Sunday, October 11, 2009

Season's End

Today we decided we're not putting up anything else. The pantry shelves are loaded with the fruits of summer. We did peach preserves, crab apple syrup, hot pepper and apple jelly, salsa, chili sauce, and dozens of quarts of tomatoes. Today, I'm packing away the sauerkraut, which turned out better than expected but with room for improvement. All in all, it gave me quite a connection with the Mormon pioneers in several ways.

I really enjoyed the tangible connection I felt when I was in the garden. Reading Elijah Larkin's diary showed me how his garden was a part of his everyday pioneer life. As I planted, irrigated, hoed and reaped, I often thought of Elijah, escaping to his garden. The garden also helped me connect with the pioneers as I planted heirloom vegetables. Everyone else in the neighborhood planted hybrids. Their corn was neat and orderly and squat, thrusting all of its energy into sugary kernels. My corn was eight feet tall, gangly and chaotic. I sometimes felt like my garden was a bit of a museum, comparatively.

We're still waiting for apples to crush. We haven't yet had a really good frost. But having sauerkraut finished off says that apples can't be far behind. The Providence Sauerkraut Dinner is October 24th, if you're interested: (435) 752-9441. Tickets are $8 in advance. My sauerkraut turned out a little salty, but still very sour, with a nice firm texture. Its hard to find exact dimensions for the salt in small volume recipes. Now I have a better feel for next time.

More than anything, the season has shown me something about the nature of time in the pioneer era. Every decent food experiment I've tried has had a significant time element. The garden, for example, is an endeavor that takes multiple seasons, from spring till fall. Sauerkraut takes six weeks to ferment. Boiling jelly long enough to extract the pectin from the apples takes at least a couple of hours. Bread is all about waiting, sometimes as long as 18 hours. That time factor is probably the biggest element seperating us from pioneer foodways. We would rather open a can and have it now.

Now, I'm looking forward to eating all the food on the shelves through the winter. I love winter.