Early Spring is described as ‘The Hungry Gap,’ and while this usually refers to the garden, I think it applies to the pantry as well. This is the time of year when the winter’s stores are running low. Out in the garden, the green onions and parsley are just harvestable, but most of the goodness is yet to come. And inside, our pantries are looking pretty bare.
Here is what is left in my pantry. You will notice a variety of years on the labels. While I cannot recommend what others do, I find that my pickles can usually last 3 years just fine. Jams I tend to eat faster, as all that sugar and fruit seem more likely to spoil. Pickles are not only canned, but they are preserved in vinegar, so they seem pretty protected to me. But please, don’t be fool hearty, only eat canned goods with a firm seal and no mold or splotchy discoloration. If you have any doubts, chuck it. Botulism is nothing to mess with.
Anyway, steering away from Botulism and toward the delicious food remaining in my pantry…
Top shelf – jams and fruits. Sweeties!
I think these jams will definitely last us the 3 months until strawberries are ready to be picked and jammed and jarred once again.
Bottom shelf – pickles and tomato sauce. Savories.
Although I said what I said about how long pickles last, I am thinking that these curried pickles will make their way into the trash. I don’t want to eat them. And it looks like I haven’t wanted to for three years. So off they go.
These are my crock pickles from this fall. They are not technically Kosher, since a Rabi did not bless them, but my husband let me know that ‘fermented pickles’ did not sound appetizing and asked me to call them something else. Kosher Dills is a term that we are all familiar with and associate with deliciousness, plus, this is how they are made, minus the Rabi.
I am pleased with how these turned out, even if they are not as well loved by my family as the dills I normally can. I liked the crock fermenting process; it was so easy. I would like to ferment more, in a knowledgable and safe way, and am seriously considering buying a book on it. I spent $50 on this big, 5 gallon crock, and while it was great for large batches of pickles, I realize that it is much too large for most batches of vegetables I would ferment for my small family. I will probably just use a big glass jar in the future, even though I love the way the earthenware crocks look. But let’s get real – being an urban homesteader isn’t about looking cool, no matter how much we might want it to be. It’s about doing it. And I can do it just fine in a glass jar.
This pickle also is not a favorite of mine. I’ll have to ‘gift’ it to a friend. Really it would be like charity if someone would take it. I do not like how the brine turned out at all.
It also shows how some of what is left in the pantry at this time of year may be left there for a reason.
And so there you have it. My pantry is low, but my hopes are high. With one friend determined to go to Sauvie’s Island every other week this summer, and another friend determined to plan big canning get togethers, I hope that I will be able to provide well for my family in the year to come.
Next week I will add 24+ jars of pickled veggies to this lovely pantry. And so it begins again.