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Preparing Salt Pork

Salt Pork (Time 0_00_30;10)
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 common for sailors and the entire population. Pork was salted so that it would last any number of months and could be transported. Today we’re going to show you a method for salting and preserving your pork in an 18th century manner.

 

  • Pork (We used a shoulder or Picnic cut)
  • Salt

Salt Pork (Time 0_01_42;01)Today we’re going to prepare our salt pork in a 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.

Salt Pork (Time 0_01_55;09)Before we get started packing our meat, we need a hot brine solution prepared. Boil some water and dissolve as much salt in the water as it takes to make a fresh raw egg float in the solution. You will need enough brine water to cover the pork completely.Salt Pork (Time 0_04_01;03)

Salt Pork (Time 0_02_25;25)
Cut up the pork into 1 pound size pieces so we can layer it so the salt can get into all the pieces. Put about a cup of salt into the barrel so there is a layer of salt in the very bottom.Salt Pork (Time 0_02_43;18) Spread it out and make sure it’s nice and even, then start putting the pork into the barrel.Salt Pork (Time 0_03_06;07)
If there are rind pieces on your pork, you want to make sure they are toward the bottom or toward the outside edges with the meat parts on the inside. You want to pack this tight so that there is as small a quantity of air pockets as possible. Each time you put in another layer of meat, you want to put in another layer of salt.Salt Pork (Time 0_03_25;15) Make sure everything is spread out evenly.

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.

Salt Pork (Time 0_03_31;22)
Fill the container until there is a small space near the top then pour in the brine solution until full. The brine will fill in all the air pockets that were missed while filling in the meat and salt. Place the lid on top and weight it down to make sure that the meat remains covered in the brine solution.Salt Pork (Time 0_04_33;18) Place the container in a cool area. The cooler it remains, the longer the meat will remain edible.

If at any time you see some frothing on top that means there is something going on. This needs to be taken care immediately. Pour the brine solution off, scald the brine solution and pour it back on again.

When it comes time to use your salt pork and you pull it out of the barrel, 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 the pork as possible. You’re never going to get it all. It’s going to be salty, but other than that, you use it like you would any fresh cut. You can use it in any recipe.

Transcription of Video:

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.

18th Century Soldiers Rations

Soldier Rations (Time 0_00_39;06)American soldiers in the 18th century had several different types of rations.

There were per man per day food rations. This would include a meat component, usually consisting of a pound of beef, three-quarters of a pound of pork, or a pound of salt fish. Soldier Rations (Time 0_01_03;03)There would also be a bread component where they were supposed to get a pound loaf, but if that were not available they might get just flour or cornmeal instead.Soldier Rations (Time 0_00_56;15)

To round out the daily ration they were given a pint of milk and a quart of beer.Soldier Rations (Time 0_01_30;03)

There were per man per week rations. This would include things like peas, beans, rice, vinegar and other items that were not very popular with the soldiers.Soldier Rations (Time 0_01_56;05)

There were per company per week rations. This would include candles, soap, and other items that the men would need that were not food.Soldier Rations

Finally, whenever possible, the soldiers would supplement their diet with whatever items could be procured locally from villages, farmers or even the wilderness around them.Soldier Rations (Time 0_02_04;07)

Transcript of Video:

Soldiers in the 18th Century, whether they be American, British or French, all had very similar rations. Congress in 1775 established rations for the American soldiers and that ration stayed very similar for 150 years. Let’s take a look at what was included in that ration.

There were several different types of rations. There were per man per day food rations, that each man hoped he would get, there were rations per man per week, and then there were per company per week rations. So the daily ration would include a meat component, usually a pound of beef, or three quarters of a pound of pork, or possibly a pound of salt fish. So another part of the daily ration would be the bread part. Each man was supposed to get a pound loaf of bread per day and if bread wasn’t available then they would possibly be issued just flour, and if flour wasn’t available then they might even get a substitution of corn meal. And to round out this daily ration, they were given a pint of milk and a quart of beer. The per company per week ration included candles, soap, items that the men would need that weren’t food items. The per man per week rations were items that weren’t as popular or common; peas, it might also include beans, rice, or vinegar. Whenever possible, the soldiers would also supplement their diet with whatever items they could procure locally from a local village or from farmers or even from the wilderness around them. So in the following video series we’re going to take all these ration items and we’re going to prepare them in an 18th century fashion.

Baking Wiggs Seed Cakes

Wiggs (Time 0_00_38;07)
We are going to be making wiggs today, a sweet little biscuit that was very popular in the 17th and 18th century. The term wigg comes from an earlier Dutch word meaning wedge. The loaves were cut into wedge shapes for baking.

  • ½ cup Barm
    • ½ pint Water
    • ½ pint Ale
    • 1 teaspoon Sugar
    • 1 teaspoon dry active Yeast
    • ¼ to ½ cup flour
  • 4 cups fine white flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Caraway seeds
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • Powdered sugar

Wiggs are a yeast bread. In the 18th century, the best place for a baker to get yeast was from the brewer. 18th century recipes call for liquid yeast, something a little different from modern yeast recipes. The yeast in the 18th century was either the yeast that was on the foam at the top of the beer barrel when they first start brewing it. It comes out on the foam which is croizen, or there’s the yeast that falls to the bottom after its done brewing and after they bottle the beer off, what’s left in the bottom of the barrel is the yeast that’s left over, the brewer’s yeast or barm.Wiggs (Time 0_03_20;05)
That would be reactivated with a little bit of sugar and used in bread recipes. Unless you’re a home brewer, barm can be a little difficult to come by, so we’re going to show you how to make an 18th century barm.

