Smoking meat by class (meat preservation part 6)

Again the Oeconomia, here about how to smoke meat for servants and masters.

Of smoked meat

Beechwood and oakwood is best for smoking meat. You only salt the meat in a vat with a cover on top first. Then you let it lie in there until the salt is all melted (zerschmolzen). Then you pour the salt water over the meat again and again so that the salt water goes all the way through nicely. Then you hang it into the fireplace (Feweresse) and make a smoke under it with little wood shavings or rotten wood so that the smoke defeats (seals) it a little in the beginning and it does not perpetually drip down. When it is nicely red inside, it is smoked enough.

Meat that has many bones (Beinicht) must be chopped out carefully and otherwise cooked, otherwise the meat around the bones turns repulsive (garstig) when it hangs for a long time. But when you hang up hams, the bones must be well salted and the salt rubbed in thoroughly.

Mutton that is smoked lasts but a year, then it turns repulsive (garstig), but goat meat lasts three years in a row.

If you would have quite good smoked, lovely and well-tasting meat for yourself, your beloved Hephziba and children, fatten a fine young ox of three, four or five years and soon chop it to pieces. Strew the meat with salt in a trough while it is still warm, as one does with horseradish, thus the salt melts (zergehet) and enters into the meat. Hang it in the smoke soon and let it hang until it is dry, but not smoked quite hard. Then take it down and lay it in a box, and cook of this whenever you wish. Thus you have a good, well-tasting smoked meat that you can bite well and enjoy. For if it is left to lie in the brine (Lahken) or hang in the smoke too long it becomes too hard and indigestible so that it is more suited for servants, woodsmen and threshers than for the silken stomachs of you, your domina and children. Knackwürst, Knapfkaese of good milk, raw ham and uncooked Nietwürst from which the maggots jump about on the table when they are served are best left to peasant stomachs.

Also note here that if you wish to provision fortresses, you must use sea salt to salt the meat. See Levin. Lib. 3 c. 9 de occultis natur. mir. starim. ab initio

More detailed instructions for smoking meat, and especially how to make sure that the piece for the master’s table stays succulent. This was the pride of North German households and the source of the original Hamburg beef (which I will have to treat in more detail here at some point).

The list of peasant foods – suitably disgusting – is also interesting in its own right. Knapfkaese is aged, homemade cheese and may in fact be smoked in this context. Knackwürst are not what we know as Knackwurst today, but very likely a cooked and smoked sausage. There are a few recipes by that name, but they are fairly diverse. As to Nietwürst, I actually suspect this to be a misprinted Mettwürst – sausages made of high-quality meat and dry-cured.

Johann Coler’s Oeconomia ruralis et domestica was a popular book on the topic of managing a wealthy household. It is based largely on previous writings by Coler and first appeared between 1596 and 1601. Repeatedly reprinted for decades, it became one of the most influential early works of Hausväterliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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