Farm families usually butchered during the late fall when cool weather kept the meat fresh during processing. In an average butchering season, a farm family produced enough pork, beef, and mutton to last the year. Before refrigerators and freezers, families smoked much of their meat to preserve it for later use.
First, women soaked the meat for 4-6 weeks in brine, a solution of saltpeter (potassium nitrate), salt, molasses, and water, to remove excess moisture. Then they hung large pieces of this cured meat in the smokehouse. Smoke from burning corncobs, apple wood, or hickory wood left a layer of creosote that sealed the meat and protected it from insects and mold.
Before cooking, housewives cut off the creosote and repeatedly soaked the meat in fresh, boiling water to remove the salt left from the brine. Finally, the meat was ready to cook.
Creosote, the black stuff on smoked meat, works like plastic wrap; it keeps out air and water so that the meat stays fresh.
How long does meat in your refrigerator last? Salted and smoked meat is good for more than a year! Just keep bugs, mice, and water away.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Settlements & Settlers • Women.
Location. 42° 6.241′ N, 72° 5.791′ W. Marker is in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, in Worcester County. Marker can be reached from Old Sturbridge Village Road. Marker and smokehouse are part of the Freeman Farm, on the Old Sturbridge Village grounds. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge MA 01566, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Freeman Farm (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to the Pasture Walk (within shouting distance of this marker); An Open Landscape (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Brooks Pottery Kiln (about 500 feet away); Millstones (about 600 feet away); Today we see a different view. (about 700 feet away); Controlling Livestock: The Town Pound (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Graveyard (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sturbridge.
Also see . . .
1. Freeman Farm at Old Sturbridge Village. (Submitted on June 18, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Smokehouses: Preserving Food and Tradition. (Submitted on June 18, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 18, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 85 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 18, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.