Quest Post by Adam (elt2jv)
Inspired by recent posts about food preservation, I contacted Frank Clark, Director of Food Preparation at Colonial Williamsburg, a historic preservation museum where traditional Colonial era skills and traditions are preserved and demonstrated.
The following paraphrases and condenses our correspondence:
- Colonial era food preservation included salt curing and smoking, pickling, and potting.
- Potting is described as a process of slow cooking meats in crocks and sealing with melted fats or butter.
- Vegetables were either pickled or dried.
- Fruits were made into jellies or jams, dried or soaked in alcohol.
He had specific advice with regards to foods to be preserved: do not use meats from the grocery, as they are likely months old and will not preserve as reliably or well as fresh meat will. Colonial Williamsburg has hog-butchering every December (just missed it) including the processing of all meat and the making of traditional Virginia hams.
Books recommended for further research:
- Foxfire series, various authors
- The Art of Cooking Made Plain and Easy, Hanna Glasse
- The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph
- The Magic of Fire, William Ruble
- Hearth Cooking, Barbara Carson
I hope some of this is useful. I know that we’re definitely taking a trip there once my kids are old enough to understand how important places like that are.
Best Regards and Merry Christmas,