(BPT) – Smell and flavor are powerful memory triggers. Just smelling a homecooked meal, especially one based on a family recipe, can conjure up fond memories. When you enjoy family recipes, you’re honoring your family’s history and culture.
Culinary historian and bestselling author Sarah Lohman believes in the importance of recipes handed down from generations. “Recipes rely on memory and feeling, instructions from an elder or a handwritten note. The history of your family’s food is a way to access and preserve your ancestors’ stories,” she said.
In fact, Americans take great pride in their family recipes. New research commissioned by Bob Evans in honor of the 75th anniversary of its founder’s signature sausage recipe found that two in three believe their family recipes are worthy of bestselling cookbooks. The research also found that family recipes bring a strong sense of connection for people, evoking feelings of joy (48%), love (46%), nostalgia (35%) and satisfaction (24%).
It’s a good idea to learn about your history and the recipes that tie it all together. Here are five ways to ensure your family recipes (and stories) are preserved for future generations.
1. Learn about your history
By learning about your heritage, you’ll gain insight into the recipes handed down within your family. You may even learn about your family’s immigration story and how they adapted recipes with the available ingredients in their new home.
“A great example of the link between history and food is sausage-making,” said Lohman. “There are various sausage-making traditions from around the world that were carried across land and water by migrants to the United States and recreated here.”
Sometimes these family recipes are even shared with the world. For example, Bob Evans sausage is made with premium cuts of pork and a signature seasoning recipe created by Bob Evans himself. To get inspiration for your own family recipes, visit www.bobevansgrocery.com.
2. Organize recipe gatherings
Hosting a family gathering is a great way to bond with relatives while preserving your family’s recipes. Encourage everyone to bring their favorite recipes and share their cooking techniques. You could even pick a dish to serve or to cook together once the recipes are documented.
Make sure to have recipe cards, a cookbook journal or some method of documenting the recipes digitally or online together. It’s also a good idea to write down the history and significance of each dish. Don’t forget to label recipes with the names of family members who contributed to them and the date the recipes were added.
3. Create recipe keepsakes
Once you’ve collected all the existing recipes, create a family cookbook. Consider adding photos, stories and anecdotes to each page. If using recipe cards, make sure to laminate them using sheet protectors to guard against spills and stains. Or consider digitizing the cookbook. You can easily find templates online, and once you’re happy with the design and layout, you can use an online service to print and bind copies. Recipes can also be printed on items like cutting boards and casserole dishes to gift to family members and hand down as cherished keepsakes.
4. Record a video demonstration
Technology has made it easier than ever to preserve recipes and cooking techniques. Choose a few recipes and record yourself demonstrating how to prepare and cook all the ingredients.
Not only is a recording a great way to pass down your heritage and culture to future generations, but it also helps preserve cooking techniques and nuances that may not be conveyed through written words alone. Make sure to save your recordings to a secure digital archive for future family members to access.
5. Create your own recipes
If you’re a home chef, chances are you’ve adapted or created your own recipes. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
If you dig into your heritage, you may find dishes that haven’t been passed down but that sound delicious. Try cooking them and make changes to suit your tastes.
Preserving family recipes isn’t just about food. Documenting and passing on your family’s history and traditions is a meaningful project for the whole family. Using these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to preserving your family’s heritage and memories.