The Ritual of Food

Our neighbors visited yesterday just when I was in the middle of blanching, peeling, slicing, and placing tomatoes in the dehydrator. They were good enough to visit with me while I kept on with my uninterruptable project. As we chatted, I told them I’d be getting the cider press out tomorrow, and they were welcome to gather some apples from the trees in their field, bring them down, and press some cider. They called me back today to tell me they wouldn’t be able to make it.

I believe the cider you make yourself tastes the best. In some ways, it is like the carpentry project you do for yourself… you forgive yourself for any mistakes. In some ways, though, I think there is something primal going on. Modern people seem divorced from the food they eat. We’re no longer hunters, and the only gathering most of us do is among the isles of the grocery store. Yet, whenever I involve myself with the food we eat, I get a deep sense of satisfaction from the transaction.

The tomatoes came out of the dehydrator about mid day today. A fairly large basket of tomatoes dried down to about 1/3 of a gallon jar of finished fruit. We’ll crunch these up and add them to our salads this winter. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and really haven’t had to buy any tomatoes. The dried ones taste sweet and plump up nicely if the salad isn’t eaten the day we make it. I figure I’ll need to make 3 or 4 more batches to get us most of the way through the year.

Today’s project was really all about apples. The wind storm we had really knocked the apples from the trees, and from past experience, I’ve learned they need to get harvested before they spend too many days on the ground.

I worked most of the morning with my wheelbarrow and my hands, came in for a bit of lunch, then worked all afternoon to gather what you see in the picture. I also got the cider press down from the garage attic, so it will be ready to go to work tomorrow morning. I hope to get at least 10 gallons of cider from this batch, because that is what I plan to make into cider wine. If everything will be self sufficient by the time I leave on Friday, I really need to get this wine brewing soon.

This is how it is in the fall for us. Firewood, food harvesting, but a really nice satisfied feeling that as the years go by, we’re getting better at providing ourselves with at least some of the food we consume. And rather than having to be pulled across the country by diesel engines, leg power and a wheel barrow do the job just fine.

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