Punk Domestics's blog

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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Enter Your Craft Foods in the Good Food Awards

Enter your craft foods in the Good Food Awards, found on PunkDomestics.com

Updated for 2015

I imagine few among us have never considered taking our passion for food craft to the next stage. Perhaps you've mastered a certain jam, or have a secret recipe for a killer BBQ sauce, or have even conquered the holy grails of cheese making, home brewing or charcuterie. Would you take it to market? 

It's not for the weak of heart, which is why I'm always so impressed by those that do. It's also why I'm a big fan of the Good Food Awards. In their fifth year now, they seek out the best craft foods in the nation, aiming to put them on a pedestal for the world to see (and taste). 

I know some of you in the Punk Domestics community have taken the leap and turned your perfect creations into market-ready goods. And so I hope that each of you will select your finest products and submit them to the Good Food Awards. The entry period this year runs from July 6 through the end of the month. As of Monday, July 6, simply go here to fill out the entry form before August 1.  If you're selected, your product will be up for blind tasting in September. 

There are two exciting changes this year. Normally, each year the Good Food Awards launches one new category. This year, they are launching two. First, Cider is breaking out from the Beer category. Far bigger news is the new Pantry category, encompassing a wide definition of condiments, from dips to sauces and much, much more.

I am also proud to announce that I am the co-chair of the Preserves category this year. This means I will not be judging, but rather managing the judges and the process of the tasting. As noted, the tastings are blind, so I'm afraid I cannot afford any preferential treatment to Punk Domestics community members.

Want to see an example of a cottage food business who's gone on to bring home the gold? Check out my interview with Julia Sforza of Half-Pint Preserves, herself a Punk Domestics contributor, too. Also check out my interview with Dafna Kory of INNA Jam, who also has won.

The winners are announced at a grand gala in San Francisco in January, and a lavish affair it is. I've had the pleasure of attending on the first and third years. It's such a pleasure to see the hard work of these artisans recognized. And it's an even greater pleasure to taste their handicrafts directly. 

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We Can Pickle That: Cucumbers!

Summer is on -- time to cue the cukes! Pickling is the way to go for most of us, but we have a few other tricks up our sleeves for cucumbers.

Sour Pickles
Sour Pickles
Our friend lactofermentation gives cucumbers their characteristic tang. This is the deli pickle of your dreams -- but there are a few tricks to perfecting crispy spears. (Image via Tim Vidra)
Half Sours
Half Sours
A slightly less salty brine produces a pickle with a slightly less sour tang. (Image via From Scratch Club)
East Coast New Pickles
East Coast New Pickles
A tradition in the Northeast, these pickles are brined but unfermented, making for a crisp, salty cuke. (Image via Linda Ziedrich)
Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles
Whether fermented or vinegar-brined, dill pickles are dill-icious, and endlessly variable. (Image via Talk of Tomatoes)

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Stuff It! DIY Sausage

Summertime is upon us, and it's time to bust out the grill and sear up some sausage. Making your own is easier than you think, and the rewards are worth the effort.

Hot Dogs
Hot Dogs
Store-bought franks are snouts and ... other parts. Make your own with top-quality meat for the best flavor. (Image via Eat Live Travel Write)
Italian Sausages
Italian Sausages
Hot or sweet, Italian sausages bring big flavor to the party. (Image via NPR)
Chorizo
Chorizo
A pinch of pimientón makes these Mexican and Spanish sausages muy caliente(Image via The Cultivated Life)

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Peachy Keen

It's no coincidence that the word "peach" is connoted with so many positive things in our language. These fuzzy fruit are the ultimate taste of summer. And when they're in, they're in but good, so you better get on them. Here's a few thoughts on handling the bounty.
 
jam, jam and more jam
Jam, Jam and More Jam
Got a bushel of peaches? Jam those mamma jammas. And get inspired: Kick it up with Earl Grey tea, or basil and habanero, or pineapple sage. Mix it up with other fruit like plums or raspberries. The choices are endless.
Peach Preserves
Peach Preserves
Keep it chunky to preserve the texture of those juicy drupes!

