Salty crunchy home-made shelf stable snacks!
March 4, 2010 7:33 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite salty, vegetarian, shelf-stable snack recipes, made entirely from scratch?

We're trying to purchase fewer pre-made/processed goods from the supermarket and make more ourselves. We already make our own bread, granola, bagels, pizza dough, muffins and cookies (and other sweets/candies). But our weakness seems to be salty snacks. We like things like Pirate's Booty, Kettle Chips, pita chips, bagel chips, and Chex Mix. We've made some of those things before - such as Chex Mix, but since one first has to buy Chex... it doesn't count.

So we're looking for recipes for crunchy, salty, shelf-stable snacks similar to the commercial ones listed above. Must be vegetarian.

We already make our own popcorn (although it seems to go stale fast), enjoy salted nuts, and know about roasting chickpeas. We're thinking about doing pretzels - got any great recipes?

(I saw this question, but only a few of the recipes were the sort of thing I'm looking for.)
posted by Cygnet to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to wager that the shelf-stable stipulation is not gonna happen.. at least not to the same degree as processed goodies.

That said, kale chips!
posted by pintapicasso at 7:55 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Crackers are very easy to make, and very flexible as to what you put in them. Here's a recipe I've used before. But as pintapicasso said, you aren't going to get the kind of shelf-stability commercial products have (and you probably wouldn't want it).
posted by advil at 8:17 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hm, agree with pintapicasso; by their very nature homemade snacks are way more perishable than store-bought goodies. Part of the trade off of eating things that are way healthier because they don't contain weird chemicals is that.... they don't contain weird chemicals, so they go stale much, much faster than their packaged counterparts.

However, if you're just looking for tasty snack type recipes, you could try making your own crackers (Smitten Kitchen's spelt everything crackers are great, as are these semolina crackers from 101 cookbooks. Crackers tend to keep for a few days if stored properly, but depending on how crisp they got when you baked them they may get a little soft after a few days in an airtight container.

You could also make gougeres if you want something cheesy, but those are most definitely best right out of the oven. And if you'll pardon the self-linkage, I also like these spicy sweet roasted nuts and they'll keep for a week or two.
posted by hungrybruno at 8:22 AM on March 4, 2010

Hmm - I was afraid I just wasn't going to be able to make anything shelf stable. But the products I currently buy contain no preservatives, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or anything else funky (and are made with organic ingredients, etc). I'm really quite careful about that sort of thing. I guess it's just a manufacturing thing?
posted by Cygnet at 8:26 AM on March 4, 2010

Actually, I should be more accurate: some things I buy contain vitamin E as a preservative. Can one do this at home?
posted by Cygnet at 8:30 AM on March 4, 2010

WRT preservatives, lots of the packing that says "no preservatives" actually means "no artificial preservatives"; many of the products contain something like citric acid, which is a natural preservative. Maybe you could play with some of those items to extend the shelf life of your own made-at-home snacks?
posted by urbanlenny at 8:32 AM on March 4, 2010

How shelf stable is shelf stable? How long do you want it to last. Homemade crackers last a long time.

A great snack is fried dried peppers. Dried Guajillo peppers, destemmed and deseeded, but not rehydrated, can be fried in oil to cover until they get crispy. Add salt. They'll keep for a while but don't last long.
posted by OmieWise at 8:40 AM on March 4, 2010

Toasted pumpkin seeds. So good. Unfortunately, a little seasonal. It may not be so simple finding raw pumpkin seeds to toast.

You can buy shelled pumpkin seed kernels (aka pepitas) in bulk, though. They can be toasted in a skillet with a tiny bit of oil and salted to taste. Very tasty. They should keep for a while on the shelf, depending what kind of oil you use.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 8:47 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hm. You mention pita chips - those are very easy to make at home. If you wanted to go all the way you could actually learn to make your own pita bread for them - (I remember looking at a recipe for it in Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" and thinking it didn't sound too hard.) But really, even if you bought the pita bread first, it seems to me it'd be easy to find some that doesn't have any of the processing ingredients you're trying to avoid. (I get it from Trader Joe's a lot.)

I make big batches of pita chips sometimes and just keep them in a plastic bag - usually the very bag the pita bread came in. I eat through them before they have a chance to go stale but I feel like they'd last a good while sealed up properly.
posted by dnash at 8:51 AM on March 4, 2010

You can make your own potato chips in the microwave. I've never tried it, though I've been meaning to, but I hear that it works very well.

According to the linked recipe, they keep for about 3 days, but I bet they'd keep a bit longer than that. Or, you could just make small batches regularly - the recipe is quite easy.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:56 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I really should have been clearer. I do know that packages that advertise themselves as "free of preservatives" often contain natural preservatives. However, some of my favorite snacks, like veggie-flavor Pirate's Booty, don't contain any preservatives at all, unless you count salt. Cool! Can I do that, without industrial packaging equipment?

As for shelf-life, a couple of weeks would be great! But they don't have to last months or anything.

Thanks for the great ideas so far!!!
posted by Cygnet at 9:06 AM on March 4, 2010

I just remembered that I have the book Better Than Store Bought which has several relevant recipes.

