Kits make it easy to become a self-sustainable foodie

catherine-kaufmanCatharine Kaufman

These days, intrepid amateur farmers enjoy everything from freshly laid eggs from their backyard coops and freshly picked herbs, fruits and veggies from their eclectic water-conserving landscapes to homemade dairy products and vino. Now you can become a do-it-yourselfer in the kitchen and garden this spring, too, with these kits.

Culture Vulture

Yogurt aficionados can whip up batches of this probiotic digestive warrior at home from thick and creamy Balkan and Greek styles to low-fat and lactose-free versions. If your gut is cow intolerant, you can swap it out for milk from water buffalo, goat, yak or sheep. There are many choices of commercial yoghurt makers or you can improvise — a 5-cup double boiler, candy thermometer, food-grade storage containers, and a method of incubation, like an ice chest, thermos, nest of cardboard boxes or even your oven will do the trick. Add your fruit, sweetening and desired flavorings, and rejoice!

Domestic Cheese

Handcrafting assorted artisan cheeses in your own home is becoming a cottage industry, swelling in popularity with newsletters, workshops, books, kits and products available through retail outlets and e-commerce. Cheese-making staples include cheese cultures and mold powders (kefir, flora danica, propionic and misophilic); cheese rennets (an enzyme which typically comes from the stomach of a young milk-fed calf, lamb or goat), and additives (citric acid, lipase, herbs, cheese salt and coloring).

Now cheese buffs can freshly create mozzarella, ricotta, cottage, Monterey Jack, cheddar, goat, feta and others controlling the fat, flavor, salt and purity of ingredients.

Heard it Through the Grapevine

Take a trip down memory lane back in the days of prohibition and bathtub gin distilling; now oenophiles can ferment grapes into their favorite organic wines. Do-it-yourself kits produce a dozen bottles in one month. Cheers!

A Head’s Up

The Brooklyn Brew Shop lets you craft artisanal beer in your home with a kit that includes grains, hops, yeast and commercial brewing equipment. Choose from seven varieties such as Bourbon Dubbel and Chocolate-Maple Porter.

The Bees Knees

The art of home beekeeping is all a buzz especially in the midst of our black-and-yellow buddies shrinking in global population as much as 30 percent due to the mysterious colony collapse disorder. If we want to continue to enjoy their bounty of honey and the flowers, fruits, vegetables and nuts produced from their Herculean pollinating powers, we’d better become their Galahads. On a sweet note, is offering a beehive and starter kit, including a helmet with veil, gloves, smoker and tools.

Soy Toys

If you have a yen for edamame, now you can organically grow your own with a do-it-yourself kit from Japan. Apartment or condo dwellers need only a sunny windowsill, while homeowners can transfer the sprouted germ to their gardens as southern California climes provide an ideal growing environment. The kit includes seeds, a wicker basket and a growing medium, so all you need to dispense is water, warmth and some love.

Fungus Factory

Mushroom lovers with a penchant for sustainable gardening can produce a crop of assorted ‘shrooms on their kitchen counter. Oysters, shiitakes and others sprout a fresh batch every two months from a hardwood log and keep producing for up to three years.

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