Well, it seems like it was last May that I properly updated you on what was happening with the larder project. There was a smidgen of an update when I told you we had moved and the outbuilding was going to be used as a larder, but nothing since then.
Just as a reminder, my main aim with the larder project was to have at least a three month supply of food around, with as much produced and preserved by me as possible. Here’s my plan of action for the design:
Can do now
1) Observe what I eat I did this in early 2012 while I was still living with Ben and when I moved in with Will at the end of October 2012, I did this again.
2) Identify where I get those things from and what I could do to ensure I have a store of them. I identified that I could get most of my storeable items from Infinity Foods. Since I have moved, I have realised that there some things that I buy that I could grow and preserve at home – raisins and tomatoes for example. For now, I am happy getting this sort of stuff from Infinity Foods, but I have made sure to put these things in my garden design for the future.
3) Do an Infinity order and carefully monitor how long things last We’ve done a couple of these now and we both love ’em. The delivery driver did comment on how many cornflakes we had ordered though… Now that we have all the food on ground level in the outhouse, it was much easier to get the order under cover and away. The outhouse is working really well as a larder. It’s a little damp, but I have made sure that nothing is open in there. We don’t seem to have had a problem with mice – hopefully now we have two cats, that will continue!
4) Continue making pickles with the surplus from the veg box (find a receipe book I like, develop an easy labeling system, build a store of pickle flavourings and vinegar) Yep, I still do this.
5) For next year – identify a cheap bulk source of berries for jam Once I have implemented my garden design, I will have all of the berries that I can handle. However, for this year, I will have to find another source – pick your own perhaps. Or maybe just deal with not so much jam. We seem to have done ok so far, and I haven’t made any for ages… We are getting a bit low though…
6) Investigate bulk buying cheese and do so if appropriate I have not done anything about this…
7) Start making yoghurt again This was something that I did for a long time before we moved house, and didn’t quite seem to pick up again. Will’s sister gave us a yoghurt maker (really just an insulated flask, but useful!), so I should try using that. My issue is that we have our milk order balanced just about right at the moment. If I order another pint a week and then don’t make yoghurt, then it might get uncontrollable… On the other hand, it might not. I should try it and see.
8) Go to Fish and Archers more often I was briefly part of a ‘fishbox scheme’ supporting Brighton’s fishermen by guaranteeing to buy fish from them, but picking the fish up didn’t work for me (and the scheme took a break anyway). Now we have moved house, we don’t often eat fish, which some might say is a good thing. Meat-wise, we buy our meat from the butcher in the village who buys from local sustainable farms. He’s brilliant!
9) Experiment with lactofermentation These days I always have a pot of sauerkraut on the go. Whether I eat it fast enough is another question.
10) Investigate getting a freezer for the loft and get one if appropriate We bought a freezer. We mostly have apple in it at the moment. Since we bought it, it has defrosted twice. Once when Will accidentally turned it off and once when we had a four day power cut. I’m a little wary of putting meat in there… I think I need a back up plan!
11) Build cutting garden and develop conceptual plans for real garden (this is part of the garden project) The garden design is well under way. I am six months into my year of observation and am learning lots.
12) Investigate sources of apples and berries for fruit snacks I have decided that I would like to start a ‘Scrumping and Cider’ group in the village to pick and process people’s excess fruit. This has actually become one of my designs (I’ve changed them around a little bit). I need to start thinking about this soon…
13) Build solar dehydrator I am going to build one of these for this summer. It will be the size of the flat space in my front (south-facing) garden.
14) Buy electric dehydrator For now, I am not going to worry about getting an electric dehydrator. I will see how solar dehydrating goes this summer and consider my options after that.
15) Get a pressure canner and learn to can On March 8th, this will be my joint Christmas and Birthday present. I have been reading USDA guidelines in preparation and panicking…
Some more stuff that has occured to me since I wrote this list. I have pretty much identified that I will need an allotment as well as my garden to grow what I want to grow, so once I have that under way I will need to start thinking about root cellaring – growing varieties of vegetables that can be stored. I will also have to think very carefully about season extension. For the sake of longevity, I’m wondering whether it might be an idea to buy wholegrains and grind them. I think this might need to be something that I work up to though.
Our beer brewing is coming on leaps and bounds. We’re really quite good at it! All in all, the implementation of this design is ticking away nicely!