My vaccinated friend Peter has grounded thoughts about frozen food. As he sat at our dinner table, he said that when his mother died, he cleaned her fridge and found things near the end that his father put there over 40 years ago. To hear him tell, was comparable to the excavation of a 600-year-old private site in Amsterdam.
It was probably unnecessary to mention that Peter has documented evidence for both COVID shootings, because if you think like me, my wife, Marsha and I, even unvaccinated loved ones are back at your door.
Peter had brought the produce of a Dagwood sandwich and had just pulled out a jar of sweet pickles bought at the store. I threw up my hands and told him we still had 26 quarts of the best kind of sweet pickles on the basement shelves. We may have set 40 or 50 quarts last summer because once you start canning sweet pickles, it is so much fun that it is hard to stop.
This is when we get into the relative merits of canning or freezing food.
When Peter gathered his pickles and left, wondering if he could safely save the food that was frozen when Nixon was still declaring his innocence, I checked online. I already knew Marsha threw frozen bread after six months because of the “freezing burn” – which would seem to be an oxymoron.
I read about Arctic explorers who found frozen foods collected by early visitors, eagerly opened rusty tins, cracked crackers, jam, cocoa powder, meatballs and beans, and lived to tell the tale.
I read how Mr. Birdseye realized that frozen fish at the moment it was caught retains its flavor and structure, and why frozen fish or meat when brought home from the supermarket was dry and tasteless. Even some brands of frozen peas have straw structure.
Not long ago I brought a friend a box of freshly selected crab meat. When I came a week later with another box, she told me she still had the first box in the fridge.
Further research on frozen food led me to more seekers and a list of supplies that could be frozen solid and enable 15 men to survive a winter in the Arctic. Would you believe 408 pounds of ox tongue, 384 pounds of sheep tongue and 144 pounds of pork tongue? Six cases of brandy, six cases of champagne, three cases of port and 25 cases of whiskey – called the “yeast of choice”.
I mention alcohol because when I asked my Google friend how long bottled whiskey would stay delicious, it looked like Julia Roberts on “Notting Hill,” he replied, “Indefinitely.” If you have ever been lost in the woods for days and come across an ancient, unopened bottle of whiskey, this is a good thing to know.
When it was printed, Google told me that no matter how much alcohol is open, you can not get sick by drinking it. It just loses its aroma. This has never been verified off the coast of Maine because just minutes after the seal was broken, there was never enough liquid left for a meaningful study.
Peter and I know it does not matter if you raise or can feed when another generation is called to cast it. Soon after I kept my bride on my doorstep 30 years ago, she opened up and threw out all the rhubarb she found in cans for canning. Some of them were labeled “Cold packed by Aunt Ami 1973.”
Perhaps the most horrible story of all time came from my brother, who once discovered that his freezer had been unplugged for several weeks. Because it was impossible to clean the sewage that swirled inside, he made Wayne Hilt open a large hole in his garden with his pit and bury the entire refrigerator. The word on the street is that in one place, he is still able to grow radish the size of a turnip.
When Peter first lifted the lid on his mother’s refrigerator, he probably knew how Howard Carter felt when he opened King Tut’s Tomb. But when he had a good time during the first 10 years and got to know the famous beet harvest of ’79 and other stuff from his youth, it could have been more like Ralph Edwards and “This is your life”.
When he finally crashed into perpetual frost and found two 30-inch cod that he had seen his father leave for the country’s bicentennial, he could have cried.
The humble farmer can be heard Friday night at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:
Maine Voices: Restore the land of Maine as a stronghold of native, wild fish