If you can cook, you already know how to cook organically. The only real differences between cooking with organic foods and cooking with conventional foods are in the ingredients you use.
Choose Fresh and Local
The majority of foods that are eaten by Americans today are transported for thousands of miles before they get to the grocer's warehouse and eventually to the shelves. Produce loses vital nutrients in this process; fresher is better. Your finished dish will only be as good as the ingredients you use in it.
By growing your own, shopping at your local farmer's market, or buying produce that is labeled by your store as being local, you can ensure that you are starting your meal with the freshest ingredients possible. The best option is to grow at least some of your own vegetables. Almost anyone can grow a few tomato plants, even on an apartment balcony. You will know exactly what goes into your own produce and can keep it organic.
If you shop at a farmer's market, get to know the vendors. Talk to them and ask questions about their produce, how it is grown, and what methods they use. It isn't necessary for small, hobby farmers to be certified, so you can ensure that the food you are buying is organic by asking questions.
Make It from Scratch
When you make foods from scratch, they are less expensive and taste better.The next time your recipe calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup, why not make your own? By using organic milk, flour, and mushrooms you can have a fresh, delicious organic product at a fraction of the cost of commercial brands.
Using time saving techniques like bulk cooking (making meals and freezing them ahead), preparing vegetables ahead of time, and meal planning can make a big difference in how much time it takes to put a meal together.
Choose Commercial Organic
If you must buy commercially canned, frozen, or prepared foods, try to buy organic as much as you can. More and more conventional grocers are carrying organic products from produce to canned goods. Health food stores and natural food stores abound in most cities, and even in some smaller towns.
If your grocer doesn't carry organic products, don't be afraid to request them. Stores generally stock their shelves according to consumer demand. If they think there is a market for something, they will usually get it.
Tips for How to Cook Organically
Once you have the best organic ingredients possible you can begin your recipe. You can actually use any cookbook, whether it specifies organic ingredients or not. If a recipe calls for milk, you would substitute organic milk. Most things can be easily substituted.
Here are some more tips for organic cooking.
- Use sea salt. It is natural and you are going for all natural ingredients.
- Read labels carefully.
- Make sure you understand the differences between the various organic labels.
- Keep your dishes simple. Organic food is very flavorful and doesn't need much embellishment.
- Allow your taste-buds about a month to acclimate to the flavors of organic foods. Some flavors are different from what you might be used to.
- Try to use fresh herbs when possible. It makes a difference.
- Try not to use the microwave. While it is quick, you will find that traditional cooking methods yield more flavorful results. Steaming, simmering, and searing all add flavor.
- When you are using fresh foods, you should not buy more than a few days worth. Replace them as you use them to maintain the freshest flavor.
- Be careful how you store leftovers. Choose BPA free plastics or use old fashioned Mason jars.
Knowing how to cook organically is more of a matter of changing your habits than learning to cook a whole new way. The methods are the same, but the ingredients are different. Begin replacing the items in your pantry with organic and in a short period of time you will be cooking organically.