8 Things You Should Never Make From Scratch

Let us give thanks that we do not live in a little house on a big prairie — the nearest store is less than a day's horse ride away. You may have nailed that devil's food cake and filled your fridge with freshly rendered ricotta, but there are certain kitchen basics that just aren't worth making at home. Here are eight items we'll gladly open our wallets for.
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Hot Dogs

Two words: emulsified meat. Even the most-intrepid home sausage maker will concede that getting that perfectly blended, spongy texture is better left to the pros. Go ahead and make chorizo, but leave the stadium franks to the factory.

English Muffins

If you’re a brunch perfectionist, knock 'em dead with ahomemade hollandaise (it's really not that hard). But head to the store for your muffins, as a truly satisfying roll with the requisite dips and divots is tough to pull off at home.

Mozzarella

Kneading and stretching warm curds can make for an interesting weekend project, but don't expect this labor-intensive method to become a regular source of cheese for your summer caprese salads.

Maraschino Cherries

Nothing can elevate a Manhattan or whiskey sour like a plump, booze-soaked cherry. But tracking down sour cherries, pitting them and soaking them in imported liqueur is a time-consuming and pricy project that can make that $16 artisanal jar at your gourmet market look like a bargain.

Fruit Leather

It's another seemingly simple recipe, but in truth it requires purees, fine-mesh sieves, food dehydrators and 20-plus hours for results that are often disappointingly brown, thick and gummy. If you're worried about the additives in the store-bought variety, stick with dried fruit and make the leather a once-in-a-blue-moon treat.

Puff Pastry

You can do it once just to say you have, but rolling and folding temperamental dough that has to be repeatedly chilled is a thankless task. And really, the point of puff pastry is what you make with it. Whip up a strudel or turnover with store-bought dough (yes, good ones do exist!) and you can still bask in the glory of serving a homemade dessert. 

Pastrami

Yes, the hands-on labor is minimal. But you still need to surrender a shelf in your fridge for three days of soaking and then a day of curing, tend a smoker for six to eight hours, and steam the meat in the oven for a few more hours after that. This is just one more reason to love your deli guys.

Potato Chips

By some calculations, 1 pound of potatoes will yield just 4 ounces of chips. That's a lot of scrubbing, slicing and batch cooking for a food that is gobbled up in literally seconds. If you still want to give it a go, make it a one-potato project, and serve the chips with cocktails to friends.

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