First of all, I was given dozens of recipes (from chests I think) early in the game, before I could even craft. There was no hint that you shouldn't bother trying to figure out how to craft. Heck, the game even tells you when you get that pistol as Haytham that you should craft a double holster, hours (Game time) before you could do so.
Second, now that I can craft, is it just me or is it difficult to tell what you could craft if you bought ingredients from your serfs from the interface? I ended up just buying every ingredient so that it would show me what I could make. Good thing they are cheap.