These Gourmet Pantry Staples Will Seriously Improve Your Home Cooking

Forget cleaning out your closet. We suggest dedicating your spring cleaning energy to another area of the home: the fridge. Chances are, more than a few of those jars at the back are well past their “best before” dates. And that generic yellow mustard? Consider it best left at Little League barbecues.

Stocking up on a fresh array of more flavourful, more natural, and more attractively packaged ingredients may be just what you need to approach cooking with renewed passion. Which is why, in preparation for our continuing culinary pursuits, we’re seeking out jars of small-batch pesto, cult-favourite hot sauce cooked up in Northern Ontario, and for dessert, actually imported-from-Italy cherries. We’re confident whatever dishes they inspire will be just as tasteful.

1. Pineapple Habanero by Heartbeat Hot Sauce

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Featured on season 10 of Hot Ones — the talk show where celebrity guests eat chicken wings coated in hot sauce while answering questions — this Pineapple Habanero hot sauce doesn’t mess around. Made in collaboration with an Ontario craft brewery’s IPA, the sauce is both bold and bright, adding the perfect burst of flavour to every bite. ($12)

2. Pesto by Forno Cultura

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If you’re a fan of pesto (who isn’t?), then you’ll surely fall in love with this one. Toronto’s Forno Cultura bakery uses the finest of natural ingredients — and you can really taste it. Their “Pesto Al Basilico” — basil pesto with toasted almonds — is an absolute must-try. ($15)

3. Spicy Pepper Sauce by Mado’s

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For pouring, dipping, or however you use your sauce — and hey, we’re not here to judge. Mado’s Spicy Pepper sauce comes loaded with the beautiful burn of Scotch bonnets, as well as sweet papaya to balance it out, and finished with coconut milk for a tropical punch. Add to cart. ($10)

4. Moroccan Preserved Lemons by Belberry

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Spruce up your Mediterranean dishes with these Moroccan Preserved Lemons that’ll be sure to impress foodies — and just about anyone with taste buds. Make sure to rinse them briefly under cold water to take away some of that excess salt and then enjoy making some game-changing recipes. ($34)

5. Peperoncini Piccanti by Terroni

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If you live in Toronto or have even visited, it’s likely you’ve been to one of Terroni’s locations around the city. And if you have, or even if you haven’t, you likely know about their infamous Peperoncini Piccanti. The Terroni team imports these signature spicy peppers from Puglia, Italy and they have become a staple at Terroni locations and for Toronto foodies alike. ($12-$18)

6. Beer Hall Mustard by Sanagan’s Meat Locker

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Be the life of the party at your future cookouts by impressing your guests with this Beer Hall Mustard. Its simple ingredients are rich and flavourful and meshed together to perfection. On ham, hot dogs, and anything in between, this mustard can jazz up anything. ($6.50)

7. Marinara by Stefano Faita

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There’s something about a classic marinara sauce that just hits different. We’re all for being adventurous in the kitchen but there’s not much better than simple, natural ingredients, coming together to create a perfect sauce. Made from tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, sea salt, and herbs, if you’re going to keep jarred pasta sauce in your kitchen, let it be this one. ($5)

8. Turmeric Gold Honey by Drizzle

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Turmeric seems to be all the rage these days but for good reason. It has tons of health benefits and can be an added kick to a variety of teas, juices, cocktails, and more. This Drizzle Turmeric Gold is part of the Superfood Honey Collection meaning its health conscious and superfood-powered. A welcomed addition to chai tea or healthy dessert. ($18-$24)

9. Amarena Wild Cherries in Syrup by Fabbri

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If the packaging wasn’t enough to sell you, what’s inside probably will. Amarena cherries in syrup by Fabbri is a delicious treat. Bittersweet Italian cherries are preserved in the rich syrup of the fruit itself. Enhance appetizers, desserts, and even cocktails with this sweet and unique treat. ($10 for 230g)