Pantry Basics: Dry Ingredients

Pepper

Along with salt, you need pepper. In most cases, that means black pepper. You can buy it already ground or as peppercorns. For the latter, you’ll need a grinder or pepper mill. Many people swear by the pepper mill and they are right that pepper will lose its potency after it is ground. But that doesn’t mean that already ground pepper doesn’t have a punch. You just might have to use a little more. If you have a pepper mill or grinder, by all means, get the peppercorns, because it is better. But cost may push you to use the pre-ground and that’s okay. The only problem I have with using peppercorns is that they can get expensive. If you can find a good, inexpensive source, go for it. Along with salt, pepper is a basic seasoning that gets put on almost everything.

There are other kinds of peppercorns, white, orange, red and green. They all come from the same plant, piper nigrum, a flowering vine. The peppercorns are drupes, a sort of fruit containing a seed. The color results from drying, preserving or stripping off the outer husk. It’s still the same thing, although minor flavor differences can occur. Different types are used mostly for appearance.

Sugar

Even if you are diabetic or prefer artificial sweetener, you’re still going to need sugar at some time or other. There’s just no replacing it in some cooking, especially baking. That’s because sugar acts like a liquid in many applications. Replacing it with sweetener, even Splenda, doesn’t replace the volume of sugar. However, sometimes, you can replace half the sugar in a recipe and it will work well.

Flour

Wheat flour is used for more than just bread. With flour in the home, you can make biscuits, pancakes, sweet rolls, even tortillas. There are also many kinds of flour from different kinds of grains. But basic white flour is the most versatile for cooking and baking of all kinds.

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