Every cook has their own unique list of essentials. These are items they have in their kitchens at all times, things they use to whip up a quick meal, things they buy week after week. When you’re learning how to cook a new cuisine, coming up with this list can be daunting, which is why each month I’ll be putting together a list of ingredients I’ve deemed essential for that month’s cuisine.
German Cooking : The Essentials
Starting my research online, I found a lot of conflicting opinions. Some bloggers listed store-bought sauerkraut, gherkins, and jarred cherries(for Black Forrest Cake), while others said they only ate sauerkraut twice a year for holidays, or that the German breakfast spread of cold cuts, bread, and pickles was fading out. Each list seemed a bit all over the place. How many meals could I really make with those ingredients?
What I eventually found most helpful was looking through authentic recipes, recipes that had German names or were written in German (thank you Google Translate). I also looked up what went into a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner, traditionally and today, and from there picked out which ingredients were most common.
Obviously, this is not the end all be all list of German ingredients. This list will differ depending on the person, depending on where you live and what you can find, depending on the dishes you favor, or how much time you can spend cooking. This list is simply what I’ll be stocking up on for this deep dive into German cuisine.
Bread – Everyone can agree on this one. Whether it’s for a slice of toast at breakfast, or an open-faced sandwich for lunch, a variety of breads (Loaves of pumpernickel, rye, or rolls) can be found in any German kitchen.
Flour and Sugar – Not much different than an American pantry, these two ingredients are essential for baked goods. The flour will also come in handy for making homemade spaetzle, and thickening gravy or sauces.
Coffee – My grandma says that Germans love a cup of coffee with a slice of cake in the afternoon. I picked up this German coffee from Schaller & Weber, though any medium roast will do. If you don’t drink coffee, Germans also love tea.
Spices, Sauces, and Oils
Broth or Stock -Roasts, potatoes, dumplings, if something can be boiled, it can be boiled in broth. I’ll be using chicken broth, but you can also use beef or vegetable.
A Variety of Mustards – Senf means mustard in German. From what I’ve read, it seems like every sausage deserves it’s own mustard pairing. Unsure if I could finish that much mustard in one month, I picked up a few small jars to test the waters. Pictured are a sweet honey mustard, a stone ground mustard, and an extra hot mustard.
Oil – For browning roasts and cooking down onions, a plant-based oil with a high smoke point will serve you well.
Spices – Salt & Pepper are the basics, throw in some dried parsley or thyme and you’re set.
A Variety of Sausages – Sausages seem to be most well-known of German cuisine. Whether raw or pre-cooked, a few varieties stashed in the freezer can quick start any meal of the day. Pictured here are two varieties I’d never heard of from Schaller & Weber, Weisswurst (White sausage) and Baurnwurst (Country-style sausage).
Eggs – Again something we can all agree on. Soft-boiled or scrambled for breakfast, eggs are also one of the main ingredients of spaetzle.
Butter – No explanation needed. Buttered toast anyone?
Potatoes – This should probably be a category on it’s own. Almost every German meal seems to be based around potatoes. Potato dumplings, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, Germans love their potatoes.
Vegetables – Don’t forget your veggies! Commonly eaten vegetables could be cabbage (red or green), onions, carrots, peas, green beans, and asparagus (white if you can find it).
Fruit – And of course, don’t forget to stock up on some fresh fruits. Enjoyed raw, on top of muesli, or baked in a dessert, apples, pears, and plums are my German staples.
Did I miss anything? What’s on your list of essentials?