Sunday, February 7, 2016

An experiment in food preservation; fermentation.

The other day I was chatting with Odd and the conversation turned from his ideas about making pemmican via the practical difficulties in obtaining ingredients, like tallow to lost knowledge about how to prepare and above all keep food.
That prompted me to head for one of our bookshelves here at home. We have a lot of (old) books on the subject of older knowledge regarding food; growing, preparing and conserving.
I decided to expand my horizon by conducting some experiments. One would be lacto fermentation.

Other experiments included more canning of ready meals and drying of fruit. A pineapple in this case, since our son loves those. However the fresh pineapple did not last long enough to get dried. It ended up in a chickenstew recipe and as fresh fruit/dessert. Much better that way, anyway.
The fermentation experiment did go through, as I found 2 simple recipes with ingredients we had, used on a daily basis or were very cheap to get, but still on our everyday menu; white cabbage, carrots and onions. The recipes come from a book that was mentioned/discussed on Ben Hewitt's blog. It is called "preserving food without freezing or canning", a very important detail to us, since it requires little or no external sources of energy to keep.
The first recipe was plain and simple sauerkraut and the other was coleslaw.

This was also a good opportunity to use (and show) our lowtech, lowenergy kitchentools.
First the cuttingmachines. We have 2, a smaller one, which has a 1950's vintage and I just love the design. It works very well and holds up to this day. High quality... We also have a bigger one, probably from the 70's. Quality is not as good. Compressed woodfibres instead of solid wood for example, but it still does what it is supposed to do; it cuts.... very smoothly and very thin if necessary.

The second tool is made of simple punched sheetmetal and we use it almost daily for grinding almonds, nuts, hard vegetables and fruits etc. It does not wotk with onions that well though. It comes with several discs of varying sizes in cut, strips or chips. A lot older than I am, too.

After about an hour of cutting, experimenting and trying out "kitchenlogistics", we had 5 jars filled; 2 with coleslaw and 3 with sauerkraut. We will know if and how this worked out in a month or so....
We made 2 large bowls with white cabbage; one, containing the finer cut cabbage, is for the lessons in preserving. The other, courses cut cabbage, is our substitute for spaghetti. Yup, we use white cabbage instead of wheatbased spaghetti. Tastes better and is a lot healthier too!

I'll get back to the canningprocedure in a later post.... but I need to show off my wife's ingenuity.
What to do if your workingarea is or will be taking up by tools, bowls and ingredients, but you need to read recipes? You look for inspiration in higher places....

She took a clotheshanger, one that is just to hang skirts I think, and fasten the book. Then you take a piece of kitchenstring, tie that across the "meatcrown", (it is called that in Dutch. No idea what the English name is...) and hang the hanger from that.

Right in front of your face, no room lost and no dirty stains or spilling on the book!

All this foodbusiness made me also take a closer look at our foodcellar. I had never realise that there were different temperaturezones and as a result we had been storing our food oín the wrong places. Well, not necessarily wrong, since nothing got spoiled yet, but rice doesn't need to be stored near the floor, but fresh vegetables do. And store bought and prepacked cheese keeps a lot longer than the printed best-for-date if you keep it cool and away from (day)light. I also noted that our foodcellar does have 2 vents; one coming in on the northeast side and one going out through the house's ventilation system on the roof. With one or 2 minor tweaks I can easily get both cold air in at groundlevel, create circulation and venting warm, moist air out again.

1 comment:

  1. We've got to get a cold storage cellar in our new place.