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11:28 am: Preservation

There have been a few studies measuring happiness in various activities. The best ones pester the subjects to report their instantaneous happiness at random times throughout the study. “What are you doing right now, and how happy are you?”

If I were to participate in one of those studies, I suspect that it would find that some of the happiest times in my life are when I’m cooking or preserving food. We participate in the Cape Ann Fresh Catch community supported fishery, as well as two different CSAs. The afternoon that I bring home that box of veggies, or the ocean fresh fish, usually turn into a peaceful ritual of cleaning, packing, boiling, freezing, and so on. Similarly, people who have been over to my house know that I love the puttering around in the kitchen, trying to find a meal hidden in the ingredients that we happen to have at hand.

I used to do a lot more boiling-water-bath canning, but it’s something of a pain to get the water bath up to temperature. Since I’ve discovered freezing, and installed a chest freezer in the basement, I don’t do so much of it anymore.

I also used to go for huge batches – imagining somehow that I was stocking up for winter. In my situation, stocking up for winter would require almost full time work in the summer and fall. It’s not a good use of my time. In addition, it basically guarantees that a lot of the food will go un-eaten. If you were measuring my happiness – it hits a local low when I realize that something that I preserved has been allowed to go bad by sitting on the shelf.

So now with most recipes I just make a few pints at a time, and I open them at the drop of a hat. Food is for eating. It’s the same with the wine. Wine is for drinking, doubly so with the homemade stuff. The question that comes to mind when I find myself worrying about the supply of my pickles, relishes, or whatever is “what are you saving it for?” What better place than here? What better place than now?

Originally published at chris.dwan.org. You can comment here or there.


[User Picture]
Date:December 29th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
I think I share your pleasure in "putting up." Well, I prefer cooking the daily evening meal, but I do like the virtuous sense of "stocking the larder" (great old phrase) from things one has planted and tended and harvested. Best this year: apple sauce from our Jonathan tree. We just quartered and cored the apples (without peeling), steamed them in half a cup of water and their own juices, and bottled and/or froze bags of them. No other ingredients (no sugar). Best applesauce I have ever had. We gave quite a few bottles to friends, and have eaten about one a week since fall. We're just about out : (

Also, received this report yesterday from a friend in Ithaca. A lady there wrote this recently in a letter in the Ithaca Journal: "I also canned, made sauce, and froze many things from my garden when my children were still home. I had enough brocolli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, herbs, corn, potatos, peppers, and even peanuts to last all winter long. I had peach, apple, pear, and plum trees and strawberry, black rasberry, and blueberry, bushes in my yard. And all this was done in my home which was right in the city of Ithaca. My garden was huge."
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