Gift Guide: Best DIY Books of 2014 | Punk Domestics

Gift Guide: Best DIY Books of 2014

Lest you think the DIY food movement has peaked, all you need to do is look at the breadth and calibre of the books that hit the market this year. Sure, 2013, 2012 and 2011 were all excellent years for DIY food books, but this year blew them all away. Below are the 17 books I think are exemplary titles. I'm proud to call many of these authors friends and colleagues, but all are worthy occupants on the DIY bookshelf. (Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for from which I may derive a nominal amount of revenue.)

Preserving & Pickling:

Preserving by the Pint
Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars lives in a small urban apartment, but that didn't deter her from pursuing the preserving bug. Undaunted by recipes that called for bushels of fruit, she worked to scale recipes down to make them accessible to even the most compact domicile. Organized seasonally, these pestos, sauces, mostardas, chutneys, butters, jams, jellies, and pickles are speedy, too: some take under an hour.
Asian Pickles
Pickle queen Karen Solomon (Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It) casts a briny eye at the pickling traditions from the other side of the globe. The individual sections -- Japan, China, Korea and India -- have been available as e-books, now compiled in one sweet and spicy tome full of kimchi, tsukemono, chutneys and much more.
The Put 'em Up! Preserving Answer Book
Rounding out her trilogy in the series (following the original Put 'em Up! and Put 'em Up! Fruit), Sherri Brooks Vinton tackles the 399 most frequently asked questions about all aspects of home food preserving, including canning, pressure canning, refrigeration, freezing, drying, and fermentation. She also addresses setting up your kitchen, choosing the best varieties for your needs, making substitutions, and much more.
Preserving Everything
Leda Meredith's newest book offers up a smorgasbord of ways to put up, well, everything, with techniques to can, culture, pickle, freeze, ferment, dehydrate, salt, smoke, and store fruits, vegetables, meat, milk, and more. Meredith offers up multiple solutions for putting up things, so you can choose what's right for you.
The Everyday Fermentation Handbook
Byers demystifies the dark art of fermentation, outlining techniques and processes using plain English in an affable, approachable voice. Newcomers to the world of controlled rot will be inspired into action starting with simple and accessible projects like sauerkraut and yogurt, but by casting a global net, Byers offers up a world of inspiration for even experienced fermenters.
Fermented Vegetables
Kristen and Christopher Shockey's comprehensive tome on fermenting all manner of vegetables is gorgeously photographed, but its beauty is more than skin deep. The book is full of appetizing and useful recipes for more than just the typical krauts and kimchis, offering up a relish tray of dishes that you'll find yourself using in your everyday repertory.
The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook
Dehydration can be an underappreciated form of food preservation. Most people think just of apple and banana chips, or perhaps an easy way to dry fresh herbs. Only slightly more adventurous sorts might branch out to beef jerky. This book digs deep and instructs how to use dehydration as a tool for preserving foods for everyday use, from soups to snacks and more. Read the review.

Beyond the Jar:

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry
Veteran DIY food blogger and doyenne of 2011's Charcutepalooza movement Cathy Barrow brings her well-rounded set of skills in this book. From double strawberry jam and chile-spiked tomatoes to duck confit and homemade pancetta, it's full of tips and techniques for preserving food at all times of year. Read the review.
Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade
Jam doyenne Rachel Saunders' inaugural book The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook is my go-to resource for foundational jam recipes. With her new tome, she tackles what to do with the open jar, offering an array of options for sweets, of course, but far more interestingly savory applications, like brussels sprouts with kumquat marmalade and smoked salt, and much more.
The Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen
Following on the heels of her Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, which I refer to on a nearly daily basis, Kate Payne comes back with another thoughtful work focusing on budget-minded and ecologically sound ways to love your kitchen and learn to make creative, delicious food, all in her delightfully chirpy tone. Her work is all hip and no hippie. Read the review.
Modern Pioneering
Touting "self-sufficiency is the ultimate girl power," Georgia Pellegrini's latest work espouses a soup-to-nuts DIY lifestyle that ranges from Martha (Mason jar lanterns and homemade notecards) to MacGyver (assembling a 48- hour survival toolkit in an Altoids tin). Georgia demonstrates how to conquer basic self-sufficiency skills, and look faaabulous doing it.
Foraging & Feasting
Gorgeoulsy adorned with botanical illustrations, Dina Falconi's book not only opens your eyes to the wealth of edibles around us, but also includes a wide range of master recipes to use them in soups, sandwiches, and many more applications.


Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times
Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, have a heritage that goes back centuries, but have only recently returned to the spotlight as a way to make beverages that are sophisticated and surprisingly refreshing. New York cocktail writer Michael Dietsch delves deep on how to turn fruit, sugar and vinegar into a kaleidoscopic array of sweet-tart shrubs to mix with sparkling water or use in cocktails. Read the review.
Kombucha Revolution
Kombucha is having quite a moment these days, having emerged from a relatively obscure fermented beverage to an everyday shot of probiotic goodness in many diets. This book thinks beyond the basic booch and applies kombucha to cocktails, condiments and much more.


Charcutería: The Soul of Spain
Chef Jeffrey Weiss' book is truly stunning, rich with imagery and containing the best and most comprehensive look at Spanish gastronomy, with a keen eye on the cured meats, conserves and pickles that comprise the country's cuisine. Read the review.
The New Charcuterie Cookbook
Chef Jamie Bissonnette takes on the classics, like a simple French saucisson sec, but then paints with a global palette, mashing up cultures in unexpected ways. Consider his porchetta, perfumed with banana leaf. Red curry pâté merges the south of France with Southeast Asia. That French saucisson sec takes a trip to East Africa in a variation with Ethiopean spices. Read the review.
Sausage Making: The Definitive Guide with Recipes
Of late, I've been hanging out with a group of local foodie friends and undertaking meat-related projects. We were inspired by last year's In the Charcuterie by Taylor Boetticher. Now, Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, another San Francisco-based butcher brings a book to the table, with a definitive tome on the daily grind. Having had a glimpse at his recipe for Lao sausage, I can't wait to tuck into this one.

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Recipes - Techniques - Tools