As we start to swing into fall, we will see some great sales on baking staples. It will be nice to be able to stock your pantry with some of these items! National School Lunch Week starts October 4, so you may find some great deals on organic snacks to go into your little one’s lunches, or to stock up on for road trips. October is the start of baking season. You can get some great deals on almonds, evaporated milk, and pie crusts. Almonds are very versatile; they go great in granola, make a nicely flavored nut butter, and can make a good milk substitute.
We see a variety of seafood on sale during October. You may be able to stock up on shrimp, lobster, and crab. For the freshest choices, pick organic seafood that was frozen as close to harvest as possible. The Natural Resources Defense Council has developed this guide to help you choose sustainable fish that is better for your family and the environment.
Here are some other great items to stock your pantry October:
Fruits to Stock Your Pantry for Baking Season
Pumpkin – You should not can pumpkin, but it freezes well once pureed. You can also slice thinly and dehydrate. I prefer to make a large batch of pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread and freeze that.
Apples – I adore apples. Fuji, Gala, and Honeycrisp varieties store well if you have a cool, dry spot to keep them in. Use Golden Delicious or Jonagold to make applesauce, which you can freeze or can. Cortland or McIntosh are your best bets for pies; make your filling ahead of time and freeze in the quantity you need (we also serve warm apple pie filling with ice cream). Red Delicious is a good option for freezing to eat sliced.
Cranberries – Start on your Thanksgiving prep now by picking up cranberries when they go on sale in October. Fresh cranberries should store well in your refrigerator for a few weeks. They can also be canned, frozen or dehydrated. It’s best to use a simple syrup for these, so you may want to go ahead and make your cranberry sauce if you’re planning to freeze them. You’ll save yourself time at Thanksgiving, and will use less sugar overall.
Blackberries and Raspberries – There’s a reason that fall is perfect for baking, and it’s not just because it’s finally cool enough to use your oven. Blackberries and raspberries are perfect in pies, alone or with other fruits. The best way to preserve berries is to freeze them. Dehydrating works, but the result is usually not quite as sweet as if they were frozen. Jam recipes don’t take long, but if you are planning to can your jams, use a recipe that has been tested. Otherwise, freeze your jams until you’re ready to use them.
Vegetables to Stock Your Pantry for October
Cabbage – It’s sauerkraut season. Fermenting is intimidating for a lot of people. I found this great simple recipe on The Prairie Homestead. It’s effortless, and lets you start small, with a single jar. No need to invest in crockpots or other expensive supplies; other than the mason jar, you probably have everything you will need in your kitchen. If you love the result, you can always look into crock fermentation next season.
Sweet Potatoes – I have found that the simplest way to preserve my sweet potatoes is to cook them in the Instant Pot, dice, put into loaf pans with brown sugar and butter, and freeze. Then I can put them straight into the oven for my husband’s favorite recipe. You can also cook, dice, then freeze them without the added goodies for use in savory recipes.
Corn – October is the month to stock up on corn. It’s best to buy corn at the Farmer’s Market if you can; ideally, corn should be preserved within just a few hours of being picked. For best results, shuck the corn, remove from the cob, and then dehydrate or blanch, then freeze or can. Be aware that the sweeter varieties may brown when canned so you may want to freeze those varieties.
October is a great month to do some serious canning and freezing. Plus, you can build a nice little stock of frozen baked goodies to have on hand for unexpected company.