The Lost Skills Issue

By Lauren Titus / Photography By Jesse Brantman | Last Updated December 05, 2017
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Pickling and canning vegetables is an age-old skill for preserving food through the seasons.

"How you interact with food is not simply cooking and eating, but rather conducting your life with intention, diligence and a thriftiness that comes from respect."
-- Francis Lam

A couple of summers ago, my friend Angie mentioned the abundance of figs from the tree in her yard. She had already harvested several quarts of the fruit, with more becoming ripe over the next few weeks, and was quickly running out of room in her freezer. Even though I had never made jam or jelly before, I offered to take the fruit and turn it into preserves for both of us. Once she agreed, I turned to my mother-in-law for a recipe. She had been making fig preserves since her early married life in rural Alabama, and the sight of those jars on the breakfast table was always a welcome start to the day. Bibba, as my husband’s mother is known, happily passed along her recipe, with tips and tricks from over 70 years of fig seasons. My first batch was a success, and now I eagerly await the heat of the summer to bring forth those tasty orbs destined for the Mason jars.

Preserving all types of food was common knowledge up until just a few generations ago. Daily life now requires an entirely different set of skills to get by, and we no longer need to know how to can, cure meat or grow our food to survive. We may not need to know, but there is a growing interest in rediscovering these lost skills and incorporating them into modern society.

That desire to preserve those basic human skills, and the resulting food products, is the focus of this issue. We explore how canning, pickling and other methods of preservation allow us to time travel with food, eating locally sourced ingredients long after seasons have passed. Read how area restaurants add traditional fermented foods to their menus with delicious results. Ready to step into the kitchen and try your hand at some of these lost skills? You will find step-by-step instructions on how to dehydrate, ferment and pickle at home. You can also hear about the good news on the home gardening front, as more of us are eager to get our hands dirty to grow our own food.

By relearning these skills, perhaps we will become a little less dependent on technology, allowing us a different way to interact with the world. How are you preserving our local food culture? We love hearing your feedback, so be sure to tag us on social media @edibleneflorida.

Lauren Titus, Editor

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STORIES & RECIPES FROM THE LOST SKILLS ISSUE

What's in Season

Beets with greens on gray background
Here's a list of local food you'll find in season throughout the year in Northeast Florida.

Preserve or Perish

Preserving food is a great way to extend your seasonal eating. Here you will find tips, tricks and resources for saving goods for a later day.

Pickling for the Modern Age

pickling ingredients
Use a refrigerator brine to pickle your favorite vegetables for a crispy condiment on sandwiches or salads.

All-Purpose Refrigerator Pickle Brine

refrigerator pickles
It’s nearly impossible to mess these up, so don’t be afraid to play around by adding a garlic clove, dried chile, a few sprigs of herbs and/or a pinch of spices to suit your tastes.

Chutney: Around the World in a Jar

making tomato chutney
Part condiment, part pickle, and similar to a savory jam, chutney is a traditional Indian dish and British staple.

Tomato Chutney

tomato chutney
You can double this recipe and make 10 jam jars worth of chutney. Try making a small batch first to get a feel for the recipe before making a larger canning batch.

Bring on Da Funk

Not sure about pickled or fermented ingredients? You will find them on more local menus that you think.

The Science of Successful Preserves

Chef Trey Hartingers making preserves at Congaree and Penn
Chef Trey Hartinger of Congaree and Penn shares all his secrets to making perfect preserves. Every single time.

Strawberry Basil Jam

Strawberry basil jam
Many recipes for jam recommend adding pectin to some of the sugar prior to adding to the fruit. This whole fruit jam uses less sugar than conventional jelly, so you can add pectin directly into the...

A Thirst For Dehydrating

Dehydrating Foods
Just remove water to preserve food.

Cheezy Kale Chips

Cheezy vegan kale chips
Serve these chips with hummus for a delicious, savory vegan treat.

The Perfect Pear

Local Florida Pears
Locally grown sand pears are available during the late summer and fall in Northeast Florida.

Pear Granola Bars

pear granola bars
These homemade granola bars make a tasty after-school snack.

Making Sauerkraut

Women making sauerkraut
Learn how terroir plays an important role in homemade sauerkraut.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut
You can use a traditional clay crock, food-grade plastic bucket or a half-gallon Mason jar to make sauerkraut.

Saving Seeds

seeds in a pod
The practice of saving seeds from year to year is an overlooked link to building a resilient local food system.

Bit by the Ginger Bug

Ginger and sugar for ginger beer
Once you get the hang of making ginger beer, you can experiment with flavor variations.

Homemade Ginger Beer

homemade ginger beer
Use this as a cocktail mixer in your next Moscow Mule.

King Pina

king pina
Tepache, a fermented drink from Mexico, is made from pineapple and can be used as a mixer in a variety of cocktails.

Chicha Sour

Chicha sour
This cocktail includes Chicha Morada, a traditional Peruvian fermented beverage made with purple corn. Dried purple corn can be found in Latin grocery stores.

The History and Truth of the IPA

IPA Beer on a counter
India Pale Ales, otherwise known as IPAs, have a history that might surprise you.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Preserve 'Em

Chef Ben at Vessel Sandwich Co in Flagler Beach
Easy to make at home, preserved lemons adds a burst of citrus flavor to salad dressings and other dishes.

Reclaim the Terrain

Now is the time to learn the lost skill of growing your own food. (And teach kids to do it too).

Saving Recipes, Saving Traditions

Mother and daughter cooking
By saving family recipes, we preserve our culinary heritage. Taverna's Pastry Chef Christina Longo shares a family favorite.

Chicken Cacciatore

chicken cacciatore recipe
The mushrooms in this dish are a great complement to the sweetness of the sauce.

Preserving a Sense of Community at Andrew's Homestead

Andrews Homestead in Switzerland Florida
Think the charming days of shopping at your local country store are over? Think again.

Hands-On Lessons in Self-Sufficiency

Lost Skills Workshops St. Augustine
Lost Skills Workshops provide lessons in sustainability.

Salt-Cured Egg Yolks

salt cured egg yolk
Salt-cured egg yolks are golden umami on your plate. This centuries-old technique of curing egg yolks has made its way onto local menus, and this golden pop of umami is welcome indeed. Grated on...

Preserving Farmland

congaree and penn farm
Saving local farmland is important for long-term sustainability of our food system.
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