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.