Stocking the fall pantry is an undertaking that we anticipate with pleasure as summer’s long hot days gradually fade to fall.
After all, as the seasons change, so does our cooking. With the arrival of fall, the abundance of seasonal produce and cooler temperatures have us dreaming about hearty and warming dishes for the colder days ahead: rich stews, fragrant curries, nourishing soups, and fruit-based desserts.
When stocking the fall pantry, we like to keep these on hand to make all those delicious fall-filled meals.
For many, fall is the best time of year for baking desserts, especially those using seasonal fruits and nuts.
Sibley squash pie, pear crisps and cobblers, apple tarte tatin, pumpkin nut bread, and pecan pie are among our favorite autumnal desserts. Here are some basic ingredients to have on hand:
- Flours, especially all-purpose flour, unbleached pastry flour, and whole wheat flour, plus a range of whole grain flours such as rye flour, buckwheat flour, and corn flour to explore using.
- Sweeteners such as molasses, maple syrup, cane syrup in addition to cane sugars.
- Rolled oats for fruit crisp toppings and granolas.
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cardamom, cloves, and vanilla bean are the hallmarks of autumn baking, as well as many savory dishes. Make sure yours are fresh (ground spices will lose their potency after a year or two), and store them in cool, dark cupboard in airtight containers.
Humble and homey, beans are the perfect dish for fall. If you’ve shied away from cooking dried beans, we encourage you to give them a try. They’re easy, healthy, economical, and far more delicious than canned beans.
Heirloom beans are both richer in color and boast a more pronounced flavor than bland commodity brands. The following are some of our favorites, particularly good for rich stews, soups, pot beans, chilis, and dips.
- Rio Zape
- Good Mother Stallard
- Domingo Rojo
- Black Turtle
Beans — also known as “pulses,” are a great source of protein, fiber, and vitamins.
They’re also good for the planet: Growing one pound of pulses takes 43 gallons of water, whereas one pound of soy takes 216 gallons and one pound of beef takes over 1,000 gallons.
And, unlike many other plants, pulses are “nitrogen fixers.” This means they are able to draw nitrogen out of the air and put it into the soil in the form of “nitrogen nodules” on their roots. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plants, so fixing is vital for soil and crop health.
Here’s a helpful guide from Bon Appetit on how to cook dried beans.
- Steel cut oats are not the flat flakes of instant and rolled oats — they are the chopped groats themselves, with a nutty flavor and chewy texture. They take a half hour or so to cook, but soaking overnight will reduce the cooking time. Filling and nutritious served for breakfast, steel cut oats are delicious topped with roasted pears, caramelized apples and cinnamon, or simply good butter and maple syrup.
- Mixed grain porridge is a blend of cracked farro and white Sonora wheat bran that cooks into a nourishing morning porridge with hints of cinnamon and walnuts.
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the slower cooking grains. With a bit of advance planning, you can cook them ahead of time to balance any meal or add substance to a soup or salad. They have wonderful health benefits and will satisfy on chilly nights. Here are a few suggestions for fall:
- Barley can be used as the basis for risotto, to thicken soups, or to make savory grain bowls. Hulled barley, also known as barley groats, is the whole grain form of barley, with only the outermost hull removed. Chewy and rich in fiber, it’s the healthiest kind of barley.
- Wild rice is not actually rice, but rather an annual aquatic grass that boasts a distinctive nutty flavor and hearty texture. Combined with roasted pumpkin it makes a colorful harvest salad, adds wonderful flavor and texture to soups, and of course makes a delicious dressing for turkey.
- Dried hominy is maize or corn kernels that have been cooked in an alkaline solution, hulled, then dried. It is used to make pozole, a traditional Mexican soup that is a hearty and comforting dish, perfect as a go-to meal as the weather cools, and an ideal dish for holiday entertaining.
HOMEMADE STOCKS AND BROTHS
In fall especially, when you’re making soups, stews, risottos, and the like, make your own broth or stock whenever possible — the benefits are well worth the time and effort and make all the difference in these kinds of dishes.
Dashi is a flavorful, umami rich broth used in many Japanese dishes such as miso soup, noodle broth, and many kinds of simmering broths used in clay donabes. The basic ingredients for making dashi are shiitake mushrooms, kombu (dried kelp), and bonito flakes.
NUTS AND SEEDS
- Fall crop walnuts and pecans, for roasting, baking, and serving with cheese.
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnishing soups and salads.
SALTS AND SPICES
Fall elicits the aromas of comforting food. While you get to work preparing some hearty fall food, consider the stronger spices and seasonings reminiscent of this time of year. Here are a few of our favorite fall spice sets and salt blends.
- SHED Essential Indian Spices
- SHED Red Pepper Collection
- SHED Essential Baking Spices
- Salt Blends: SHED Rosemary and Fennel Salt, Omnivore Salt Mix
- Miso and tahini can flavor and balance the sweetness of fall vegetables such as winter squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and yams.
- Canned tomatoes, especially San Marzano or Roma varieties, are good to have on hand for soups, chilis, and pastas.
- Oliver Farm Pecan Oil is delicious in salad dressings or drizzled over fall greens.
- Ghee, a clarified butter commonly used in Indian cuisine, has a delicious, nutty flavor and is the secret to making great curry, a wonderful dish to spice things up in the fall. Ghee will last for a very long time without going rancid, although it’s best stored in the refrigerator. Since it doesn’t have the milk solids of butter, you can fry with it at higher temperatures without it smoking.
- Curry paste can be used to flavor marinades, dressings, or grains.
A cup of hot tea is the perfect autumn pick-me-up. We also love herbal teas for soothing bath and bedtime rituals.
- Barley tea is a roasted-grain-based infusion made from barley. It has a toasty flavor, with slight bitter undertones. Here’s a favorite barley tea blended with fir tips and herbs from Leaves and Flowers.
- Chai is a flavoured tea beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices, and herbs. Our SHED chai mix is spiced with cardamom, clove, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, allspice, white pepper, and allspice and sweetened with Steen’s cane syrup.
- Turmeric tea is a delicious way to reap the health benefits of turmeric, especially when cold season starts. We enjoy Samovar’s turmeric spice tea, a delicious blend with ginger, lemongrass, and licorice.
- Apple cider vinegar, known for its unique health benefits and versatile sweet-sour flavor, is a great mainstay for any cooking application. Slightly sweet from the fermented apple juice, apple cider vinegar makes a great quick pickling liquid, and is a great addition to autumn cider braises, where the vinegar kick helps tone down the sweetness of roasted vegetables.
- Sherry vinegar (or vinagre de Jerez) is made from sherry that has been aged at least six months in wood barrels and at least 7% acidity, is one of the more acidic vinegars available. Its flavor is nutty and woodsy, and evocative of the sherry from which it was made. It adds hidden depth and a clean brightness to everything it touches. You can add just a few drops to a finished dish, as you would lemon juice, or use it half-and-half with another vinegar (or lemon juice) in a vinaigrette.