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What Does "From Scratch" Mean To You?

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 28 August 2013 at 20:24
So, I was searching for some representative recipes for barbecued beans. One of the alternative parameters suggested was "barbecue beans from scratch."

Perfect, I thought.

Perusing several pages of listings, however, revealed that at least 90% of them used, as an ingredient,canned pork & beans.

Like just about everybody else, I've modified canned beans to improve the flavor profile. But I never thought my results were a new recipe, made from scratch.

I'm not looking to renew the perennial convenience products discussion. You either use them or not, as you wish.

But am I alone in thinking that if the main ingredient comes from a can, or box, or jar that the last thing you have is a "from scratch" recipe?

To me, "from scratch" means you start with the basic ingredients and convert them to something else. If you're baking a cake from scratch, you start with flour, and sugar, and eggs, and so forth. Or, to put a point on it, "from scratch" beans means starting with dry beans and proceeding from there.

What about everyone else? What does "from scratch" mean to you?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2013 at 20:29
I'm with you Brook.
In my case I also try to grow it or farm it or catch it or forage for it. But I'm not right in the head. Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2013 at 20:33
I honestly can't get those 'recipe card' things that supermarkets put out. Buy 'this' frozen chicken potions, 'that' jar of sauce, 'these' pre-prepared veges - fling it all in a wok, and pour it over 'our' brand of par boiled rice.
Dinner in 20 minutes. Apparently this makes one a cook?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 August 2013 at 02:16
Well now...if you're going to make baked beans and you don't start out with dried navy pea beans, water, brown sugar, mustard and molasses and some bacon and onion....well, it just ain't from scratch.

Baking a cake or brownies is also not from scratch if you just added liquid to a boxed mix.

Good lord....are we the only folks around that still do it right?

We're together on this one brother Brook.Thumbs Up
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 August 2013 at 07:12
If the canned or boxed thing is just one thing like a can of tomatoes or a container of oatmeal then I feel I'm making things from scratch with those things. But I don't think it's completely a black and white thing.

Maybe this is a bad example, but consider ham, a highly processed product. It can certainly be used in dishes that feature it prominently and you might be able to draw a parallel to Brooks pork-n-beans example.

But I certainly agree that a dish made from frozen, flavored meat, complete sauce from a jar and a frozen medley of veg on top of precooked microwaveable rice ain't scratch cooking. Nor is adding a handful of things to a can of pork-n-beans represent scratch cooking.

Maybe it comes down to the ease of reproducing the processed ingredient. Ham is a lot harder to make than is pork and beans. So it might appear lazy to not make your own pork and beans, but it would seem silly to make a ham before using it to make a sandwich.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 August 2013 at 07:43
When we buy beans in the Central European Markets they are in a wooden barrel, and we buy them by the grams or kilos. They are NOT packaged.

However, in the large hyper super markets; they are packaged in plastic, and were cultivated in uncountable designations of origin in Spain. 
Or tomato sauce; this means with fresh tomatoes, to me ... Not bottled or canned / tinned ...

Of course, there are rural and cosmopolitian large city differences ... However, the main point is, FRESH & UNPACKAGED ...

Hope you had a lovely summer.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 August 2013 at 14:12
Originally posted by Margi Cintrano Margi Cintrano wrote:


Rod,



In a culinary context; it denotes, home made or home prepared; no bottled or packaged ingredients ... All pure ingredients ---





Margaux.
That statement is the sticky bit.  Is canned tomato paste OK? What about tomato sauce? Packaged pasta? Pre cut beef, pork, chicken...? 

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 August 2013 at 14:28
I don't believe this is an issue that can be resolved. It is a grey area that will forever stay that way. I made kielbasa and sauerkraut the other day. I didn't make the kielbasa or the sauerkraut. Nor did I make the bread or the butter or the beer that was a part of the meal. Was it home cooking from scratch? I don't know and I'm not going to get sweaty over it.

Now, go out and play.



 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 August 2013 at 14:37
Originally posted by AK1 AK1 wrote:

That statement is the sticky bit.  Is canned tomato paste OK? What about tomato sauce? Packaged pasta? Pre cut beef, pork, chicken...?


I was kind of thinking along the same lines... if a recipe calls for evaporated milk, is it still "from scratch" if you don't evaporate the milk yourself, but instead use a can of it?