Wiggs (Time 0_01_09;10)
To make your barm, you’re going to need a bottle. Put about a quarter to a half a cup of flour into the bottle and add about a half a pint of water and half a pint of our ale.
If you don’t have access to good home brew ale, you’re going to want to buy some good imported ale. The ale’s going to add a very authentic flavor to your wiggs.Wiggs (Time 0_01_31;01)

Add to the mixture about a teaspoon of dry active yeast and a teaspoon of sugar, to kick start the mix. Shake the bottle to get the flour mixed up into the liquids and then let it set and prime for about 15 minutes.Wiggs (Time 0_03_09;08)

Now, gather together the dry ingredients for the wiggs. Wiggs (Time 0_03_33;09)
Start off with about 4 cups of fine white flour. Add about 4 ounces or half a cup of sugar and some caraway seeds. Caraway seeds were a very popular flavoring in the 18th century for bread type products.Wiggs (Time 0_04_03;19)

Next, mix together the wet ingredients. Wiggs (Time 0_04_30;11)
Take about 6 tablespoons of melted butter, put in a half a cup of milk in with that, and now we need our barm. Give the barm a good shake and then you’re going to need about a half a cup.
Wiggs (Time 0_04_36;04)
Pour the wet ingredients, into the dry ingredients and then mix it. You want to make sure to mix it well, but don’t over mix it.

Wiggs (Time 0_05_06;19)When it’s mixed pretty well, go ahead and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Square it up so that you can cut it down into about egg sized pieces. Wiggs (Time 0_05_11;24)
You want to make sure that you don’t knead this too much or you’ll toughen the dough and won’t be nice and light and fluffy.

Wiggs (Time 0_05_27;23)
Once your dough is in little egg sized shapes, you want to roll them into a little ball. You want to do this very gently, not kneading them up or making them tough. Very gently cradle them into very small round bun shapes. Wiggs (Time 0_05_59;11)
Once you have your buns, cut them into little wedge shapes, place onto a well-greased cooking sheet, cover them with a cloth and let them rest for about 30 minutes.

Wiggs (Time 0_06_24;22)

Once they have rested, sprinkle them with powdered sugar and bake in the oven at about 400 degrees. Wiggs (Time 0_08_13;23)Alternately, you can place them in a Dutch oven in a hot bed of coals. If you choose this method, make sure that the coals are all around and on top of the Dutch oven.

Wiggs (Time 0_08_32;24)
As temperatures vary greatly, keep a close eye on your wiggs that they don’t burn.

Wiggs (Time 0_08_47;08)
I’m sure that you will enjoy this 18th century treat.

Transcription of Video:

Today we’re going to be making wiggs. Not the hairy sort you put on your head, but a sweet little biscuit that was very popular in the 17th and 18th century. We’re going to be baking some in our earthen oven and some in a Dutch oven also.

The term wigg comes from an earlier Dutch word meaning wedge. The loaves were cut into wedge shapes for baking.

Because the wiggs were probably fairly expensive, they have a lot of sugar and milk fat in them and they were usually set aside for special events like funerals or for lent, but there’s even one account of a man using them to pay his servants with them.

Wiggs are a yeast bread. Yeast in the 18th century was much appreciated by brewers and bakers. A little bit of yeast and barley malt turns into ale, flour and water and yeast turns into bread. It wasn’t until the 19th century that anyone really understood what was going on with yeast and how it worked.

Bakers needed yeast and they knew the best place to get it was from the brewer. 18th century recipes call for liquid yeast, something a little different from modern yeast recipes. The yeast in the 18th century was either the yeast that was on the foam at the top of the beer barrel when they first start brewing it. It comes out on the foam which is croizen, or there’s the yeast that falls to the bottom after its done brewing and after they bottle the beer off, what’s left in the bottom of the barrel is the yeast that’s left over, the brewer’s yeast. That would be reactivated with a little bit of sugar and used in bread recipes.

Unless you’re a home brewer, barm can be a little difficult to come by, so we’re going to show you how to make an 18th century barm.

We’re going to need a few things to make our barm. You’re going to need a bottle. You’re going to need some good clean water. We’ve got some ale here, and some sugar and yeast. I put about a quarter to a half a cup of flour into the bottle and now we’re going to add about a half a pint of water and half a pint of our ale, and if you don’t have access to good home brew ale, you’re going to want to buy some good imported ale. The ale’s going to add a very authentic flavor to your wiggs.

Now it’s time to add to our mixture about a teaspoon of dry active yeast and a teaspoon of sugar to kick start the mix.

 

Perfect.

Now let’s mix this up. Get the flour mixed up in our liquids and then we’re going to let this set and prime for about 15 minutes while we prepare the rest of our ingredients.

While our barm is priming, let’s get together our dry ingredients for the wiggs. We’re going to start off with about 4 cups of fine white flour. You’re also going to need about 4 ounces or half a cup of sugar. I’ve got some loaf sugar here, and we’re also going to need caraway seeds. Caraway seeds were very popular flavoring in the 18th century for bread type products. These are actually caraway pods, not seeds.

Now let’s mix our wet ingredients. I’ve got about 6 tablespoons of melted butter, let’s put in a half a cup of milk in with that, and now we need our barm. This has been priming. It’s looking like it’s good and alive. Give this a good shake and then we’re going to need about a half a cup. Okay, here’s our wet ingredients, we’re going to put these into our dry ingredients and then I’m going to mix this up with my hands. You want to make sure to mix it well, but don’t over mix it.

Okay, that’s mixed pretty well, let’s go turn this out onto the table.

Let’s turn our dough out onto our lightly floured surface that we’ve got prepared. Get all the dough out. I’m going to square this up so that I can cut it down into about egg sized pieces. You want to make sure that you don’t knead this too much or you’ll toughen the dough and won’t be nice and light and fluffy.

