This room is devoted to food preservation. Much of what is here can also be found in the library. Some specific information on food preserving is included here that is not in the library.
Preserving Meat without Refrigeration. This class was first offered in 2004 (I think). It covers methods for preserving meats using several techniques, salt curing, smoking, drying, and pickling. It is mostly based on modern (19th century) techniques, but further research into the period art has revealed that not much had changed from the Middle Ages until then. Be warned that learning to preserve meat in this manner carries with it the burden of learning to use it, which is not covered in the class notes (yet). Several recipes for cures, and period meat preserves are in a separate document.
Period Food Preservation Techniques. This class was first presented at the Kingdom Cooks Symposium in 2007. It covers preserving all types of food. The material is drawn from several late 16th and early 17th century sources, and includes the source recipes. The class compares and contrasts the period methods with those in use today for similar products.
Using the food preserved using period techniques can be somewhat challenging. Presented here are some hints to successfully make use of food items that have been preserved in the old ways.
Salted and most smoked meats must be freshened before using. Freshening is a process that removes a large portion of the salt from the meat. If this is not done the meat will very likely be too salty to be eaten. The time required to freshen the meat depends greatly on how you intend to use the product. Larger pieces that will be roasted will need a longer freshening time than those that are cut smaller. For instance, a salted pork loin that is cut into chops before freshening will usually take four to six hours, whereas that same piece of meat treated whole may take twelve to sixteen hours. Adding acids to the freshening liquid may also help to cut the salt. The freshening liquid should be changed frequently to avoid salt buildup in the liquid.
If the product has been hanging long enough to start to dry, it should probably be boiled or stewed. Cutting the meat into smaller pieces before cooking will allow it to assume more moisture during the cooking process, if it is boiled or stewed.
Salted meats usually benefit from acid sauces, i.e. mustard served with ham or sausage. Increasing the acid content of recipes where salted meat is used will usually temper the salt flavor. Cooking the meat with root vegetables, legumes, or other foods that tend to 'absorb' the salt will also help.
When starting with dried meat, unless it is intended to be eaten as is (jerky), it must be reconstituted before cooking. If this is not done the meat will probably not cook properly, and will more than likely be tough. The time required will depend on how the meat was cut before it was dried. After it is properly reconstituted it can be used like fresh meat.
Soured vegetables should be drained and washed in clear water before cooking. They should then be cooked in fresh water. Don't worry, there will still be plenty of flavor. If this is not done they will probably be too salty or acid for most people's taste.