Blogs

DIY Condiments for Grilling and Entertaining

Summer grilling is great, but burgers and dogs are only as good as the condiments that dress them up. Step away from the packaged varieties and try your hand at DIY condiments to make haute dogs and hamburgers.

Ketchup, found on PunkDomestics.com
Ketchup
Heinz, schmeinz. Homemade ketchup is easy and delicious, and is open to a world of interpretation. Why stop at tomato? We've got recipes for ketchups made from cranberries, rose hips, figs and more.

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Ten Ways to Put Up Tomatoes

Got tomatoes? Here's a rundown of ways to put up your maters, from basic canned tomatoes to salsa, ketchup and more. 

Canning Tomatoes, found on PunkDomestics.com
Canning Tomatoes
Canning your own tomatoes is a great way to economize, but first you need to know a few things to do it safely. Learn how to put up your 'maters.
Tomato Paste, found on PunkDomestics.com
Tomato Paste
Cook down your puree until thick and rich, and can or freeze to use in sauces. Paste on, friend.

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Interview with David Asher of The Art of Natural Cheesemaking (Plus a Giveaway!)

The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson: Review and Giveaway, found on PunkDomestics.com

Ever since Sandor Katz published Wild Fermentation in 2003, the interest in fermented foods has been ever on the rise. Many among us keep a crock of kraut or kimchi going at any given time, and kombucha is definitely having its day.  Surprising, then, that until now there's been little discussion around looking back at natural fermentation methods for making cheese.

Enter David Asher. A farmer turned "dairy revolutionary," Asher started the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking, and now has a new book out, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking. I was able to catch up with Asher at the Point Reyes Station farmers market on a brilliant August day before he was set to present a demo. 

PD: How did you get involved in natural cheesemaking?
DA: I was fermenting all kinds of things in my home, making sourdough bread, fermenting krauts. I was making cheese, too, but I couldn't find information on how to make cheese more natural. I knew from reading the cheesemaking guidebooks out there that you need to buy packaged cultures in order to bring about the different changes in cheese. You introduce a certain culture to get a certain cheese; you introduce a certain fungus to get a certain rind. These are all packaged cultures people buy from cheesemaking supply shops. I knew inherently that you don't need to buy a fungus to make a camembert. I knew that cheesemakers traditionally did things differently before the days of freeze-dried cultures and monoculture strains of starters. But there was no information on how to do that. And so I set out on a journey to discover that using the principles of wild fermentation as inspiration, and experimenting with raw milk and kefir to see if I could create the conditions to allow cheese to develop traditionally. 

PD: For the novice cheesemaker who's interested in getting involved with natural cheesemaking, what's the best place to start? 
DA: I would recommend getting started with a kefir culture. Kefir is like a sourdough culture you keep at home, kind of like a pet. I call it my little cheesmaking pet. I keep it at home by feeding it milk, and it feeds me back kefir. A very basic cheesemaking step is culturing the milk, making this delicious fermented dairy product. If you're interested in making something more complex, you can use that kefir as a starter culture for other cheeses. It serves as a sort of gateway cheese. It's sure to entice you to move on to more things. 

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Use Those Herbs!

Having an herb garden is great, when you need a pinch of this or that. But when the herbs go rangy and begin to bolt, it's time to hack them back and put them by. Here's a few applications for when you need to use your homegrown herbs by the hank.

Pesto found on PunkDomestics.com
Pesto
Basil is the traditional herb here, but use your imagination and make pesto from a wide variety of herbs, like sage, oregano and more. (Image via Hitchhiking to Heaven)
Chimichurri found on PunkDomestics.com
Chimichurri
Parsley, cilantro and garlic make the backbone of this Argentinean sauce, perfect over grilled beef but delicious with almost anything. (Image via Delectable Musings)
Cilantro Chutney found on PunkDomestics.com
Cilantro Chutney
Traditionally used alongside appetizers in Indian food, this refreshing chutney wakes up all kinds of foods. (Image via Cooking in Weschester)
Zhoug found on PunkDomestics.com
Zhoug
A spicy, fiery Israeli condiment made with fresh cilantro, parsley, green chiles and garlic. Sure to become a pantry staple! (Image via Blue Kale Road)

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9 Ways to Preserve Melons

Sweet, luscious melons are a treat that can only be truly appreciated at the peak of summer, when they're at their juiciest, gushiest best. If you've been overly tempted and have a glut of melons, here's a few ways to turn them into treats that will last beyond summer's steamy days.

