CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Crock

Mum had a five gallon crock that she made good use of at the Mattawa section house .

photo from logcabinantiques.com
 Primarily , she used it for the first rising of her bread as she needed a large space to accomodate enough dough for 6-8 loaves . The crock could be warmed behind the .....
stove until she mixed her ingredients and did the first kneading . Then its thick body would stay warm enough to let the yeast expand and raise the bread .

 The smell of fermenting yeast filled the kitchen when she removed the lid after an hour or two . Mum turned the warm hill of dough onto the floured kitchen table . She punched it down and cut the mound into pan size pieces , shaping each one carefully.The pans were placed into the warming space at the top of the woodstove for final rising before being transferred to the oven for baking.

It was the yeast that gave the distinct smell of freshly baked bread to the house .

Once or twice Mum did a culture of sour dough or Never Endin' Muffins in the crock which she fed daily and water to keep it active . The yeast came from the air and the culture smelled mildly of yeast . When Mum was tired of making Sourdough and muffins she would stop feeding the culture and bake the last batch .

Once she was so tired of neverending muffins that she emptied the crock into the outhouse . Everyday , we watched the culture grow larger and larger imagining it overtaking us like some 1950's horror movie . After about a week and plenty of counter forces the thing collapsed .

One time , and one time only , under Dad's encouragement, Mum made sauerkraut in the crock . When a week had passed , Mum ordered Dad to put the crock in the porch to ferment . It's odor was so stong that our clothes smelled of fermenting cabbage . Any time the children came through the back door , Mum shouted , "Quick ! Don't let the smell in !" I think that is where we learned to close the door behind us . Dad was assigned the task of straining and jarring up the sauerkraut . Every jar's contents was washed before use to deplete the odor.

The last thing Mum used the crock for was a stint in winemaking for a couple of years . Each batch produced a dozen bottles that when complete were sent for storage into the basement . Dandelion , Chokecherry , Beet , Blueberry,  Rhubarb and Tea wines came out of the crock over that time , each producing the smell of fermenting yeast with a back scent peculiar to the source .

The only one that produced a killer smell was the second batch of Dandelion Wine . The blossoms had been gathered , not by Mum but by Dad and the kids from behind the outhouse . The dandelions grew well in that location . Fermented , they were not appealing and indicated strongly their origin .

Eventually the lid from the crock was broken and glued back together . A bump had put a hairline crack up one side . That was the end of fesh baked bread 'en masse' , sourdough , neverending muffins and wine .  

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