'Tis the Season for What?
November 4, 2011 12:00 PM   Subscribe

What are some food things/crafts/hobbies you can only do during certain seasons, or in certain climates? For example: freeze distillation is only good when it's freezing out, canning is only useful when it's harvest time for a fruit.

I was reading this eGullet thread on making your own soy sauce, and it turns out that you need a lot of hot sun for it to work really well. Since winter's on its way, that's kind of a no-go.

But hey, in winter I can use The Power Of The Horrible Outside Cold to freeze distill alcoholic beverages, so it isn't all bad. And then when it's just about springtime I could in theory tap some maple trees.

What else can I do to take advantage of certain seasons? It doesn't all have to be food, that's just what I know the most about.

Regional is OK! I live in NYC but I'm also curious about what I'm missing out on elsewhere.
posted by soma lkzx to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
"Winter sports" are usually called that for a reason, yes? Skiing, snowboarding, that sort of thing.

Ice fishing would fit the bill.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:06 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Asphalt plants also shut down in winter due to the cold, but I can't imagine many people trying to make their own paving material for fun.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:07 PM on November 4, 2011

Making seafoam/divinity/macarons/other fluffy egg white based stuff is best done in cool and dry weather, apparently because humidity interferes with the egg whites setting properly.
posted by kagredon at 12:08 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

hatch chili season is a big deal in the southwest. throw a rock and you'll find someone roasting and freezing them (and then apologize for throwing the rock and beg them to give you a tupperware full).
posted by nadawi at 12:09 PM on November 4, 2011

It can be extremely difficult to make cut butter cookies when it's hot in your kitchen - the dough gets too soft and sticky when it's warm.
posted by aubilenon at 12:22 PM on November 4, 2011

You can't make meringues when it's too humid. Trust me on that one.
posted by Mchelly at 12:26 PM on November 4, 2011

Beer brewing needs to be done more carefully in the summer, with the wild yeast floating around and high temps in the fermentation room. And wine making has to be done within a few days of harvest.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:26 PM on November 4, 2011

Hunting, fishing, and in many jurisdictions, trapping is by seasonal permit only for specific fish and game types. Salting, smoking and making jerky naturally coincide with those seasons. Chestnuts can only be roasted in a short winter season (at least here.) I think the butter warmth issue is why we consider shortbread to traditionally be a Christmas/cold weather food.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:27 PM on November 4, 2011

Making Sun Tea is a height of summer thing.
posted by madajb at 12:39 PM on November 4, 2011

I live in Atlanta and this time of year is the beginning of the time of year where any craft that involves goopiness - a viscous glue that needs to set, thick coats of paint that need to dry, etc - is just going to work better now that it is not so humid and hot.

also nthing many foodie crafts. Pie crusts also a pain in hot, humid weather.
posted by pointystick at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2011

Indian pickles turn out better in the summer.
My grandad used to pickle meat with a salt/saltpeter mixture, but only in the winter time.
posted by Runes at 12:56 PM on November 4, 2011

I only do fine embroidery in the winter, because my hands sweat too much in the summer, which can both stain the fabric and make the needle harder to manipulate. Cross-stitch and stuff is fine year-round, but if I'm working with fine fabrics and threads I save it for winter.

I have friends who knit and crochet who save large projects, like heavy sweaters and afghans, for winter, when the heat of the project on their lap isn't so bad. (Some of them make granny squares all summer and then put them together as soon as the weather breaks so they have a new afghan for winter.)

One of my neighbors makes mass-quantities of soup stock when it's cold out so a) her kitchen doesn't get so hot with the stock simmering all day and b) she can put the pot outside to solidify the fat for skimming off faster, instead of waiting for it to solidify at room temperature or trying to fit it in an over-full fridge. Then she freezes it in a chest freezer for summer. I have not tried this but she does make really tasty soup so I assume it works.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:24 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Real maple syrup (pdf) has to be made when the sap is flowing (in the spring, usually March/April in the American NE) and can be collected.

Cider requires apples, and thus is traditionally made in autumn.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Snow candy. I'm pretty sure you can do the same thing with (real) maple syrup.
posted by lakeroon at 2:15 PM on November 4, 2011

I know the time to plant bulbs is usually Fall (and before the ground freezes.) There are probably lots of other gardening seasons but I'm not really a gardener.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2011

There are some old-timey crafts that used to be done in the fall around the end of the harvest: making corn husk dolls, wheat weaving, braiding garlic (though I suppose you could do that in the summer, too).
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:13 PM on November 4, 2011

Growing up in Montana, we were pretty poor, as are most people who try to make a living in the barren grasslands east of the mountains.

Winter was always a difficult time for parents. It took a lot longer to get to work (what work was available). If you weren't lucky enough to have a block heater on your car it could take some serious effort to get it started.

Sometimes your lungs would freeze. People only make that mistake once.

But one great thing was the pure white snow blowing across the plains. After the first few snows pulled the dust and acid out of the air, you could collect it on a plate. After a couple inches built up, you could struggle back into the house where hopefully your mom had heated up a container of honey. Then you could take that steaming container outside and drizzle honey onto the plate of snow.

You had to be quick, and sometimes you wouldn't make it. But when you did - the flaky ice with a layer of sweet solid honey on top was worth it.
posted by krisak at 6:17 AM on November 5, 2011

Solar robotics are a bitch to be working on in winter in Seattle.
Is it working? Who knows!?
posted by -harlequin- at 7:00 AM on November 5, 2011

maple syrup tapping; i grew up doing it in the winter.
posted by ifjuly at 11:19 AM on November 5, 2011

« Older Twin Cities XC ski stores!   |   Maybe I just have a weak stomach. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.