Pondering the Facets of Preservation

Towards the end of the year and the beginning of the next, I get rather lost in thought about events that have happened, that I want to happen or that I really truly want to forget about.  2012 was a pretty busy year for me. I achieved many personal and career successes and learned a huge amount from a lot of new people.

So I started to think about what I wanted to take from 2012 into 2013.  What I wanted to keep doing.  What I wanted to preserve.  I started with the dictionary definitions for some perspective….

“…to keep safe from destruction”

In the food related sense I started thinking about waste.  This infographic says it all really.

Source: Loveinfographics.com

So what can we all do? There are some great ideas on Love Food Hate Waste and the one I need to make more of an effort with is portion sizes.  I always overcook which equates to overeating so as not to waste anything or bags of food in the freezer that come out on Leftover Mezze Days (ie when our freezer needs a defrost). Wouldn’t it be much simpler to make less or portion properly in the first place?

“…to keep or save from decomposition.”

I eat and buy with my eyes. The fruit and veg stall at our weekly market is one of the highlights of shopping for me and I can never resist a bargain. I don’t need ten lemons but I can’t resist the cries of ’10 lemons for £1′!  I convince myself they will get eaten and mostly they do but the odd one does go in the bin because it’s gone mouldy and the guilt surfaces and festers.

There are of course two simple solutions to this. Firstly buy less and secondly be creative in preserving.  I’m pretty good at conjuring food from things in the fridge or store cupboard ingredients.  I don’t need to make lists or plan meals.  My problem is using all luscious vegetables and fruity jewels before they start decomposing.

So I’ve bought a load of Kilner jars in the January sales and placed Diana Henry’s Salt, Sugar, Smoke in a prominent place in my kitchen (vs on my bookshelf) to remind me I have a few more options to enjoy the food in a completely different way.

apple, cinnamon and chilli jelly

Fireside Jelly using 20 soft apples no longer good for eating with some cinnamon and chilli – perfect for scones that used up the sour milk

“..to keep up and reserve for personal or special use”

This is the final definition I came across and one that resonates with me the most.  Working in the world of financial services, I am sadly ‘guided’ on what to write by the various regulators and legal boundaries that exist to protect the British public.  It limits creativity and is at times intensely frustrating.   I also can’t always convey the passion I feel as some adjectives or sentence constructions counter the ‘clear, fair and misleading’ mantra.

I therefore started writing about food to find my ‘own voice’.   It’s been a wondrous journey thus far and one I want to continue travelling on.  I have treated myself to a copy of Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food to develop, improve and grow my food writing.  After all, it’s my guilty pleasure to keep in reserve when I feel the need for a little self preservation.

What are your self preservation musts? How do you prevent wasted food? Do you have any preserving tips to share? 

22 responses to “Pondering the Facets of Preservation

  1. Lovely thought-provoking piece. I have this past year started following a blog called 222milliontons, the title representing how much food is wasted annually in the US. It is fascinating and horrifying in equal measures. Jean-Francois, who writes the blog, is a global expert but writes so personably and with fantastic links in all posts and he even has a cool food waste app. He – and I – are big fans of preserving. Growing up with grandparents who ran a farm, preserving (or ‘putting up’ as they would call it) was essential. But now it is almost time for Seville marmalade making season. This year, instead of chucking the skin I am minded to – idea courtesy of Jean-Francois – freezing some for candying and drying, with the remaining syrup preserved and added to make a funky gluhwein. It is a weirdly exciting challenge to preserve, re-use, upcycle. I think a bit of a resolution of sorts is to do more of this.I must get Diane’s book to help with that. But like you, self-preservation is important too. Good luck with your adventures in preserving.


    • Thanks Kellie. I love your idea of funky gluhwein. I also always forget to use up dreggs of wine in soup or risotto. It adds such a lovely flavour and just takes a couple of spoonfuls. I must look up the blog you mention. As you say – I’ve found all the stats I’ve read so far so horrifying prompting the thoughts I wrote but equally fascinating.


  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. It has made me think about ways that I could prevent less waste. I try very hard, and meal plan every week, but I think a bit of preserving would be a great thing to do. I’ve never preserved anything so will be looking out for ideas on your blog to try. x


  3. I’ve really got into preserving in the last few years. I started out with jams, chutneys, pickles, ketchups back in 2009 and this year am looking at expanding to preserve meat and fish and other savoury dishes using the canning method. I’ve always been nervous about that stage of cooking the jars after filling them.

    Having cured my first fish for Christmas day, I want to do more curing, of fish and meat.

