Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Preparing for Shmittah: Preserving the Harvest

Let's suppose you are a Jewish person living in Israel who has taken the nazirite vow (yes, i know this is discouraged). Let us further suppose that as a nazarite, you do not believe you may drink beer, whiskey, saki, or any other form of alcohol. This means you may not use any form of vinegar either.
Since you live in Israel, you are supposed to follow the shmittah year, which is coming up a little more than a year away. (The shmittah year forbids any cultivation, planting, or harvesting which means it's effects extends beyond that year. You are allowed to eat that which grows of itself, but if you don't have access to a tree, that doesn't help you. )
For the purposes of this discussion we are going to ignore the rabbinic permission to buy foreign food.
So, next year you are going to need to put up a harvest of food, or you are going to be dependent on the stores set up by the rabbis, which I seriously doubt stock organic food.
Grains and beans are no problem, since they are usually sold dry anyway. They are uncomplicated to store. Dairy and meats are not a problem. You can also dehydrate some fruits and vegetables. I suppose canned food is also an option, but it's not a very healthy one. Lots of nutrition teachers emphasize the importance of fresh foods, but they are sadly lacking here. The only enzymes in this diet would come from any raw or cultured dairy. I think we can agree this is not really enough.
The solution I thought of is cultured fruits and vegetables. However, the recipes I have found seem to eliminate this solution. Often they recommend the fermented foods be used up within 6 months. This makes me think of the long ocean voyages which brought sauerkraut, and the sauerkraut lasted much longer than that time frame. Furthermore, many of the recipes insist on using whey, which would prevent all those chutneys and pickles from being eaten with meat due to a rule in the kosher diet forbidding mixing meat and dairy in the same meal. Ironically, this is the time they would be of the most value due to their enzyme content. Lastly, the inclusion of vinegar would be a problem for our nazirite.
So, my first question is, how can you make sure that all your various kinds of pickles will last three or four years?
And my second question is can you make chutney under these restrictions?
That is, no whey or dairy, no vinegar, is a living food, and can last three to four years. (The four years is in case they reconstituted the Sanhedran and declared a Jubilee year, which would have the same restrictions.)