Creativity could be the number one item on the shopping list this holiday season.
Please don’t despair. There are ways around the “bah humbug” of out-of-stock ingredients and packaged products. If you can’t find your favorite staples at the supermarket, it might be time to switch to a new recipe or try a new technique.
Several factors contribute to today’s food supply issues, including packaging shortages, understaffing and our collective desire to celebrate at pre-pandemic levels, according to Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain management practice at Syracuse University.
“Last year around this time we couldn’t have bigger gatherings,” said Penfield, but with families hosting bigger celebrations and office parties in need of catering, “demand skyrocketed for bakery supplies “.
While the flour and yeast shortage of 2020 probably won’t happen again for home bakers this season, those who are used to buying holiday cookies, cakes or pies from their neighborhood bakery may not. not get their usual order.
“Unfortunately, a lot of small bakery businesses have labor issues,” said Penfield, in addition to shortages of bulk ingredients and shipping delays for items like fruit, chocolate, chocolate. vanilla and peppermint aromas.
“We always want to support local bakeries as much as we can,” he said. If you have a specific treat close to your heart, embrace the spirit of the season by being patient and understanding when substitutions need to be made.
For those who cook at home, what’s in stock in the Northeastern US may not be available in the Southwest. “It’s going to be different in different regions,” Penfield warns, so when you see something you need at the supermarket, buy it right away. (But please show a little seasonal spirit and be mindful of product limits, and don’t hoard all the ingredients.)
Or you can do it yourself. Here’s how to make ready-made meals for the holidays instead of buying them off the shelf.
Basic pie crust
Graham cracker crust
Although all-purpose flour is widely available, specialty flours like Graham flour are currently difficult to find in commercial bakeries. If pre-made graham cracker crusts or boxes of graham cracker crumbs aren’t available, whole graham crackers will save the day.
All you need are graham crackers, melted butter (or a dairy-free butter stick substitute), and sugar. Crush the crackers into crumbs by beating them in a food processor or blender, or do it by hand by placing the crackers in a zippered bag and rolling them with a rolling pin.
For 2 cups of whipped cream, use 1 cup of heavy cream or whipping cream. Whip it by hand in a large metal bowl, with the whisk of a stand mixer, with an electric hand mixer, or simply shake it in a quarter-sized mason jar until the cream thickens. Add 1 tablespoon of icing sugar to soften and stabilize the cream, then continue to whisk or shaking until the cream forms stiff peaks and retains its shape.
Use three types of dairy products – heavy cream, half and half, and whole milk – to make a delicious spreadable cheese. Add your favorite flavors, such as olives, green onions or chopped smoked salmon, to make a specialty cream cheese buffet for family brunch.
Other last minute pastry substitutes
You might be lucky enough to avoid any shortage of ingredients in your local markets, but what about your own pantry? Here are some quick substitutes for common baking ingredients that could save you from a late night grocery run.
Sweetened condensed milk
This extremely fine textured sugar is mixed with cornstarch to give it thickening power – which is why it’s needed for cookie frosting, frosting and other frostings. To make a homemade version, mix 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder in a food processor until finely powdered.
Light brown sugar and dark brown sugar can be used interchangeably in most recipes, as the difference between the two is simply the amount of molasses added to the cane sugar. This is what gives brown sugar its deeper color and caramel flavor.
But if you don’t have one either, you can just replace it with plain granulated sugar and liquid sweetener. Use 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses, maple syrup or honey for each cup of brown sugar called for in your recipe.
Casey barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 House Versions of Your Favorite Branded Treats”; and editor of the site Good. Food. Stories.