The good news for the occasional bakers is that many ingredients have a long shelf life and are fine to use even after the best before date. Flours, sugars, raising agents, flavourings, syrup, treacle and all sorts of fruit, nuts and spices will last for ages in your cupboards. If treacle, honey or syrup have crystallised, gently reheat by putting the container in some hot water, which will soften them enough to spoon out.
Sugar goes hard if it gets damp so to dry it out, try gently reheating it. Place the sugar in a bowl covered with kitchen paper, which absorbs the moisture, and heat it in the microwave. Biscuits that have softened can be refreshed in a low oven to become crunchy once more.
Dry ingredients will last a long time as long as they are kept well in airtight containers or sealed in a bag with a clip.
Spices and herbs often last for years in the spice rack and are fine to use, but you may just want to increase the amount used as the intensity of the flavours can reduce with time.
Buttery baking essentials freeze well, including buttercream icing, so if that’s a regular cake topping in your home, you can make batches by beating fat into twice the amount of icing sugar, add some vanilla essence and freeze until you need it, changing the basic flavour by adding other ingredients to suit. Tubs of baking fats can get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten between bakes so place them in the freezer to stop them going off.
Keep an eye on those baking essentials, especially eggs. If they’re nearing their date, yolks and whites can be separated and frozen. Yes really – you can freeze eggs. Yolks can enrich omelettes, be brushed on as a glaze or be used to make lemon curd, with whites used for meringues.
Unopened packs of baked goods often have a very long best before date, after which they can still be eaten, after which they could still be eaten if they look, smell and taste fine.
Alternatively, freeze them for another time. Homemade cakes, except ones with fresh cream, pies and tarts also freeze well in wrapped slices and defrost quickly.
Which zero waste baking tip will you try out first?
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