Nourishing Literacy | The Rainbow Pantry... from Scratch!

By Shayna M. RSS Thu, July 8, 2021

Inspired by June’s Pride month and our LGBTQIA+ community members, we are celebrating the Rainbow Pantry again!

Check out previous blog posts for more ideas on keeping and using colorful kitchen staples. This round, we are exploring ways to create our own cabinet, fridge, and freezer pantry items from scratch!

A few strawberries will go a long way in flavoring handmade ice cream! No major equipment is needed, aside from sturdy zipped plastic bags or two plastic food storage containers that tightly seal and can nest within each other (leaving some space between them). The following video gives a quick overview of this type of process.

Check out this Southern Living recipe for strawberry ice cream made without an ice cream maker. If interested in more recipes from this source, a range of Southern Living cookbooks can be checked out from our catalog with the use of your library card!

The next time you have an orange, try saving the peels to create zest or finely shredded or chopped orange peel to store in the freezer. Zest can be used to flavor baked goods and savory dishes and can also be saved from lemons, limes, and grapefruits. 

There are different ways to prepare the zest without the use of a zester or a microplane (kitchen tools often used specifically for this purpose). One method is to grate the peel using the finest setting of a box grater, before using the orange. Another technique is to peel the orange with a vegetable peeler before using the orange. The peel can be minced or chopped into very small pieces using a sharp knife. 

A third method to try if the orange has been peeled already by hand is to carefully remove the white pith connected to the peel with a small paring knife. The pith can add a bitter flavor, which is why it is removed. Then, with a sharp knife, the orange peel can be minced finely. Depending on how close to the orange you peel it using a vegetable peeler, you may want to cut out the pith using that technique as well. The following video provides a visual tutorial for removing the pith.

Try making cornmeal from scratch using popcorn kernels! Place kernels in a high-speed blender, coffee or spice grinder, a food processor, or a mortar and pestle. Grind the kernels until they look like cornmeal! At that point, the kernels can be sifted using a fine sieve or added to recipes as-is. 

Keep a lookout for an upcoming Nourishing Literacy blog post about making your own cornmeal and corn as an ingredient. In the meantime, check out the new cookbook Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution by Roxana Jullapat for ideas on using cornmeal and other whole grain flours in recipes.

Nourishing Literacy team member Erik has a great tip for drying herbs, for those times when fresh herbs such as cilantro, rosemary, or parsley are purchased or grown in larger amounts than can be used before spoiling. To preserve and dry herbs, place the fresh herbs in a brown paper bag, folding and placing them in a dry location for two weeks. Once they have fully dried and can be easily broken up, you can remove the stems if not already removed, crumble the herbs right in the bag if you like, and then transfer them to a tightly sealed and labeled container. You can view additional drying herbs tips in the following video.

The summer is an awesome time to find deals on fresh, local produce, which can often be found at a much lower cost than during the colder months. If interested in preserving fruit when it can be found at its peak freshness and at a good price, freezing can be a helpful way to save your berries for later! In the following video, freezing the berries in a single layer on a lined baking tray before bagging them up is a technique that ensures the berries won’t stick together.

If you're looking for a quicker solution, the berries can also be placed in a zipped plastic bag and frozen with less steps! 

For a bright purple condiment to be kept in the fridge, try making sauerkraut from purple cabbage. To do this, remove the core of the cabbage and chop finely into strips. Add to a large bowl with a few big pinches of salt, and massage and squeeze the cabbage until it is much smaller in size and releases liquid. Pack the cabbage tightly into a jar, make sure that it is covered with liquid, adding a little water if the cabbage did not create enough liquid on its own, and weigh it down. If you are new to fermenting foods, please check out the following how-to video for a comprehensive and efficient overview before beginning.

The Free Library also has many high-quality resources available on this topic. For example, physical copies of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz are available with your library card, as well as ebooks such as Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables and Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes, and Pastes by Kirsten Shockey.

There are many ways to discover colors in the Free Library's collections. Thank you to our friend and Art Department librarian Alina, for creating a booklist highlighting the use of color in art! Of course, the Art Department has hundreds of books about color. If looking for something specific, please reach out to Alina and her colleagues. This department is a really amazing resource for artists and for community members who appreciate art and would like to learn more.

Lastly, view our Broccoli Has Flower Power! video to learn a little bit more from Alina as she shares an art resource that connects to food and a project idea for all ages.


How could the rainbow be a source of inspiration for you today? What colors have you seen, eaten, or cooked with today? Let us know in the comments!

Nourishing Literacy offers food, literacy, wellness, and life skills activities and events to community members, with our core audience being the youth, teachers, and caregivers. Nourishing Literacy is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Edna G. Kynett Memorial Foundation.

To learn more about the Culinary Literacy Center, please visit our website or connect with us through Instagram and Facebook.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within 72 hours.

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This blog is super creative and colorful on its own sense and way. I really love the idea of mingling culinary passion with the colorful spectrum of the rainbow celebrating Pride Month.
JR Cortez - Metro Manila, Philippines
Tuesday, July 13, 2021

JR - thank you for reading, and for sharing! We will have another Rainbow Pantry blog post up during the summer. Wishing you well!
Shayna M - Culinary Literacy Center / Nourishing Literacy
Wednesday, July 14, 2021