Here in Colonial Foodways, we feel overjoyed and fortunate to have three new interns with us this summer.
All three are examining aspects of the social history of 18th-century Virginia foodways, concentrating on how food procurement, preparation and fashion have intersected with politics, class and gender. Each comes with a unique set of interests, experiences and training — which will only enrich our program as they develop their own particular historical-knowledge base and culinary repertoires.
Tiffany Fisk-Watts has been studying and interpreting colonial foodways for the past 15 years, focusing on the Eastern Pennsylvania region. In addition, she earned her MA in history with concentrations in colonial and public history, and works as a curatorial, archival and nonprofit management consultant. In addition to hearth-cooking and
consulting, Tiffany enjoys reading, gardening, and maintaining a list of answers to the question: “Aren’t …
We’re moving on in our series on preserving meats — this time to beef.
There are some important differences in this process compared to pork but both start with the butchering of the animals with axes.
Big Cuts with Interesting Names
Ax marks were found on the bones our archeologists have recovered throughout the historic area.
We also know from the bones and the butchering charts of the period that 18th-century beef cuts were much larger than the modern ones.
The reason there different processes in curing beef and pork is primarily because of the molecular structures of the tissues.
But both processes start the same way: Raw meat is packed with a mixture of salt, a little brown …See the full post
Our Hogs to Ham program re-creates the hog butchering programs of the 18th century. The whole carcass is brought into town and process begins after the hogs have been gutted and the hair has been removed.
We use axes to cut the animals into smaller portions that will either be salted or eaten fresh. The first step is to pack a mixture of salt, salt peter and brown sugar into the hams, bacons and shoulders.
The meat will be stacked in the salt tubs with layers of salt– and they will stay this way for six to eight weeks.
The exact time depends on the winter temperature. In very cold weather, the meat freezes and the salt cannot remove the moisture, so the process just stops. It can remain just like this — sort of in limbo — until the …See the full post