The Asian pantry falls prey to humidity and plenty of direct sunlight, that’s assuming we have year-round summery weather. How do you keep prized ingredients last longer? Here’s a round-up of tricks to keep some essential ingredients in tip top quality without worrying about wastage.
Particularly red spices like chili powder, paprika and cayenne need to be kept in the fridge. Not only do they stay fresher, their intense colour is retained. Also store them away from direct sunlight or heat as their flavour and colour can perish.
With Singapore’s humidity, soya sauce can oxidise quickly. If it has gone rancid, it will have a sourish aftertaste so it’s best to keep it chilled in the refrigerator.
Flour and flour mixes kept in non-refrigerator environments can go rancid easily. The oil levels in the wheat germ is the main culprit. It is best to store in an airtight container in the fridge where it can last up to six months. Rancid flour smells like smelly socks – sourish and musty.
We all detest hardened sugar and brown sugar happens to fall victim to this problem. Some people keep it soft and supple but adding a cube of marshmallow or even apple slices to keep the sugars moist. Hardened brown sugar can be revived by microwaving for 20 seconds, so all is not wasted!
Butter is a precious commodity these days and a premium 250-gram block can set you back by more than $10. So it pays to freeze them if you don’t intend to use them in the near future. You can freeze butter blocks but ensure they are sealed in ziplock bags so they don’t absorb the freezer’s flavours.
Many health aficionados have adopted the use of olive oil in the Asian kitchen. It has become a main-stay for stir-fry dishes all because of its healthful properties. Because of its low heating point and cold-pressed process, it falls easy prey for oxidisation. Rancid olive oil smells sourish while fresh olive oil is bright, slightly citrusy with a tinge of pepper. Store olive oil in the fridge door and that will give you a shelf life of up to five months.
Never ever keep honey in the fridge as it will crystallise. Honey in jars dug up from the Egyptian period were found to be edible all because this precious syrup never perishes! Its anti-biotic properties help to fight bacteria so that’s why it’s advisable to take a spoonful of honey when you have a sore throat. To revive crystallised honey, you can either microwave for 20 seconds or place the jar in a frying pan simmering with water on a hot stove.