Ferment.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

There are plenty of ways to keep food for longer than a few days that don’t involve refrigeration or chemical preservatives.  Ferments, drying and bottling can be done at home.  Preserving makes food accessible out of season, and saves gluts from going to waste.

Fermenting is a way to make food more nutritious by adding live cultures that are beneficial to our internal ecology.  Fermented food also keeps for a long time without needing refrigeration.  Did you know that your food is digested not by your own body, but by the 2 kilograms of bacteria that live in your gut?  This is why it is important to eat a range of fermented foods after taking a course of antibiotics, as the drugs have killed off all the bacteria, which needs to be returned to a healthy balance so you can assimilate nutrients from food.

Fermented foods include miso, tempeh, sourdough bread, yoghurt, cheese, sauerkraut, soy sauce, vinegar, wine, beer and cider.  All of these things can be made at home fairly easily.  For more about fermented foods, check out Bill Mollison’s The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition, and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.

An easy way to keep fruit for months is to dry it.  Dried fruit is sweeter, and easier to carry around than fresh fruit.  It’s great for cycling and walking, I always keep some in my bag to snack on.  A lot more tasty and nutritious than lollies, and all for free of course.  In Adelaide summers leaving sliced fruit out in the sun for a few days is all it takes.  Placing them under a sheet of glass speeds up the process.  In other seasons a solar or electric food dryer is necessary.  A solar dryer can be made at home, it’s a bit of work but worth the effort.  Any fruits or vegetables can be dried.  This is a simple way to deal with the summer glut of apricots, peaches, apples, and tomatoes, and the large quantities of bananas that find their way into dumpsters and then into my kitchen.

Pickles, jams, sauces and chutneys take a bit more effort, and generally require salt or sugar to preserve them.  Making grapes into wine, and apples into cider, can become a great party with a bunch of people working together on it, and of course leads to another party a little later to enjoy the results.

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