Making vs. Buying: When is it Worth it?

by Anne Maxfield on February 23, 2015

Accidental Locavore Gin and VermouthThere are so many things you can make yourself these days (what a surprise—how did we get food before there were supermarkets?), but the Accidental Locavore was wondering when it was worth it to make something and when it was just easier to pop into a store. I’ve made my own granola, yogurt, and bacon for a long time now, mostly for taste, but in the case of granola, because it is very difficult to find nut-free granola. Yogurt is simple enough to find, but it’s one of the easiest things to make. Homemade bacon will just spoil you for anything else, and you can make a lot of it and freeze it.

I’ve made butter, both regular and cultured, and while it’s certainly easy, it can be messy and for me, it falls into the better bought category. It’s also one of the few items that isn’t less expensive to make. Cheese too—there are just so many people who make great cheese, that it would take me a long time (and a closer source of raw milk) to make it worthwhile.

Accidental Locavore SansaireThis all came up because I read an article about making your own gin sous-vide and sent it to my friend Ivan. After having a couple of laughs about buying a $300 sous-vide machine to use for 90 seconds (yes, 90 seconds) to infuse your gin, Ivan sent me the following…

For making one’s own gin:

Walk to car in driveway. Enter car, insert key and start engine. After fastening seat belt, drive 6 1/2 blocks to liquor store.

Exit vehicle (sans seatbelt) and enter store.

Proceed to aisle three on your right and walk approx 7 feet.

Select blue-tinted glass vessel labeled “Bombay Sapphire”.

Present vessel to store clerk with $20.00 bill. Receive a small amount of change.

Exit store and re-enter vehicle with vessel in tow.

Re-fasten seat belt, re-start ignition and follow reverse pattern of earlier route to home.

Release seat belt, kill ignition, exit vehicle and enter home.

Accidental Locavore MartiniLocate one glass, several ice cubes, glance at the vermouth bottle, place two olives in glass with ice cubes.

Pour reasonable amount of clear liquid into prepared glass.

Consume contents of glass slowly, while forgetting all of those details about plastic bags and 172 degrees.

Refill glass.

Now then. Isn’t that a whole lot easier?



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A Visit to Hudson Valley Distillers

by Anne Maxfield on October 20, 2014

Accidental Locavore HV DistillersIf you’re anything like the Accidental Locavore, you’ve probably chatted with your best friend about any number of potential business ventures and never pulled the trigger, figuring the friendship was more valuable than the business idea. This isn’t the case with Hudson Valley Distillers, a new venture founded by two best friends who literally decided to buy the farm.

On the farm, now named Spirit Grove Farm, Chris and Tom are making small batch, artisanal applejacks and an apple-based vodka. Even more important than the booze, these two–friends since college, are having a great time! People always talk about doing something you love, and if what I saw the other day is any example, this pair is doing exactly that!

Accidental Locavore OnataThey’ve converted a 150 year old barn into the distillery and tasting bar. Something you probably don’t know about the Accidental Locavore is that I’m a sucker for gleaming pieces of machinery, and Hudson Valley Distillers have some beauties! Did you know that all stills need to have names? Onata (meaning “spirit of field and grain”) has a main piece that “cooks” the fermented apple cider, which gets filtered into the side pieces, condensing it, and the result, an extremely potent vodka or applejack, goes into a tank. From there it’s diluted (all alcohol is, otherwise you’d be drinking the liquor equivalent of pure heroin), the vodka gets bottled and the applejacks are put into small oak barrels to age.

Accidental Locavore Oak BarrelsLike a lot of things at HVD, the barrels have their own story. Currently, they’re using two types of oak barrels, both from the Midwest, but Chris and Tom are working with a cooper in upstate New York to produce the first New York oak barrels since the 1900’s. It’s part of their mission (and a NYS directive) to source at least 75% from New York State, making this a very locavore distillery.

In keeping with the local edict, Chris is experimenting with growing his own sugar cane, and citrus trees, hoping to start producing their own rum along with the gin that is already in the works. Also on the drawing board are bourbon and whisky, using corn, rye and barley grown just down the road.

Accidental Locavore SpiritsRight now there’s a tasting bar (open weekends), where you can sample the two applejacks and the vodka. If you like your vodka straight-up, this is the vodka for you. Smooth with a slight apple nose, this is a perfect sipping vodka, with none of the nasty alcohol taste or smell of lesser vodkas. It would probably make a formidable martini, too.

Of the two applejacks, my favorite was the Hardscrabble. It had a lovely butterscotch and apple nose, and while you could smell the oak from the barrels, it wasn’t overwhelming (like some California chardonnays). The taste was lovely, a cross between a good bourbon or scotch, but again, without any overpowering alcohol.

If all this is tempting to you (I bought the last bottle of Hardscrabble), hurry out to a local (currently only New York State) liquor store or restaurant. Chris and Tom are in the enviable spot of being sold-out of most everything right now. But not to worry, there are barrels aging now, getting ready for the holidays. Plans are in the works for a small café/tasting room, serving local cheeses and charcuterie along with all the Hudson Valley Distillers products, straight-up or in cocktails. Enjoy!