The Smoke House

In the 1800s and early 1900s, the smokehouse was essential for meat preservation. During this time, people primarily ate pork, as cattle were used for milk products rather than meat.

After the animal was butchered, it was placed in wooden barrels or large earthenware crock and soaked for four to ten days in salt water salty enough to float a fresh egg. After it was soaked, it would be hung over a smoldering fire made of green hickory chips and sawdust.

Hams, shoulders, bacon, as well as sausage were smoked to delectable perfection. The fire below had to be kept smoldering, without flame. To produce this, a small bed of coals was heated with the green hickory chips and sawdust placed on top of it. Hickory chips gave the meat a distinctive smokey flavor. The smokehouse had no chimney, and was lined with hard wood. It was kept closed during the smoking process, smoldering the entire time. Once the farmer had determined the meat had been smoked sufficiently, he would remove it and store it in the cellar of his house. Flour sacks were used to cover and tie up the meat.

The smokehouse at the Village was originally located at 4373 South, 350 West on the farm of Roy Balsiger's mother. The house on that farm was built in 1899, and Roy believes that the smokehouse also dates from about that time. The smokehouse was donated to the Swiss Heritage Society in 1988.