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Not worth making yourself


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#1 Carlovski

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 10:43 AM

As a sister topic to the better and cheaper if you make it yourself thread, what really isn't worth it? Either because the rewards are minimal, or there is such a good commercial product it makes all your efforts pointless.
There must be some things? I'll start the ball rolling, dried pasta, you could theoretically make it yourself, but why? Even artisnal dried pasta isn't that expensive, probably better than you can make and a lot more convenient.
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#2 slkinsey

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 10:54 AM

...not to mention that there is no way homemade dry pasta (which is to say, extruded semolina-and-water pasta) can compete with artisinal dry pasta on either a price or quality basis.

Plenty of condiments like ketchup are probably better than one can reasonably make at home.
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#3 ludja

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 10:58 AM

As a sister topic to the better and cheaper if you make it yourself thread, ...

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click
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

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#4 dockhl

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 11:10 AM

Plenty of condiments like ketchup are probably better than one can reasonably make at home.


I've heard that the tomatoes used for ketchup are gross, nasty and absolutely bottom-of-the-barrel. :wacko: Any truth to that?

If so, it'd be worth making just for the quality.

#5 C. sapidus

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 11:24 AM

As a sister topic to the better and cheaper if you make it yourself thread, what really isn't worth it?

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Several food items jump to mind immediately:

Fish sauce (think about it)
Shrimp paste (ditto)
Soy sauce (to save $1.79 USD? I don't think so)
Aged cheese
Garlic (nearly “free” already)
Things that grow on tropical trees (exception: kaffir lime leaves)
Toast and tea (nah, just yanking Brooks’ chain) :wink:

Edit: fixed link

Edited by C. sapidus, 12 March 2007 - 12:07 PM.


#6 Baggy

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 11:54 AM

I’m sure there’s going to be a strong view on this, but if you don’t grow your own tomatoes, making tomato paste is an expensive folly.

I worked out that (at UK prices for plum tomatoes), that it costs almost x30 more to make your own as compared with buying it from a supermarket. And, supermarket paste has a deeper taste (and nothing else added).

Seems a much better approach to buy it and then add wine and herbs to get the thickness and flavour.

#7 dividend

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 12:00 PM

Mayo. I don't use enough to justify even a small batch. I'd rather buy Hellman's that can sit in the fridge until I use it all.

Tortillas. Not worth the fuss. I just keep some corn tortillas from the Mexican grocery in the freezer to use as needed.
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#8 Rebecca263

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 12:09 PM

Wait. Regarding mayonnaise. How much do you pay for eggs and oil where you live? That's just silly. AND, you only use a little bit? Well, who uses a LARGE amount? Not me, and I'm a fatty! Good, put the rest in a jar and leave it in the refrigerator. We even froze some before. It thawed well enough to use in a seafood sauce the next month. You just have to trust me, and try making it in a small batch, once. It's cheaper, it's easy to make, and it's completely worth it, taste wise. Heck, if I'm going to eat a high fat item like mayonnaise, I may as well eat the most delicious stuff that I can find. And, even though it only takes a few minutes, and my detail challenged 17 year old can make it, it really IMPRESSES everyone, so it's a great little habit to cultivate.
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#9 JasonTrue

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 12:32 PM

Homemade mayonnaise is worth it to me, though I only do that on rare occasions. I usually only work with a single yolk, so I don't end up with too much to use within a week or so.

There's not much that I won't make from scratch; sometimes I even make tofu at home, though the time-to-flavor reward is only worth it in cities which have no good sources of very fresh tofu.

For me, on the "not worth making it at home" category, are... marinated artichoke hearts (fresh small ones have limited availability where I am, anyway), marinated sundried tomatoes (not that hard to make from dried tomatoes, but not enough of a flavor advantage), cured olives, brined capers, umeboshi (Japanese pickled apricots), because the ume I can get in May aren't so spectacular anyway. In fact, most of these are because the fresh ingredients that I'd start with are either so limited in availability or so poor in quality that I'm better off buying them imported from somewhere where they are more likely to be good (even if it is just California).

