Pasto Ag Museum to feature historical meat preservation on Sept. 21

September 15, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The second in a series of fall open houses at Penn State's Pasto Agricultural Museum will focus on meat preservation through history.

The event is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21.

With the theme, "Meat the Past: Historical Preservation Techniques," Catherine Cutter, professor of food science and Penn State Extension meat safety specialist, and colleagues will highlight methods and materials used over time to preserve meat.

"During the presentation, visitors can sample beef jerky, canned beef and meat snack sticks made in Penn State's Meat Lab," said Rita Graef, Pasto Museum curator.

Cutter's presentation is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., with ongoing demonstrations and discussion to answer visitors' questions about meat preservation.

Since the time when early man began hunting for food, not everything has been eaten at once, Graef noted. Some food was kept for times when food was scarce. In cold climates, meat and fish could be frozen, but in some warmer climates meat was cut into thin strips to air-dry quickly and then was stored for later use.

"Keeping salt pork and curing bacon for the long, hot journey across the thousands of miles of the Oregon Trail was an important part of our past," Graef said. "Bacon in the 1840s looked -- and probably tasted -- a bit different than what we eat today. In the mid-1860s, salt pork was a major component of a Civil War soldier's diet. Soldiers' rations depended on preserved foods that traveled well."

Operated by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, the museum is welcoming visitors from 1 to 4 p.m. every Sunday during Penn State home football weekends as part of an initiative to increase public awareness of the museum's collection.

Other open houses will feature the following themes:

-- Sept. 28: Early Extension Movies Matinee.

-- Oct. 26: Fabulous Fibers (spin, weave, sew, quilt).

-- Nov. 2: Forest and Trees (wood and timber).

-- Nov. 16 WILD! (with a special exhibit from the Ecosystem Science and Management Department's bird and mammal collection).

-- Nov. 30: Annual Celebration and Ice Cream Social.

Graef said the open houses will help the public appreciate the time when energy for work was supplied by the power of humans and animals.

"By seeing and touching tools and equipment used in early agriculture and rural life, people will better understand how early technological developments led to modern-day advancements," she said.

More information on the museum and its open houses is available at To receive information and event reminders via email, send a message to Graef can be reached at 814-863-1383 or by email at

Located on the Ag Progress Days site at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs -- 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45 -- the museum features hundreds of rare farm and home implements from the "muscle-power era," before the advent of electricity and gasoline-powered engines.

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Last Updated September 16, 2014