Making food from scratch: an addictive process

29 July 2018

Yoghurt was the first food that took me down the rabbit hole of making things from scratch. I remember stumbling across a recipe for making yoghurt in a thermos and being completely intrigued. I did manage to botch my first yoghurt attempt by heating the milk a little too far but I didn't let that deter me and have been making my own for seven years now. It's definitely saved me a few dollars but also saved a few hundred plastic containers from the waste cycle, built my food prep knowledge base and increased my ability to 'fend for myself' a little more when it comes to feeding my family.

Salsas, jams, chutneys and all sorts of 'made from scratch' goodies.

Making things from scratch is, to me, such a rewarding process. Of course it can sometimes take more time and a few failures here and there, but for me it's been totally addictive and empowering. Once I started making some things from scratch at home I wanted to dig deeper and see what else I could do. What else could I strike off the shopping list permanently. Where else could I gain a little more self reliance and further cut my dependency on our questionable food system.

Over the years I've slowly added more and more items to my 'made from scratch' list and removed them from my shopping list for the most part. Of course, it's not necessarily a linear process. Sometimes life gets in the way and I go back to buying something for a few weeks or months. I try not to beat myself up about it and just get back to my normal routine as time and circumstances allow.

Home made sourdough bagels


So what am I currently making from scratch. Here is a little list I compiled as much out of interest for myself. It's good to pause and reflect on what we've achieved at times instead of always getting fixated on the goal posts we're striving for ahead of us. Some of these items I make regularly and others as we need or want them.

Made from scratch:



Preserved items (these aren't really made by me as such but processed when in season so I don't have to buy through the year)
  • Tin tomatoes
  • Tin fruit
  • Preserved lemons
  • Olives
  • Dried fruits: whatever I can get my hands on
  • Semi dried tomatoes
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried herbs


This year I'm working on adding a few items to the regularly 'made from scratch' list – pasta, dumplings and bacon. I'm using plastic free July as my pasta making motivator which you can read about here and here. I figure if I have home-made pasta dried and ready to go it'll be no harder than opening a packet. So far I've made one batch of bacon and I have another pork belly in the freezer for when the current batch runs out. I think this is the trick with bacon for me – buying the pork belly when it's a good price and having on hand. The dumplings are yet to be made but I'm thinking a big dumpling day similar to my pasta day.


I'm pretty happy with where I'm at with my made from scratch items at this stage. There have definitely been a few failures and a lot of procrasti-researching along the way. Some things were easy to incorporate, others definitely took more time and some are still works in progress. I'll be happy if I can get the pasta and bacon on the regular list by the end of the year. Goal set.

Do you make any kitchen staples from scratch?
Any big food goals or things on the 'must get making' list?

Also, if anyone would be interested in a recipe, tutorial or link to how to make any of the above please let me know.

12 comments

  1. Laura, your list of homemade things is very inspiring. I too remember the first time I made yogurt. I have a yogurt maker that I bought from a yard sale. I left the milk + culture overnight. In the morning when I opened and saw yogurt I just squealed with delight. 😀

    I have never canned anything. I see you have homemade salsa etc. Do you use empty jam jars etc for canning? I didn't try caning thinking I need special canning jars.

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    1. Hey Nil, I use a combination of recycled supermarket jars and specific canning ones. You definitely don't need to buy any special jars or equipment to get started. And it's the perfect time for you at the height of summer - I imagine there would be heaps of yummy things around to put into jars.
      Cheers,
      Laura

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  2. My list looks pretty similar. I don't make all the things all the time- my son was just reminding me we haven't made bacon or guanciale for ages the other day- but making is my normal and I'm always slightly surprised that people don't. Surely it's easier to keep a can of chickpeas and a jar of tahini in the cupboard and whizz up a bowl of hummus than it is to drive to the shops and buy a tub?!

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    1. I'm with your Hazel, I think it's easier to make your own then head to the shops for it but I suppose for people that have never made anything from scratch it might feel a little daunting.

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  3. Wow Laura, your list of "made from scratch" is inspiring and impressive. It's just wonderful to see, and makes me feel much more 'normal'. As you know, I'm totally addicted to making as much as possible from the beautiful ingredients grown on our farm or bought locally. There are a few things I don't make from scratch as much as I'd like to, pasta for instance, due to time constraints, but I try not to beat myself up about it. I absolutely love it though. X

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    1. Yes, it can feel like you're a little unusual when everyone else around you is awed by the fact you whipped up some hommus!! Luckily the internet means we can find people just like us!
      It's only been one month but I've found the big batch pasta prep is working well - much easier than finding the time to make pasta from scratch at dinner time around here.

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  4. That's a great list, Laura. I make some of those things too, like biscuits and slices and ice-cream, soups and granola. I really like that making your own can save so much plastic and other waste. Meg:)

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    1. The amount of waste saved alone is pretty impressive I think Meg, not to mention all the other benefits.

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  5. Laura, this post made me smile as once again I see that we are on such similar journeys! How good are nasturtium pod 'capers'?! I love them as they are one of the few things we seem to be able to harvest from our garden (because they grow with no input from us...) It's so satisfying to see your shopping list for value-added goods getting smaller and smaller! Cheers, Sally at One Family, One Planet blog

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    1. I get the same feeling when i read your posts too Sally. I was very skeptical about the nasturtium 'capers' before I tried them but have been completely converted. Definitely got to love a plant like nasturtiums that do their own thing and provide edible rewards plus as a bonus are nice to look at.
      It's almost become a game for me to see what I can make next to scratch off the shopping list forever!
      Cheers,
      Laura

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  6. I'm impressed by the home cured bacon! I learned a lot of, from-scratch recipes (especially baking) and then had to re-learn how to bake all over again, when I had to go gluten free. Different ingredients with very different ratios (more on the wet side, than dry). But I remember that sense of independence, when I finally mastered the perfect, gluten free muffin! This is my favourite go-to recipe, when I know I'll be having visitors.

    One thing on my list to try is home made pasta. I have a pasta machine that was a gift, which is still sitting, unused. But I want to see what gluten free pastas I can make. I'm especially enamored with the coloured varieties. We have an Italian, fresh pasta vendor, at our local farmers markets (hello Antonio!) and he makes the most delicious flavours! Caraway and sweet potato, was delicious.

    So maybe some fun experiments with flavoured (gluten free) fresh pasta, is on my culinary horizon?

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    1. Yes, gluten free is a whole other ball game. Let me know how you go with the pasta. I have a few friends who are gluten free that would love a first hand recommendation on a good pasta recipe. Caraway and sweet potato sounds like a good combo. I'm looking forward to doing some more experimenting with the flavoured pasta as I keep up my monthly pasta day. I'll keep my eye out for your flavour experiments too:)

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