Monday, September 26, 2011

pickling is the new knitting

Well, not just pickling, but "putting-by" generally--canning, jellying, jarring, jamming, curing, root-cellaring, all of it. It never really went away, but it's new to us in the urban middle class, and I think it must have to do with CSAs bringing huge masses of fresh and perishable foods to us week after week.

A friend lent me a 1973 hardcover edition of Hertzberg, Vaughan, and Greene's Putting Food By, which seems to be underwritten by the USDA and FDA. The early chapters have instilled in me a great terror of microbial contamination that I feel like I should probably read all of, but I've paged through and there's some good stuff later on about storing carrots and apples under blankets in the yard to keep them good through the winter, and even building your own cold-war era root cellar in a corner of the basement. I'm looking forward to some serious cross-seasonal preservation.

So far all I've done is quick-pickle some onions and radishes under what I'm sure are grievously hazardous conditions, but nothing bad has happened so far, and some damn good cole slaw has resulted. Anyway, that's the planned new direction for this fall and winter.