Forget about store-bought with these simple recipes
Foods to make from scratch You do not have to be a homesteader to get into making your own food from scratch. These days, most of us urban dwellers learn about these techniques from Pinterest. Making food items which you would otherwise buy is a great way to occupy your time if you are stuck in lockdown. The result will fill you with a sense of accomplishment. Admittedly, it is not always cheaper to make your own, but you will usually end up with a better-tasting end product!
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Pickling is a method of preserving fresh produce, using brine or vinegar to extend its life as well as introduce striking new flavours. Upgrade your snacks and sandwiches by having homemade pickled veggies on hand.
A simple pickling recipe requires nothing more than your vegetable (or fruit) of choice, seasonings, vinegar, salt, and sugar. You will also need jars with lids for storage. Pickled vegetables require some patience as you wait for them to reach full flavour. Note that 'quick pickling' recipes, which don't include a canning process, will result in pickled vegetables which will last about a month.
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Ricotta Making ricotta cheese at home is surprisingly simple, requiring few ingredients and little skill. Full-cream milk and lemon juice is transformed into ricotta in just half an hour by following this easy tutorial. Most of the equipment required is fairly basic, but there are two items you may not already have: a food thermometer, and cheesecloth. You can pick up a food thermometer for $5 from Kmart and a packet of cheesecloth for under $10 from Spotlight.
Home-made ricotta can be yours in just half an hour. Image: Murarenato via Pixabay.
Jam Turn your favourite fruit into a delicious jam. Making jam is also a good option if you find yourself with an excess of fruit that will expire before you can eat it. Start with a simple strawberry jam, which can be made using just strawberries, caster sugar, and lemon juice. You will need sterilised jars with tightly fitting lids to store the jam. It would help to have a food thermometer to check that your jam has reached the correct temperature.
While it is not complicated to make jam, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. See these tips for how to make the perfect home-made jam. Once you have mastered a basic jam recipe, you can start experimenting with different flavours to please your tastes.
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Of course, you will want something to eat your jam with...
Remember the era of lockdown when everyone was obsessed with sourdough starters?
There is a wealth of bread recipes out there, and they can become quite involved. Start with a simple and easy recipe which requires nothing more than flour, yeast, salt, and water. You can even buy packages from the supermarket which include perfectly measured quantities as well as instructions. Consider adding your favourite seasonings to the dough for a more interesting result.
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Vegetable or meat stock Many recipes call for vegetable, chicken, or beef stock. The rich flavours will give your cooking a serious upgrade. Rather than reaching for the stock powder or ready-made liquid, you could have home-made stock which is even more delicious. You can make stock using vegetables and/or any meat (or leftover bones) you may have. Making stock is a fantastic way to use up vegetables or meat that is soon to expire. The process is quite similar to making soup - simply chop up the ingredients, add seasonings, and simmer until the flavourings have emerged. Once the solid matter is strained out, you have a delicious batch of stock! It will keep for a few days in the fridge, or longer-term in the freezer.