In chapter six of A.A. Milne’s classic, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore has a birthday. Miserable to begin with, and sure to become so again soon after, we leave Eeyore at the end of the tale at perhaps the happiest we’ve ever see him — because of a useful pot, and something to put in it.
I know the satisfaction of finding the perfect combination of container and contained.
With the onset of the cold I find myself once more occupying my cabin’s interior after what feels like a long absence. And indeed, for most of the summer I came in only when necessary — short stints that punctuated my mostly outside existence.
So I sniff to the back of cupboards, refill empty spice jars, and pour things from one container into another until I am satisfied that once again I am on familiar terms with all the occupants of my kitchen.
It is not mere ritual, this exercise; it serves to rotate the new harvest from this year to the depths of the pantry, and bring the remnants of previous years to the forefront. I do the same in the freezer, and anywhere food is stored.
I don’t have a fridge, so there’s one task off of my list.
It makes no sense to put in energy and work to grow, gather, and process food, and then ignore it once it’s in the larder; I feel disappointed with myself when I discover something spoilt due to inattention.
Proper storage is essential for the hard-won harvest to last throughout the winter, and in some cases much longer. For dried plants, including herbs, spices and teas, airtight containment is key. I use mason jars for a lot of my storage with this aim in mind, making sure that all herbs are totally dry before screwing on the lid, with the caveat that the storage space must be dark. UV rays will cause herbs to deteriorate rapidly.
I have not settled on one method for the freezer, receiving emphatic and contradictory advice from different sources. For short-term storage, less than six months, thick Ziploc-style bags with the air sucked out work well. A vacuum sealer works great if you have access to one, and waxed butcher paper for meat is also an option, as long as the meat is tightly wrapped and sealed.
For things I use often, I find great joy in a beautiful container, one with a story, one like my new honey jar.
I saw some exquisite pieces of pottery in an art gallery and contacted the artist, and after a long e-mail correspondence I finally met up with Monika Steputh, who now lives in Haines Junction.
She brought in a selection for me to choose from, and I am now the proud owner of a beautiful honey pot of my own. Though I selected it and paid for it, it still feels like a gift. When I dip the honey twirler in and out, I feel a little like Eeyore, delighting in that simple pleasure of two things that go so well together.