Ever made basic staples for your kitchen? Mustard, mayo, jam, crackers etc.?
I've been playing around with recipes (made a little preserves) and reading up on ancient ones (mustard made with wine must in the early centuries etc.) and got to wondering if anyone makes many of the basics in their kitchen - and how that turned out?
I liked the fresh preserves I made better than gourmet store preserves. In the past I've actually made crackers that turned out wonderfully (normally, crackers wouldn't be something I'd think of making - just buying). The mustard thing was intriguing but I've never tried that nor successfully made my own mayo.
Has anyone made a whole bunch of kitchen basics from scratch? What did you love, and how much better was the taste vs. commercially available?
I've made jams and jellies, fruit in booze for Xmas presents. The only crackery thing I've made is more of a cheese cookie. The butter and cheddar and flour recipe you can find everywhere on the Web, just squished through a cookie press with a heart-shaped die. Or rolled into a log and sliced off in 1/4" rounds. Good with soups or salads. Martha Stewart's appetizer cookbook has true, thin cracker recipes. Perhaps there's some on her Web site. Her recipes are generally reliable and delicious.
I've made fresh ginger jelly for myself and as presents. It's lovely pale pink in color, sweet yet with a hint of the fresh ginger heat, and makes a great adult PB&J or melted as a glaze for a fruit tart.
Fresh basil pesto is so much better than any jarred variety IMHO. Read the label. They have to add acidifiers to preserve it, and it just tastes vinegary to me. The same with jarred crushed fresh garlic. It's too acidic. I understand it's not wise to peel and save garlic cloves in olive oil on ones own. Something about botulism, so I'm not doing that! I have, however, roasted garlic, squished out the cloves, mashed with olive oil, and frozen flat in small freezer bags. If anyone know that that's a bad idea, please advise!
Good topic. I'm interested to see the replies.
I make jams and jellies seasonally -- apple jellies in particular are worlds better home made then store bought. I usually put up apples and strawberries every year, and every few years or so I also do peaches. I make apple jelly, cinnamon apple rings, cinnamon apple jelly, and apple butter, and strawberry preserves.
I also usually do a batch of green tomato relish or chutney at the end of tomato season - never very much. It depends on how early tomato season ends, and how many and what size greenies I've still got on the vine.
I enjoy making crackers, but don't very often - we're not big cracker eaters.
And I make mayonnaise when I want to eat it (rarely, I dislike mayo), and mustard from time to time - usually when I want a very spicy mustard for something. I've tried making catsup once, but it didn't turn out -- it was really good.... but not catsup.
I'm not sure what you consider a basic staple -- but I include stock in that, and generally make it a few times a month, and have some frozen always, and I used to home make all our bread -- a really really good artisan bakery opened up last fall though, and my bread making has sort of fallen to the wayside.
And once, in a Martha-Stewartesque fit of over doing it, I made my own butter for Thanksgiving Dinner.
I got a couple of quarts of cream and opened it up and let it rest over night on the counter, then warmed it up in a pot with a little grated carrot, strained it to get the grated carrot out, lightly salted it, and went at it with a hand mixer until it separated out into butter. Poured off the whey and used it for something... I don't remember what - used in the mashed potatoes, I think. Then worked the butter back and forth with a spatula against the side of the bowl under some cold running water until it ran clean, and patted it into a loaf on a pretty little tray I had.
The grated carrot gives the butter a pretty yellow color -- I learned to do this from my grandmother, who (I am about 90% certain) learned to do it from the little house on the prairie books -- she was a teacher and used to teach from those books, and I know they did butter making in her class.
A food processor is perfect for making butter. I like to start it on low and then switch to high and let it run until it separates. strain the butter globs, add a bit of salt(optional) and compress into a firm ball. I refrigerate it overnight and use.If you have never had really fresh butter, the taste will blow your mind.
I grew up in the country and we used to do this every Saturday with whole milk from my neighbors farm. Milk that is almost ready to go sour makes the very best butter, but that is my opinion.
My grandmother taught me to make Dijon style mustard with whole brown seed and white wine. There are very few commercial mustards that compare, plus you can vary the hotness to your taste.
Like cheesemonger, blender mayo always! A bit of mustard and the emulsification is always more assured. Salt and pepper to taste as well.
Also make jams, fruit syrups, quick preserves, pickles, chutneys, hot chili sauces, sun dried tomatoes, Japanese pickled ginger, yogurt, spreading cheese from yogurt, and--most recently--caviar from carp roe (which some of you helped me with).