In 2019 I had to pick my grapes all at once because my tunnel was badly ripped. I decided to have a go at making grape molasses. They probably weren't really sweet enough, but things went fairly well until the second day reducing the juice. I left it on the stove to simmer, went to pick the achocha (also in the tunnel) and came back to this:
Sort of carbon treacle. It eventually did come out of the pan fairly well, although I can't remember now how I cleaned it. I didn't bother make molasses this year (the grape harvest wasn't that good) but I definitely want to try again some time.
You are far from alone in kitchen disasters. There was the time my mead got contaminated with wild yeast and bombed the pantry where I had stored it to age. Thank goodness that the cardboard box stopped most of the glass shrapnel. My first ever try at making bread was so bad the dog turned her nose up at it. I've ended up with spaghetti sauce on the ceiling while trying to can it. Sponge mops are your friend for that BTW.
I think the rest are just to shy to admit their disasters!
Just my 2 cents...
Money may not make people happy but it will get you all the warm fuzzy puppies you can cuddle and that makes most people happy.
I am now the person everyone comes to for baking advice (or trying to buy bread from) but to this day I hear from my mother about the first few loaves of bread I made which, to hear her tell, killed the ducks that ate it (lies, damn lies). In my defense, nobody is born knowing how to make bread.
I figure if you're making mistakes it means you're trying, and that is how you learn things. It's a good thing, as long as nobody gets hurt.
My mom had a lot of cooking experience but with many kids as a distraction, she often forgot to set a timer so there were MANY instances of burned food. We toasted bread on cookie sheets rather than in a toaster and for many years after i left home, toast didn't taste quite right because it was missing an outer charred black edge. Meatloaf was another meal that wasn't done until it was charred black on top.
Her biggest disaster was probably when she turned on the wrong burner (or forgot to turn it off) and we all went outside to work. We couldn't fit all our pots in the cupboards so they were stored on the stove. Upon our return, we were greeted by the smell and smoke from the plastic strainer that was completely melted inside our large soup pot...
My stories are more boring and less disastery. When I was younger, I avoided disasters with a high level of conscientiousness and a commitment to recipe following. Now I generally avoid full-on disasters due to a lot of cooking experience, lack of distractions (like children) and committed use of my timer. I like to make new things, often without measuring any ingredients. Often these turn out great. Sometimes they really don't. When I was younger, I didn't understand the differences between bread dough and pie crust and made a pie with leftover bread dough, for example. I've added baking soda instead of baking powder.
Most recently I forgot how much rice I put in the IP and rather than 1.5 times water, I added the same amount as the rice. It was decent when it was fresh but very dry and chewy as leftovers. I choked it down a couple meals because I hate wasting food but it was just too much so I made it into an edible but not worth attempting to make again casserole. More recently, I made a pasta casserole. I very rarely make pasta so I cooked it too much before combining it and it turned out mushy...
This makes us both sound like terrible cooks haha. So none of you are alone.
I tried making two batches of my slow roasted fig preserves with lemon, after a day of working a double shift at two jobs, basically worked from six thirty in the morning until two in the morning next day, then came home and tried to do this. I drank beer and slept through all my alarms, woke up to smoke and two pyrex pans of black figgies. Those pans are still in the woods.
Making my pickled figs, I had a tin enamel pot of honey/vinegar syrup simmering. A nick in the bottom gave way and the syrup began bubbling out the bottom. Quite the mess!
"Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice." -- Mohandas Gandhi
I once set a huge pot of bones on to boil and asked my (then) boyfriend to turn it off before he left, I then went to work, 12 hours later when I returned the house was full of smoke and the pot was black. it had boiled dry in an empty house for at least 5 hours. 20 years later I still have that pot, it came to no lasting damage fortunately neither did the house.
Most of my "disasters" are pretty mild, burnt rice on the bottom of the pan type of thing things quite often get a bit to dark as I get distracted but they rarely get inedible.
A notable family one was my Aunt who made the christmas custard with salt instead of sugar and didn't taste it before sending it out... oops.
Oh, thanks everyone for making me feel less alone in incompetence! At least with many kitchen disasters one can eat the evidence.
The only one I remember being so bad we couldn't eat ig I'm really not sure what went wrong. It was a butternut squash savoury crumble, which shoukd have been nice. It looked OK, but something about it just was nauseating.
