In my everyday life, I am not a hoarder. I am not one of those people who squirrel away their obsessive collections that make others squirm. I am a reasonably organized person who regularly empties her purse and throws away old receipts and coupons. But I have a weakness: collecting culinary ingredients. No, this is not sensible. These things turn bad and unusable if kept too long. And yet, I ration the maple sugar because I know how expensive it is if I run out. I don’t use the pricey jar of coconut oil that I bought for recipe experimentation.
As we’re nearing spring, I look at the things that I’ve preserved with the same eye. When the strawberry jam is gone, it’s gone until strawberry season finally rolls around in June. I want to hide those precious little jars and make sure that there’s enough to last. I’m trying to come to terms with using ingredients that I so carefully preserved before they turn into fossils rather than food.
I’ve made progress in the last few weeks. I pulled out a jar of pickled pears to slice and serve with cheese. Frozen raspberries were cooked into a puree that I added to marshmallows. I defrosted rhubarb and cooked it down with tart dried cherries into a lovely compote; it filled pocket pies at the last market and I enjoyed the rest on top of oatmeal. The dehydrated corn that was languishing in the cupboard made a deliciously sweet addition to a roasted butternut squash soup. Despite myself, I enjoy these pure tastes of the season as my larder steadily empties and prepares itself for the bounty of the coming months.