We be jammin’

Last week I went down to the freezer in the basement to look for something to cook for dinner. It turns out I am more in the habit of putting things into the freezer than taking them out, since the package of meat – at the top of the pile, by the way – was dated November 2007. Or old enough to ride a two wheeler without training wheels. That’s kind of the problem with freezers. Stuff disappears into their frosty jaws, never to be seen again except when it is way past time to throw them out.

I suppose it makes us feel prepared to have things in the freezer. You never know when you might need to assemble a meal without time to go to the store, that is, if you are better at freezer management than me. It also makes us feel prepared for the fall or the winter or whatever ravages of weather might prevent foraging and harvesting fresh food. There is of course a flaw in this logic. Typically any event that would interfere with sourcing food would also mess with the power grid and prevent both the ongoing preservation of frozen food and the ability to cook the rapidly defrosting mystery meat. This is especially true at the cottage where several brushes with freezer meltdown have relegated the cavity above the fridge to mostly storage of ice cubes (ice puddles?) and bread that in a worst case scenario would be ideal for stuffing.

But the freezer, along with the refrigerator, are things that have rescued us from the drudgery of preserving fresh food to tide us over the non-harvest seasons. However, like many of the core household maintenance skills of the past, canning and preserving has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity, probably driven by those same retro-loving hipsters that have rediscovered the sewing machine.

And truth be told, I have also secured a seat on the preserving band wagon. As long as you aren’t trying to deal with bushels of fruits and vegetables, it is a very satisfying thing to create your very own jam and pickles with ingredient lists that don’t require a degree in chemistry to decipher. The problem is the average home jammer will still produce many more jars of stuff than is possible to consume in a year. That’s partly because each jar is a little work of art that is hard to stop admiring. And hard to open because then the pristine jewel-like contents will be sullied by toast crumbs. But even more because who can actually eat all of that jam and trot out all of those pickles? So what we end up doing is giving it all away. You’re welcome.

Apparently the freezer was invented in 1748 by William Cullen and at that time he couldn’t figure out a practical use for it. I think William Cullen was right.

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