SALEM — Before the Twinkie, when foodstuffs were prone to decay and fodder for bacterial free-for-alls, colonists miraculously survived dinnertimes. 

Or maybe miracles had nothing to do with it. In the time before refrigerators, colonists employed ingenious albeit labor-intensive methods of food preservation. Practices like churning butter, sugaring and salting cut back on waste and sustained human life from one season to the next. 

All are invited to “Arts and Mysteries Revealed: Colonial Food Preservation,” Saturday, October 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at The House of the Seven Gables. In the third in a series of intriguing “17thCentury Saturday” events, visitors will travel back to a different Salem, one where salted cod might well challenge the everlasting Twinkie in a battle for longevity.

In “Arts and Mysteries Revealed: Colonial Food Preservation,” visitors will get a chance to try their own hand at food preservation techniques still used today.  17thCentury Saturdays are held at The Gables on the first Saturday of each month —October 5 and November 2. They run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are included with the price of admission. Each Saturday visitors are invited to explore a new mystery.

17thCentury Saturday offerings are scheduled throughout Essex County at First Period (1625–1725) sites like The House of the Seven Gables. The schedule for special 17thCentury Saturday events at The Gables is as follows:

October 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Arts & Mysteries Revealed:  Colonial Food Preservation

Making food last before refrigeration was a challenge and a skill. Visitors are invited to lend a hand to some colonial preservation techniques, such as butter-making, salting and sugaring.  

November 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Arts & Mysteries Revealed:  A Sailor’s Life & Hornworking

Join two outstanding educators as they demonstrate labors of 18thcentury.  Mike Welch will sing a sea shanties and describe the lives of colonial sailors. Chuck Walker will share the wonders of horn. This staple material was used throughout the colonial period to make spoons, powder-horns, combs and more.  

In addition, The Gables plans a host of activities on 17thCentury Saturdays including guided tours of the 1668 Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, Living History Labs in the 1682 Hooper-Hathaway House, shopping for gifts unique to The Gables in the Museum Store, located in the c. 1655 Retire Beckett House, a chance to relax and enjoy the seaside views in the gardens as well as explore The Gables’ exhibition, “Pop! Goes The Gables.”

For more information about 17th Century Saturday events around the region, those interested may visit www.northofboston.org.


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