Lately there has emerged a bit of a love affair with the idea of rediscovering our roots and reconnecting with lost traditions.  When it comes to the culinary sphere, almost everyone has a story of the foods they grew up eating, of family traditions and of a simpler way of life. All of which ties perfectly into FoodFaith's daily mission not only of environmental sustainability but also social sustainability. 

In our series of articles on larder love, we will explore how we can all learn from the methods of the traditional larder to begin thinking consciously about the produce we grow and buy and how we can make the most of what we have instead of simply throwing it out. 

Looking back at history, traditionally and often out of necessity, food that was grown and harvested would always be preserved and stored rather than simply thrown out as is the sad case these days.  Out of this necessity, the traditional home ‘larder’ was born.

Historically, larders were cool areas for storing food and were a common household feature prior to the widespread use of the refrigerator. They would typically be located close to the kitchen and in an area that received the least light in order to stay cool.  They were equipped with shelves, cupboards and hooks for storing food.

The traditional larder was home to many stored non-perishable food items including dried and cured meats, preserved fruit and vegetables as well as dried spices, herbs and grains.  Sadly, many of these traditional methods of food storage have been abandoned to give way to what we know today as the modern kitchen pantry and refrigerator with their array of plastic packaged convenience foods.

The good news is that people are becoming increasingly aware of our collective impact on the environment and food wastage is a significant part of this impact. According to the WWF (World Wide Fund), an alarming one-third of food produced for human consumption around the globe now goes to waste.  This astronomical food wastage is having a devastating effect on our planet.  Food wastage contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, depletes freshwater resources, costs millions of farm animals their lives and destroys vast forests and wetlands to produce food.  

So how can we all start making better use of food we might otherwise throw away and be part of the solution?  With so many seasonal winter fruits and vegetables being harvested, there are many simple ways of preserving this great fresh produce and creating delicious recipes using preserved ingredients year-round.  Historically preserving fruits and vegetables was an affordable and practical method of conserving them long after their season had ended.  Preserving includes such methods as pickling, salting, drying and freezing.

There are many high-profile individuals in the food industry who are helping raise awareness of food sustainability through the use of traditional methods of preserving over-supply.  One of these is Nigella Lawson, who has shared some great ideas from her own kitchen larder.  This award-winning celebrity cook, food writer, broadcaster and author is a firm believer in not wasting anything in the kitchen. 

When Life Gives You Lemons…

As winter is well and truly upon us in Australia, the delicious sunny lemon is plentiful and in season.  This versatile citrus fruit can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking and can be preserved in your kitchen larder or freezer for many months. 

On her website, Nigella shares many tips of how we can make the most of the seasonal ingredients we have on-hand. One brilliant idea for using lemons is Nigella’s Lemon Ice Cubes; have more lemons than you know what to do with? Simply juice the left-over lemons and store them in ice cubes in the freezer.  That way you’ll always have lemon juice on-hand for use in recipes or drinks.  For more inspiration visit Nigella’s website.

If you need some more confidence and inspiration on your larder love journey then be sure to look up Sydney’s Corner Smith – it’s a café, restaurant and picklery that supports ethical food production, sustainable business practices and community engagement.  As well as selling produce, they run many hands-on workshops on traditional larder methods like Preserving for the Season, Pickling Intensive and The Waste Free Kitchen, to name a few. 

Reducing environmental damage and maximising the food in your pantry and fridge is something we can all contribute to.  Don’t forget to keep your eye on our Feature Plant Friday and our weekly recipes for some great ideas on how you can put some larder love back in your kitchen!