I have never been much of a one for boxed or convenience food. I also don’t own a microwave, not because I have anything against them, I’m sure they have their uses, it’s just I never really got the hang of them. Food either came out desiccated and rubbery or desiccated and still frozen in the middle. Plus I have very limited counter space. I used to have a microwave until one weekend I put it on top of the fridge to make more room, and there it stayed totally unused for about two years until someone else needed a microwave and I gave it away. That was about ten years ago and only once or twice since have I thought it would be useful.
Going back to basics in the kitchen can be really useful. The first few times I tried to make mayonnaise it was a complete failure. I could not get the eggs and oil to emulsify, I tried a food processor, a blender and an immersion blender. After wasting so many eggs I was practically crying with frustration and as a last resort got out a balloon whisk and had one more try. It worked, I am now the queen of mayonnaise – but it struck me as interesting that the manual tool is where I had to begin. I can now make blender mayonnaise, I figured out what I was doing wrong while I was standing at the counter whisking a drop of oil into an egg yolk for twenty minutes, but I don’t think I would have figured it out without my trusty balloon whisk.
So I decided to go back to basics with something else – sugar. I use quite a bit of sugar, I bake every week and I usually have granulated, sometimes superfine, confectioners and light brown and brown sugars in my cupboards.
I have seen elsewhere tutorials on how to make brown sugar and I will go into that another day, but then I wondered if I could save money making my own sugars.
The first thing I realized is that buying superfine sugar (we call it castor sugar in the UK) is a complete waste of money. If you really feel you need it just plop the required amount of granulated sugar in the food processor and pulse a few times and hey presto! Superfine sugar. It doesn’t even require a recipe. Now, never buy that overpriced sugar again! Next up – confectioners/icing/powdered sugar. It is almost as easy except for each cup of granulated sugar you put in the food processor add a tablespoon of cornstarch. Then zap for a few minutes until you have confectioners/icing sugar. Ta-dah! You just saved some money. Again it’s not really a recipe but here are some pics:
Yes, a tip – let it all settle after a few mins before you take the top off the food processor or you get confectioners sugar on the ceiling, walls, dogs, your own eager face, and the inside of your lungs. I speak from experience.
Here are the numbers:
On sale granulated sugar was $2.79 for 4lb. If you use a quarter of that bag to make a pound of powdered sugar it would cost you $0.70. Powdered sugar was $1.99 per one pound bag on the same day. Add on a few cents for cornstarch and I’d estimate I’m saving $1.24 per bag.
This is assuming that one pound of granulated sugar makes one pound of powdered sugar – the mushroom cloud will have thrown off my figures a little! I’m never buying powdered sugar again.
It’s even more for superfine sugar. Dominos sugar is listed at $2.17 a pound. Use the granulated that’s been processed in your food processor and you’d save $1.47 a pound.
Money in the bank!
As to quality I’d say it is not as fine as bought powdered sugar – I tried using my blender instead of food processor and it was much finer, less of a cloud too. I’ll be using the blender from now on!