Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pantry Stuff

A few of the blogs that I read have been talking about pantry stuff: what they keep, how they plan, how they plant, how they store. Now a pantry is something that's always been very important to me; my mom has always had one, my aunt, my grandma, and probably further back whom I've never met. This is not to say that I learned the Fine Art of Perfect Pantry-ing at my Grandma's knee, but I picked up enough to realize it's importance. My grandma's problem was always not paying attention to what she had, planting for what she used (my grandpa actually did the garden, not her!), and actually cooking out of the pantry. Those 50 year old jars of canned wax beans are probably only good for dog food by now! My mother's problem was also not cooking out of pantry, but not realizing what she had. She learned that from Grandma. These are also women who have two full freezers, and still don't have food for dinner.

I would like to break the cycle! Now, as I have not grown my own food thus far, what I store in my pantry are dry goods (in mass quantities), and shelf stable items like jars of applesauce and dried fruit and nuts. We also have many many cans of pineapple -- I know, I know, it's shipped from far away, it doesn't grow anywheres near here (MA), and it being in metal cans makes it heavy for shipping to boot. But, sometimes you just want to open up a can of pineapple rings, and have a few for three days... and then make a smoothie with the juice and recycle the can. See? Not that bad.

One of the excellent ideas that the Matron of Husbandry discussed is just thinking: I am going to use at least one jar of applesauce a week, therefore I should have 52 jars of it. How many apples do I need to make 52 jars? Etc. If it's a crop that doesn't grow well for her, she plans for two years of food with it. She makes these plans starting around now, when she can look at her half empty pantry and go "hmm, I ate more of those than I thought" or vice versus.

With my garden plans for this year, a lot of what we're planting are beans. A lot of dried beans, and a handful of peas and wax beans as well. I bought so much, that I feel I need to start asking people for space to plant it all! I also have a lot of tomatoes and a nice pepper plant. Hopefully, my tomatoes will grow, and I can make my own salsa and canned tomatoes. (I would make sauce, but I feel like it will be better to can the tomatoes whole, and make sauce the day of -- any thoughts?) As most fruits are perennials or close to it, I am not planting any, which saddens me; so my fruit storage will continue to be jars of applesauce, dried fruit, and cans of pineapple.

At the very least, this will be a learning experience -- I feel that given all the options out there for obtaining food, I have a heavy curve in learning. 150 years ago, I would have had less options and hoped that I knew what I was doing (and would have learned from my mother as well). Whether we're better off or not, I'm thankful for the curve.

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