One of the best set of books I can recommend for writers researching rural or mountain life are the Foxfire series. With titles like Ghost stories, spring wild plant foods, spinning and weaving, midwifing, burial customs, corn shuckin’s, wagon making and more affairs of plain living, and Animal care, banjos and dulcimers, hide tanning, summer and fall wild plant foods, butter churns, ginseng, and still more affairs of plain living, how could anyone interested in mountain life, or eastern rural life in past centuries, not feel like they’ve found a gold mine? I have only the first three, but there are something like 12 books in this series.
Hog butchering was done after the first cold snap, to help preserve the meat, often not until November or even December. The hams and other cuts of meat were first rubbed with a salt mixture (sometimes mixed with molasses and pepper or other spices) and allowed to cure for a few weeks. Then the meat was hung inside the smokehouse on hooks or suspended by rope from the rafters. Fires were built directly on the ground if it was a dirt floor, and had to be carefully maintained for the entire smoking process. Woods like hickory or apple flavored the meat, and the end result produced a crust that kept away the insect pests. Some families built their smokehouses with plenty of ventilation, while others built them tight, to trap the smoke.
See the smokehouse at the Daniel Boone Homestead here.
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