“Food preserving is almost as old as mankind. Our early ancestors froze meat on ice or dried fruit, vegetables and herbs in the sun and wind to prolong the life of their food.”
We are now in the midst of the very versatile and purposeful ‘Preserving Season’. As we reach the end of February and shift into the cooler months of Autumn, we have the perfect opportunity to preserve the summer abundance in more ways than you could imagine. This lifelong art has come a long way since the beginning of time. As more sophisticated techniques develop, individual cultures and traditions are showcased through each generation. Think – Italians and families gathered together saucing tomatoes. I have a friend who sauces her tomatoes, just like her grandmother did; now her and her husband (from Italian heritage with a history of wine preservation) sauce their own tomatoes together. “Barri Homemade Sauce” they call it.
By aligning with the seasons you can savour your favourite fruit and vegetables to enjoy all year around – and with the right equipment and a handy book or two as guidance, you can really make for a Sunday Funday in pickling, fermenting, dehydrating and more.
Our friends at Fowlers have just delivered us their very precious and esteemed preserving books that they introduced for their 100th anniversary. This Victorian company have been around since 1915 during the Depression days. They helped Australian families by producing home-bottling preserving kits, and were depended upon as their range expanded over the years.
This book takes you on a chronological and purposeful journey. Alongside a history of preservation is knowledge from another generation deep institution, the CWA, and the chefs and food experts that have Australians have grown up with and gained cooking confidence from.
When you think of preserving, sweet jams come to mind. But there is sooooooo much more you can create from a preserve process, and there are many reasons to do it – e.g. reduce waste and make Pickled Watermelon Rind. (Yep, that’s a thing.) You might want to take up a new and sustainable hobby, you may want to keep family culture and tradition alive, or create your own tradition. Something you took the time to make is also a really great gift for loved ones.
One misunderstanding that comes with preserving is that you have to make ‘big batches’ of produce, which in turn can shy curious newcomers away from the process. We have a book here literally dedicated to ‘small batch preserving’, which is a great option for those just wanting to dip their finger in the jam, so to speak. There are no rules or limits, you can take short cuts by part preserving and finishing the process with freezing. You can make enough for now or to see the season out. You can make a small amount to share and swap with neighbours and friends. The flexibility is great for the busy lifestyle many of us lead, with the wholesome lifestyle we desire.
We have a whole section in Wholefoods dedicated to preserving. The very reliable Fowler’s preserving kits, jars and essential utensils will get you started and savouring your produce like a pro in no time. There are Mason jars, dehydrators, clip seals and oil bottles. Not to mention we have the produce here also ;).
If you’re more of a hands-on learner however, our friends down the road are offering an exciting workshop on fermenting. The Castlemaine Fermenting Workshop will be held next Sunday, March the 6th.
I’m personally a watermelon lover – and being new to preserving myself, I have managed to find myself a win in our recent shipment of Fowlers 100th year anniversary Book. Am going to try my hand at the very appealing ‘watermelon rind relish’ as mentioned above. Preserving really does depict the old saying of ‘waste not, want not’. Pleasant pickling ya’ll!