Preparing Salt Pork – 18th Century Cooking Series S1E5

Preparing Salt Pork – 18th Century Cooking Series S1E5

As we talked about in earlier videos, pork
was one of the most common and popular meats in the 18th century. It was one of the meats
that would be supplied in rations for soldiers. It was a common thing for sailors and the
entire population. Pork was salted so that it would last any number of months and could
be transported, used in ships, the sailors could eat it later on. Today we’re going
to show you a method for salting and preserving your pork in an 18th century manner. Salting is an ancient technique, even previous
to the Romans, very easily documented. There are a couple of different variations of salting.
Sometimes they would just pack their meat in salt water or brine, sometimes they would
hard pack it with lots of salt and then there’s even adding salt peter to it for a deeper
preservation technique that might last a little bit longer, but didn’t taste as well. Today
we’re going to prepare our salt pork in this 2 gallon oak keg. This one is a well
bucket keg that we sell at Jas Townsend & Son’s. This doesn’t have the holes drilled in it.
You can ask for a keg like that if you want to do a similar project. This one has been
touched up on the inside. We took a torch and melted out the excess wax here at the
top, and we also prepared a little wooden lid that will press down on the pork and keep
it inside the brine solution. Before we get started packing our meat, we
need a hot brine solution prepared. There’s a common misconception that salt
pork is easy to come by these days. You’ll find something in a modern grocery store that’s
called salt pork, but in reality it’s nothing like what was known as salt pork in the 18th
century. This is just a cured but unsmoked pork belly product, but it isn’t actually
prepared in a manner that 18th century salt pork was. So rather than use a pork belly,
we’re going to use a pork shoulder or this is a picnic. I’ve got our pork already cut
up into about 1 pound size pieces. We’ve got to have it so we can put it in in layers
so the salt can get into it, so we’ve got 1 pound pieces here. We’re going to put
about a cup of salt into our barrel here so that we’ve got a layer of salt in the very
bottom. We’re going to spread that out and make sure it’s nice and even and now we’re
going to start putting our pork into the barrel. We’ve got rind pieces on this. These rinds,
you want to make sure, are toward the bottom or toward the outside edges with the meat
parts on the inside. You want to pack this tight. You want to have as small a quantity
of air pockets as possible. Each time we put in another layer of meat, we put in another
layer of salt. Make sure that’s all spread out evenly. Get this tightly packed, and we add more salt. You can’t add too much salt, so don’t
worry about getting too much salt in this. Better to have too much than too little. That’s our final piece of meat. The keg
is pretty much full. There’s still some space there at the top. The final step here
is going to be pouring the hot brine solution in. That will fill in all the gaps and seal
it up, and then I’m going to put our lid on. So a method in the 18th century to see whether
our brine solution was briny enough was to float an egg. This is just a regular raw egg,
still in the shell, and we can see that this egg is floating in the solution, so we know
its thick enough. There’s enough salt in here. Here’s our hot brine solution. We know that
it’s thick enough. We’re going to start pouring it in on top until it completely covers
our meat, and then it’s time for your wooden lid. We’re going to float that up on top
and then finally to make sure that this lid presses down on top of the meat we’re going
to place a weight on top. If we see some frothing that means something is going on. We need
to take care of that. We need to pour the brine solution off, you need to scald the
brine solution and then you can put it back on again. Well, our keg is ready to store now. In the
18th century it was traditional to process pork and beef products, when they salt it,
they would do that in the fall when the temperatures were cool. It would make this last a lot longer.
That’s the same thing we’re going to do. We’re going to take this keg and we’re
going to put it in the refrigerator to keep it nice and cool so that it doesn’t go bad.
It will probably last and be good for several weeks, put in a cool place like that. In the
18th century they would use it all through the winter into the next spring. When it comes time to use your salt pork and
you pull it out of the barrel, you need to soak it. You need to soak it sometimes overnight,
but at least 2 hours. You want to soak it in fresh water, changing the water often so
that you get as much salt out of that pork as possible. You’re never going to get it
all. It’s going to be a salty thing, but other than that, you use it like you would
any fresh cut. You can use it in any recipe. Well, there you have it, salt pork. All the
things you’ve seen in this video today, you can see on our website or in our print
catalog and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.


  1. man they had such awesome foods back then…. i really want to try salt pork and stockfish and ships biscuits and so many other things, but I probably never will unless I go to a fair or something where they sell this stuff.