In Japan, I'm more likely to buy other pickled vegetables than make them; in the US, when I want Japanese style pickles I find that mine often taste better than the ones sold here.

Various fermented things... beyond cheese, soy sauce, and related items mentioned above, I'd add miso, most kinds of kimchi (worth making at home but usually not worth the logistical challenges for me), vinegar, nattou, anything alcoholic. I have made Caspian yogurt at home (the one that ferments at room temperature), but usually don't bother with yogurt.
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#10 Milagai

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 12:45 PM

Paapads!

Even if one lives in a place with enough spells
of insanely hot and dry weather, so that
you can roll out myriad paste rounds and let them dry without spoiling,
it is just too crazily laborious.

To "roll out paapads" is proverbial in many
Indian languages for hard, repetitive, monotonous,
work.....

Just buy any of the dozens of varieties at the
Indian store and enjoy, while supporting some
rural women's co-operative.....

Milagai

#11 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 01:02 PM

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#12 SuzySushi

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 01:27 PM

Along with pappadum and tortillas, I'd add homemade wonton/gyoza wrappers to the list of items that are not worth the fuss of making at home -- at least here in Hawaii, where even ordinary supermarkets have a selection of items for little cost. I could never make them as evenly thin as the machine-made products. Same for Vietnamese rice papers.
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#13 djyee100

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 06:37 PM

Mustard, unless you're making an unusual variety that can't be bought. Mustard is cheap and there are many excellent brands out there. In my one foray into mustard-making, I cooked a batch of mustard with nectarines. It was delicious, but the mustard was inclined to scorch at the end of the cooking time and needed constant stirring and watching by the stove. Not worth it.

#14 Toliver

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 08:52 AM

Mustard, unless you're making an unusual variety that can't be bought. Mustard is cheap and there are many excellent brands out there. In my one foray into mustard-making, I cooked a batch of mustard with nectarines. It was delicious, but the mustard was inclined to scorch at the end of the cooking time and needed constant stirring and watching by the stove. Not worth it.

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Dude! Use the microwave...less chance of scorching.
You can find andiesenji's mustard recipe both in the eGCI Condiments class and in this discussion.

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#15 lexy

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 09:40 AM

… Same for Vietnamese rice papers.

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Amen to that - I tried making them once and it was a complete disaster. It might be worthwhile for someone more competent than I am, but I'd be surprised.
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#16 Shalmanese

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 10:02 AM

Along with pappadum and tortillas, I'd add homemade wonton/gyoza wrappers to the list of items that are not worth the fuss of making at home -- at least here in Hawaii, where even ordinary supermarkets have a selection of items for little cost. I could never make them as evenly thin as the machine-made products. Same for Vietnamese rice papers.

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I totally disagree. Homemade wrappers are a completely different thing from storebought ones. They're thicker and have a certain toothsomeness that's impossible to replicate.
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#17 miladyinsanity

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 12:02 PM

Along with pappadum and tortillas, I'd add homemade wonton/gyoza wrappers to the list of items that are not worth the fuss of making at home -- at least here in Hawaii, where even ordinary supermarkets have a selection of items for little cost. I could never make them as evenly thin as the machine-made products. Same for Vietnamese rice papers.

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I totally disagree. Homemade wrappers are a completely different thing from storebought ones. They're thicker and have a certain toothsomeness that's impossible to replicate.

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Depends on what kind of dumpling you're making. For some, home made is way better than storebought.
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#18 fionab

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 08:09 PM

Filo dough :biggrin:

#19 Rebecca263

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 09:34 PM

OK, I was just in the kitchen today. Kiddle clogged the sink over the weekend, and had been hiding this important news from me for awhile. :shock: Today she became Queen of the augur, and fixed said clog-my HEROINE! I was looking in the pantry, and I discovered the food that is much better when commercially made, than when made at home. Creamy 'natural' peanut butter. Also, Peter Pan brand. I miss being able to eat some Peter Pan on a spoon, but a little bit of all peanut, no salt, creamy, commercially processed peanut butter is deemed fine by my system!
I had a Vitamix years ago, we made a number of batches of peanut butter ourselves. Messy, and never as smooth and luscious as ANY commercial natural product, even the lowly Smuckers brand exceeds the textural quality of homemade!
So, I add... peanut butter, to the mix.
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#20 Carlovski