Now that we’ve cut these into little egg sized shapes, we want to roll these into a little ball. You want to do this very gently, not kneading them up or making them tough. We’re going to very gently cradle these into very small round bun shapes.

Now it’s time to cut these into our little wedge shapes. Just going to slice them.

Okay, now that we’ve got these cut, we’re going to put these on a well-greased sheet, a cooking sheet, and we’re going to cover them up with a cloth and let them rest for about 15 or 20, or actually a half hour. They’re not going to rise, because of the milk fat and everything that’s in them, but they do need to rest.

Well, we’ve let these rest for about a half hour. They haven’t risen, they just rested. They will spring up in the oven when they go in. They’ll puff up when we cook them, but right now they haven’t risen. Next we’re going to sprinkle the tops with some searst sugar, which is, in the 18th century terms, a sifted sugar, or as we know it today, powdered sugar.

Your oven temperatures are going to need to be a medium hot oven, maybe about 400 degrees. For extra information about how to use these earthen ovens, make sure to check out the video series where we talk about building and using the earthen oven.

Because there’s so much sugar in these guys you’re going to want to make sure that you have a trivet or maybe some S-hooks to put your tray on, because they are susceptible to burning on the bottom.

There we go, we’re going to let these cook for about 15 minutes. While these are cooking, we’re going to cook some in the Dutch oven.

So, you’ll want to watch these cook because, depending on the heat of your oven, they may only take 5 minutes to cook.

I’ve got the Dutch oven preheated up so that it’s not stone cold. I’m going to get the bed of coals here prepped for the Dutch oven. I want to make sure there’s just a ring of nice hot coals around the outside of the bottom.

Again, it can be difficult to judge the temperature, the exact temperature of your Dutch oven so you’re going to need to check it fairly frequently to make sure they don’t burn.

Obviously they’re just about right. Let’s go ahead and take this off of the fire. I’m going to get them out of here.

These turned out really well. I’m sure that you will enjoy this 18th century treat. Something that you can cook at your next outdoor event. All the things you’ve seen here, the items, the clothing, all these things are available on our website or in our print catalog. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Cheshire Pork Pie

Meat Pies (Time 0_09_20;03)

  • Salt Pork
  • Apples
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Top and Bottom Pie Crusts

In our recipe, we’re going to be using salt pork.Meat Pies (Time 0_01_24;00)
This is true 18th century style salt pork, not something like you might find on your grocery store bacon shelf, but a leaner cut hard packed in salt. We’re boiling our salt pork today for about an hour, so we don’t need to rinse it off quite as much as we normally would before using it. We’re going to slice it thin and then season it with a little pepper.

Meat Pies (Time 0_01_09;19)Apples have been enjoyed for centuries by people. “Pippins” is a common name for apples in the 18th century. When choosing your pie apples, if you’re not just picking off a local tree, you want to look for Jonathans or Winesaps, something that’s particularly a pie apple, a tart yet sweet apple that holds together and doesn’t turn to applesauce. What you don’t want is a red delicious apple. Red delicious apples are very 20th century. They’ve been bred for their size and their color, not their taste, and they don’t make a very good pie apple at all. Meat Pies (Time 0_01_31;25)
Peel, core, and slice your apples thin.

In a pie pan, place your bottom pie crust then layer your pork and apples alternately until full.
Meat Pies (Time 0_01_48;09)
Meat Pies (Time 0_01_59;21)
Once your pie is packed, add some salt and pepper to give it some flavor.Meat Pies (Time 0_02_13;21) Place some butter on top and add a couple of teaspoons of water.Meat Pies (Time 0_02_43;08)
The amount of water you need to add to this pie totally depends on the kind of apple you use. If you use a Mackintosh apple, they’ll turn to something like apple sauce, so you don’t need to add very much water. If you have a firmer crisper apple, you might need a little bit more water.

Meat Pies (Time 0_03_39;00)
Place the second pie crust on top to cover it up, then trim and seal the edges. Now cut some vent holes in the top of the crust. Meat Pies (Time 0_07_58;02)
Place in the oven with spacers to keep it from burning on the bottom. This will bake about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven.

Meat Pies (Time 0_08_29;12)

Transcription of Video:

Pies are common fare for everyone in the 18th century. We’re going to bake a couple of pies today using different baking techniques.

Our first pie is going to be a Cheshire pork pie with pork and apples. We’re going to bake it in our oven.

Our next pie will be a mock passenger pigeon pie and we’re going to bake that in our Dutch oven.

Apples have been enjoyed for centuries by people. Apples were popular in the 18th century and today the dish we’re making is called Cheshire pork pie with pippins. “Pippins” is a common name for apples in the 18th century.

In our recipe, we’re going to be using salt pork. This is true 18th century style salt pork, not something like you might find in your grocery store bacon shelf, but a leaner cut hard packed in salt like we’ve discussed in a previous video.

Likewise, we’ve sliced our pippins here and they’re ready to use in our pie. As we make our pie, what we’re going to do is we’re going to put in a layer of pork and then we’re going to put in a layer of apple.

We’re boiling our salt pork today for about an hour. Because we’re boiling it, we don’t need to rinse it off quite as much as we normally would have before using it. We’re going to slice it thin and then we’re going to season it with a little pepper. I’ve got our pie packed up here. Now it’s time to add some spices to it. I’m going to add some salt and some pepper to this to season it well so it’s got some flavor to it.

All these things come right out of our spice kit. A little bit more there. There, that’s good. Now we’re going to put some butter on top that will melt down into our pie here. We’re going to add about 2 tablespoons of water to give it a little bit of moisture.

The amount of water you need to add to this pie totally depends on the kind of apple you use. If you use a Mackintosh apple, they’ll turn to something like apple sauce, so you don’t need to add very much water. If you have a firmer crisper apple, you might need a little bit more water.

