Our Best Ingredient Discoveries of the Year

All the weird, wonderful tasty things we’ve been tossing into our food in 2016

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on December 21, 2016

Here are some foods and ingredients we've discarded from our Test Kitchen in 2016: sunscreen-flavored rum, mostly waxy white chocolate, plant-based milk, meat-based protein bars, truffle-scented gold flakes, and a bag or two of dried crickets. Here are some things we did not discard (and we've been cooking with all year long).

Delicata Squash

Thanks to our test kitchen assistant Kristy Mucci, I have been totally obsessed with delicata squash this fall. I used to steer clear of squash because of all the peeling. Oh god. THE PEELING. It was made more horrible by the fact that I'm not the most dextrous with a knife. But delicatas don't need to be peeled. They're the lazy cook's solution to the squash quandary. Every time I see any, I buy them by the armful, and roast them in big batches in olive oil, salt, and pepper. —Katie Whittaker, Assistant Digital Editor

Einkorn Flour

Baking with einkorn, (see the story written by writer Sarah Digregorio in our Origins issue), was a revelation to me. Thought to be the progenitor of all wheat strains we know today, einkorn has supposedly been around for millions of years, and I can see why. It has a beautiful yellow tinge and a sweet aroma and flavor that reminds me of cornmeal, but when baked into breads and pastries it produces the same heartiness as other whole wheat flours. I used it to bake honey-laced scones, a recipe we adapted from the Bushwick based Brooklyn Bread Lab, and may never go back to traditional flour. —Stacy Adimando, Test Kitchen Director

Ethiopian Tahini

I have been putting tahini on EVERYTHING (much thanks to test kitchen director Stacy Adimando). Jars from Soom and Seed + Mill (both source their sesame from Humera in Ethiopia) have been floating from desk to desk here at SAVEUR, along with bricks of halva and various tahini-infused recipes. I've been roasting vegetables in it, adding it to vinaigrettes, slipping it into cookies in place of butter, and mixing it with yogurt for savory dipping sauces. Tahini forever. —Leslie Pariseau, Special Projects Editor

Yuzu Kosho

This is the year yuzu kosho—fermented Japanese chile paste fortified with citrus peel—transitioned in my life from trendy restaurant ingredient to personal obsession. These cookies did it: hazelnutty pineapple linzers with lime and sea salt and rosemary and, beneath all that, a dab of this grassy, spicy, beautifully aromatic spice, which has a completely different heat and verve from most of the other pepper pastes in our pantry based on fully ripened red chiles. Beyond sweets (yuzu kosho is also killer in a lemon glaze on poundcake, it turns out), I'm stirring this stuff into every soup broth I can. —Max Falkowitz, Executive Digital Editor


I'm not really using them as an ingredient, but I had my first hoshigaki (dried Japanese persimmons) this year and I'm so smitten. I think those will be an annual treat from now on. —Kristy Mucci, Test Kitchen Associate

Italian Pimentos

Spicy with just a hint of sweetness, I've started keeping around a big jar of sliced Italian pimentos in oil from Terroni in Toronto. And I put them on everything from eggs to pasta. —Daryn Wright, Digital Intern


This year I truly came to appreciate the smoky, earthy glory of mezcal. This appreciation went hand in hand with the discovery that my mini-blender (which has been sitting on my counter for months, patiently waiting to be used for...any reason) could produce perfectly smooth and fluffy frozen margaritas. And those perfect margaritas were made all the more so by replacing the tequila with mezcal. Once my go-to dive bar draft, the gin and tonic has been replaced by the mezcal and tonic, swapping delicate botanicals for a nose-tingling zest. And when batching drinks at home, my favorite punch of all time actually combines them both. —Alex Testere, Associate Digital Editor

New Catch Holland Herring

I thank my lucky stars for my East Village apartment every time I walk into Russ & Daughters. The Lower Manhattan institution has nurtured the city's cured fish obsession for over a century and this spring, they introduced me to mild and buttery new catch herring. The season runs just at the end of spring, so get these mild and buttery beauties while you can. Eat them raw, with cold shot of genever or aquavit, and a handful of minced raw onion and cornichons. —Kat Craddock, Test Kitchen Assistant

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