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Preserving Tips from Josephine la Preserveuse

Not yet a year old, our kitchen garden is producing a bountiful supply of beautiful fruits and vegetables. With most of our in-person events postponed this year, we have been thinking of creative ways to preserve and ensure we make the most of the harvest. Jo Marchandise has been experimenting with everything from tomatoes to pumpkins, using dehydration, fermentation, pickling and chutneys.

Previously giving a helping hand to Arthur in the kitchen, Jo is now bridging the gap between kitchen and garden, working with our seasonal produce when it is ready, ensuring nothing goes to waste.

In Jo’s words:

‘There is a necessarily slow rhythm to preservation and fermentation. Nature needs time to work its magic, and that teaches us humans a really important lesson in a world that has become fixated on doing everything faster, bigger and better. Sometimes things take time, and slowing down to accept that is good for us.

I think preserving food has always been part of my life – somehow hidden and rediscovered years ago. I come from a farming family where I was always helping my mum and grandma gardening, cooking, and preserving food, using various ancient French storing and preserving methods. This didn’t translate immediately into my working life though: I ended up in the advertising industry for a few years – and it wasn’t really me.

My rediscovery of preservation coincided with a general desire to slow down, an appetite to avoid food waste and commit consciously to a sustainable personal and professional life. When I walk through the kitchen into the garden at OmVed, I admire all of the beautiful produce ready for the preserving day ahead, and I feel rooted; fully present in this urban greenscape.

There’s a deep interrelationship between plants, humans and the community of bacteria that are responsible for the fermentation process. Taking time to observe this makes you realise how we humans are also deeply connected to nature. Our ancestors knew this, but we have forgotten it more recently. Working with OmVed – with Arthur in the kitchen and with Vicky in the garden – gives me an incredible opportunity to explore this topic, and to share my findings to inspire our community by finding the ancient forgotten flavours. We want people to realise that anyone can grow food, whether in an urban or a rural setting, and anyone can preserve it too. Doing so is the perfect way to reclaim a revolution against the unsustainable food systems that become so prevalent in the our world.’

To follow Jo’s tips and tricks, follow OmVed Gardens on instagram, where Jo posts new recipes every Monday.

And if you want to know more about Jo and her work, follow her on instagram too.