So, for pie apples, if you ‘ve got any choice and you’re not just picking off a local tree, if you go to a local grocery store, you want to look for Jonathans or Winesaps, something that’s particularly a pie apple, a tart yet sweet apple that holds together and doesn’t turn to applesauce. What you don’t want is a red delicious apple. Red delicious apples are very 20th century, they’ve been bred for their size and their color and not for their taste and they don’t make a very good pie apple at all.

We’re going to put our second pie crust on here to cover this up, we’re going to trim and seal the edges. Now let’s cut some vent holes and work on the mock pigeon pie.

Passenger pigeons were one of the most populous birds in the 18th and 19th century. There were billions of these birds on the planet. They were almost a scourge there were so many of them. They were very popular and yet you would find them in a lot of recipes. There were so many of these birds that there were reports of flocks that were a mile wide and 300 miles long that would take 14 hours to fly over. There were so many of them they would blot out the sun. Obviously we can’t use passenger pigeons today since the last one died almost 100 years ago, so today we’re going to use as our substitute a Cornish game hen.

We’ve simmered 2 Cornish game hens with onions and then we picked the meat off and put it in the bowl. Now let’s brown up a little bit of flour in some butter.

I’m going to add some stock, let this simmer a little bit. We’ll also season it with a little salt, pepper, and thyme.

By the way, our pie plates here are thrown by our master potter Gary Neater right here in Indiana and they have a lead free food safe glaze.

We’re going to put our pulled meat into a pie crust. We’re going to pour our warmed sauce on top of that, seal it up with the other pie crust, and it’s ready to bake.

There we go. We’re going to bake this mock pigeon pie in a Dutch oven. Let’s talk about these Dutch ovens for a minute. Dutch ovens like this are a specifically 18th century and North American improvement on a 17th century design. The lip at the top is specifically designed to keep the coals from falling off so the coals will stay on the top, and the legs at the bottom keep it so the air can flow underneath and keep the coals alive underneath. We’ve got our Dutch oven preheated. I kind of left it in the fire pit here and it’s good and warm. We have to get our pit ready for this. We’ve got our coals underneath. It’s time to put the pie in. We need to keep the pie off the bottom of the Dutch oven so we’re going to put a couple of S hooks in here to space the pie pan off the bottom so the bottom doesn’t burn.

We’ve got plenty of space around the outside edge so we can reach in there without burning ourselves. Now let’s put the lid on.

Deciding exactly how many coals you want to use is a bit of a matter of judgement. Each person is going to have to get used to that. You need to practice. I put a ring of coals around the top of the lid here leaving the center a little bit open. Same thing at the bottom, there’s a little bit of opening at the very center to not get it too hot. Each one of those is going to be just a little bit different though. Let’s check out our earthen oven and see if it’s ready for the pork pie.

Okay, our oven is all baked down into coals. Our soot is burned off so this is ready to go. You can see about how to use the oven better in the baking bread video. Anyway, I’m going to scrape the coals out and get this ready for the pie.

I’m going to put S Hooks inside this one also to serve as a trivet. I don’t want to burn the bottom.

There we go. We’re going to have to watch this. This one might be a little bit too hot, so we’re going to keep an eye out on it. Let’s put the door on it though.

It’s been about 10 or 15 minutes and I think this is probably ready to go. Take a quick look, whoa! It’s ready to come out. You don’t want it to go too long. Wow, look at that, looks just about perfect.

We’ll I’m sure we’ve left this set long enough. Let’s pull it off the fire and set this aside so it can cool off enough that I can take the pie out of the oven. I’ll take a quick gander here, set that lid aside. There’s a lot of steam in there. Look at that. There you go.

I’m going to let that cool off a minute before we take it out.

I can’t wait to cut these open and try them. They smell really good.

Mmm, these are excellent. Definitely you should try something like this. If this isn’t a normal thing for you, step out of your normal comfortable cooking, get into something like this. Meat pies or something that’s a little bit different. Everybody will enjoy it. All the things you’ve seen here today you can check out and see on our website or in our print catalog and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Split Pea Stew with Beef (“The Green Death”)

Soup stew and hash (Time 0_04_51;06)

  • 3 Pints Boiling Water
  • Half pound Dried Peas (soaked overnight)
  • Half pound Beef
  • Flour
  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Parsnips
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Soup stew and hash (Time 0_03_38;19)
For this recipe I’ve got about a half a pound of dried peas. We soak these overnight, so they’re going to be ready to cook.

Soup Stew and Hash (Time 0_01_19;10)
Start out with about a half a pound of beef. Coating the meat with flour and then browning it will help thicken up the stew.

Soup stew and hash (Time 0_04_23;29)
Once our beef is well browned, add it to our 3 pints of boiling stew water and then the peas and boil for 15 minutes.

Soup stew and hash (Time 0_04_36;19)
Once the stew has boiled for about 15 minutes, we’re going to add some potato, some onion and some parsnips, along with some salt and pepper. We’re going to let that simmer for about an hour.

Soup stew and hash (Time 0_06_34;27)You’ll know this stew is ready when the peas break down and the stew thickens up and that really is a matter of how long you’ve soaked your peas. If you haven’t soaked them at all, this might take 2 or 3 hours, but if you soaked them it won’t take as long.

Transcription of Video:

So today we’re going to take a common soldiers ration and we’re going to turn it into three different meals, a soup, a stew and a hash. The foundation of our stew and our hash, we’re going to use salt pork, and the foundation for the stew, we’re going to use fresh beef. So the salt pork we’re using today is a salt pork that we prepared in an 18th century manner. When it’s time to use the salt pork, you have to soak it. You have to take several hours, soak it in water, change the water out, soak it again, until it’s ready to use. If you don’t soak it several times and get all the salt out, it’s inedible. So, the big difference between a soup and a stew is how much water we use when we prepare it, and the first thing we have to do is to get this water going, get it boiling. I’ve got 6 pints of water starting to boil here for the soup, and I’ve got 3 pints for the stew. Let’s start out with our soup.

