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Sustainability in Syria

Sustainability in Syria: The story of an insider

By Ibrahim AL Alou |

Trying to write about sustainability in Syria is a very strange subject. The country is still in a civil war that started in 2011 and still roaring in parts of the country. We went through tough times and I personally was in the midst of it with no prior preparation.

There are many times that I had to seek refuge in old age methods and techniques for survival and I will try to explain some of them here.

Let us start with electricity. What do you do when you don’t have accesses to it or have it barley for few hours during the 24 hours cycle?

Food spoilage is a very common problem especially during hot times.

I and many fellow citizens had to try drying the foods and sometimes adding salts in order to extend the “shelf life” of produce.

Many vegetables in the local markets are suitable for this method like tomatoes, eggplants, squashes, okra and gourds to name a few.

By this way these produce could be saved for cooking at later times and above all no refrigeration is required to save them.

Then the cereals and pulses are great for drying at all times. We have local recipes that are made with dry wheat like kishk which is made by mixing a form of wheat with yogurt or skimmed yogurt and salt and drying them until they become very hard so they can be saved for months. When needed they are soaked in water the night before and cooked the following morning and eaten with bread.

Drying these patties of pearled wheat and yogurt could go a long way in the winter months. A very delicious meal is made by soaking them the night before and cooking them the day after with some ghee and eaten with bread. (Picture courtesy of the author).

Tomato paste is made by pressing the tomatoes and sun drying them then adding salt to keep them for months to come. Hot peppers are great also for sun drying and pasting and can make a meal eaten with a dash of dry mint and olive oil on top of bread.

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