We started class this week by discussing how humans have used the art of food preservation to slow the decomposition process of animals and plants for thousands of years. Preserving the summer bounty not only ensured that families could survive through the harsh winter months, but processes like fermentation also added new flavors (e.g. milk preserved as cheese) and nutritional value (e.g. cabbage preserved as kimchi or sauerkraut) that weren’t present in the original ingredients.
In the Bay Area, we’re lucky to have a winter bounty in addition to a summer one, so we made winter refrigerator pickles this week from local produce, preserving watermelon radishes, carrots, and romanesco. We’ll eat them in class next week. Many students were excited to realize that pickles can be made with practically any ingredient you want, not just with cucumbers.
While our pickling brines were cooling, we did a tasting of sweet peas, comparing freshly shelled and blanched ones with peas that had been canned, frozen, and freeze dried. We looked at the cost of each process and talked about pros and cons of each type. Canning, for example, allows peas to have a long shelf life and is a good candidate for an earthquake emergency kit you plan to store for many months if not years. Freezing, on the other hand, maintains the vibrant color of the peas, but will expire sooner than canned peas.
Our young scientists used all their senses to compare and contrast the different peas and filled out a matrix with their notes. In our closing circle, each chef announced their favorite type of pea and we tallied up the votes to see which pea was the winner. A few students decided in the end that it was most delicious to mix all the different kinds of peas together! My favorite written observation from the two classes was that fresh peas felt “good for the soul.”