Sunday, November 3, 2013

The survivalist and the food snob

There are two camps when it comes to canning food: the survivalist and the food snob.

A survivalist is constantly eating the worst of the harvest first, before it is beyond use. When she fears it will spoil, she cans it. She is afraid of hunger.

A food snob ignores the damaged produce and works to preserve the best of the garden before the flavor fades. She is afraid of putting substandard food on the table.

I grew up under the survivalist model, supervised by the watchful eyes of a grandmother who lived through the Depression and the rationing of World War II. I still hear her in my mind, every time I cut a bruise from a banana or toss a soft apple on the compost heap. "We would've eaten that."

I respect her experience. She was absolutely right when she said I didn't know what real want was.

While I consider myself more of a food snob, Grandma's influence has been all over me this fall as I struggle to deal with a bumper apple crop--much of it visited by worms and pecking birds. We bottled the best as apple pie filling, and ate a lot fresh.

And there were still more good apples, and many, many more that just needed a spot removed.

We could have stuck them in the basement, where they would soon lose quality and eventually be hauled out again, uneaten. Instead the family has traveled three times to Idaho to use my father-in-law's apple press. (I sat out the first trip to recover from a cold, but I made the next two.) I credit my grandmother's influence for the days we spent there, while so many other things waited to be done.

And I really, really appreciate my in-laws for letting us use their press. It would have stressed me out to waste the crop we have.

Juicing apples is labor-intensive--the apples must be washed and the flaws cut away. It's best done when the weather is cool enough that the flies and wasps are gone, but not so cold that your hands freeze as you wash the apples. It is impractical to attempt it indoors, unless you have a lot of space and are prepared to spend a lot of time wiping stickiness off the floor.

Pressing juice is a messy business, but the results are sweet. We will enjoy them through the next harvest.


  1. Here in central KY, the food survivalist attitude prevails. Even though I grew up in a situation of plenty, I don't like to see our garden go to waste.

    1. I know! I hope you're keeping up with it, then.

  2. Thank you, JoLynne for your kind support.

  3. Interesting! Fresh apple juice must be very good, but I never heard of homemade juice to store. Do you need to add some chemistry to keep the taste and freshness?

    1. We just bottle it--which means we have to cook it. The flavor loses some of its brightness, but it still makes me happy on a winter day.


I love comments! But don't even try to leave one anonymously.

Emails from home

Most of our email is pretty mundane. Once in a while, though, the immediate flavor of country life sings amid the shopping lists and communications to the office. Here are some stored on our home computer, written by people in our house and edited for privacy.

Some of the terms are softened for a family audience, but not by much.

Your evil kitty just woke up your son by urping up a mouse on his lion blankie.

You know you live in a small town when…

...Fifty-year old people born and raised in town are ‘new comers’.

...You are more afraid of locking yourself out of your house than of being robbed.

...The library has a different schedule on every day of the week.

...You are darn proud that your town has a library. Incidentally, your library account is handled not by a card but by a number that the librarian types into her computer. You have trouble remembering it, but the librarian can always tell you what it is.

...You can honestly say, "The Mayor is in front of the house fixing his manure spreader."

Good news: We caught another mouse.

Bad news: We have at least one more.

Good news: He must be hungry and he thinks of traps as a food source, since he robbed the bait of an un-sprung trap, finished the bait of the sprung one, and ate an eye from his dead brother.

Hope you're done with breakfast.