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If You Wish to Make an Apple Pie From Scratch, You Must First Invent the Universe

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 13, 2023

At the beginning of the ninth episode of his 13-part series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Carl Sagan says:

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Taking a page from Sagan’s book, Zack Scholl made a site called Recursive Recipes, which allows you to drill down into the ingredients of some common foods, replacing them with other recipes.

A recursive recipe is one where ingredients in the recipe can be replaced by another recipe. The more ingredients you replace, the more that the recipe is made truly from scratch.

Here’s what the apple pie recipe looks like when you make everything you can from scratch:

how to make an apple pie from scratch

You don’t quite begin at the Big Bang, but if you start with soil, a cow, and some seawater, it’s still going to take you almost 8 years to make that pie. The wheat needed for the flour, for instance:

Plant winter wheat in fall to allow for six to eight weeks of growth before the soil freezes. This allows time for good root development. If the wheat is planted too early, it may smother itself the following spring and it could be vulnerable to some late-summer insects that won’t be an issue in the cooler fall weather. If winter wheat is planted too late, it will not overwinter well.

This reminds me of Thomas Thwaites’ Toaster Project, in which he built a toaster from scratch:

Thwaites reverse engineered a seven dollar toaster into 400 separate parts and then set about recreating steel from iron ore rocks, plastic from microwaved potatoes and copper from homemade bromide mush.

(via waxy)