Another post in the continuing series on things we don’t have to do anymore.
These days, pickling vegetables and making jam is either a quaint past time mostly within the province of women, or it is a survival skill developed by preppers for when the shit hits the fan.
Time was, collection, preserving and storing enough food to make it through winter and early summer was every woman’s responsibility. If she messed up and got it wrong, if the salting or storage wasn’t properly undertaken, everyone starved until summer.
People died if the woman in the family didn’t take care of provisions to last everyone through the fallow seasons.
The man of the family got to bring home the bacon. Literally. He was the hunter. She got to cook and cure it and make sure it lasted into the next summer, if possible.
He also got to build the cottage and fight off enemies. (Given the man’s traditional role, it’s easier to understand why even these days, women are drawn to men with plenty of muscle and testosterone–it was a survival thing.)
The woman’s work didn’t require as much muscle, but it was endless.
Gathering wild food, cultivating gardens through the growing season, then harvesting (which the man often helped with if there were no other higher priorities pulling him away from the work), then the many tasks of preserving the food.
Canning is a recent development, but salting, drying, curing, smoking, pickling and storing with herbs were the mainstays. Sweeter foods were preserved in honey. In regions where the winters dropped below zero (Celsius), freezing was a viable option, too.
Any food could be preserved in some way and there were all sorts of recipes and methods, usually handed down from one generation to the next, and shared among women in the area.
Given that the woman would also be caring for children, educating them and making all the clothes, too (plus more I haven’t yet covered in this series), aren’t you glad we don’t have to do that anymore?
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