Several years ago my eldest sister visited with her family. I can't remember what we were having for dessert, but it was something that her eldest child did not like. All I had he wanted was some custard, so he had a bowl of custard whilst the rest of us enjoyed our puddings. As I was clearing away I licked the custard spoon from the pan (as you do 😉) and realised I had forgot to add any sugar! The poor lad had scooped up a bowl of tasteless custard and said not a word! Bless him. There is such a thing as being too polite I think.
I solar cook whenever I can. Nobody is born knowing how to do that, and the tiniest details can be the most important. If you don't know anybody who cooks this way, you are on your own when learning of those tiny details.
Early in my solar cooking career, i was attempting to bake a cookie. At that point in time, my oven was the All Season Solar Cooker and I used a pie plate and mixer bowl for the enclosure for the cooking vessel. I'm fascinated by the cooking process, so I check on it often. Nothing seemed amiss, so when it appeared to be nicely browned and done, my mouth watered as I proudly carried the glass enclosure with the precious cookie into the house. So excited, I set it carefully on the stove and opened it up. A very nasty smell hit me in the face. I had used a lid on the cooking vessel that had a...plastic...knob. I had melted the knob into oblivion. Well, the good news is that, although I didn't get to eat the cookie, I tested it and it was done. Mistake combined with success!
The one that I couldn't laugh about right away, which is highly unusual for me, was the roundup incident. Beautiful day and I had a gorgeous mini loaf of bread I made from scratch. I had patiently waited for it to rise, etc. Now it was in the solar oven looking so good and browning. I went to check on it and as soon as I stepped out the door, a horrible, very strong odor hit me in the face. Long story short, a guy on the other side of the fence was spraying roundup, and the wind was blowing in my direction. Solar oven got the spray more than I did. Had a bumper crop of tomatoes over there by the oven that year too. I left them there. Not even the wildlife would eat them, if that tells you anything. My bread went into the trash.
I made a pan of brownies in the solar oven. This was in the All American Solar Oven, with the rack that moves as you adjust the oven. I failed to notice that when I adjusted the oven, the pan had moved forward, making the batter very thick on one side. Noticed it when it was too late to fix it. I ate the parts that were done. Couldn't get my teeth into the thin side. Had to soak those little suckers out LOL!
Pasta cooked in the solar oven is an art. The first time I tried it I ended up with glue. Nasty nasty stuff.
Then there's the time I made pizza from scratch, crust and all. It turned out really goid, but a bit dry. Couldn't figure out why until I started to do the dishes and realized I had forgotten to put the pizza sauce on it.
aside from the little mistakes that might not quite be ‘disasters’ like when my wife heavily seasoned my breakfast potatoes with ground cloves, thinking it was chili powder (completely inedible), the main thing that sticks out was maybe the third or fourth time we made ginger beer. the previous times we had used a wild yeast bug, and it worked great. this time we hadn’t worked up a bug and decided to go for a commercial yeast we had a packet of. apparently the ‘pro’ yeasts work a bit faster than the home-cultured kind...the explosions in the pantry, a few days before we expected the beer to be ready, left chunks of glass embedded in the ceiling and _everything_ in there sticky. the ones that didn’t blow were removed while wearing my chainsaw face-guard and the big thick fire gloves.
I'm generally fairly competent in the kitchen, but I've been so busy and scatterbrained that in the past month I've left pots on the heat on 3 separate occasions: once boiling pine needles for tea, once heating oil for popcorn (which melted the plastic handle on the lid, but which luckily kept it from getting enough oxygen to full on catch on fire), and the last time boiling water to get caramelized sugar off the bottom of the pot... which I walked away from and full on left the house for 4 hours and came back to the dry, charred pot and the smell of smoke.
Less recently, in college I worked at the farm owned by the university and could pick as much as I wanted to eat. I picked a bunch of snow peas with the intention of blanching and dehydrating them. Having blanched the peas in salted water, and not wanting to waste the nutrients that had leached into the water, I proceeded to use it to make some rice. I had forgotten about just how much salt I'd added for blanching the peas. To say that that rice was salty is an understatement. Being a poor college student, and not having the luxury of wasting food, I forced myself to eat every last bite. It was painful.