The Jam and Jelly Lady

  (Lebanon, Ohio)
Yes You Can!
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Preserving of all Sorts!

It's not news to anyone who knows me: I'm crazy about the science of preserving.  I've been studying it for half my life!  When I teach a Canning Boot Camp, I love to include snippets of preserving history.  I just had to share one of these fascinating pieces today!

I've always been mesmerized by the "Cornish Pasty" - sort of like today's "Hot Pocket" frozen food.  During the Middle Ages, women would bake half-moons of dough filled with pieces of beef, bacon, fish, onions, potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetables.  Sometimes a little sweet jam or fruit was baked in one corner of the pocket for dessert!  Pasties were easily transportable for workers, and they preserved the fillings until workers broke for lunch. 

My favorite version of a pasty, however, is the kalakukko from Finland. "Kala" is Finnish for "fish", and "kukkaro" means purse.  Rye in the dough makes this huge pasty quite dark colored.  Baked at a low temperature for several hours, the fish bones inside the kalakukko actually melt, adding to the flavor and moistness of the filling.

The coolest version of kalakukko had a wicker handle baked into its side.  With no fast food or buffets to enjoy after church, families would carry a family-sized kalakukko to church and hang it on a tree outside.  After church, families would picnic together before journeying the long way home!

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Comments:

is this also what is meant by "pork or meat pies" that is sometimes mentioned in British literature?

The people would bring these pies with them when they went to work or traveled and needed a little lunch.

Thanks!

Spices and Herbs By Elaynn

Posted by Elaynn McGuffrey on March 09, 2011 at 08:00 PM EST #

You're on the money, Elaynn! Now those "pies" can be one of two varieties, based on the time period of literature you're reading. Pasties came first in the Middle Ages, but actual pies came later. Pies were harder to transport, but could hold so much more filling to feed crowds. The cook would fill the pie with bits of meat, fish, poultry, veggies, etc. And then the cook would pour lots of liquified lard or melted, clarified butter into the pie crust to fill the cavities between the pieces of filling. Finally, the top crust would be placed on the filling, and more melted butter would be brushed all over the pie to seal it and ensure preservation. Some ancient recipes claim such a pie could preserve the meat for a year - but I don't believe I would like to sample such a pie!
Thanks! - Sonya

Posted by Sonya Staffan on March 09, 2011 at 09:01 PM EST #

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