10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade

by Julie Cohn
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Panic buying and stay-at-home restrictions have made shopping more difficult, especially for certain ingredients, which are scarce in stores.  Did you know that with a few common kitchen supplies and a touch of ingenuity, you can make your own cooking staple ingredients at home?   Below is a how-to guide for 10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade, using everyday items you likely already have in your kitchen, with delicious recipes to follow.  

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10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade

I sometimes make my own ingredients to save time and money, and to help maintain better nutrition for my family.  Plus, if I run out of an ingredient, it saves a trip to the grocery store, but current grocery shortages have caused more common kitchen ingredients to be out of stock.  Plus, with stay-at-home orders in place, people are going to the grocery store less, so now, more than ever, it is important to know how to make your own ingredients. What is a home chef to do?  With some basic kitchen tools and a few ingredients, you can “MacGyver” your way around the kitchen and make the ingredients you need for cooking.  

10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade Baking Powder

Baking Powder 

If you run out of baking powder, mix together 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar with 1/4 tsp of baking soda, this is equal to one (1) teaspoon worth of baking powder.  

Suggested Recipe:  Honey Blueberry Oat Muffins 

10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar 

Using an electric mixer or food processor, mix together one (1) cup of white granulated sugar with two (2) tablespoon of molasses to make one (1) cup of dark brown sugar.   Keep the sugar in a sealed container.  

Suggested Recipe:  Glazed Ham with Pineapple Brown Sugar Gravy

Confectioners Sugar 

Of all the 10 cooking staples to make homemade, this is one of the easiest to make. Mix one (1) cup of granulated sugar with one (1) tablespoon of cornstarch in a food processor; pulse until fine. This makes one cup of confectioners sugar.  

Suggested Recipe:  World’s Best Chocolate Cake (Wacky Cake) 

Nut Flour

Mix one cup of raw nuts in a high-performance style blender (Vitamix or similar) until fine, about 10-15 seconds per pulse.  If everything has not been crushed, shake the blender and pulse again about five seconds.  Be careful you do not pulse too long or it will turn to butter.  Store in the refrigerator for one month or in the freezer for three months.  For coconut flour use dry coconut flakes.  You can use a food processor if you do not have a high-performance blender but the flour will not be as fine.   (You can use this same method for almond, cashew, macadamia, oat, or coconut flour.)

Suggested Recipe:  Honey Blueberry Oat Muffins 

10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemeade Self Rising Flour

Self-Rising Flour

For one cup of self-rising flour, mix together one (1) cup of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Self-rising flour has a lower gluten level and is good for pancakes and muffins.   

Suggested Recipe: Melt in Your Mouth Homemade Biscuits


Homemade buttermilk is easy peasy make and is delicious in baked goods and salad dressings.  I started making my own buttermilk because it was hard to find at the grocery store and was expensive.  Whisk together one cup of milk (whole is best but 2% is fine) with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  If you do not have lemon juice, you can use 2 tablespoons of white vinegar but do not use apple cider vinegar.  Allow the mixture to sit about 15 minutes, then use or keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  Use within 7 days.  

Suggested Recipe:  Basil Buttermilk Blue cheese Dressing 

how to make Homemade vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract (or Paste)

Take a 12-16 ounce canning jar and fill it with plain vodka.   I realize I am asking a lot of you to give up your vodka, but I promise it will be worth it, this will be the best vanilla extract you ever have.  Take several vanilla beans and split each bean down the side so the inside is exposed, then cut the bean in half and add to the vodka.  Make certain the whole bean is in the liquid. For a 12-ounce jar, use about six (6) beans; for a 16-ounce jar use about eight (8) beans.  The ratio should be two beans per ounce of vodka.  Store the jars in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks.  | If you need vanilla immediately, make a vanilla paste.  Mix together 1 cup of light honey and 1/2 cup of water and heat in a saucepan until almost boiling.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Pour the honey mixture into a blender or food processor with approximately 6 vanilla beans (cut into small pieces) and 2 Tbsp. bourbon, blend until smooth.  Strain the mixture through a sieve into a canning jar to remove any vanilla bits.  Store the vanilla paste in a cool dark place for about two months.  Use equal amounts of vanilla paste with vanilla extract.  For example, if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, use 1 teaspoon of the paste. 

Suggested Recipe:  Buttermilk Apple Cider Donuts

10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade Butter


There are two easy methods to make butter, with a stand mixer or food processor or with a canning jar.  1. If you use a stand mixer, put the metal beaters in the freezer for about 15 minutes, then attach it to the mixer.  Add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and blend on medium for about 5-8 minutes, until the mixture is solid.  You may have a tiny bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, just pour that off and put the butter in a sealed container and keep refrigerated.  Add salt to taste. If you use a food processor, use the instructions featured for the stand mixer but put the food processor blade in the freezer for about 20 minutes before blending.  2. To make butter in a canning jar, add one (1) cup of heavy cream to a 16-ounce chilled mason jar.  Shake the jar vigorously for about 20-25 minutes until 98% of the liquid forms a ball of butter.  Pour off the liquid and keep the mason jar sealed in the refrigerator until use.  Butter will stay fresh about 7-10 days.

Suggested Recipe:  Kentucky Derby Pie 

10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade Homemade Nut Butter

Nut Butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread 3 cups of raw nuts on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle a bit of salt over the top and roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted.  Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.  While the nuts are still warm, pour the nuts into a food processor and process until creamy, about 10 minutes.  If you want to add a flavor such as cinnamon or honey, add that after the mixture is smooth and pulse the other ingredient in about 15 seconds.  Transfer the butter to a canning jar and seal.  Because this is homemade, this must be stored in the refrigerator, do not store in the cupboard.  Butter is good for about 10 days.  You can make cashew, almond, peanut, pistachio, or macadamia nut butter this method.  

Suggested Recipe:  Peanut Butter Snickerdoodle Chocolate Chip Cookies

10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade Homemade Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese 

Cream cheese is not difficult to make and homemade tastes so much better than store-bought!  To make the cream cheese, you need a 32-ounce container of greek yogurt and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.   Take a large (4-5 quart) glass or plastic bowl and set a thin mesh strainer/sieve over it. Lay several layers of cheesecloth or two tea towels inside the strainer and pour the yogurt inside the cheesecloth.  Bundle the cloth together, twist the cloth, and bind the top with a rubber band.  Set the cheesecloth into the strainer and set a heavy can of vegetables (tomatoes, beans, etc) on top of the sealed cheesecloth and set the bowl into the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  The liquid from the yogurt will drain into the bowl, so be sure to drain the liquid as the bowl fills. After 48 hours, give the cheesecloth a final squeeze, then pour the yogurt solids into a new bowl.  Using a fork, whisk the yogurt solids and salt together, then place the solids in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator.  The cream cheese is ready to use and is good for about one week.  

Suggested Recipe:  Red, White, & Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts

Which of these 10 Cooking Staples to Make Homemade will you make to tide you over until you can get to the grocery store?   If you need to find ingredients to make these staples, here are some options:


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