Hungry for a taste of tomatoes or zucchini during winter? Why should you buy watery, tasteless ones when they’re not in season anymore, fuelling a sick agro-business that wants to provide you with any food, anytime, globally? Learn the art of preservation instead: you will enjoy food that isn’t in season – and not just that – anytime, doing no harm to your planet whatsoever.
Preservation used to be the answer to a question that’s basically gone extinct: how can I preserve food without a fridge? And that wasn’t the only revolution. Transports today are so efficient that you can have any product at your door in less than 24 hours, regardless where it comes from. It wasn’t so for our great-grandparents. They knew that preservation was key if they wanted to keep food at home for longer than a day.
Techniques to preserve your food are plenty, some of which you know but take for granted. Salted anchovies for example: it’s not just about the (delicious) taste. Salting fish and meat is one of the most ancient ways to preserve foods for long periods of time, because most bacteria and fungi won’t survive in a highly salty environment.Another very ancient technique – as old as homo sapiens perhaps – is fermentation. Broadly speaking the main reason for fermenting is to produce alcohol, converting perishable foods into longer lasting ones (milk into cheese) or making indigestible foods digestible (wheat into bread, or soy into tempeh).
Many of your favorite drinks and foods are the result of fermentation: wine, beer, mead, cider, chocolate, coffee, tea, sauerkraut, kimchi, cured meats, cheese, miso, vinegar, yogurt, kefir, kombucha… amazing, right?
Another way to preserve foods is by drying them to take all the water out. A delicious example are tomatoes, ideally dried under a Sicilian sun.
Canning (literally anything from sauces to jams, vegetables, meats…), smoking (bacon, salmon…) and pickling (green tomatoes, okra, turnips, cucumbers…) are all preservation techniques you can dig into and have fun with. They will teach you a lot about seasonality and local foods, providing you with a stock of long-lasting delicacies to proudly exhibit on your kitchen shelves!