Originally posted by Rod Franklin Rod Franklin wrote:

I don't believe this is an issue that can be resolved. It is a grey area that will forever stay that way. I made kielbasa and sauerkraut the other day. I didn't make the kielbasa or the sauerkraut. Nor did I make the bread or the butter or the beer that was a part of the meal. Was it home cooking from scratch? I don't know and I'm not going to get sweaty over it.
 


I agree with Rod, it comes down to splitting hairs essentially. Is it made from scratch if you didn't press the olives for the olive oil? I suppose for me the answer lies in how much of the recipe comes from the basic building block ingredients, and how much is "pre"-pared, i.e. boxed, canned, etc. and if one could reasonably expect a person to have the capability to create said ingredients.






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MarkR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 August 2013 at 17:20
Bull, If you make it from scratch you make it from the very basic parts or ingredients. Simple! Dried or fresh beans. Whole fresh maters and fresh everything else. Just me! Ummm, canned tomato paste - well maybe yea.
But all stocks can and are be made from trimmings.
From scratch means no shortcuts!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 August 2013 at 18:00
Welcome back, Mark.

The problem with your position is determining how far back in the chain "basic" becomes. In other words, when do the shortcuts begin?

Do you have to grow the wheat, and grind the grain, for flour to be basic? I know people who do just that. Do you have to make all your own condiments? Many home cooks do. And so forth?

A while back, for no particular reason, I got into making my own mustards. If a recipe calls from mustard as an ingredient, am I cooking more from scratch than somebody making the same recipe using mustard from Heinze?

It also can lead to really ridiculous concepts, such as the idea that dried beans from a plastic package are different than the same dried beans purchased from a barrel. And that the barrel, itself, is somehow or other not a package.

Let's carry that a bit further. I know many people who start with dried beans, then cook and home-can them. Their rationale is that when they're ready to cook a bean dish they don't have to spend all that soak and wait time before actually cooking.

The question is, is their finished dish more or less from scratch than if they'd bought a can or jar of cooked beans?

I can see that argument going either way. What I can't see, however, is starting with a finished product out of a jar or can, modifying is slightly, and calling that from scratch.

Carl Sagan said it best: If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, first create the universe.

Was it home cooking from scratch? I don't know and I'm not going to get sweaty over it.


Rod, I think you're arguing a different issue. I don't think anyone would disagree that your kielbasa and kraut meal was hearty and delicious. But that isn't the point of this discussion. What we're trying to determine is each person's idea of what "from scratch" means.

For purposes of this thread, I don't even care what anyone's position is on whether or not from scratch is better. Just trying to determine what each thinks it means.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 September 2013 at 10:34
Using the opening post as an example, beans in a bag or beans in a barrel would be the same for me - what is a barrel but a big wooden bean bag? In any case, beans that I need to soak, simmer etc. would be "from scratch" in my book.
 
canned beans - only as a last resort, but not to be shunned, if they are all that are available. I would think that if canned beans were necessary, the "plain," unflavoured" kind would definitely be more scratch than pork-n-beams.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 September 2013 at 11:33
I can't define "from scratch," I can only give examples of how I make things and would still consider them "home made," whatever that means.Smile 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 November 2014 at 13:48
I personally believe that "From Scratch" means "Without Handicap"

Nothing more and certainly nothing less!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 November 2014 at 16:36
AK1,

1 / Fish, meat or poultry or game ítems that have been recently purchased from a fish monger or butcher and the dish is prepared home made with fresh tomatoes and fresh vegetables verses frozen or canned, is a meal made from scratch. Tomato sauce can be easily made with fresh tomatoes ...

2 / pasta, rice etcetra -- these ítems obviously are packaged ... though one can make their own pasta, it is quite laborious --- on working evenings --- however, I consider a pasta that is homemade is a really from scratch however, boxed varieties with home made sauce can be a home made meal from scratch ! IT IS ALL ABOUT VIEW POINTS.

3 / Beans soaked overnight in salted wáter as Ron stated, créate a home made from scratch bean dish ...

I also believe this is just opinions ... or sentiment or the way someone eats verses other ways ...

I do not eat anything from a can ... Nor do I eat foods in plastic. Plastic is toxic ...

Scratch is : as many ingredients that are fresh and the meal is homemade however, in cakes or breads, flour comes in a paper package format -- wáter and yeast which also comes in paper box or paper packets.

I asked my 2 daughters this question and their answer was, " Mom, a home cooked meal WITHOUT the use of pre cooked or GMOs or Toxic packaged ingredients and prepared with care and love and passion and time taken out to do it " !



So, language does have its colloquialisms !

Have a nice weekend.

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