While our 6 pints of water is getting ready to boil here, I’m going to brown our salt pork in a little bit of fat.

I’m going to let this set and sear a little bit. Browning this meat first will release a lot of the flavor. So we’re doing this in small batches. If we do too much at once, we can’t get it to caramelize properly. It releases too many juices.

Once your salt pork is browned, it’s time to dump it in your boiling water. If any scum develops on the surface, scrape that off. You’re going to let this boil about 15 minutes.

Now that our soup has boiled about 15 minutes with the meat in it, it’s time to add some other things. I’ve got some carrots here and some parsnips. We’re going to add those. So there’s the carrots, part of our parsnips. From our pocket spice kit, we need to use a little bit of salt and pepper.

Oh yeah, it’s looking good.

It’s also now a good time to add a bay leaf if you’ve got it and we’ve got a little bit of cider vinegar, just a splash or two of cider vinegar will really set this off.

Now that we’ve added these things to our soup, we’re going to moderate the fire a little bit and let it simmer for about an hour.

Now that our soup has simmered about an hour, it’s time to throw in some cabbage if we’ve got it and I’ve also got a little bit of rosemary and thyme. I’ve got a little bundle here that I’m going to throw in. You don’t want to put this stuff in too soon or it’ll destroy the flavors.

Many period recipes for soup like this will call for bread to be cubed up and tossed in at the end, kind of like dumplings.

We’re going to let this simmer for another 15 minutes

For this recipe I’ve got about a half a pound of dried peas here. We soak these overnight, so they’re going to be ready to cook.

So I’m starting out with about a half a pound of beef here. This should go really nicely with our peas. Coating this meat with flour and then browning it will help thicken up the stew.

So now that our beef is well browned, we’re going to add that to our 3 pints of boiling stew water and then we’re going to add our peas. Let’s get this beef in there without losing any of it. There we go. And now we’re going to add the peas.

So now that our stew has boiled for about 15 minutes, we’re going to add some potato, some onion and some parsnips, along with some salt and pepper. We’re going to let that simmer for about an hour.

You’ll know this stew is ready when the peas break down and the stew thickens up and that really is a matter of how long you’ve soaked your peas. If you haven’t soaked them at all, this might take 2 or 3 hours, but if you soaked them it won’t take as long. While our soups and stews are simmering here, let’s start the hash.

Our hash is a fairly simple dish. I’ve got some finely diced salt pork here. I’ve already browned this up with some onion and I’m going to take a couple of parboiled or already boiled potatoes. I’m going to dice these up and mash them. Put them in with that.

We also need to add a little bit of milk to give it some liquid to work with. If you happen to have some allspice, it makes a wonderful addition to the hash. I’m going to form this up into patties and fry it in our frying pan.

Well, there we have all three dishes finished. We’ve got a salt pork soup and the salt pork really has a wonderful flavor. The saltiness balanced out with the other flavors actually extremely good. Here’s our salt pork hash. It may not look great but let me tell you, it is my favorite on the table here, the salt pork, very tender, just the right amount of saltiness, along with the potatoes and the onions, definitely a favorite. So the last dish here was the stew, this is the beef and peas stew and it thickened up rather nicely. The peas add their own kind of sweetness to it. The beef is excellent in here. Any one of these things you will definitely enjoy.

Mock Passenger Pigeon Pie

Meat Pies (Time 0_09_24;11)Passenger pigeons were one of the most populous birds in the 18th and 19th century. There were billions of these birds on the planet. They were almost a scourge there were so many of them. They were very popular and you would find them in a lot of recipes. There were so many of these birds that there were reports of flocks that were a mile wide and 300 miles long that would take 14 hours to fly over. There were so many of them they would blot out the sun. However, we can’t use passenger pigeons today since the last one died almost 100 years ago, so today we’re going to use as our substitute a Cornish game hen.Meat Pies (Time 0_03_59;25)

  • 2 Cornish Game Hens
  • Onions
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Top and Bottom Pie Crust

Simmer 2 Cornish game hens with onions and then pick the meat off and put it in a bowl.Meat Pies (Time 0_04_23;27)

Now brown up a little bit of flour in some butter. Meat Pies (Time 0_04_32;14)
Add some stock and let simmer a little bit. We’ll also season it with a little salt, pepper, and thyme.Meat Pies (Time 0_04_41;01)

We’re going to put our pulled meat into a pie crust. Meat Pies (Time 0_05_13;22)
Pour the warmed sauce on top of that and seal it up.Meat Pies (Time 0_05_27;04)Meat Pies (Time 0_05_37;10)Meat Pies (Time 0_05_42;12)

We’re going to bake this mock pigeon pie in a Dutch oven. Let’s talk about these Dutch ovens for a minute. Dutch ovens like this are a specifically 18th century and North American improvement on a 17th century design. The lip at the top is specifically designed to keep the coals from falling off so the coals will stay on the top, and the legs at the bottom keep it so the air can flow underneath and keep the coals alive underneath. Meat Pies (Time 0_06_10;00)
To preheat your Dutch oven, simply leave it in the fire pit while making your pie.

