Monday, March 17, 2008

Up North/ Containers for Food!


Saint-husband and I went to northern Michigan this weekend. Went snowshoeing, had two great meals at two different favorite restaurants, saw a movie. It was restful and inspirational. The north is still utterly blanketed by snow- there's at least a foot of the white stuff. Some years, mud season arrives slowly up there. This will surely be one of those years.

I was thrilled to find a few perfect, uncracked, salt-glazed pottery pieces in an antique store. One is about 20 quarts, the other two are about 8 quarts. I will probably make lids for them in cedar, unless research discourages that specific wood. They will be perfect for my trials in lactic fermentation.

So, what is lactic fermentation? It is a method of food preservation that does not require heat or freezing. A classic food preserved this way is sauerkraut, but many other leafy and vining vegetables preserve equally well. Lactic fermentation only requires salt, a dark cool place, a sturdy container with a lid, and some very clean water. Ordinary city tap water will not work because chlorine retards fermentation.

I recently picked up an amazing little book called:
"Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing", by the Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante.

It was compiled by the editors of a French organic gardening magazine called Les Quatre Saisons du Jardinage (Four Season Gardening). they put out a call to their readers asking for traditional family recipes of food preservation. They were astonished to receive over 500 entries. This lovely book is the result.

It covers all manner of non-electric food preservation: Preservation with alcohol, vinegar, oil or sugar; storing food in the ground or in root cellars; it even describes different techniques for drying. I found it fascinating reading, and even more so because the personalities of the recipe writers are so clear on the page. I can just picture the submitters- women who learned kitchen gardening and winter preservation from their mothers and grandmothers; men who learned how to bury food in the ground from their grandfathers, who in turn had been doing it that way for as long as anyone could possibly remember.

In other words, for as long as people have been farming.


Rabbits' Guy said...

Carry on! Quite the adventure.

Where did you go in Northern Mich? Most of my family is in and around Traverse City.

I finally saw the Ruins of Detroit tour .. remarkable. I went to two baseball games in the old Tiger stadium as a little kid .. it was called Briggs Stadium then. That part of town was horrid then, but when you got inside it was like wonderland with bright lights and green green grass!

I worked in the outskirts of Detroit in the 70's .. where the Ford World Headqurters is. We never went into Detroit .. it was too awful.

I hope it is recovering ...

ilex said...

We went to Leelanau peninsula, and went into Traverse City one day. I really love Traverse. My husband has been going to Glen Arbor every summer since he was a kid. This winter trip made me want to live up there!

Detroit is recovering, slowly. The racial division here is worse than any place I've ever lived. The riot scars run so deep. It's probably going to take the passing of an entire generation before it's healed.

FRITZ said...

Now, THIS is interesting. When I learned that tribes in New Zealand have this fabulous method of cooking meat in a hole in the ground for three to four days, I was automatically hooked on the theory. Seems like a great way to get out of making dinner..."It's in the damn oven, be patient!"

While I cannot fathom taking on such an extraordinary feat (I mean, after all, only, like, ancestors do that kind of thing), I must tell you that I would be interested in tasting the fruits from such labor.

Traverse is such a lovely place to regroup. I am especially fond of that overpriced candle shop up there, but they have three yarn stores in the vicinity, as well.

Please bring sauerkraut to knitting. And some pig. Aren't you farming pig yet?

Rabbits' Guy said...

Yes, the Leelanau area is about as good as it gets, especailly if you like winter! Beautiful dunes and beaches. But they have a big job on their hands there ... the cherry orchards are being turned into subdivisions.
Great wine country these days.
You probably saw quite a bit of ice on the bay at TC .. many years it does not freeze at all. The big bergs will be floating around in there for several weeks!

Amanda said...

You have a fantastic blog. I'm going to link to you.

I'll be back.