In the period between 1600 and 1800, food conservation techniques such as fermenting, smoking, and pickling were crucial to the globalization of trade and ensuring food supplies. Food preservation thus played an important role in the economic and demographic growth of European trade centres. Yet we still know little about how knowledge of food preservation was produced and circulated.

The project PRESERVARE: Large-scale conservation of perishable foodstuffs in the Low Countries, 1600-1800, analyses how not only scientific and institutionalised knowledge, but also practical, everyday knowledge, developed in households and businesses, shaped the development of food preservation techniques. Because this knowledge is often not formally recorded, research is a challenge. Through an innovative combination of historical data analysis from various sources, reconstruction of historical techniques and analyses of archaeological finds, this project maps these undescribed processes for the first time.
Special attention is paid to the diverse groups of people who played a role in the development of conservation techniques.

The project analyses how embodied, unconscious knowledge developed not separately from, but in conjunction with, more formal, written knowledge. PRESERVARE thus makes an important contribution to both research into food conservation and the development of research into historical knowledge practices in general. The project will start in September 2024 and will last five years. The ERC grant makes it possible to appoint a team of two PhD students, a postdoc, a data manager and a number of practical experts.

Research group


Funded by

ERC Consolidator Grant