What's New is Old Again: Traditional Food Storage in Earthenware

The poster on the wall of Barbara Taylor's booth at the Green Living Show says "What's new is old again"- a phrase I have used to discuss building technologies of a hundred years ago. Barbara is a potter, and makes clay jars that keep mushrooms fresh for a month, and French style butter keepers that keep butter fresh without refrigeration, cooling it by evaporation of water through the unglazed clay.

But most intriguing were her wine cups, which she describes as a "revolutionary old technology" that gives wine a "dramatically smoother flavour."

Barbara claims that the unglazed earthenware absorbs the tannins from the wine and makes it "ever so much smoother." At dinner we did a test with some cheap red wine, some in a big Riedel glass, some in the earthenware wine cup. There WAS a difference, it was noticeably smoother.

But as my nephew Dan pointed out, why would you want to change the taste of wine? Vintners have spent a lot of time making it, essentially designing it to have a particular flavour, and is the point not to enjoy what they have made instead of changing it?

We concluded that it really depends on the wine- if you drink the cheap stuff, taking off a bit of the edge is a good thing and these earthenware cups make a difference. If you are breaking out the Margaux, stick with glass. More at Earthworkspottery

I interview Barbara Taylor. She has a very quiet voice in a noisy room.

Tags: Crafts