Editor's Note: From raising chickens and goats to knitting a masterpiece to pickling and preserving, we present your ultimate guide to mastering the homespun, do-it-yourself life in Indy. So slip on your gardening gloves, and let's get dirty.
Stockpile Your Pantry
Local doyenne (and Master Food Preserver) Suzanne Krowiak presides over Slow Food Indy’s PICKLING AND CANNING CLASS, nimbly leading the paired-off students through the brass tacks of Ball jars, safe pH levels, recipe assembly, spoilage warnings, and vacuum sealing via an anyone-can-do-it boiling-water bath. Krowiak sprinkles her instruction in a big, roomy kitchen at Ivy Tech’s Culinary Center with bon mots (“We will be the boss of botulism!”) and drops a few “ninja” tricks along the way, like adding a splash of vinegar to the pot so your jars emerge sans spots and “camera ready.” This winter, at the end of the three-hour class, students took home their very own jars of spicy carrots. $15. Upcoming classes include a three-part series on jams and jellies, pickling and fermenting, and pressure-canning; see slowfoodindy.com for dates. Other Krowiak canning classes announced at indyfoodswappers.com
Dry Out Future Dinners
Cara Dafforn proves your favorite foods need never truly go out of season in her DEHYDRATION CLASS, put on periodically through Trade School Indy. Dafforn’s got the bona fides to back up her sun-dried tomatoes and apple chips; she owns U-Relish Farms, which specializes in dried foods for the slow cooker (maybe you saw them on an episode of Parks and Recreation). Best of all, she shows you how to swing it on the cheap—hanging your plums upside down, say, or building a “black box” out of cardboard and allowing the sun to work its magic—and when to invest in pricier machinery. Payment in trade. Fall classes will be announced through Trade School Indy. 317-366-6938, tradeschool.coop/Indianapolis
Become Your Own Cheesemonger
A rumble of boiling milk and a dose of diluted citric acid provide the foundation for the fromage you’ll learn how to form in Melody DeLury’s CHEESEMAKING WORKSHOPS, which she holds at her Solstice Sun goat farm in Anderson and locally through Trade School Indy. Newbies to the four-hour class dive into soft types like ricotta and mozzarella, while more-advanced students try their hand at hard kinds, including feta and queso fresco. It’s relatively easy to move from one variety to the other; most cheeses, you see, require the same ingredients (such as milk, acid, and rennet), but the secret lies in adjusting your stovetop to the right temperature—and DeLury will show you how. Sessions average $10, or payment in trade through Trade School Indy. April 12, May 10, and June 14. Dates announced on DeLury’s Facebook page or at tradeschool.coop/Indianapolis
Perfect Your Canning
Hissing pressure canners filled with jars of vegetable soup, humming food dehydrators churning out homemade fruit roll-ups, large saucepans blanching tomato after tomato—it’s all in a week’s work for Master Food Preserver trainees at the Purdue University Extension in Johnson County. This 40-hour immersive experience takes students from lecture to laboratory, exploring topics from the pH levels of fermented produce to the secrets of crispy pickles to the warning signs of foodborne illnesses. If it sounds like a lot, it is. But in the hands of program director Linda Souchon, equal parts teacher and Jedi canning master, students leave ready to spread the food-preservation gospel. Tip: Sign up early. The scarcity of these types of programs nationwide means you’ll be competing for a seat with people from as far away as Florida. $130. June 16–20 and Aug. 18–22. 317-736-3724, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in the April 2014 issue.