7 Ways to Refresh Your Kitchen, Pantry, and Cooking for Spring

Experts share their must-have ingredients and tips for getting your fridge, freezer, pantry, and kitchen spring-ready.

Spring is here and it's time to refresh your fridge, freezer, pantry, and, well, entire kitchen. Consider it spring cleaning, culinary edition—it's less difficult than your annual home overhaul and has delicious results. We asked chefs, cookbook authors, food stylists, cooking teachers, and other experts for their favorite ways to bring spring into your kitchen and embrace the season's fresh, tasty abundance.

Fresh, spring ingredients on table, eggs, spinach, beets, herbs

Add Flowers

Elements of spring come in all colors, scents, and shapes—and they don't all have to be edible. Chef Klancy Miller, author of the forthcoming For the Culture: Phenomenal Black Women & Femmes in Food, suggests bringing fresh flowers into your kitchen. "They brighten the mood," the tulip enthusiast says. Pair them with a spring salad or seafood on your table for the ultimate seasonal touch.

Shop the Farmers' Market

For produce that's local and in season, your best bet is to visit the farmers' market closest to you. "Walking around the farmers' market on Sundays gets me excited to dive into meal prepping with spring flavors," says Catherine McCord, the author of Meal Prep Magic: Time-Saving Tips for Stress-Free Cooking. "Merging produce flavors is one of the easiest way to make a dish that screams 'spring.'"

Think strawberry rhubarb, spring onions and morels, asparagus and lemon, or fresh mint and peas. "Look for fresh looking and smelling fruits and vegetables when buying produce. You want it to be fragrant when giving the sniff test and vibrant in color without a dried out spot," she says. "Buying from farmers' markets and developing a relationship with a local farmer where you can ask questions and rely on the growing source can be a great way to get your hands on the best food possible."

Make the Most of Fresh Herbs

Unlike winter when herbs are less available or from far away, spring is when fresh herbs are plentiful and delicious. Look for soft herbs such as cilantro, chives, parsley, and basil, says Ken Oringer, a James Beard Award-winning chef and author of Cooking with My Dad, the Chef (he also stocks up on yuzu kosho in the spring).

Claire Ptak, chef and owner of Violet Bakery in London and author of Love is a Pink Cake, also recommends using herbs to achieve spring flavor. She likes adding basil to a savory scone; serve it with a healthy lunch or at a cocktail party. Bodrug is an advocate of adding microgreens and fresh herbs on top of dishes for extra spring oomph.

Embrace Rhubarb for Desserts

Spring greens and herbs are great for savory cooking, but how can you give your sweets a taste of the new season? Use rhubarb. "Spring is always a bit of a tease for bakers because while peas, fava beans, and spring onions are everywhere, we are pretty much limited to rhubarb," says Ptak. "Don't get me wrong though—it's one of my most favorite ingredients." We love rhubarb, too, in everything from cakes and tarts to compotes.

Refresh Your Olive Oil and Vinegars

Quality olive oil goes far in spring cooking. "This time of year, I stock up on olive oil because it is becoming sundae season and I love nothing more than a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with fruit and a hefty drizzle of olive oil," says chef Abra Berens, author of PULP: A Practical Guide to Cooking with Fruit. When she's not using them on ice cream, Berens complements her olive oils with acidity from citrus or vinegar for savory cooking. "Like a great sherry vinegar or some specialty imported vinegars from Mad Rose Foods," she says. "I've also been really into the Katz Vinegars from California."

Emma Hearst, chef, co-owner, and CEO of Forts Ferry Farm, also believes in the power of vinegar at this time of year. "I love to do an audit on all of my bottles of vinegar," she says. "I bring lighter and softer kinds into my collection, like Moscatel and yuzu, which have floral qualities that make them perfect to dress baby spring greens, vegetables, and fruits."

Stock Up on Pantry Basics for Spring

"After a long winter, I want to cook with and eat as much spring produce as I can," says vegetarian cookbook author and blogger Jeanine Donofrio of Love & Lemons. She shops the farmers' market and grocery store for seasonal vegetables—and then stocks up on pantry basics that help her turn vegetables into quick, fresh meals. For example, Donofrio always keeps orzo pasta and vegetable broth handy to whip up her creamy orzo with asparagus peas from her cookbook, Simple Feel Good Food. Dried pasta, eggs, feta cheese, canned chickpeas, and farro are other staples she keeps in her pantry during spring.

Don't Forget Your Freezer

Audit your freezer for any leftovers from winter—or further back. It's time to eat or toss them. Finish off winter soups, big cuts of meat, or holiday leftovers; whatever you've been stocking up on, the deadline is now. This way, you won't suffer from year-old freezer-burned turkey come November and you'll clear space for spring vegetables and new leftovers (or just kick off the season with a fresh start). Check dates on prepared frozen dishes, as well, to keep things organized in the freezer.

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