Tuesday, May 12, 2009


by: Gwen Miner, Supervisor of Domestic Arts On Friday, April 24, we began preparing our meat for the upcoming season. The first step in the smoking process is drying the meat. We hung the hams, bacon and mutton in the brick smokehouse at the Lippitt Farmstead for 24 hours to dry.
As with many cooking techniques, there have been a variety of different ways of completing them that have developed over the years. According to Lydia Maria Child, the author of The American Frugal Housewife, the “old-fashioned way” was to rub the meats with molasses and a mixture of salt petre and salt every day for six weeks and then hang them in the smokehouse. Ms. Child was not overly fond of this method, writing, “some epicures and cooks, think the old-fashioned way of preparing hams and bacons troublesome and useless.” I have to agree with those “epicures and cooks” of the nineteenth century. Here at the museum, we prepare the hams, bacon and mutton the “modern” way. Back in November right after butchering, the meat was placed in a “pickle” or brine—a solution of salt, salt petre, molasses and water—and was left there until ready for drying and smoking. We have been using this process for preparing meats at the museum for nearly 20 years and find it very effective. In the nineteenth century, hams and bacons were commonly smoked, and occasionally mutton was too. Smoking improves the flavor of mutton. We generally smoke all of our meats, including mutton. Saturday we begin the smoking process.

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