Kirkland Signature National retailer,
Item price leading brand price
Maple syrup $12.99 1 liter $19.99 1 liter
Walnuts $19.59 3 lbs. $37.77 3 lbs.
I spoke with John Lee, Costco food buyer,
about what distinguishes Costco’s spices from
the competition. “Costco really shines in the
spice category, as we scour the globe to find the
best spices to use in our Kirkland Signature
products,” John explains. “Our Saigon cinnamon from Vietnam contains some of the highest levels of volatile oils out there, which gives
the intense taste. This is also true of our red
pepper flakes and Tellicherry black pepper,
which comes from the Malabar region of India.
They wouldn’t have that zing without the high
oil content. And we import Mediterranean Sea
salt, as it’s one of the best salts available.”
John also notes that Kirkland Signature
vanilla extract has one of the highest levels of
vanillin in the industry. Madagascar vanilla
beans are cured and shipped to the United
States for processing to make this product.
And for the best garlic, Costco sources
100 percent from California farms. “We
steam-treat our spices for food safety during
processing,” John adds.
Canned goods. Different households
have different tastes, which is why the type
of canned goods vary from one pantry to the
next. But one staple is tomatoes.
“I recommend Kirkland Signature organic
canned tomatoes, whether stewed, diced,
sauce or paste,” says Dan. “They provide a
rich and natural taste to so many dishes.”
John agrees: “All of our tomatoes are 100
percent organic from California. They are
picked during the cool hours of nighttime and
early morning to preserve their firmness and
put into the can within the day.”
Other staples. One essential is a good
supply of organic chicken stock, as it’s versatile
for soups, sauces and roasting.
“Kirkland Signature stock is made entirely
from scratch using the best ingredients,” says
Troy Kozen, Costco assistant buyer. “We actually make a bone broth as the concentrated
base.” This imparts the most gelatin, resulting
in a richer, truer chicken flavor that benefits a
number of recipes.
Other staples are Kirkland Signature
organic honey and maple syrup to use as
sweeteners, and green tea and coffee.
Kirkland Signature coffee is made from 100
percent washed Arabica beans that are sustain-ably grown, which is important to Costco.
Thanks to Costco’s rotational whole-bean program, five varieties from different countries
are available in the warehouses at various times
throughout the year.
A few more must-have items to add to the
list: Kirkland Signature cooking spray made of
100 percent canola oil. Kirkland Signature
butter is also delicious, and Kirkland Signature
balsamic vinegar from Modena, which is terrific in salads and other dishes.
As Chef Dan creates another masterpiece in the kitchen, I keep him company while sipping a crisp Kirkland
Signature Italian Prosecco. I’m so
lucky to have a well-prepped chef
right in the family. C
1. Oils: Extra-virgin olive oil,
vegetable oil, coconut oil, canola spray
2. Spices: Mediterranean sea salt,
Malabar black pepper, crushed red
pepper, vanilla extract, cinnamon,
organic no-salt seasoning
3. Garlic: Fresh, granulated and minced
4. Vinegars: Balsamic, red wine
5. Condiments: Dijon mustard,
6. Canned tomatoes: Diced, sauce
7. Canned tuna, salmon and
8. Stocks: Organic chicken stock,
9. Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup
10. Baking items: Flour, sugar,
Other useful items to keep on hand:
11. Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, pine nuts
12. Green tea, coffee: For the coffee,
preferably use whole beans and then
grind for freshness
13. Wine (white and red): This
imparts flavor to a variety of dishes; be
aware that only some alcohol evaporates
in cooking and some is retained.—SN
AN IDEAL PANTRY provides a cool, dry
space to maximize product shelf life. Store
dry foods between 50 and 70 degrees, and
away from humidity. Consider grouping
items in the pantry for easy viewing.
• Often-used items such as pepper, salt
and seasonings can be kept next to the stove
for easy access.
• Bigger spice containers and jars of dried
minced garlic may be stored in the pantry.
• When storing olive oil, eliminate exposure to light, heat and oxygen, and use within
three to six months to prevent oxidizing.
Pastas, rice, quinoa and legumes
• Keep in airtight containers after
• Kirkland Signature organic chicken
stock is in foil-lined boxes to preserve freshness; just pop in the fridge after opening.
• Avoid heat, light, moisture and excessive air; store beans in airtight glass or
ceramic containers in a cool dry place. Be
cautious of freezer storage, as frequent
access can cause moisture to get into bag.
• Flour: Once opened, place in airtight
container for storage up to one year.
• Chocolate: Keep away from high temperatures to avoid discoloration or rancidity.
Store away from other foods to avoid absorbing aromas.
• Sugar: Store in airtight container to
• Nuts: Store in airtight containers,
or in individual zip bags in the freezer to
avoid going rancid.—SN
Storage tips Dan’s top
Costco vs. the competition
Costco warehouses and
Costco.com offer a variety of
*Based on surveys taken in January 2015 in Washington state.