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How To Cook Using Quality Ingredients

Updated on September 28, 2012

Using Quality Ingredients in Cooking

Today, it is becoming more important than ever to check where our ingredients are coming from.

Case in point – fish. Studies are showing that fish imported from other countries are ‘dirty fish’ and it would be wise for us to check the origin of fish.

Investigate on the package where the fish came from and make your determination if it is a good or a safe place to buy fish.

Unfortunately with the latest disaster on the Gulf Coast, it might end up that people worldwide do not want to import fish ‘made in the USA’.

Flavor is often changed when you use farm-raised fish as opposed to wild caught.

There is also the matter of color-enhanced meat or fish - something to keep in mind as well. Safeway readily admits for instance that they add coloring to their meat and fish.

What to Look For in Cooking Ingredients

Organic does not offer the safety net that we sometimes think it does either. Check into the product to make sure where it was raised and how it was processed. The word 'organic' can encompass various and sundry things and may lead to products being sold that are not truly organic in any sense of the word.

If you are using fresh beef, fresh chicken, etc. make sure that you know what the butchering techniques are and that you are using safe ingredients.

On purchasing beef or chicken, there should not be a lot of blood in the packaging that the product is sitting in. This encourages bacterial growth and can lead to food poisoning.

Fishing, crabbing, etc. are also great venues for gathering ingredients. Just make sure that the area is safe in terms of red tides or bacteria and also make sure that you process your catch appropriately to avoid food poisoning.

When using ‘fresh kill’ meats, make sure that you know how to process the meats and package them properly or have someone experienced dress them to avoid contamination and/or food poisoning.

Where meat, poultry and seafood are concerned, research as best you can where food comes from, how it is processed and you should be able to relax in the ingredients you use.

It's also important to be sure you know how to cook meats and fish properly. For instance, what are the best and the safest ways to cook salmon? Having this information also protects your health and allows you to create delectable meals.

Fruits and Vegetables

Just like in the case of your meat ingredients, it is just as important to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. 

I've started investigating where the items that I purchase come from and if I don't like what I'm reading, I won't buy the product.  I feel that countries that have less strict laws governing how food is processed probably don't need my business. 

I feel that it is important to use fresh ingredients whenever possible.  If at all possible, I think people should go back to growing some of their own food as it is the only way you will ever know what is really in the food you are eating.

At the very least, look for fruits and vegetables that are at their prime and look fresh and crisp.  Even that is not always a good indicator though as with the technology available in supermarkets and packaging plants, our foods seem to have a very long shelf life sometimes and that puzzles me.  How they are getting that to happen also worries me!

When you bring home fresh fruit or vegetables, take the time to wash and dry them before putting them away.  I always do all my vegetables when I first get home.  That way I know I've gone over the foods and made sure they look the same as I thought they did in the market.

I carefully wash salad greens and put them through a salad spinner to get out as much moisture as I can - I then date and bag them in zip-lock storage bags.  I do the same with any herbs, green onions. 

I also cut my celery and wash and dry and put into new bags.  I do the same with apples or pears, tomatoes or mushrooms. 

By taking the time to look over my ingredients right after I've purchased them, I then know what I have to work with in the days and week to come.  Everything is at the ready for me to reach in and grab and start cooking!  I like that system.  It also gives me a chance to prioritize by looking at what I've purchased what I need to cook soonest in order to avoid spoilage.

Summing It Up

As hard as it may seem in our industrialized world today, I recommend people taking the time to not only know their culinary basics when it comes to cooking ingredients but also to try and find out where their food is coming from.  Better informed means we have a better chance of eating healthily and staying healthy.

Our food can only be as good as the ingredients we put into it and trying our best to get good healthy choice ingredients I think is vital.  If we can't grow or raise our own food, the least we can do is be vigilant about the ingredients we purchase.

We should also always demand quality! If you go to a market and the quality is not there, let someone know that you are displeased.  It lets stores know that we consumers expect quality and we won't shop where it is not offered. 

In voicing our desire for better food and quality cooking ingredients, I think we can all make a difference - not just in culinary basics and making healthy food, but also in striving for a cleaner environment and thus a better world for us all!


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Holle, thanks so much for commenting - and yes, you are right.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      It always amazes me how some cooks overlook the most basic and important of things!!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much campdrunkchef! That would be lovely.

    • profile image

      campdrunkchef 7 years ago

      Nice hub sweetie. Hope you get a look in for the contest you deserve it.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Sounds like a good plan, too! Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting, Darlene!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      When I could afford it I always went to an all organic grocery store, now I can't spend that same about of money and have to buy items that are at a low end. Yes, your are so right about in your hub, we need to learn more. Fantastic hub, all thumbs up

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      I know - isn't it just sick what people do and don't give a hoot what they claim? Thanks so much for commenting - food (obviously I guess) is a passion for me and I have always wanted to give my family the best ingredients I could find and the best finished product. It is just a pet peeve with me that in this country anyhow, I have trouble finding tuna for instance that isn't coming from overseas. That just seems WRONG to me!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      It is really a job which we could have done without. I always buy organic when it is available. Especially eggs with that salmonella and the Spanish flooding the market with highly contaminated eggs. One day there was in the paper that two big subermarkets had a supplier for 'organic' eggs and he bought them from Spain for two years. That really made me sick. Not only did I spend my hard scraped together pennies but for two years they never had the decency to check the product. How can you win?