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February 13, 2009

"From Steer to Steak" offers lessons in 18th-century beef preservation

Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways staff will demonstrate 18th-century methods of butchering and preserving beef during a special daylong program 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18 at the Peyton Randolph Kitchen.

“From Steer To Steak” reveals various techniques for preserving meat prior to the convenience of refrigeration including salt curing and corning.

In addition to demonstrating various methods of beef preservation, the historic foodways interpreters will carve beef according to 18th-century butchering charts, which are very different from modern charts. “From Steer To Steak” also will show how beef preservation differed from methods used to preserve pork. For instance, pork commonly was preserved using dry salt; beef was usually cured in brine.

The foodways staff intends to determine how effective the several preservation methods were by observing how long the preserved beef survives without spoiling.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281