Spring in Arizona is always an illusive season. Like, can we really call those 5 days we recently had “Spring”? Does 95 degrees scream Spring to you? Regardless, there is this creeping need that arises in me this time of year to freshen up, lighten up, and deep clean my life. While I could go on and on here about the bathroom drawers or garage desperately calling for my attention (insert pained-face emoji here), I will instead focus on an often-neglected area of our homes that deserves some of our spring cleaning attention: the pantry.
I feel strongly about this one. Y'all should be cleaning out your pantry!! Did you know that baking powder loses its efficacy after 8 to 12 months? If it's exposed to humidity, that lifespan is even shorter. Same goes for baking soda. It will lose its leavening action over time. Go look at the baking soda in your cabinet…How long ago did it expire? BTW, I don't judge you because it happens to me all the time. Nuts and flours will also spoil and oxidize with time, leaving you with bland flavors that are past their prime at best and even rancid and unpleasant at their worst. Same goes for rolled oats or gluten-free flours like coconut. Spices don’t escape this fate either…if they’re old, their flavors will dull and lose their luster. Basically, once ingredients are processed (even dry ones), they are prone to rancidity. And in my eyes, you and your favorite people deserve the best - the best quality, the best flavors, and the best freshness!
There is also this sigh of relief I breathe after getting rid of the “stuff” taking up space in my home, and by association, in my subconscious. It was actually during one of these spring cleaning sessions that a seed for Wild Rye Baking Co. was planted! I was throwing out packages of xanthan gum, potato starch, and arrowroot powder after literally using just ½ to 2 teaspoons of them for a gluten-free cake I made for a friend (probably a year earlier). I thought to myself, “How many people have purchased these unique and expensive ingredients only to use them once and then forget about them as they subtly take up space in their home and peace of mind for years? Time to help and offer them a better way to bake gluten free!”
Here’s my rule of thumb when purging my pantry: if I can’t remember the last time I used it, it's been too long and it's got to go.
I really feel bad about wasting food of any kind. I also know it happens. So, rather than getting all bent about the things that get thrown away, I try to look at it as a fresh start to do better, buy better, and use better! If I buy a bag of nuts at Costco I’ll pull a small amount out to keep in my pantry and store the rest in the freezer to preserve their shelf life. I keep flours that I use less often like almond, oat, or rye in the freezer to extend their freshness. I don't buy spices in bulk and in fact look for the smallest size I can purchase to avoid wasting them later on.
There are endless tips and tricks one can apply, and these are just some of mine. My hope is to inspire you to lighten your load and clear out space to bring in the ingredients, products, and even the energy that you truly want in your home. Spring cleaning can sometimes get worse before it gets better, but in the end, I never regret taking the time to do it.
Wishing you a lovely Spring,