Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's cold...

The first trees I saw that turned to their fall colors, a line of maples bordering a little creek on Appleton Farm, have now lost all of their leaves and stand barren in the chilly October wind. As our deciduous trees shed their colorful cloaks, I am putting mine on, every day a new layer it seems. Yesterday, I wore a full set of polypropilene long-johns, t-shirt, fleece sweater, thick hooded sweatshirt, hooded rainjacket, knit wool cap, also gloves, two pairs socks, boots, work pants, rain pants, gloves, etc. It is cold! We had a genuine frost two or three times this week; one of them was almost more of a freeze than a frost, the temperature having gotten down to (or very close to) 32 during the night. I have no real problem making myself comfortable with all of those layers except for my hands, which of course need to continue working, usually with more delicacy than a pair of thick mittens can afford. So I make do with fleece fingerless, or thin leather, rubber dishwasher, or even surgical, depending on the situation. None of them keep my hands warm. Oh well.

We have pretty much lost our pepper plants, our eggplants, our green beans, our basil, and a few various other things, but surprisingly (to myself at least) most of our stuff that is still in rotation has made it through these severe temperatures intact, including tender-seeming greens like lettuce, arugula and spinach. The heartier fare, like cabbage, collards, carrots and parsnips certainly have nothing to fear from these first cold nights.

My thoughts have turned, finally and after a season of slothful weekends, to putting some food up for the winter. The bulk of this will be simple storage of vegetables that should store well fore some time, either in the pantry, the cellar, or the refrigerator. Potatoes, onions, butternut squash, shallots, sugar pumpkins, carrots, beets, celeriac. I have already started the hoarding. I have also started a bit of blanching and freezing, which I will do mostly with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach (I have already done some broccoli, as well as strawberries and basil pureed in olive oil earlier in the season).

The hard stuff, that I hope to get started on today, is the pickling. I have chosen not to do traditional canning or pickling, but just a few choice recipes of lactic fermentation, which I will describe in more detail at some future post. It is essentially a type of preserving in salt or brine that encourages microbial organisms to flourish that turn the vegetable’s sugars into lactic acid, which sours them and creates an environment preventing spoilage. The most famous recipe of this sort is for sauerkraut. Kim chi is a spicy Korean pickle of this sort. It can also be done with a traditional cucumber-type pickle, dill and all. This method of pickling preserves more nutrients, so I’ve been told, than traditional canning or pickling, and creates a fizzy brine that is supposedly good for digestion.

Anyway, we’ll see how far I get. First I have to go to the Essex Co-op and get some jars.

Peace to everybody.

1 comment:

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