Flaky cheese twists, keep for up to 2 weeks
Corn chips, keep for up to a week
Melba toast (crunchy yes, salty no), keeps indefinitely
Breadsticks, keep "for weeks"
Some sweet/salty confections, like peanut brittle and caramel corn with peanuts.

There are also a lot of recipes for various pickles, which are crunchy, salty, and shelf-stable, but probably not what you were thinking of when you posted.

Let me know if you'd like me to type up a couple recipes, but I would also recommend the book, since you make your own staple foods. It has recipes for a lot of staples I don't usually come across - things like graham crackers, cream cheese, bouillon cubes, pickles, jams, mustards, etc.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:14 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Roasted chickpeas - just add salt!
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:18 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I agree with the crackers and salted nuts. Also, cheese twists. If you've done bagels, what about pretzels?

Do you have freezer space? A lot of these things freeze well - if they come out lacking crispness, just throw them in the oven for a few minutes.
posted by beyond_pink at 9:33 AM on March 4, 2010

You don't need a pumpkin to make toasted pumpkin seeds--you can use seeds from almost any winter squash. I make butternut squash seeds, for example, and pass them off as pumpkin seeds. Clean off all the stringy bits, spread on a pan, sprinkle with salt, and toast until done. I'm a little casual with time and temperature, but I'm sure someone on the internet has strong opinions about it. Will last pretty much forever.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:50 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

This was a question about snacks which could survive the US mail. Some of those might be shelf stable (although still probably not as shelf stable as Cheetos).
posted by bluefly at 9:53 AM on March 4, 2010

Microwave potato chips are delicious, but quite labor intensive: lots of flipping individual chips and removing them from the oven one by one one by one. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Also, make sure to use a setting of about 1mm on your mandoline.

Here is the Alton Brown episode with the recipe that advil linked to. His ginger almonds are tasty as well.
posted by halogen at 10:06 AM on March 4, 2010

Hmm, granola keeps pretty well, and you say you already make it. I bet you could tweak a granola recipe to become saltier and crunchier. Oatmeal does well with savory flavors, so I don't know why toasted oats + nuts wouldn't. When I make granola it's quite simple, just something sweet dissolved in water with salt and oil added, mixed with the oatmeal and nuts and baked. If you cut the sugar, upped the salt, upped the oil, and added some savory flavors like cumin or chipotle or something it could be nice for snacking. I may have to try this...
posted by yarrow at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2010

This is a moderate pain in the tail, as it requires both special equipment and deep-frying, but I love sev, which is fried chickpea-flour noodles. You can get a sev maker at an Indian grocery. You hold it over hot oil and extrude the noodles from it by rotating the handle. If you have a potato ricer or a cookie press you could try that first. (The noodles will have to be a bit softer and will tend to stick to each other if you use a ricer.) You might first buy a bag of sev (also at the Indian grocery) to see if you like it and get a sense of what you're shooting for. I have never understood why it's not yet made it to the mainstream - crunchy, salty, spicy - what's not to like?
posted by jocelmeow at 11:09 AM on March 4, 2010

I made myself a batch of hardtack that was still edible nearly a year after it was baked. I hope you have good teeth, though.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:57 AM on March 4, 2010

I like tamari almonds as a snack, and while I buy them, I saw a recipe somewhere that basically said that you soak the almonds in tamari and then cook them (I think that recipe said to wok them up for a few minutes, but I am sure you'll find a recipe for them online). Tamari almonds are nicely crunchy, a bit salty and very savoury.
posted by AnnaRat at 1:24 PM on March 4, 2010

It may not be so simple finding raw pumpkin seeds to toast.

I'm happy to report that raw pumpkin seeds are usually (maybe even always?) available in the bulk bins in regular grocery stores, at least around my area. Other areas may vary. It's a great suggestion.
posted by gimonca at 1:41 PM on March 4, 2010

Parmigiana Reggiano crisps are a favorite of mine...
posted by cinemafiend at 4:02 PM on March 4, 2010

Raw Sprouted Crackers
posted by symbollocks at 5:39 AM on March 5, 2010

Here’s an Indian snack you might enjoy: namak paray (namak means salt in Hindi). It’s basically small pieces of deep fried dough. When they’re fried in ghee (not something you’d want to do regularly!), they start out with a crunch then melt in your mouth. Mmm. These keep really well, by the way.

Sev and other types of murkul are also delicious, but a lot more work.
posted by yawper at 10:59 AM on March 5, 2010

Home made corn tortilla chips are terrific, and keep fairly well in a brown paper bag.

Popcorn does go stale fast, and I usually make it just before eating. My suggestion is to keep a cheese/spice blend in the fridge and toss it on popcorn or homemade pita chips. Something like grated parmesan cheese, oregano, basil.
posted by fontophilic at 3:58 PM on March 5, 2010

Mix up some soy sauce and sesame oil. Tear some nori sheets into small squares and paint them with the mixture. Toast until crispy = DELICIOUS.

Nthing kale chips. A local NY company makes them with a mixture of nutritional yeast, cashews, and pepper and they are sooooooooooooooo good.
posted by melissam at 4:35 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

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