HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Kitchen staples you have now....that you didn't grow up with

  • c

Was throwing together a dinner tonight with whatever I could find in the kitchen. Used cilantro, capers & sriracha to make salmon cakes. These are three ingredients that our house always has on hand....we always make sure we have them....but had never even heard of them growing up. What are your must have on hand staples that you didn't have in the house growing up?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. dried porcinis. sriracha. red wine (we had it at home but not for cooking purposes). fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, sage and marjoram. I also use my barbecue grill a lot more than my family at home ever did, and i LOVE it.

    1. Sriracha, Tabasco, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, Dijon mustard, olives, jalapeƱos, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes . . . basically my mom didn't (and still doesn't) like most strong flavors so they were nowhere to be found in our kitchen.

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          Flav....that made me laugh. But I hope ice was a staple in your house.

          1. re: cb1

            Well, if you consider freezer permafrost "ice", then I suppose...

        2. Fresh garlic, curry paste, sriracha, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger - I always have these on hand and certainly never saw them in my mom's kitchen! It's funny to me that even these "staples" have evolved in my kitchen as my cooking has evolved

          1. Red and green New Mexico chiles, corn and flour tortillas. They are now my mainstay!

            1. At least 10 kinds of cheese, bacon fat, Sriracha, sambal oelek, oyster sauce, fish sauce, Thai curry pastes, black bean paste, sherry vinegar, lentils, pickled jalapenos, the list goes on. My parents' culinary palates have expanded since I was a kid, though, so many of these items can probably be found in their pantry now.

              1 Reply
              1. re: biondanonima

                I am with you, I keep tons of things in my kitchen, a list too long to make, that mom never did.

              2. Don't recall having hot sauce around as a kid. It was always M-Whip, too... not real mayo. For pancakes/waffles, it was Log Cabin... now it's REAL maple syrup for me. Vinegar was probably only apple cider vinegar.

                Now I have WAY more vinegars and condiments that one person needs. I'm especially a sucker for about anything at little local Asian market that owners recommend.

                1. It's gonna be a long list...my mother was not a particularly adventurous cook.

                  fresh garlic
                  fresh ginger
                  dill pickles
                  garlic/chili paste
                  Dijon mustard
                  salsa (either in a jar or homemade)
                  fresh herbs, other than chives and mint
                  whole spices (including black pepper)
                  kosher salt

                  fermented black beans
                  hoisin sauce
                  dried shiitake mushrooms
                  10 kinds of dried chilis
                  dried beans
                  homemade stock

                  I'm sure there's a lot more. I just can't quite remember what all the bottles are in the door of the fridge...

                  1. The first things I thought of were coarse kosher salt and peppercorns.
                    Fresh garlic, red wine vinegar, butter, mayonnaise, taco sauce (addicted to Pica Pico)

                    1. Arborio rice
                      pasta in shapes other than spaghetti & macaroni
                      fresh garlic
                      jalapeno peppers (both fresh & canned)
                      whole wheat flour
                      corn meal
                      cider vinegar
                      sherry vinegar
                      balsamic vinegar
                      rice wine vinegar
                      olive oil
                      sesame oil
                      herbes de provence
                      whole peppercorns
                      Kosher salt
                      lettuces & greens other than iceberg or Romaine
                      almond extract
                      poppy seeds
                      sesame seeds
                      celery seeds
                      whole coffee beans (Mom made instant)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: masha

                        > whole coffee beans

                        Grinding your own coffee was inconceivable twenty years ago.

                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          Actually, we've been grinding our own for about 30 years (has to be more than 25 because I recall having a grinder at the condo we lived in before our current home) -- dating back to the day when I declared that the expensive ground coffee we were buying from a specialty store seemed to be going stale before it was used up.

                        2. re: masha

                          A few more that I just thought of:

                          lemons (Mom had bottled ReaLemon)
                          banana peppers (jarred)
                          red onions
                          green onions
                          Craisins (they didn't exist)

                          1. re: masha

                            Masha....we always had the ReaLemon as well growing up. Never real lemons. Although my wife still keeps the RealLemon in the fridge to add to water...even though we keep real lemons on hand all the time...go figure

                        3. A wide variety of herbs and spices with actual tastes and smells, fresh ginger, Sriracha, Tapatio sauce, arborio rice, corn meal, whole wheat flour, coconut milk, a variety of dried beans and grains, capers, prepared mustard that isn't neon yellow, corn tortillas.

                          My mother didn't particularly like cooking, and relied on packaged foods: the invention of Hamburger helper was like the invention of the printing press for her.

                          1. In my post upthread, I did not mention Dijon mustard, which seems to have been absent from the kitchens of a lot of CH'rs growing up. Actually, my mother never stocked Dijon mustard either, but she always had brown mustard -- i.e., Guldens -- on hand. She kept the neon yellow stuff for me, as I wouldn't eat the brown mustard. What did I know?

                            1. Imported beer. My Dad would never have stocked imported beer in the house. He could ask for a Heineken at a top-level hotel, but would never buy it to take home.

                              1. Shallots. I don't think they were even available when I was a kid. I guess I can thank Julia Child for the change.

                                1. Olive oil

                                  Balsamic vinegar

                                  Kosher salt

                                  Fresh ground coarse black pepper (as opposed to the finely-ground one that came in a little rectangular tin)

                                  Fish sauce

                                  Low-sodium soy sauce

                                  Ponzu sauce

                                  Miso paste

                                  1. I'm Vietnamese so all of the Asian ingredients were staples. It's the european ingredients that have entered my pantry.

                                    Almond flour (for gluten free husband)
                                    Valrhona dark chocolate
                                    pectin (I'm an a avid jammer)
                                    Coconut milk
                                    coarse grain mustard

                                    1. Like many posters here, I could make a long list of what I keep around now (I'm in my 50s) which we didn't use in my 1960s-70s childhood.

                                      But there are a few items that stand out for being truly unimagined in my early life. I will never fail to have on hand:

                                      dried porcinis
                                      fish sauce
                                      two or three kinds of rice (basmati, jasmine, and arborio)
                                      Jars of chili paste
                                      Kosher salt

                                      Other things are subtler. For example, I THINK that we had no sense of the need for a pepper grinder, and we'd just shake pre-ground pepper out of those McCormick cans. I also don't recall people thinking much about olive oil, and even less so about varying grades of it.

                                      1. A variety of hot sauces and salts. Growing up, we had Morton's table salt and kosher salt in the house (used for pickling, mostly). I have those basics on hand plus Maldon, French sea salt, and smoked salt.

                                        Also, mom was a great cook but didn't venture into Asian cuisines. I have some basics on hand like: oyster sauce, black bean sauce, a variety of hot chili compounds, tamarind, dried mushrooms, 5-spice, fresh ginger (in the freezer), palm sugar, yuzu sauce, rice wine vinegar, black soy sauce, mirin, furikake, etc.