Welcome to The Depreciation Lands Museum

A Journey Through History and Preservation

by Kimberly Chaffee

As summer days passed and fall was nearing, our post-revolutionary brethren started to look toward food preservation for the long winter months ahead. Often, people ate small game animals such as pheasants and rabbits within hours of killing them. However, larger animals like pigs needed preserving. Therefore, they learned how to keep more significant cuts of meat through various techniques.

Lard, a versatile and time-honored culinary fat derived from rendered pork fat, was cherished for its unique properties that enhanced flavor and texture and extended the shelf life of various foods. Throughout the medieval era, lard remained a staple in European kitchens and monastic communities. Monks and cooks utilized it in various preservation techniques, such as potting and confits.


Potting involves placing cooked meats or fish into pots and covering them with a layer of lard, effectively sealing and safeguarding the contents for future consumption. Similarly, confits, mainly made with duck or goose, were slow-cooked in their fat before being submerged in lard. This practice ensured helped sustain them during times of scarcity.

As Europeans colonized the Americas, they brought pigs and rendered their fat to preserve food. Rendering is the process used to extract lard from fatty tissue. The tissue or meat is simmered until the fat becomes melted.

Beef in Pan

Melted butter


In recent years, interest in traditional culinary practices has been resurgent, and lard has reclaimed a place in modern kitchens. Many chefs and home cooks appreciate lard’s rich flavor and unique cooking properties. While its role in preservation has diminished due to contemporary preservation techniques, it remains a beloved ingredient in various recipes, contributing to the authenticity and nostalgia of traditional dishes.

When visiting the museum, be sure to stop by the log house and talk with our interpreter Carol about making potted beef.



Crocks Sealed with Butter

Potted Beef Receipt

Cook beef until it falls apart. Add 1/3 weight of the beef in butter. Shred

beef and then pound it into a paste. Season it with salt, pepper, and mace or nutmeg. Heat oven 200° -250° and fill pots or jars to 1″ below lip with beef paste. Bake for 20-30 minutes. While still hot, pour clarified butter over the top to seal. Continue to add butter until completely cool.