It’s time to put the pie in. We need to keep the pie off the bottom of the Dutch oven so we’re going to put a couple of S hooks in here to space the pie pan off the bottom so the bottom doesn’t burn. Make sure you have plenty of space around the outside edge so you can reach in there without burning yourself.Meat Pies (Time 0_06_41;14)

Deciding exactly how many coals you want to use is a bit of a matter of judgement. Each person is going to have to get used to that. You need to practice. I put a ring of coals around the top of the lid here leaving the center a little bit open. Same thing at the bottom, there’s a little bit of opening at the very center to not get it too hot. Each one of those is going to be just a little bit different though.Meat Pies (Time 0_07_09;19)

This will take about 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your Dutch oven so keep an eye on it. Remove the Dutch oven from the coals and remove the lid. Allow the pie to cool for a minute before removing from the Dutch oven.Meat Pies (Time 0_08_57;16)

Transcription of Video:

Pies are common fare for everyone in the 18th century. We’re going to bake a couple of pies today using different baking techniques.

Our first pie is going to be a Cheshire pork pie with pork and apples. We’re going to bake it in our oven.

Our next pie will be a mock passenger pigeon pie and we’re going to bake that in our Dutch oven.

Apples have been enjoyed for centuries by people. Apples were popular in the 18th century and today the dish we’re making is called Cheshire pork pie with pippins. “Pippins” is a common name for apples in the 18th century.

In our recipe, we’re going to be using salt pork. This is true 18th century style salt pork, not something like you might find in your grocery store bacon shelf, but a leaner cut hard packed in salt like we’ve discussed in a previous video.

Likewise, we’ve sliced our pippins here and they’re ready to use in our pie. As we make our pie, what we’re going to do is we’re going to put in a layer of pork and then we’re going to put in a layer of apple.

We’re boiling our salt pork today for about an hour. Because we’re boiling it, we don’t need to rinse it off quite as much as we normally would have before using it. We’re going to slice it thin and then we’re going to season it with a little pepper. I’ve got our pie packed up here. Now it’s time to add some spices to it. I’m going to add some salt and some pepper to this to season it well so it’s got some flavor to it.

All these things come right out of our spice kit. A little bit more there. There, that’s good. Now we’re going to put some butter on top that will melt down into our pie here. We’re going to add about 2 tablespoons of water to give it a little bit of moisture.

The amount of water you need to add to this pie totally depends on the kind of apple you use. If you use a Mackintosh apple, they’ll turn to something like apple sauce, so you don’t need to add very much water. If you have a firmer crisper apple, you might need a little bit more water.

So, for pie apples, if you ‘ve got any choice and you’re not just picking off a local tree, if you go to a local grocery store, you want to look for Jonathans or Winesaps, something that’s particularly a pie apple, a tart yet sweet apple that holds together and doesn’t turn to applesauce. What you don’t want is a red delicious apple. Red delicious apples are very 20th century, they’ve been bred for their size and their color and not for their taste and they don’t make a very good pie apple at all.

We’re going to put our second pie crust on here to cover this up, we’re going to trim and seal the edges. Now let’s cut some vent holes and work on the mock pigeon pie.

Passenger pigeons were one of the most populous birds in the 18th and 19th century. There were billions of these birds on the planet. They were almost a scourge there were so many of them. They were very popular and yet you would find them in a lot of recipes. There were so many of these birds that there were reports of flocks that were a mile wide and 300 miles long that would take 14 hours to fly over. There were so many of them they would blot out the sun. Obviously we can’t use passenger pigeons today since the last one died almost 100 years ago, so today we’re going to use as our substitute a Cornish game hen.

We’ve simmered 2 Cornish game hens with onions and then we picked the meat off and put it in the bowl. Now let’s brown up a little bit of flour in some butter.

I’m going to add some stock, let this simmer a little bit. We’ll also season it with a little salt, pepper, and thyme.

By the way, our pie plates here are thrown by our master potter Gary Neater right here in Indiana and they have a lead free food safe glaze.

We’re going to put our pulled meat into a pie crust. We’re going to pour our warmed sauce on top of that, seal it up with the other pie crust, and it’s ready to bake.

There we go. We’re going to bake this mock pigeon pie in a Dutch oven. Let’s talk about these Dutch ovens for a minute. Dutch ovens like this are a specifically 18th century and North American improvement on a 17th century design. The lip at the top is specifically designed to keep the coals from falling off so the coals will stay on the top, and the legs at the bottom keep it so the air can flow underneath and keep the coals alive underneath. We’ve got our Dutch oven preheated. I kind of left it in the fire pit here and it’s good and warm. We have to get our pit ready for this. We’ve got our coals underneath. It’s time to put the pie in. We need to keep the pie off the bottom of the Dutch oven so we’re going to put a couple of S hooks in here to space the pie pan off the bottom so the bottom doesn’t burn.

We’ve got plenty of space around the outside edge so we can reach in there without burning ourselves. Now let’s put the lid on.

Deciding exactly how many coals you want to use is a bit of a matter of judgement. Each person is going to have to get used to that. You need to practice. I put a ring of coals around the top of the lid here leaving the center a little bit open. Same thing at the bottom, there’s a little bit of opening at the very center to not get it too hot. Each one of those is going to be just a little bit different though. Let’s check out our earthen oven and see if it’s ready for the pork pie.

Okay, our oven is all baked down into coals. Our soot is burned off so this is ready to go. You can see about how to use the oven better in the baking bread video. Anyway, I’m going to scrape the coals out and get this ready for the pie.

I’m going to put S Hooks inside this one also to serve as a trivet. I don’t want to burn the bottom.

There we go. We’re going to have to watch this. This one might be a little bit too hot, so we’re going to keep an eye out on it. Let’s put the door on it though.

It’s been about 10 or 15 minutes and I think this is probably ready to go. Take a quick look, whoa! It’s ready to come out. You don’t want it to go too long. Wow, look at that, looks just about perfect.

We’ll I’m sure we’ve left this set long enough. Let’s pull it off the fire and set this aside so it can cool off enough that I can take the pie out of the oven. I’ll take a quick gander here, set that lid aside. There’s a lot of steam in there. Look at that. There you go.

