Small Batch: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits, and the Return of Artisanal Foods

Suzanne Cope (Author)


Artisanal foods are making a comeback as more and more people seek to stock their pantries, and their bellies, with handcrafted or locally grown and made foods. Specialty markets and sections at grocery stores are catering to this new desire for the special, the unique, the carefully made foods. Small Batch: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits and the Return of Artisanal Foods colorfully details the landscape of the newest wave of the artisanal food revolution by looking at four foods that whet our appetites for specialty. Considering the history and the cultural issues surrounding the resurgence of craft food, including the evolving definition of terroir, the importance of narrative in valuing artisanal food, and the way that these present food trends connect with-and upend-their rich history, Small Batch seeks to define and update the term "artisanal" and give insight into the influences, challenges, and identity of food artisans today. Suzanne Cope sumptuously surveys the collective history of the production of cheese, pickles, chocolate, and alcoholic spirits, and brings this narrative to the present by incorporating interviews with over fifty modern artisans. Cope details the influences, challenges, and evolving identity of these modern craft industries-and places them in context within the recent resurgence and growth of the artisanal segment of the market. Readers interested in craft foods, and what it means to be an artisan, will find here a fascinating history and updating of both.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
October 10, 2014
5.15 X 0.93 X 9.27 inches | 0.93 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Suzanne Cope, is a scholar of food studies and narrative. Recent and upcoming publications include articles and essays in The New York Times,, XOJane, Italian American Review, Edible Boston, Edible Cape Cod, among others. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches college writing. Additional information can be found at


Small Batch will make you yearn to eat pickles that really crunch and mozzarella that isn't 'just for melting.' Suzanne Cope's thoughtful take on the American artisanal food movement traces its evolution from frugal grandmothers canning peaches to DIY picklers and distillers in Brooklyn. Cope's fresh and delightful book shares the idealism of these craft producers, who want to change the world 'one bite at a time.'--Bee Wilson, author, Consider the Fork
Small Batch is a fascinating investigation into the contemporary American artisan food revival. It situates this growing movement in broader historical and social contexts, and reflects on the question of what exactly makes a food artisanal.--Sandor Ellix Katz, Fermentation Revivalist; author of The Art of Fermentation, Author of The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation
Small Batch is one large feat! We have so many words buzzing around our food world nowadays: locavore, lacto-fermented, artisanal, carbon footprint, GMO, sustainable, and more. Suzanne Cope's excellent book is the ultimate map out of the woods and into the light with these extremely meaningful and timely discussions with our fellow residents of what R. Buckminster Fuller sagely called 'Spaceship Earth.'--Norman Van Aken, author of No Experience Necessary: The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken
Anyone interested in today's artisanal movement will appreciate the depth of research, historical context, and anecdotes of modern day small-scale producers that Suzanne Cope has so deftly compiled in Small Batch. From how the United States moved away from craft production, to the technologies and processes behind some of our favorite foods, and the socio-economic movement that brought us back to our artisanal roots, Cope's account will inspire and inform, compelling us, if we haven't already, to seek out pickles (or cheese, or chocolate, or spirits) that come with a story.--Amy McCoy, author of Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget and
Earnest and anecdotal yet scientific, this exploration of revived forms of artisanal entrepreneurialism tries to capture the sense of value and nostalgia that accompanies the creation of handmade foods. Now residing in Brooklyn, the heart of the artisanal food 'incubator, ' writing teacher and scholarly journalist Cope tracks down numerous examples of the new artisan class to elicit their take on the virtues of craft as they rigorously define themselves in contrast to what is mass-produced and industrial-scale. For each product, such as the humble pickle beloved of Dutch, German, and Jewish immigrants, Cope offers a brief history of its apotheosis in America. She also explores how the introduction of the Mason jar in 1858 invited home picklers to preserve food in smaller portions and with more consistent results. According to her research, these new artisans are fairly well educated, youngish urbanites across the country, most of whom were faced with job uncertainty in the mid-2000s and inspired--usually by family knowledge or a passion for personal or environmental health--to make a go at homemade production as a way to make a living. Indeed, the value of each product is increased by its story--a narrative about provenance and terroir, a sense that the farmer knows the goats that make her chèvre or the anthropologist turned chocolate maker who employs Oaxacans in Mexico to grow his cacao beans for sustainable, fair sourcing. Cope offers much that is pertinent and thought provoking.--Publishers Weekly