At the Table

DIY Pantry Staples

By: The Local Palate

Is it any surprise that packets of seeds and baby chicks have become hot ticket items in the age of COVID-19? Turns out a lot of us are channeling our inner homesteader. Lucky for Southerners—many of whom grew up with strong connections to land and larder—it’s not much of a stretch. But you don’t have to grow tomatoes or raise chickens to satisfy that life-affirming DIY urge. Put a pot of beans on. Steep some bones for stock. Pickle, jam, preserve. Here are a handful of building-block recipes to get you started.

Having stock in the freezer is like money in the bank. Use this basic recipe to turn turkey or chicken scraps into the liquid gold that makes everything you cook with it that much better.

Making my own bread and butter pickles was a lunchtime gamechanger. And while you’re at it, put this pickled watermelon rind recipe in your back pocket for summer.

The next step on the pickle train is lacto-fermentation, as in kraut. This recipe calls for collards, but feel free to swap in the classic cabbage. Radishes are nice too.

Here in Charleston, strawberries and loquats arrived early, and if my bushes are any indication, blueberries will too. Depending on this year’s haul, I’ll make a batch or two of blueberry vanilla jam. 

Lemons don’t keep forever, but one way to ensure a steady stock of lemony-ness is to preserve them. The flavor is like lemon zest dialed up to the max. Plus, the process is super simple—most of the magic happens when they’re left alone.

Peggy Loftus

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