[This article was written by Lizzie Weakley.]
It’s impossible to make quality products out of substandard ingredients. Anyone involved in food service knows that without a doubt, but it’s not enough to know that you need quality inputs. You also have to know how to get them, and in many cases, that’s not easy. Here are four ways that you can find high-quality products to use in your cooking.
Use Your Networks
Why reinvent the wheel? You may have friends from culinary school, small business classes, or other networks who use similar ingredients to yours. Ask them if they have identified reliable sources of quality ingredients. True, they may want to protect their proprietary information, but you might be able to pry it out of them in exchange for some information on your own secret inputs.
One of the biggest factors in quality is transport. Products that have spent many hours in the back of a truck will never be on a par with those that were produced locally. Fruits and vegetables must be picked before optimum ripeness so that they can “ripen” during transport, leading to substandard flavor and quality. Sourcing your Kaiser buns, bok choi, or goat milk from local sources will give you a head start on creating a fantastic final product.
Audition Different Sources
Sometimes you just have to do some detective work. You can have a very clear vision of what you want to use, but the only way to know that a product meets those standards is to give it a try. Shop around. Find different sources and types of ingredients, then take them for a test drive. Use them in different recipes and see which ones turn out best. Just make sure to keep all other ingredients the same.
It may sound like a high-tech way to create food, but there are lots of online sources for ingredients. Spend some time searching out suppliers and producers. See what feedback is out there. Trace chefs from their testimonials to their own sites and see what they reveal on their own platforms, or just call them and see if the endorsement is legit.
Computer experts used to have an expression: Garbage in, garbage out. It meant that a computer will not give good results if you don’t provide the right information. The same is true in the kitchen, and it’s proof of why good ingredients are so important. Take some time, spend some money, and track down quality ingredients for your products.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.