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Going Ape for Apricots

Like sunshine trapped in a soft, fuzzy fruit, apricots are the ultimate harbinger of summer. Here's a bushelful of ways to make the most of them.

Canned Apricots
Canned Apricots
Can up those fruits in syrup either light or heavy to have on hand for desserts to come. (Image via Wildcraft Vita)
Apricot Jam
Apricot Jam
Apricot is arguably the easiest jam, as the fruit melts down and creates a set without any added pectin. (Image via Food Fanatic)
Apricot Preserves
Apricot Preserves
Stewed down and chunky, apricot preserves are delicious on desserts, or just eaten by the spoonful. (Image via Girl's Guide to Butter and Guns)
Apricot Jelly
Apricot Jelly
Think beyond the peanut butter on this stuff -- apricot jelly makes an amazing glaze on pies and tarts, as well as savory roast meats like pork or turkey.  (Image via Nest)

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Cherries Are the Bomb

Cherries! Early summer's best drupe is finally in season, and there are just oh so many things to do with them. Grab a bushel or 10 while they're abundant, and tuck into these DIY projects, from jam to sauces to drinks and more.

Cherry Pitters: The Right Tool for the Job
Cherry Pitters: The Right Tool for the Job
First things first: There's a wide variety of tools to pit cherries, from the Cadillac model to the humblest DIY tricks. Here's a few options.
Cherry Jam
Cherry Jam
Jam up those cherries for a sweet spread that tastes of summer all year long. (Image via Shockingly Delicious)
Cherry Freezer Jam
Cherry Freezer Jam
Freezer jam requires no cooking, just mashing and then you have jam. Plus it uses a lot less sugar than traditionally canned jam because you don't need the sugar to act as a preservative. (Image via Coconut & Lime)
Cherry Preserves
Cherry Preserves
Preserve whole or chunked fruit for more texture, perfect for desserts. (Image via Kitchen Apparel)
Cherry Pie Filling
Cherry Pie Filling
Can your own sweet cherries for those holiday pies and treats. (Image via Delectable Musings)

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DIY Condiments for Summer 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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May Flowers

Bye bye, April showers. You know what that means. Spring is in full bloom, and edible flowers are bursting out all over. We've got a great big bouquet of blossoms for you to forage and incorporate in DIY projects.

Violets
Violets
Take a stroll through your local field, and capture dainty violets' delicate flavor and lurid color in syrup and jelly. (Image via Use Real butter)
Elderflower
Elderflower
Sweetly aromatic heads of elderflowers are cropping up all over. Capture their springlike essence while you can with these DIY elderflower projects. (Image via Well Hung Food)

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Maker Faire 2015

Thanks to everyone who came out for my demos at Maker Faire 2015! I had a great time, and am happy to answer any questions on the material I covered. And for those who expressed interest in our trips to Italy, check out the overview here, with links to full itineraries in October and January.

Duck Prosciutto
Duck Prosciutto
All it takes is duck breast, salt, and time to make a delicious "prosciutto" in about a week, right in your own home. Here's the piece I wrote for About.com, but there are plenty more posts on the site. For the demo, we used the "salt box" method.
Pancetta
Pancetta
Once you've conquered the duck breast move on to pork belly to make pancetta, a simple Italian bacon. Remember: 3% salt to meat ratio by weight, and cure in the fridge for about a week.
Bacon
Bacon
The holy grail! Basically the same thing as pancetta, but typically with a sweeter cure and smoked. Regular bacon is delicious (duh), but if you really want to blow some minds, step up to Sichuan bacon. BOOM.
Shrubs
These drinking vinegars are easy and surprisingly refreshing. Based on recipes from Michael Dietsch's book Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, we demoed a basic fruit shrub of 1 pound fruit macerated in 3/4 cup sugar, then strained and mixed with 3/4 cup vinegar. But the possibilities are limitless!

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Recipes - Techniques - Tools