    As always, travelling more is on the list…

    But first and foremost, getting a job so I have the finances to do the rest!:-)


  4. thank you for posting this….
    I have a small allotment and I preserve what I cannot use in season…it really does not take that long in the scheme of things and I hate to waste anything that I took all the time to plant nurture and harvest…
    I am an avid reuser of left overs, and it mostly goes un recognised, like you odd bits of juice and wine are favourite flavourings.
    Preserving by mending may be considered old fashioned but encourages creativity…. I mend what I can, reuse what I can…..
    with clothing and patchwork this can preserve memories…
    but I am drifting away from the topic,
    just wanted to say thank you for a thought provoking post that encourages me to look further


    • Thanks for stopping by. I must do more mending. I got into patchwork in a big way a while back and have a few unfinished projects. Buttons is another one for me. Hate throwing them away. They’re so pretty decoratively. Now there’s another project I think. A cushion covered in my favourite lost buttons!


  5. A very informative and thought provoking post but I have to disagree about cooking less in order not to overeat. In order to reduce my energy consumption I actively overcook and store the excess short-term in the freezer. After a busy day this also reduces the personal stress of having to put a meal on the table – lasagnes, chilli con carne, pies and tacos can be produced in less than 30 minutes. I also find it helpful to draw up a meal plan every week, having first noted the contents of my fridge and freezer (a good time to clean the fridge as it should be nearly empty at this stage!) and I then shop to fill the gaps. Result: no waste.


    • I hadn’t thought about the energy consumption and it’s a very good point. My problem is space as we only have a small freezer. we’ve thought about investing in a chest freezer but I think then I would just hoard stuff for longer.
      Meal plans don’t work for me as I like the spontaneous nature of cooking. It’s one of the things that appeals to me. What I tend to do is create the idea and then hubby cooks it. Gives me a chance to talk about food with my girls over breakfast and get them thinking about putting different ingredients together. Hubby just goes into autopilot and cooks rather than trying to be creative at a time when he’s tired


  6. I think having a copy of Salt Sugar Smoke and having a copy of Will Write For Food is just about all you need! My two favourite books and a great combo – food writing and food preserving. For me, Diana’s book brought a new level of respect to my kitchen – respect for seasonal food, as well as respect for tradition, written in such a beautiful way. Whilst Dianne J’s book has helped me shape my first cookery book proposal. I’m so pleased that you’ve found such an outlet through your food writing. I think you already have a strong voice and a strong ethos and I adore your photography, too. All the very best for 2013, here’s to preserving more food and more momories. x


    • Thank you Ren. I love the cameraderie I have found on social media in 2012. It’s another way of preserving the passion and learning different things. I’m excited about 2013 and also about your book! Good luck. I know you’ll keep us all posted x


  7. Excellent post Urvashi, just what is needed for the new year. I’ve always hated waste, food or any other kind. Luckily I don’t find it difficult using up bits and pieces and I’ll cook depending on what we have available. We eat lots of soups, curries & stews and stir-fries so anything that needs using up generally finds there way into those. I’m also a keen preserver although, sadly, I don’t have a copy of Diana’s book. If anything does manage to make it through to the rotten stage, we compost it. It then gets recycled by growing next year’s garlic – or whatever!

    You have a great blog with a good writing style. I don’t visit nearly as much as I’d like because I just don’t have much time, but I like your botanical slant and I like your ethics too. Good luck for 2013 & Happy new Year.


    • Thanks so much lovely:-)
      I had also forgotten about preservation by returning to soil. We’ve had to get rid of our composting because of the rats in the area. We found two as big as cats a few years ago and it really put me off. We now send to the council composter vis rubbish collection.


  8. That’s a great infographic you found Urvashi – puts the whole debate on how to produce enough food for a growing population into perspective, wasting less could be a major part of the solution. Still haven’t got a copy of Salt, Sugar, Smoke but your post has given me another reason to find one!


  9. Awesome post Urvashi. I am going to link to it, will send you an email when I do. I feel fear when I read 40% of all food produced i.e created in the USA is wasted. That is really frightening in an economy that needs jobs for local people. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOURS


    • Indeed. I have a friend in the US who buys from a local farm – so no packaging, transport or delivery costs incurred. It would be great if we could do this easily in England but then there is the flipside that all those elements also create jobs. No winning formula I guess


  10. I feel pretty strongly about the food wastage issue too, and that it’s a huge issue in Australia as well. Saying that you eat with your eyes and can’t resist the bargain is a really good way of putting it, I think I shop that way too.

    I wrote a post recently about making over leftovers, and doing exactly what you’re doing — being more creative with extras — at my blog recently. It’s here: http://chocmintcupcake.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/leftover-makeovers/ if you’re interested!


    • Your post is great! Thanks for sharing. It’s such a tough one with leftovers. Sometimes I am just not in the mood which is awful but othertimes I am on a mission to clear the fridge and freezer!


  11. I saw it on BBC last night, food waste is such a shame…
    Here supermarkets have to trow food in the bin and pour bleach over it so homeless people can’t take the food.
    One person lived of supermarkets waste and he got arrested for theft… yes, how sad is that!
    He collected food from the bins and shared it with other homeless people.


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