I allowed myself to take a break from fermenting. It wasn't a thought-out, necessary or conscious decision to take a break, but more like I was too involved in other stuff to bother with it. I allowed myself to get too distracted away from the things that really mattered to me. That's a really bad way to take a break from something that's both fulfilling and important.
I, at least, did manage to make sour pickles this year. Most of them have been eaten. They were good. But I'm wholly disappointed in myself that I haven't made an effort to ferment more and that some of the things we have fermented we didn't tend properly.
We've started a couple of batches of hard cider (using bought sweet cider from local producers). Unfortunately, we didn't get it bottled, and we allowed it to go to vinegar in the bucket. Not a total waste ... but really, kind of a waste.
I had intended, for the last year or more, to make sauerkraut, which is both healthful and delicious. Instead, we (eventually) used up the cabbage for other stuff (soup or stir-fry, mostly). It's good that it wasn't wasted, but a wasted opportunity isn't all that much better than wasted food.
Yes, I am kicking myself.
As part of my getting myself back on the right path, I decided to make sauerkraut.
I bought a couple of cabbages from the store a few weeks ago. We used most of it in meals, but I resolved that I was going to make some sauerkraut. The cabbages went into the crisper drawer, and I reminded myself, every now and again, that they were there, and that I needed to do something with them. Then, one night, while cutting cabbage for stir-fry, instead of putting what I hadn't used for the meal back into the crisper drawer in the refrigerator, I sliced it, salted it and put it into a quart-sized canning jar.
I tasted it today. It was a bit saltier than I like, but it's good. The cabbage is still firm and crispy - just the way sauerkraut should be. It's in the refrigerator, and it's only enough for a couple of meals, but it will be nice with some Bratwurst cooked on the grill or open fire while we boiling maple syrup (it's that time ...!).
I've also been trying to grow a SCOBY. In the past, I've enjoyed making and drinking Kombucha, which is a fermented tea drink, but a few years ago, I got busy doing other stuff, and I allowed my SCOBY to die. I had a bottle of Kombucha in my refrigerator with just a bit of liquid and a clump of what looked like it might be the snot-like mother. I also had some mother from a bottle I'd purchased from the grocery store. I put these in a jar with some fresh sweet tea, and I've been letting it grow.
Today, Deus Ex Machina says, "I ordered something for you."
It's tax time, and he was ordering our tax prep software and some charging cords for the cellphones.
"What?" I asked. "Or is it a surprise and I just need to wait 'til it gets here."
He smiled, maybe thinking whether he would tell me or not.
"I ordered you a new SCOBY."
It will take a couple of days for it to get here. I could have Kombucha by next weekend.
We're always monitoring our budget, and we're careful not to buy things on a whim. This purchase was not that. This purchase was for something that will benefit us, and something that has been on the wish list for a while.
Being frugal, especially in these times where the middle class is shrinking, at the same time that the cost of everything is ballooning, is absolutely the smart thing to do.
But making purchases to facilitate our return to our path, getting back to making sauerkraut, getting back to making Kombucha, getting back to doing those things that fulfilled us, that's worth the investment.