Part of the “Moving toward local eating” series
Storing food is its own adventure. No matter what climate you live in, different foods are harvested at different times of the year, and chances are you will want to store some food for the “off” season. It takes some space, especially if you start trying to, say, can a year’s worth of salsa in September.
I started buying in bulk a couple years ago and have kept great records, and now I know what we go through quickly (brown rice, peanut butter) and what languishes (cornmeal). I’ve also learned important lessons about where to store food in my house. The basement, for example, is too damp for dry goods. Cardboard boxes get wrinkled and moldy (I think I’m the only person in the world to have to throw out salt due to spoilage). The barley started smelling beery. Metal cans started to rust. So I’ve moved that stuff to dryer locations upstairs. All my canned goods are now in an actual antique jelly cupboard, which delights me so much every time I walk by it, I can’t believe a woman so normally uninterested in “stuff” can get so giddy about a thing. (But it’s a really wonderful amazing beautiful practical perfect thing. Really. And it symbolizes so much about me and my work and my hopes and my values. Yeah. It’s good.) Ahem. Back to this blog post, Emily…
I also am learning about storing different types of stuff:
- dry goods, like wheat and beans
- home-canned foods, like salsa
- store-bought canned goods (yep, we still eat them)
- pickled foods, like kraut
- fresh vegetables, like potatoes
- “live” produce in the greenhouse and on the windowsill. (Craving greens in January? Put a beet in a flowerpot in a window and wait a few days….)
Each type of food storage was a bit of an adventure in itself, and you could start with any one of them.
And, of course, there’s learning to use the foods you’ve stored. One surprising thing I’ve learned is that we can’t finish a loaf of homemade bread before it gets moldy or rock-hard. And I’m allergic to most beans. So my estimates of how many pounds of wheat berries and beans to buy were waaaaaaay off. But, better to find that out now than when it really matters!