Here's the first of a series of blogposts about a particular interest of mine - food preservation.
As a vegetable grower, I spend most of my time thinking about food - how to grow it, how to sell it, how to eat it, and how to keep the planet capable of producing food for generations to come. One of the challenges we face on these isles is the frost, which slows down the growth of any plant hardy enough not to be killed by it in the first place. We can quite easily keep vegetable production up through the winter months, relying on crops that can withstand the cold, and can be harvested as and when needed through November to March (i.e. cabbages, leeks, and celeriac). However, the real challenge comes between March and May, when winter vegetables are running out, and though the weather is getting warmer, all of the new crops are only just starting to grow, so one has to wait a while before the first beans, peas, and salads of the new year.
This is what growers call the Hungry Gap. And it is for such times of the year that ever since the dawn of humanity we have been trying to preserve our harvest to see us through this difficult time. In recent years (though let's remember that these years represent a tiny fraction of our species' residence on this planet) we've become accustomed - reliant, even - on fridges and freezers to preserve our food. They do an excellent job, it must be said, but if you're anything like me, you feel an urge deep within you to reconnect with the old, more simple, less expensive ways of life (and by expensive, I mean 'of great expense of energy').
And so how did we preserve food for ourselves before the advent of fridges and freezers? That is the question that this blogpost series exists to answer... Keep your eyes peeled for more from the 'Food Preservation' series!