This weekend, I was chatting with a good friend about the various pickling projects she is/has been doing. We eventually made our way to discussing the various vegetables that she wanted to try, and ones that would behave in a similar fashion.
On my drive home today, I found myself thinking about the various methods used to preserve things, and the value of knowing *how* the various methods act to preserve foods.
Having thought about the various recipes I know by heart (prosciutto, I'm looking at you...), I've come to the conclusion that it is far more important for those I teach to know the mechanisms at play. A recipe makes teaching various levels of method-stacking easier, but being able to conjure those recipes from the depths of you mind isn't as important as knowing *how* and *why* they work.
By learning how preservation works, it becomes easier to apply that knowledge to preserving other goods.
Trying to make a Roman bacon? Cover pork with salt!
Trying to make sauerkraut? Cover cabbage with salt!
With the technical knowledge at the forefront of education, a shift occurs from "I know how to make a Genoa salami!" to "I know how to prepare, and preserve, any manner of sausage!" This shift in how a student internalizes what they have learned can hopefully spark a stronger desire to experiment on their own.
In hindsight, it seems such a simple thing to consider when forming my informational handouts for classes. When I actually delve into it, it becomes more apparent that it's not always a common approach, but a change that can have a great impact.
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