaces. Fenster’s counter-top appliances include a heavy-duty stand mixer for mixing heavy, gluten-free bread dough, a heavy-duty food processor for gluten-free cookie dough, and a powerful blender for gluten-free batters and smoothies. All other appliances must earn the right to occupy precious counter space. Items in good working order―including utensils and gadgets that haven’t been used during the past year―can be donated to charity or to a friend who can use them.
“Keeping a clean, well-organized, gluten-free pantry makes day-to-day cooking and baking so much easier and saves money,” says Fenster, “so invest the time now to make life easier throughout the year. With January as National Get Organized Month, now is the perfect time to do it.”