  2. Dear Townsends, I remember when you first started i watched alot of your videos, I do have to say you have grown alot from a handheld cam cord to what seems to be a professional camera the quality and look of your videos feel so authentic and professional i am very impressed with how much this channel has grown. You have been doing an amazing job and I look forward to watching more of your videos, Keep up the the amazing work! much love ❤ Vive L'Liberte! 🇺🇸🇫🇷

  3. Hello Jas ,
    You have so many books on cooking and the house wife books etc. could you make a video on explaining each books difference in information with in and how they differ from each other so it makes it easier to know what book to pick first for the information a person may be looking for

  4. I just watched you making Baked beans,you added Salt pork,so i had to check out how to make salt pork.
    Love this site,Keep it up,old ways are the natural ways!!!And the best ways in todays society of mass production and unhealthy processed meats and food!

  5. I'm reading asoiaf right no and salt pork is mentioned a lot. Until now I just thought they had a bucketload of pork jerky everywhere

  6. Townsends: "And, it'll be good for WEEKS!"
    18th Century Sailor: "Weeks, huh? Bunch of pansies…" Eats 2 year old ships ration salted pork…

  7. I dearly love these videos; esp. the videos about "everyday items" from that era that are almost completely unknown today. BUT, omg; what a waste of a good cut of meat by today's standards! 🙂

  8. Hello,

    My name is Tasha, I am working with Off the Fence Productions to produce a TV series for international distribution featuring 10 ‘Great Inventions’. Each episode will celebrate a particularly significant invention that has impacted our lives for the better, and one of them is the fridge. We will be looking into the history, production and future of the fridge and will be using archive and newly-shot footage along with various interviews to tell the story.

    The series has been commissioned by ZDF, Germany’s national broadcaster, and they will distribute to cable networks like Servus TV, History Germany, RMC Découverte, Planéte, Discovery Europe, Fox Australia, plus various video on demand platforms internationally. The aim is to achieve a wide and sustained reach via all these platforms. The series will be aired in 2020.

    Can we use this video in our series please in exchange for a credit? The series will go out across all media, worldwide in perpetuity.

    We are currently editing the episode and so a quick response would be great. We ideally need the original high res footage within a day or two.

    Please let me know if you have any questions,

    Please send me a reply email via [email protected]


  9. We still do that in my country. Its called "kolinje" and after all job is finished we select pork parts to ne salted,like ham etc. But we first rub the salt in meat,let it rest for a day and then we prepare the barrel with salt water(same thing as you,we use an egg to be sure it has enough salt. Than we put the meat in it,but we dont close the lid.After some time we take all put,wash it and press it,then we are hanging them on hooks to be smoked. Its a months long proces but its all worth it…

  10. You can't do a cooking show without showing the finished product and eating it 🙂 or forcing someone else to eat it 😀

    Pick it up townsends!

  11. I haven’t had a real salt cured ham since my grandpa died. He used to hang them in the barn for ages. Nowadays they chemically salt cure country hams but it’s not the same. He raised, killed, and butchered his own hogs every year. I used to hate the killing part. He shot them between the eyes with a 22 rifle and boiled them in a big pot to get the hair off. Was sad for me as a kid because the hogs were so tame and friendly. I just don’t have the heart to do it or I would carry on the tradition

  12. I hate that ad with old Bri'ish boy chopping hard on wood board; gets on me nerves. I hover over skip ad and skip every ad. Okay, now I watch pork. Wait. Still don't know how long it will last. You said few weeks, but old timers used through winter…

  13. Lol I can’t help but imagine being this guys neighbor. Looking out the window and seeing him dressed like that. “Honey! He’s filming again!”

  14. When you start measuring salt concentrations by eggs floating per cup rather than (mol/litre) a chemist dies of measurement inaccuracies.

  15. Thought they made jerky meat. By the way, Jerky meat stay last longer than this method. And method is very dangerous for your health. You wont know what goes wrong against your health.

  16. I tried this tonight with a half gallon mason jar, fifty-two ounces of salt, and some hot water. This is my journal of the process:

    I've packed all the meat and salt into the container, leaving as few air bubbles as possible.

    Made the brine solution, nice and hot. I've added the first portion and am waiting for it to soak in a little.

    Adding the second pouring of brine.

    Releasing trapped air bubble by use of a sterile instrument.

    Final pouring.

    Adding more salt to the top for good measure. Putting the lid on and dating the jar.

    Praying that I've done this right, and that the meat doesn't go bad.

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