Preserving Life by Preserving Food: The Methods and Materials of America’s Food Keeping Traditions

From ships galleys to royal patisseries, in slave cabins and kitchens of the “big house,” food sustained both human life and historical cultural traditions. In the days before refrigeration, preservation methods were just as important as the way food was grown or cooked. The culinary traditions of storing food for the future played a critical role in shaping the material culture of kitchens and storerooms across America. This presentation traces the developments in food preservation practices that were used to combat the inherent perishability of culinary fare. Taking a closer look at techniques like salting, smoking, pickling, and potting, this talk explores the objects and tools necessary to “put up” provisions and how preserved products influenced the creation of regional and national cuisines.

DAR Museum lecture
July 10, 2018
Speaker: Rachel Asbury, Lois F. McNeil Fellow at the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture