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DIY

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Will Our Dairy Free Cheesemaking Kit Impress this Curd Connoisseur?

December 15, 2017

Beloved Marketing Analyst Morgan warms up to vegan cheese… or so it seems.

Product

Dairy Free Cheddar, Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit

Research

As a self-proclaimed cheese connoisseur, I knew the moment I saw the Dairy Free Cheddar, Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit that it had to be mine. Melty mozzarella, creamy ricotta, tangy cheddar: say no more, you had me at melty. (Editor’s note: Morgan loves the Fondoodler, so her predilection for meltiness comes as no surprise to us.) I’ve dabbled in the realm of vegan cheese before, but as a non-vegan, I’m much more familiar with the dairy varieties of my favorite delicious treat. I decided to go to my local grocery store and sample their vegan wares and I was a little disappointed. The consistency and flavor just didn’t meet my exceptionally high cheese standards. Alas.

This is when I decided I was up for the challenge of creating a vegan cheese even the most dairy-loving person could enjoy.

Hypothesis

As a former research scientist, I hypothesized that my laboratory skills could help me concoct this vegan cheese masterpiece. I knew there were challenges, based on my prior vegan cheese sampling and dislike for its odd texture, but the images on the box of this kit looked delightful and I decided to judge a book by its cover.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Homemade Kombucha For Beginners

May 5, 2017

Product


Kombucha Jar & Brew Kit

 

Research
Like everyone else, I’ve been aware that kombucha is a Thing. I vaguely knew it was fermented tea, and that much like kefir, which I’ve made, it’s fermented by a SCOBY: a live, Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. “Symbiotic” because they rely on each other: the yeast eats the sugar and puts out carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol; then the bacteria eats the alcohol and puts out amino acids and trace vitamins and minerals. And because of all those beneficial bacteria, it’s probiotic. I wanted to try making it, and as it happens, UncommonGoods sells this handy kit, which includes everything you need to make kombucha except for tea, sugar, and water.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: First-Time Fermentation

December 26, 2016


Research
Years ago, I came across Wild Fermentation, a book by Sandor Ellix Katz that turned me and millions of others onto the idea of home fermentation. I don’t remember how I came across it, or why I bought it. But I read the first few chapters and became enthralled with the IDEA of fermenting.


The book, published in 2003, made Katz a fermentation rockstar. (I’m not kidding, he really is.) As for myself, as I read, I was all ready to leave Brooklyn and move to the author’s organic farm commune in Tennesee to begin my new, fermention-centric lifestyle. Because I liked the IDEA.

I successfully made delicious yogurt a few times. And I’ve made a lot of bread, though not sourdough bread.

But despite feeling totally gung-ho, fermentationally speaking, that’s as far as I went. Katz made a passionate, informed case for probiotics (and this was back in 2003, before it was a thing). Almost all store-bought sauerkraut, he said, is pasteurized, which kills the probiotics.

I wanted to make my own sauerkraut and achieve Total Gut Health. But I looked into buying a stoneware crock with a weight (to weigh the cabbage down), and for a beginner, they seemed rather pricey and heavy. I didn’t feel it was wise to commit to something like that without knowing I’d use it more than once.*

And I got stuck there. For years. Until I saw our DIY Fermentation Crock.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Is a DIY G&T as Easy as it Seems?

November 23, 2016

lab-coat

Research

Some say it tastes like Christmas, but I say it’s more like pure class in a glass. Scientists think liking it might mean you have a dark personality (I also drink my coffee black – uh oh), but I think you’re crazy if you hate it. It’s the gin & tonic, people, and I’m a fan. And so, when I saw the Gin & Tonic Making Kit in our assortment, I knew I had to try it out for my next gift lab.

Gin and Tonic Making Kit - UncommonGoods

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Fermentation with Friends

November 3, 2016

Research

Last summer, I canned for the first time with fellow UGooders and loved sharing and eating the spicy pickles and peach blackberry jam we created. While both received many compliments, I knew I’d be nowhere without our fearless leader Louise’s technical expertise in the kitchen. As for pickled veggies I haven’t made myself; pickled onions have turned many a salad from mediocre to magnificent, and from a health perspective, I’ll take all the probiotics I can get. As soon as I saw this DIY Fermentation Kit come into the UncommonGoods assortment, I had to try it for myself.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Does Beer Make Everything Better? (Even Pretzels and Mustard?)

October 5, 2016
Emily Gift Lab Pretzels and MustardResearch

I’ve always been a fan of pretzels. From your standard UTZ variety, which were often packed away in ZipLocs in my elementary school lunches, to the inimitable Auntie Anne’s (cinnamon, obviously) which have suckered me in at shopping malls and train stations alike, I’ve loved ‘em all. Something about fall makes pretzels seem like especially appropriate snacks, and I’ve been craving them as the air has gotten chillier. Maybe my small sliver of German ancestry has me feeling some lingering Oktoberfest vibes all the way on Long Island – in which case, this experiment is all the better, since it involves a fair amount of beer. I’ll be using the Craft Beer Pretzel Mix as well as the Make Your Own Mustard Kit, which also calls for beer as an ingredient, because what goes better with beer pretzels than beer mustard? I’m hungry. Let’s try it.

Hypothesis

Beer will make everything better, including homemade pretzels and mustard.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Is Homemade Butter
Really Better?

August 15, 2016

Ken Tests the Butter Churner from UncommonGoods

Research:

I was initially skeptical when I first saw the butter churner in our collection. I’ve baked bread, brewed beer, and made yogurt, so it’s not as if I’m against making things at home. I just didn’t see what was to be gained by churning butter myself instead of buying it. I’d almost forgotten it when the churner turned up in the top ten selling items for several days straight. And that was during the busy holiday season, when making it to the top means elbowing through serious competition. What did all of these people see in homemade butter? Did they know something I didn’t? Had all my favorite food writers failed to share the wonders of fresh butter straight from the churn?

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