I’m going to let that cool off a minute before we take it out.

I can’t wait to cut these open and try them. They smell really good.

Mmm, these are excellent. Definitely you should try something like this. If this isn’t a normal thing for you, step out of your normal comfortable cooking, get into something like this. Meat pies or something that’s a little bit different. Everybody will enjoy it. All the things you’ve seen here today you can check out and see on our website or in our print catalog and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Cooking Ash Cakes

Ash Cakes (Time 0_09_29;20)

It was very common for soldiers in the 18th century, especially when they were on the march, to be issued their rations several days ahead of time. They would be issued several days of their bread ration, and because they would be gone for a while, they would likely be given just flour as bread would just go bad. They were also on the march with very little equipment to use as well and all they had was flour and they would have to make some kind of food with it. Today we’re going to make fire cake or ash cake, a very, very simple thing that the soldiers would be able to make with just the flour and a little bit of water.

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)
  • Hot Coal Bed
  • Bannock Board or flat half split of firewood(optional)
  • Large Leaves such as Grape or Cottonwood (optional)

Ash Cakes (Time 0_00_51;07)

First we’re going to need to have good ashes. We’re going to have to have a good and hot ash bed to work with. The ash bed that you’re cooking on is really important. If your ashes are grey, they’re probably already too cool to do any cooking on.Ash Cakes grey(Time 0_05_31;16)

You want white hot ash, it’s really warm. That’s the kind of ash we’re cooking with. The stuff that’s still white.Ash Cakes White(Time 0_05_34;27)
If it’s grey, it’s gotten too cold to cook with.

Next, let’s make up our dough. I’ve got a simple wooden bowl here for us to make our dough in, the flour that we’ve been issued, and I’m going to make up 3 or 4 ash cakes here.Ash Cakes (Time 0_02_05;23)

If you have any salt, available to you, which the soldiers may or may not have had salt that day or that particular time, but salt will add a lot to the taste of your fire cake, so in this case we are going to add a good bit of salt to it, and we’re going to stir that around while our ingredients are still dry so it will be easy to mix. And now we’re going to need some water. We add enough water to make a stiff paste, and we’re going to start out with maybe a little less than we need so that we don’t go overboard.Ash Cakes (Time 0_02_47;08)


If you are going to cook on the bannock board, the dough needs to be a little stickier, because we need to stick it to the board.Ash Cakes (Time 0_01_20;27)

It needs to stay there while it’s cooking. Flatten it out on the bannock board nice and thin. The thinner it is the better it’s going to cook.Ash Cakes (Time 0_03_28;07)

Our board has two holes in it so that we can prop it up.Ash Cakes (Time 0_03_56;05)About halfway through cooking, when the bottom turns brown, rotate the board so that the top can cook.Ash Cakes (Time 0_06_53;23)

Your bannock board fire cake is ready to pull off when it’s browned up all over on the outside.Ash Cakes (Time 0_08_17;03)

It may be tough to get off, but you should see it’s still a little damp on one side and cooked completely on the other.Ash Cakes (Time 0_08_35;07)


If you do not have a bannock board, but you can acquire some large leaves, we can cook our ash cakes another way. Depending on the time of year, different leaves are going to work better than others, but you want a nice big leaf that’s going to protect your cake.Ash Cakes (Time 0_01_33;06)

Be aware that the closer to the cake the leaves are, the more of its flavor is going to transfer to the cake, so grape is best. Make your dough into a thin patty, about a quarter of an inch or so, and about the size of the leaves. Carefully wrap your patty in several layers of leaves, because they will slowly burn though. Place the patty in a nice hot section of coals and gently cover with more hot coals.Ash Cakes (Time 0_05_08;21)

This will only take about 3-5 minutes to cook, but you will have to use your best judgement, because it is not something you can time. The more experience you gain with this the easier it will be to tell when it is ready to come out. When you feel it is time to remove your patty, gently scrape off the ashes and remove the leaves.Ash Cakes (Time 0_06_19;09)

If you feel that it is not done yet but it is still hot, simply set it aside for a few minutes and it will continue to cook a little bit on the inside.


Finally, if you do not have bannock board or access to large leaves, you can just put your cake straight into the coals.Ash Cakes (Time 0_07_42;27)

A little bit of ash is known to calm your digestive tract so the ash isn’t going to hurt you a bit. Make your thin patty just as if you are going to cover it in leaves and then simply place it in the coal bed and gently cover with hot coals making sure not to lose it in the fire. Ash Cakes (Time 0_07_54;07)

After a few minutes when you feel that it is ready, carefully remove the coals. Some of the coals may be stuck to your ash cake and may still be very hot.Ash Cakes (Time 0_06_09;18)

So there you have it. You’ve got the three different kinds of ash cake or fire cake. We’ve got our bannock board cake, the one we cooked right in the ashes and then the one we used the leaves for protection. Definitely very edible, I think I’ll have them for supper tonight.Ash Cakes (Time 0_09_33;00)

Transcript of Video:

It’s very common for soldiers in the 18th century, especially when they were on the march, they’d be issued their rations, maybe several days ahead of time they’d be issued several days of meat and then they’d be issued their flour or their bread ration, and because they would be gone for a while they would likely be given just flour instead of bread as that would just go bad and so there they were on the march with not very much equipment to use and all they had was flour and they would have to make some kind of food with it. Today we’re going to make fire cake or ash cake, a very, very simple thing that the soldiers would be able to make with just the flour and a little bit of water.

