If the new normal has got you thinking about how to provide for yourself if things get grimmer, you’re not alone. Just look around at all the people planting gardens right now. Sure, it’s springtime, but there’s also a looming feeling that at some point, we might have to be even more self-sufficient.
It’s nice to know that taking on some of these self-sustaining projects can be fun and nutritious as well. No, you don’t need to start a farm — not yet, anyway. But you can entertain a few at-home food projects so that you’re not scrambling the next time you’re at a picked-over supermarket.
This kit from Hamama requires about as much work as a Chia pet. In other words, you’re really just employing water and time. It includes a variety of three different greens, pulled from a list that includes hot wasabi mustard, earthy clover, sweet wheatgrass, cabbage, broccoli, and more. Most are organic and the grow tray is reusable, so you can feel pretty good about not creating too much waste amid the pandemic. Plus, you’ll be eating fresh micro-greens you watched grow from seed to delicious salad or sandwich enhancer. There’s even a bamboo frame if you really want to display your micro-farming work.
Some of us are lucky enough to have fresh herbs growing in our gardens or in the neighborhood, a snip of the scissors away. Some of us need a helping hand and this kit from Modern Sprout out of Chicago is a great option. Pasta lovers will adore having fresh basil at their disposal while a just-pulled bit of cilantro will do wonders to tacos or margaritas. Individual herbs are available (oregano, sage, parsley, basil, cilantro, mint) as well as a larger, five-herb hydroponic kit. It’s way better than the old, powder-ized excuses for herbs you’re likely using right now.
Breweries are still brewing and even delivering to doorsteps or allowing curbside non-contact pickup. And while you should support them, it’s also a good time to make some at home. A kit like this one, a partnership between Brooklyn Brew Shop and Danish brewery Mikkeller, is pretty easy to put together. Not only does it require very little in terms of outside equipment, it eats up some time and will give something to look forward to in a month, the approximate time from boil to beer. Even better, breakfast stout can be enjoyed any time of day, not that you’re able to keep track anymore.
Some of the best things are fermented things, just think kimchi or a nice bottle of wine. Williams-Sonoma has a handy pickling kit from FarmSteady that enables you to turn cucumbers into something much, much better. Munch on them solo, dice them up into a nice fresh relish, or chase a shot of whiskey with them. All you need to bring to the table is the produce itself, plus a little dill and garlic. There’s also a kraut kit worth investigating if you like lactic acid and cabbage.
Making honey is a little more involved but some of us are actively looking for more engaging projects in and around the house. It’s said that the first go-around doesn’t yield a whole lot, but by the second harvest, you could be swimming in somewhere around 30 pounds of the sweet buggy nectar. Dadant has a range of starter kits, from hobby level to “master pollinator,” which includes the suit, guidebooks, and all the tools you need to start your own backyard honey enterprise (and maybe even neighborhood business).
Fans of earthy fungus will enjoy harvesting their own crop from the comfort of home. And some, like this oyster mushroom log kit, both look cool and yield some tasty ingredients. Even those just so-so about mushrooms will appreciate the texture and subtle flavor of this particular type. The kit includes an actual chunk of poplar tree, hit with mushroom spores that you can harvest and re-harvest in six-week increments for, they say, up to three years. Remember that the mushrooms prefer cold, dark places (places you’re all too familiar with at this stage of quarantine).
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