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 05:04 AM

Filo dough :biggrin:

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I'd even go as far as saying puff pastry - there are some ok fresh and frozen brands available, and it's a bugger to make yourself. Shortcrust is a different matter though.
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#21 miladyinsanity

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 07:44 AM

Filo dough :biggrin:

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I'd even go as far as saying puff pastry - there are some ok fresh and frozen brands available, and it's a bugger to make yourself. Shortcrust is a different matter though.

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I disagree on this one. It's really not that hard.
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#22 phatj

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 07:47 AM

Garlic (nearly “free” already)

I assume by this you mean it's not worth growing your own?

I'd go so far as to say that whole heads of fresh garlic aren't worth buying, at least not this time of year, unless you have a source for really good fresh garlic. The stuff I can find in supermarkets is mostly starting to sprout before I even get it home. It's a big hassle to cut the cloves and dig out the green parts.

A couple months ago I bought the giant plastic container of whole peeled cloves from Costco. I don't have it handy, but it's probably about two pounds of garlic cloves, for just a few bucks. The flavor isn't quite as good as fresh, but it's hassle-free.

#23 nakji

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 08:11 AM

Pho.

:laugh:

#24 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 11:32 AM

To that I say feh: click.
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#25 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 12:16 PM

Garlic (nearly “free” already)

I assume by this you mean it's not worth growing your own?

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Yes, I meant growing garlic. I don’t mind peeling it – we go through several heads of garlic a week, so I have become a reasonably efficient garlic peeler.

To that I say feh: click.

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Phiddlesticks. :raz: Remember that nakji is in Vietnam, where (from what I have read) most folks go out for pho. Would you make your own bagels if you lived in Manhattan?

I promise not to be shocked if the answer is yes. :smile:

#26 Pontormo

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 12:34 PM

Filo dough :biggrin:

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I'd even go as far as saying puff pastry - there are some ok fresh and frozen brands available, and it's a bugger to make yourself. Shortcrust is a different matter though.

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I disagree on this one. It's really not that hard.

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While I have yet to experiment with puff pastry, this summer I made what Judy Rodgers calls a "rough" version of puff pastry for what she calls a peach crostada (and what the Alice Waters people would call more of a galette). It was extraordinary, thanks to the quality of the peaches, one of the best desserts I've ever had. Easy peasy, just time-consuming. The sense of accomplishment and factor of impressing and honoring guests are factors worth considering in evaluating pros and cons. Besides, the most accessible brand of puff pastry doesn't list butter as an ingredient.

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#27 Peter Green

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 12:38 PM

Pufferfish.

#28 GTO

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 12:49 PM

Pufferfish.

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That's just asking for a Simpsons reference :laugh:

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#29 sazji

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:00 PM

Garlic (nearly “free” already)

I assume by this you mean it's not worth growing your own?

I'd go so far as to say that whole heads of fresh garlic aren't worth buying, at least not this time of year, unless you have a source for really good fresh garlic. The stuff I can find in supermarkets is mostly starting to sprout before I even get it home. It's a big hassle to cut the cloves and dig out the green parts.

A couple months ago I bought the giant plastic container of whole peeled cloves from Costco. I don't have it handy, but it's probably about two pounds of garlic cloves, for just a few bucks. The flavor isn't quite as good as fresh, but it's hassle-free.

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When I was in Seattle I would regularly plant lots of garlic in the fall; not to have garlic heads but for green garlic (i.e. 'scallion stage') in the spring. I really missed it from Greece - they sell garlic at all stages of its development, from single scallions to swollen (but not yet dried/papery) white heads. There's just nothing else like it!
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#30 Catherine Iino

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:04 PM

I absolutely agree about the garlic. Here in Connecticut, it's something you can plant in the fall and harvest halfway through the summer; it almost feels like a freebie. And you can't buy the scapes, which are delicious.