My Latest Crock Pot Came with a side of Humble Pie…

Dana sent me an email that contained a link and a cryptic one-line description:

Large ceramic pot with lid – the kind used to preserve meat for winter.  $20.

Sounded like a fermenting (crock) pot to me.  And it was less than a kilometer from home.  I confirmed there were no chips, and the pot was in tact.  It was being sold as an antique.  A pot like this, in our neighborhood, would easily grab $80 and possibly much more.

The description mentioned nothing about pickling, fermenting or that it was a ‘crock’ pot.  Just that you could preserve meat in it.  I figured that’s why it was still available – I don’t even know how she stumbled upon it.  And, while I know of communities who salt can meat, I know of no one who has ever tried to preserve it using a fermenting pot.  I rationalized that the owner didn’t know what it was.

My Latest Crock Pot Came with a side of Humble Pie...

On picking the pot up, I asked about the claims of preserving meat with an open mind.  I was certain I was going to get a generic answer that may or may not have been accurate – instead I was treated to a delightful account of Canadian Farm life from 60 years ago.  This exact pot was indeed used to preserve meat.

The owner recalled fall hunts where his family harvested deer and moose (I got the impression that it was mostly deer).  Fat was trimmed from the animal and layers of salt and meat were packed into the crock and the salted meat would last through the winter in the cold cellar.  Any leftover meat would be kept cold in the cellar via large blocks of ice which were covered in sawdust and would stay in tact all winter long.

My Latest Crock Pot Came with a side of Humble Pie...

It was fascinating insight.  Even as a hunter and a preserver I found myself in awe – I’d never heard stories of this before.

It was a great encounter – one that was sweetened when I shared my plans for the crock (to actually use it).  My host was surprised that anyone was preserving at all and encouraged by it.  He simply didn’t want to throw out his pot and was hoping someone would use it as an antique.  He was excited to hear that it would be put to use.

The Canadian Government still states that the only ways to safely preserve meat at home are freezing and curing (even jerky is recommended to be stored in freezer).  The US Government does advocate pressure canning.  It’s amazing to think how much we’ve forgotten – it makes one wonder if, at times, we’re overly cautious in the modern kitchen.

For now, it was fascinating to have a peak into our past – and to be able to use a piece of history in our somewhat modern kitchen. :)


  1. My uncle wrote a family history about 15 years ago and talked about preserving pork by frying the chops, packing them in a crock and then pouring rendered lard over the top. A variation on confit. They were in central Iowa and they kept cool enough to last most of the winter. They also ground the meat and stuff sausage and hung it in the chimney to smoke and cured the hams and bacon.

  2. Aagaard Farms says:

    Neato! A fascinating piece of the past. A method almost lost….

  3. Christina says:

    My grandparents on the praries used to do this with the masses of duck they shot in the fall. Turned out delicious! And yes, we are way too careful about home preserving and not nearly careful enough about the crappy food we can buy commercially. If i was more conspiracy minded I might think that the warnings about home preserving were geared to create a bigger market for commercially produced food……just sayin if I was more paranoid…..

  4. Looks just like the one I have here! $20 bucks!? What a steal.

  5. My parents have at least 4 of these crocks that they have always just used for decoration. My grandmother actually used to work at medalta pottery in Medicine Hat. However I have never heard how they are actually used. The factory still exists by the way but it is a museum now. They might have some great information about this lost art.

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