Tuesday 6 February 2024

Sauce Material

Academics tell us that when we are researching, we should go back to the source material. So for information on the Tudor, work with contemporaneous accounts, not from something written by a Victorian, however eminent. So in my attempt to eat more healthily, I'm looking at the ingredients list on the back of the packet for my information - not the pictures of healthy children/sunshine/countryside on the front of in the adverts. 
I was coming to the end of my tub of Morrison's custard powder. But they didn't seem to have any more, just instant stuff. Tesco had instant sachets, and tubs of Original Birds, but it seemed expensive. I muttered to the family. Jon said Tesco had announced they were no longer going to stock cornflour, so maybe their custard powder was also being discontinued? Well yes, they did say this, in November 2022, but cornflour is still available, maybe they had a change of heart?
I ended up in Sainsbury's. The ingredients in INSTANT sachets were
Sugar, Whey Powder (Cows' Milk), Modified Maize Starch, Maize Starch, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Oil, Cream Powder (Cows' Milk), Cows' Milk Protein, Flavourings (contains Cows' Milk), Colour: Carotenes; Anti-caking Agent: Silicon Dioxide.
BIRD'S tubs contained
Maize starch, salt, colour [annatto] flavouring.
I looked at the MORRISONS tub ingredients which were
Cornflour, salt, colour [annatto] flavouring.
The instant custard definitely looked like UPF. 
But what about the tubs? Is maize starch the same as cornflour? Good news- here in the UK it IS the same [in the US, cornflour means corn meal, the grainy yellow polenta stuff] Furthermore, it is a fairly traditional, minimally processed product, not considered UPF. I have cornflour in my kitchen
Salt - OK [in moderation], the flavouring is natural vanilla extract.
Annatto is a plant originating in tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil. Used for over 300 years to colour things [manuscripts and body painting as well as food] it adds a subtle nutmeg type flavour as well as colour.

Chemist Alfred Bird invented his custard powder back in 1837, because his wife loved custard, but had an egg allergy. He also invented baking powder [so she could make her cakes rise without eggs] These two products remain essentially the same, almost two centuries later. And relatively unprocessed - so I am happy to go on using them.  Which is great, because this is the time of year when puddings&custard feature heavily on my food planning.
The other great things about tubs versus instant - 
  • you can use all sorts of different 'milks' 
  • you can vary the amount of sugar you add - Morrison's suggest one tbsp per pint of milk, Birds suggest two. [I use one]
  • you can make smaller quantities
  • you can adjust the thickness, if it is for a trifle or flan filling.
I usually make my custard in the energy efficient microwave, in a Pyrex jug.
Happily, I love the skin, Bob does not enjoy it - so I usually get the top of the jug!
Custard is truly a source/sauce of great joy to me.
What about your family? 



52 comments:

  1. We like custard too and Birds was the only kind available when I did my latest shop. I too use the big jug and the microwave. Norrie likes it cold so I use a full pint of milk and let it set in the fridge. I sometimes use long life or evaporated milk if I’m short of fresh. Catriona

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    1. My mum used to stir Saturday's leftover cold custard into Sunday's rice pudding to make it extra creamy. And she usually made the rice pudding with a can of evap.

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    2. Oh my, that sounds divine. Why didn't I think of that before?!
      My mum used to occasionally stir a tin of evap into her rice pudding, especially if she hadn't enough fresh milk and didn't fancy a walk to the farm! The skin produced with evap is nothing short of blissful.

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    3. I like a bit of grated nutmeg too

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  2. I don't really make puddings so I don't really make custard! Intrigued at the difference in ingredients!
    Kx

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  3. In my humble opinion there is very little in the way of pudding that is not improved by the addition of custard. I'm a custard girl through and through. Much better than cream or ice cream I think. We use a tub of custard powder mostly an own brand label. I too loved the skin, my sister and I would fight for it. Good to know that humble custard powder is not too overly processed. Regards Sue H

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    1. Yes, I am really pleased it is minimally processed, as I do eat rather a lot of it, especially in cold weather

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  4. You might want to double check the date that custard powder was invented; 19837 seems like a very long time in the future! :D
    I like custard, but, I make mine with egg yolks, sugar, and milk, which is how my mother taught me to make it. Custard powder is not readily available in American supermarkets; they have pudding mixes, though.

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    1. Thank you! Typo corrected. Mr Bird's product came onto the market as Queen Victoria came to the throne, it has a long and honorable history

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    2. I have tried making "proper" custard in the past, but I'm a bit too impatient and it "splits". US packet puddings are a mystery to me, they seem so synthetic, why would one eat them?

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    3. I like the chocolate pudding packets, but, I prefer the "cook and serve" kind (mix with milk and cook on the stove until thickened) as opposed to the instant (mix with cold milk until it thickens). I also use the pistachio pudding mix to make a dessert with whipped topping and crushed pineapple (just mix everything together and instant dessert!) Very UPF, but, delicious! :D

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    4. I don't think I've seen pistachio pudding here. We used to have a UK pudding called Instant Whip (not the same as your CoolWhip) and Mum used to mix that with canned peaches for a fancy dessert sometimes

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  5. I didn't know about using the microwave to make custard. I don't make it often. I also love the skin! Most people don't like it, though.

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    1. When just one in the family likes the skin, everybody is happy!

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  6. We could not live without a tub of Birds custard in the house! There's nothing better for an apple crumble or a trifle.
    I think that we have to accept that minimally processed foods (MPF? ) probably won't kill us and even the occasional use of UPFs won't do us too much harm. Both have been around and used for decades and I am sure there are more deadly indulgences that we should wholly avoid.

