Are You Unprocessed? | Punk Domestics

Are You Unprocessed?

october-unprocessed-2011_200_white For the third year running, Andrew of Eating Rules has kicked off the Unprocessed challenge. The goal is to go one entire month without eating or using any processed foods. Sounds simple, right? After all, as DIY food enthusiasts, we are constantly taking matters into our own hands so that we can avoid icky things like preservatives, additives and chemicals with names a hundred syllables long. 

But. When you dig into it, and realize that to be truly unprocessed, you need to avoid things like white sugar, kosher salt and possibly even some kinds of vinegar, it throws a little wrench in the plans. Preserving recipes are exacting, and tinkering too much with your ingredients can produce results that can range from unexpected to undesirable to outright dangerous. 

On the other hand, to my mind, there's room for argument on exactly how far down the chain of unprocessed one needs to go. After all, Andrew himself gives a pass on baking powder and baking soda, though one could technically work around it by using, um, antlers. I use granulated sugar in my preserves and kosher salt in my pickles because it produces consistent and predictable results. It's not that I couldn't find alternatives, but that I haven't made an effort to.

All that said, I feel that I more or less live the lifestyle that Andrew is espousing. After all, I just now turned off the burner on the last of our annual 100 pound tomato canning extravaganza. Inside the cans: Tomatoes. That is all. 

So, I want to know from you: How do you work around things like refined sugar, kosher salt and other technically processed foods in your preserved goods? Alternatively, when do you feel it's appropriate to use a modicum of processed foods when putting your own stuff up? Tell me all about it in the comments. 

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