 

So what are we going to need to make ash cake? Well, number one we’re going to need to have good ashes. We’re going to have to have a really nice ash bed to work with, good and hot. So we don’t have very much equipment. We’re going to try to do this with three different methods. We’re going to use a simple bannock board, or if you don’t have a board like this, maybe you could just use a half split of firewood that’s nice and flat. We’re also going to use a method where we put leaves around our fire cake or ash cake and so all you’re going to need for that is some large leaves like a grape leaf or a large tree leaf, burdock or cabbage leaves, something like that. And the last method, we’re not going to use anything at all, we’re just going to make our cake and we’re going to place them right on the coals.

So, now our coals are getting really close to being ready to use. Let’s make up our dough. I’ve got a simple wooden bowl here for us to make our dough in, the flour that we’ve been issued, and I’m going to make up 3 or 4 ash cakes here. If you have any salt, available to you, which the soldiers may or may not have had salt that day or that particular time, but salt will add a lot to the taste of your fire cake, so in this case we are going to add a good bit of salt to it, and we’re going to stir that around while our ingredients are still dry so it will be easy to mix. And now we’re going to need some water. We add enough water to make a stiff paste, and we’re going to start out with maybe a little less than we need so that we don’t go overboard. For the ash cakes that we’re going to cook on the bannock board, we’re going to get this to be a little stickier because we need to stick it to the board. It needs to stay there while it’s cooking.

Okay, we’ve got our dough mixed up. It’s nice and the right kind of consistency, a little stiff but still sticky enough to work with and I’ve got this. We’re going to take this one and we’re going to flatten it out on our bannock board, going to get it nice and thin. The thinner, the better it’s going to cook. We need to make sure that it’s sticky enough that it sticks to the board. Our board has two holes in it so that we can prop it up. Let’s put this up by the fire and let this cook while I’m working on the other ones.

Okay, we’ve got the fire banked up a little bit higher on this spot and I’m going to place the board, I don’t want to get it too close so it catches on fire, but I can feel the heat here, that feels pretty good. I’ve got our little stick here to prop it up at an angle, and that feels really good. We’re going to let that cook.

Let’s use leaves for our next fire cakes. I’m going to keep watching that one and make sure it doesn’t burn, but here’s our next fire cake. Let’s take out a dough section here, and we’re going to make it into a patty. We’re not making it as thin as that but, you know, thinish. We’re going to make it in relationship to the size of our leaves. I’ve got here some wild grape leaves and some cottonwood leaves, depending on the time of year, you know, different leaves are going to work better than other ones but you want a nice big leaf that’s going to protect your fire cake, so let’s use our grape leaf on the inside because I want a bit of the taste. It does end up on the fire cake.  We’re going to put grape leaves on the inside and then a little extra protection, because the leaves are going to slowly burn through, we’re going to put the cottonwood leaves on, and I’ve got a really nice coal section here, we’re just going to place this right onto the coals. Since it’s got the coals right on top and below it, it’s not going to take that long to cook, 3, or 4, maybe 5 minutes. That’s something you’re going to judge, you’re not going to be able to tell, so it takes a little experience to know when it’s ready to come out. The ash bed is really important that you’re cooking on. If your ashes are grey, they’re probably already too cool to do any cooking on, like this color. This white hot ash over here, it’s really warm, that’s the kind of ash we’re cooking with. The stuff that’s still white. If it’s grey, it’s gotten too cold to cook with.

Our bannock board biscuit looks like it still needs a little bit of time to cook. I’ll have to turn it over pretty shortly, but this one’s probably ready to come out. It’s been about 4 minutes or so. I’m just going to lightly scrape off our ashes from the top and scoop the whole patty out. There it is. Let’s put it on top of this board so we can see how it turned out.  There we are. It feels like this one’s just about done. I could have probably left it in about another minute or two but it’s still hot, it’s still cooking so I’m just going to go ahead and set this off to the side where it will stay warm, but it’s still hot so it’s still cooking on the inside.

Our bannock board fire cake over here, you can see it’s starting to brown up along the bottom side so I’m going to go ahead and rotate the board so the other side, the top side of it, can cook. You want to be really gentle when we turn this over so we don’t knock the bread off, and I’m going to tilt this a little bit further because our coals are getting a little bit cooler, but they’re still really warm right there, so it should cook right up.

Well, let’s try our fire cake where we actually put it directly on the coals. If you don’t have good leaves to work with you can just try cooking our fire cake right on the coals. It’s going to char up on the outside but that’s all we have to work with so let’s do it. We’re going to place it right on the coals here. I’ve got a nice hot section of coals and we’ll place it right on there. I’m going to use my tomahawk because this fire is hot. There we go, and I’m going to find some hot coals close by and we’re going to set them on top, lightly and gently bury it in the hot coals. I’m not going to bury it completely. I don’t want to lose it in the fire. I want to be able to see around the edges just a little bit so I can watch it cooking.

Well, it looks like our bannock board fire cake is ready to pull off. It’s browned up all over on the outside so we’re going to go ahead and pull this off the board and put it onto our plate. This may be tough to get off, but this one came off, now you can see it’s still a little damp on that side, cooked completely on that side. I call that done.

Well, our bannock bread’s off, the other one’s out, it smells like our ash cake that’s cooking right here in the coals is probably ready to pull out too, so let’s pull it out with that, dust the ashes off the top. We’ve still got some that are sticking to the bottom, gently, might still be hot coals, so I’m not going to touch them. A little bit of ash is known to calm your digestive tract so the ash isn’t going to hurt you a bit, and it looks really good for cooking right there in the coals.

So there you have it. You’ve got the three different kinds of ash cake or fire cake. We’ve got our bannock board cake, the one we cooked right in the ashes and then the one we used the leaves for protection. Let’s try these out. Definitely very edible, I think I’ll have them for supper tonight. Any of these things you’ve seen here you can see on our website or in our print catalog and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

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