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    1. Can you get Bird's products easily in France? I'm reminded of the story of the British woman who took some marzipan with her when she went to her cottage, in order to finish her Xmas cake. She was stopped at customs by an overzealous official who thought it was a pack of Semtex

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    2. Yes, we can buy Birds custard on the English shelf of many French supermarkets, where it's usually surrounded by custard creams. Worcestershire sauce, Heinz baked beans, Yorkshire tea bags and the other things that the French believe we can't live without! It's usually at least twice the price we would pay for it in the UK so we bring it to France with us if we're in the car. We do also bring marzipan for the same reason, which although it's readily available in France is also much more expensive. Dunno why!

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  7. I love custard, especially with a banana. Something I gave my children for tea, its very filling.

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  8. Unfortunately, annatto gives me a 24 hour migraine type headache. It has the E number E 160b. I probably shouldn't tell you what I say when I see it as an ingredient!
    I now make an egg based dairy free custard with a little cornflour to stabilise it.

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    1. Oh goodness, I am so sorry it causes headaches for you. I'm glad you have found an alternative solution

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  9. Custard powder makes a better custard than the instant stuff, and is just as quick in the microwave. We like banana and custard too.
    I hope Bisto will continue to make gravy powder. That is another staple which seems under threat, the granules are full of foul stuff.

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    1. According to their website - "We regularly review our range and if a product is not selling well, we carefully consider discontinuing it.As such, Bisto Gravy Powder 454g has been delisted however the 200g is still available. We apologise for the disappointment this may cause you"
      I have now looked at the ingredients in Supermarket own brand Gravy powders [not granules] They seem more complicated than the simple Bisto stuff. Dunno why though...

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  10. It's brilliant this learning all about the origins of foods, and carefully reading the ingredients lists on the sides of the food we have been so used to buying sometimes without even thinking about isn't it.

    I don't eat much custard, but every now and then on a sponge pudding it is delicious. I use Bird's custard powder and almond or oat milk usually and no added sugar. Alan buys the ready made stuff in the Tetra Pak and for my Mum I buy the ready made stuff in the little plastic pots that take just 30 seconds in the microwave, she can't stand for long in the kitchen now but loves custard and rice pudding, which thankfully also comes in those little pots.

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    1. The little pots are very convenient for older folk [older than me that is!]

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  11. Growing up we called the custard skin 'fairies blanket ' - it didn't fool me , I hated the skin then and feel the same now 😀 However I always keep a tub of Bird's custard powder in the larder, I've stopped using the instant sachets since they doubled in price.
    Alison in Wales x

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    1. I have never heard the term Fairies Blankets before. And why would anyone assume children would want to EAT a blanket. Back in those pre-duvet days, blankets were thick hairy things!

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  12. I live in Canada and we always have a can of Bird's custard powder in the pantry. Why, you ask? It is the standard ingredient in our famous Naniamo bars. I have never actually used it to make custard, haha. I will have to give it a go. Barb

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    1. When I was writing this post, Bob informed me that custard was incredibly popular in Canada, but didnt know wny. Now I have to go and research more about Nanaimo bars. How do you pronounce that? I have found a recipe on the BBC Good Food site. They look very rich and sweet...

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    2. Nan-I-moe....close as I can get. Yes they are very rich and usually reserved for the Christmas baking tray, in very small squares. Barb

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  13. because im weird i decided to grow maize corn this year with a view to making corn flour and popcorn , its beautiful stuff experiments so far are going well

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    1. Oh that's interesting. I misheard the guy on the BBC at lunchtime, I thought he said Liz Truss had just started a PopCorn party. [it was PopCon]

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  14. Interesting dischssion! We don't eat much custard, but perhaps that should change?

    Hugs!

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  15. Tesco are stopping selling cornflour?? Does nobody cook from scratch any more??
    Annatto gives a really strong orange dye on wool, one of my favorites to use. It does pong a bit when left standing though! Regards, Lizzie in Wales

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    1. Do you grow your own annatto for dyes, or is it something you buy, I wonder. Many dyes pong a bit though, don't they?

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  16. Also, custard powder biscuits and home- made custard creams... mmmmm

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  17. We can buy the tubs of Bird's custard powder here but in recent years I haven't bought them, and for a trifle I would buy a can of prepared "Devon custard" ahead of time to make life easier when there would be a lot of other cooking to be done, like at Christmas. However, the cans were missing for weeks and I bought a package of Vanilla pudding mix which turned out to be much the same as custard, and didn't leave me with a whole tub. As for cornflour, in Canada we call it "cornstarch", and Nanaimo bars are pronounced "Nan-eye-mo" (and they are yummy)!

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  18. I love custard and can remember my Dad and I fought over who was having the skin, Mum had to keep a tally. When I was poorly Mum always made me bananas and custard. Xx

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    1. Great comfort food🍌🍌🍌

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  19. love custard and I have a tin of custard powder in my pantry, probably expired, as I don't remember when we last had custard.

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    1. You do know that expired custard powder may be explosive don't you? Google it!

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    2. I was just about to add that ‘explosive’ comment too. Hard to imagine isn’t it. Birds for us every time, especially with bananas.

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    3. Let's not even mention "oobleck"!

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    4. Now that you have, I’ve been down the rabbit hole! I’ve always used ‘thixotropic’. Hubby is a civil engineer and that word cropped up in a conversation about boreholes I think. Mixing custard powder with a little milk before adding the rest of the milk gives a thixotropic effect.

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    5. Have you seen the YouTube clip of the guy sprinting across a swimming pool full of custard?

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  20. Madagasgan Vanilla Custard for me please!!

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  21. Ooh, very sophisticated! Delicious

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