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?