We rely on spices for flavor for a whole meal. The challenge, though, is to avoid the musty jars of commercially ground spices and mixes and instead start making our own at home. Grab your mortar and pestle and start pounding.
There are a few forms of salumi that require nothing more than meat, salt, spices and time. Case in point is one of the simplest, and yet most delicious, meats you can make: Pancetta. Basically, it’s Italian bacon.
Making yogurt is incredibly easy, especially once you know some of the science behind it. A bunch of different types of “friendly” bacteria chow down on the lactose sugars in milk, creating lactic acid as a byproduct.
Making tofu is just like making a simple cheese, such as paneer. You heat soy milk, then add a coagulant to separate the milk into curds and whey. You then ladle the curds into a mold to press them into a block of cheese, or in this case, tofu!
Instead of soaking the mustard seeds in the traditional wine, beer or vinegar, choosing whey or pickle brine (such as from making dill pickles) introduces the health benefit and keeping qualities of lactic acid bacteria into your condiment.
When you go to all the effort to make a condiment from scratch, you want it to have some legs. It should last at least a few weeks; even better a couple of months. Let me introduce you to the art of culturing.
Chef Liz Schmitt has been making a version of this cherry-apricot chutney for several years. She tweaked the recipe, substituting honey for white sugar and using unsulfured dried apricots instead of sugared dried cherries.