You know, when you do a lot of working with food (which you will, if you grow your own or buy fresh veggies and fruits regularly), you can get a little bored.
I l-o-v-e strawberries, but after sorting, hulling, slicing, smooshing, cooking, jamming, and/or freezing about fifteen gallons of them … well, you aren’t quite so excited to see those luscious red treats come rolling in the kitchen door any more.
Of course, the strawberry harvest comes to an end, and just at about the time that the raspberries ripen, followed by the blueberries and finally the currants. So a few weeks of strawberry overload isn’t all that bad in the long run.
But oh, those greens.
They start early, last long, and stay late. We began with fresh salad greens in May, and will be picking kale and brussels sprouts next December. So along about late June I’m already wondering what the dickens I’m going to do next with them.
This dilemma sends you to some very interesting resources. The Internet, of course. And some wonderful books, like the one my sister (the biological one, not the religious ones) sent for my birthday this year: “Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans, and Other Good Things: A Cookbook for When Your Garden Explodes by Lois Landau.
Now here’s a book full of wonderful possibilities. Great recipes and a really terrific introduction to each food that tells you at least three different ways to preserve the food before the recipes start. The book arrived in May; it’s not even the end of June and it’s dog-eared already.
Here’s another one: Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz and Sally Fallon. Today we had a huge kale influx, and I used half of it to make killer kale for twenty. [Leave a comment if you’re interested in the recipe and I’ll post it. Sr. Lilli Ana created it, and I guarantee that your sweetie and even your children will eat cooked greens!]
The other half went to a fascinating new experiment from Wild Fermentation: You clean the kale, spread it out in the sun to wilt for a couple of hours, smash it up with a rolling pin and cram it into a canning jar, which you set in the sun and ignore for about three weeks.
Takes very little effort, and what do you get for your mini-work? Pickled greens. I kid you not. Is that amazing, or what?
I know that my ancestors would be hooting about now, hearing me blather on about how amazing fermentation is and what to do to prepare and preserve garden harvests. That was their whole life. They knew all this stuff, and bookloads more, if they would have had time to write them.
What we’re doing isn’t new at all. We’re just rediscovering what it means to be connected to our food — and to the environment, land, water, air, neighbors, animals, and garden critters (both useful and, um, challenging) that share this amazing, glorious, sacred, fragile, living, nourishing, wonderful planet.