A well stocked pantry is the key to the good-life. Where else can you find a ripe summer tomato in the dead of winter or crisp dill pickles for your New Year’s relish tray? When I'm in a pinch for food ideas, I head to my pantry. But my pantry is not just for cooking inspiration. I go to my pantry for last minute holiday gift ideas, too. Every year I make extra just so I can give them out for gifts. I give pickles, marmalade, salsa, hot sauce, sundries tomatoes, home brewed beer and hard cider.
But not all of my pantry good are made ahead of time. There are lots of preserved items that you can make at the last minute for gifts. Refrigerator pickles, mustard, infused spirits, vinegars shrubs, syrups, and flavored salts, just to name a few. The list is really as vast as your imagination. Most of these items are stable at room temperature, or at the very least, will not be harmed by a few days of shipping or sitting on the counter due to their high alcohol, vinegar, salt or sugar content. If your food item needs refrigeration (like refrigerator pickles), just attach a tag to your jar with a “refrigerate upon arrival” note. If your food needs to sit a while for best flavor (like spirit or vinegar infusions), an instruction note that says “tastes best eaten after New Years (if you can wait that long)”.
Below is a list of 10 great last minute pantry ideas for this holiday season:
Pear Infused Vodka from One tomato, two tomato (my blog). Load a jar with ripe fruits, vodka and sugar for a winter warm-up.
Pickled Cranberries and Cranberry Shrub from Serious Eats. Pickled cranberries are da bomb! And the liquid they are pickled in is called a shrub, which is a flavorful ‘drinking vinegar’ that you can drink straight or add to cocktails or soda water.
Honey Mint Cucumber Syrup from Fresh Tart Steph via Minnesota Monthly. While cucumbers are not in season, you can still get decent hot house varieties. Give this syrup with a bottle of champagne for a perfect New Year’s cocktails!
Easy Pickled Carrots from David Lebovitz. Carrots are easy to find in winter, and pickle up beautifully, adding a bright touch to a pickle tray.
Quick Onion Pickles from Tastbud Tart. Make tangy onion pickles that you can put on sandwiches, salads and tacos. Use purple onions or flavored vinegars for extra zing.
Farmhouse Piccalili from Modern Farmette. Make this with all-seasonal ingredients by picking what looks good in your market. Goes great with pot roast or roasted meats.
Stout Beer Mustard from One tomato, two tomato. So easy you will never buy mustard again! Make a lot and save some for yourself.
Citrus Salt from Eat Simply, Eat Well. Different types of citrus make these salts, which are perfect packed into little jars for gifts. Great on popcorn.
Preserved Lemons from One tomato, two tomato. Perfect for winter, when citrus is in season! Technically a refrigerator pickle, these babies last forever in the fridge. Use in rice, quick breads, poultry and salad dressing.
I hope you try some of these projects for your last minute holiday gift giving. Happy Holidays!