Pickled Watermelon Rind found on PunkDomestics.com
Pickled Watermelon Rind
A Southern classic, these sweet pickles are refreshing with meats or alongside cheeses. Don't throw those rinds away!
Watermelon Jam found on PunkDomestics.com
Watermelon Jam
Capture the fresh essence of the watermelon in a jam (or a jelly). A squeeze of lime helps perk up the flavor.
Watermelon Butter found on PunkDomestics.com
Watermelon Butter
Thick and delicious watermelon butter is sort of like apple butter, only melon!
Watermelon Infusion found on PunkDomestics.com
Watermelon Infusion
You know how you can infuse a watermelon with vodka? Well, you can infuse vodka (or tequila or...) with watermelon for the ultimate summery cocktails. Melontini, anyone?

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Respect Your Elderflowers

Sweetly aromatic heads of elderflowers are cropping up all over. Capture their springlike essence while you can with these DIY elderflower projects.

Elderflower Liqueur
Elderflower Liqueur
St. Germain sure does come in a pretty bottle, but you can make your own for a fraction the cost. DIY St. Germain FTW! (Image via Well Hung Food)

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Seven Ways to Preserve Zucchini

It's summer, and everyone's gardens are overflowing with zucchini. Don't be daunted! Here's a bunch of ways to put up your zukes so can enjoy them well into the colder months.

Pickled Zucchini, found on PunkDomestics.com
Pickled Zucchini
Got zukes? When the garden throws you more summer squash than you can consume, put 'em up in a pickle. Here's a bunch of options. (Image via fish in the water)

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Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule: Review and Giveaway

Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule: Review and Giveaway, found on PunkDomestics.com

Creamy, smooth, tangy yogurt. What's not to love? It's good for more than just berries at breakfast, too. 

In Yogurt Culture, author Cheryl Sternman Rule delves into the rich and diverse ways yogurt can be used in the kitchen, offering 115 recipes that incorporate it. Of course it makes a fantastic base for soups and sauces, but it also makes baked goods tender, like in a orange and olive oil cake. Or enjoy it in a beverage, like a traditional Indian cardamom lassi

Yogurt can also be transformative. Strain out some of the whey, and you get thick Greek yogurt. Strain out even more, and you get labneh, a spreadable cheese. The book is full of options to use yogurt in all its forms. And don't toss that whey -- it's useful stuff.

Of course, it also has lucid instructions on how to make your own yogurt, with some good insight on a few different methods for incubation. In short, the book and its companion site, Team Yogurt, are great resources for yogurt lovers everywhere. (Be sure to sign up for the newsletter, too, for inspiration delivered directly to your inbox.)

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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Good Food, Great Business: Review and Giveaway

Good Food, Great Business by Susie Wyshak: Review and Giveaway, found on PunkDomestics.com

All too often I'm asked whether I have any interest in selling my preserves or pickles. For me, the answer is no -- I'm too much of a dilettante, and like to make different things to suit my whim. However, if you are interested in taking your food craft to market, I will cheer you forward wholeheartedly. 

Making the leap is not a slam dunk, though, even if you're interested in starting out as a cottage food operator (CFO). Before you make the non-trivial investment of time and money, it pays to do your reasearch. 

For those of us who are not MBAs, launching a business is fraught with mystery. Luckily, Susie Wyshak has brought her extensive knowledge of food business to you in her book, Good Food, Great Business: How to Take Your Artisan Food Idea from Concept to Marketplace. A longtime avid fan of artisan food businesses, she became passionate about helping would-be businessespeople take those first and most important steps. She then distilled that information into an amazingly lucid and inspirational book. 

The book is broken into clear chapters that frame the various aspects of thinking about your business before you make your move. Understanding the competitive landscape of the food industry, finding your niche, setting goals, creating your brand -- these are the things you should have lined up before you buy one single ingredient. Only once you've built that foundation can you start thinking about the logistical matters like packaging and sourcing ingredients. 

The book is peppered with callouts with tips, tricks and ideas, and each chapter is punctuated with a summary of takeaways. Wyshak's tone is casual and approachable, and she has an excellent way of explaining all the concepts in a friendly, supporting way. It's like she holds your hand through the entire thing. 

Fact is, the principles in this book apply to all small and independent businesses, but she drills deeper on the issues that matter most for food artisans. By following Wyshak's advice, you will be off to a great start running your new food business like a pro.

Related: If you want to start out as a home-based Cottage Food Operator (CFO), read Susie's great guest post on About.com Food Preservation. And if you want to see artisan food businesses in action, join us for a food craft tour of Emilia-Romagna, the culinary heart of Italy

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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