Jam On

It started when I was pregnant with Moira.

Nesting takes on so many interesting forms. With Maggie it was decorating. We had permission to paint our rental, and we did the kitchen in brown, the living and dining area in blue with a brown stripe, and Maggie’s nursery in eye-searing orange.

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Told ya.

Anyway, with Moira I was due to deliver not in the fecund blooms of a Hawaiian spring, but in the gray chill of late November in England (actually due mid-month, but who am I, the overdue kangaroo, kidding?) At some point I became convinced that we were going to starve to death in the cold. I can count on two hands the number of supermarkets, shops, and take-away restaurants within walking and short-drive distance, but I couldn’t be moved. Thus began the successful push to get a full stand-alone freezer put in my kitchen to store lots of crock pot meals and frozen batches of baby food.

And still, it was not enough. In my absurdly rotund shape, I drove my family to fruit-stained madness trying to pick berries and we put up jam. This year, with a toddler and infant around, we did 70 full jars of jam, including 20 jars of strawberry syrup because I have not quite mastered pectin.

We gave a lot of it away for Christmas. Merry Survivalmas!

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So after Jamathon 2012, I started looking at other things to can. I settled on stocks. There’s a lot of good free-range (like, actually free range, not American free range) meat here, and utilizing the whole bird (or beef bones) seems like an excellent way to incorporate more nutrients into our diet. Maggie’s going through that “I only eat beige food” phase that seems to set in during the winter months of comfort-eating, but she will eat soup so plying her with homemade bone broth seemed wise. Alas, I need a pressure canner to safely preserve low-acidity broth, so I started looking at advanced food preservation websites.

Food preservation research is going to get you two types of sites: survivalists and the thoroughly religious, which seem to have some overlap. This is kind of a scary rabbit hole to fall down. Straight-up survivalists prepare for the worst; the religious survivalists prepare for the worst because of the End Times. The VERY short version is that if God tests the population before the faithful are raptured, times are gonna get rough and people are going to need stockpiles of cash, water, and well-preserved food before Jesus comes a-callin’.

It is likely a testament to my upbringing in a very conservative Baptist church that my first reaction to End Times preparedness was “Oh, okay. That makes sense” and not “Close this window and go back to Pinterest right now; you are not among your people.” But you can still learn from people with whom you disagree, which is a wonderful life lesson at any age, especially since now I know how to pressure-can bacon. Rapture pig for all!

Ahem. Where was I? Yes, food. So in addition to a pressure canner, I also asked for a food dehydrator. I seriously DO NOT need as much jam and syrup as we have, and my haul includes tons of single-serving baggies for smoothies and baking. Homemade fruit leather and dried fruit for travel and lunches seem like the next logical step and OH WOW okay, I see how you start with a few jars of strawberry jam and end up on discussion boards where people say things like “These tubs are good for 4-5 year storage, but you should REALLY be looking at tubs that can store safely up to 20 years.”

You’ll all come visit me in my shack in the mountains, won’t you? Thanks. I’ll have jam for you.

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2 thoughts on “Jam On

  1. Ah, sadly I’m with you in the dehydrator. I had the crazy idea of attempting my own crackers. The radical notions one gets living so far from a commissary!

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