A place where one woman has gathered resources and information to help her family survive in an uncertain future; together with occasional personal musings.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Food Security, part three.

Growing or producing the food is only half of food security. Because we live in a four season climate (for now, haha! for now), preserving must be the other half. Furthermore, I must take into consideration the possibility that we will be making do with greatly reduced energy, so traditional energy intensive methods of preserving might need to be modified.

That's so funny. I was thinking of stovetop canning, freezing, and dehydrating with a an electric dehydrator when I wrote "traditional methods." Shows you where my head is. In truth, we might have to return to more truly traditional methods of preserving ... sun drying (not usually viable in this climate, but who knows?), smoking, fermenting, cheesemaking and charcuterie.

Canning can be done over a wood fire.

This is one of those overlap sections. Preserving is certainly part of food security, but it also is part of knowledge and skills. Plus, of course, it also touches on Supplies and Equipment because of the specialized equipment needed for preserving. I have spent a good deal of the last two years acquiring new preserving skills. I have learned to pressure can (equipment: pressure cooker and jars with lids), to make hard cheese (equipment: cultures, rennet, calcium chloride, cheesecloth, cheese press, wax), to dehydrate (equipment: oven and/or electric dehydrator) and to freeze vegetables and meat (equipment: ziploc freezer bags, cookie sheets, tinfoil, and a chest freezer!) Still on the list for preserving skills I intend to acquire are brewing (equipment: glass carboys, airlocks, tubing, yeast, bottles, bottle-capper) and old fashioned, fermented sausage making. means hard sausages like salami (equipment: meat grinder, casings, cultures, climate control). Contrary to my previous belief, salami, coppa, sopressata, pepperoni, finocchio, and other traditional sausages are not smoked. They are fermented and dried.

Both of those last two tasks are skills that many people spend a lifetime perfecting, of course. (as is cheesemaking and various other skills we will collectively need) I haven't the slightest illusion that I am going to become some kind of master butcher or winemaker. That's absurd. I have too much to do raising my kids, running the household, caring for the animals, cooking, preserving, etc. But I do hope to be able to create a palatable product, more or less reliably, that serves the primary function of preserving calories for the winter or against hard times. Maybe one of my children or grandchildren will take the basic, entry-level skills I pass along and make something extraordinary out of them. Wouldn't that be cool.

Here's where my neurosis meets my passion. It's almost fun to contemplate a future in which my hard-won abilities are not just novelties to be admired in passing, but actually are of life and death importance. Doesn't that just speak volumes? I know. I know.

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