Brooklyn DIY Supply is trying to convert you. Bex Ames and Elissa Stanton—the duo behind behind the starter kit company—want you making soap, bitters, pickles, massage bars and lip balm, and they're doing a bang-up job of it. Providing aspiring craftsters with the basic tools necessary to get started on a new obsession, the company is planting seedlings of the Brooklyn way of life, one marked by Kindling Quarterly subscriptions and hardcore shop aprons. In the interest of broadening horizons, we gave the the kits a shot and recorded the process.
Initially we had the idea to make bitters. That was until we realized that one of the ingredients not included in the kit was everclear, and that it would require a trip out of state to acquire it. At first frustrated, we later saw this as part of the brilliance of Brooklyn DIY Supply: they expect you to meet them halfway, showing that you already have most of the tools to succeed. High proof alcohol aside, we actually did have everything necessary to make homemade mustard—except for the seeds, powder and jar; which they graciously provided.
Prep time for making mustard is only about 20 minutes, and then a few days of waiting around. First, you activate the seeds with cold water and let them sit—this process brings the spiciness out of the mustard. Once the water is absorbed, you can add vinegar, sugar or honey, beer or wine, herbs or spices—almost anything, really. The mustard-making handbook isn't dogmatic; instead giving a series of suggestions that leave you to decide on the heat, sweetness and texture of your mustard. We elected for a vinegar-heavy and unblended version that is balanced out by honey and brown sugar. With minimal work, we had a mustard with serious kick.
More important than the condiment itself was a new appreciation for mustard. During the waiting period, there was plenty of time to search for trivia. Among our discoveries: the spread has an almost interminable shelf life; it is among the most popular condiments in the world; California wild mustard is said to originate from Franciscan friar Junípero Serra, who scattered the seeds wherever he went after arriving in the Americas. It's safe to say that the conversion worked—we'll be making mustard again, this time without any help.
Brooklyn DIY Supply kits sell online starting at $11.95.
Images by James Thorne