This is our demonstration area where all kinds of fun things happen.
Demonstrations happen periodically around the Village throughout the year and during special events at the Village.
Around the demonstration shed area there is smoke house, sugar cane mill and boiling shed, blacksmith and woodworking areas and demonstrations. These activities are normally shown at special events like the Country Jubilee and Pinellas Folk Festival.
Smoke House: A Cure for Meat
Original built 1898 in Largo, half-size reconstruction built 1998.
Before grocery stores or reliable refrigeration, rural families preserved or "cured" their meat or fish in smokehouses. While the meat was still fresh, they covered it with a salt based seasoning, about 6-8 pounds of salt per 100 pounds of meat. Then they placed the seasoned meat in the smokehouse where a fire burned at the back. The process took anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending upon the thickness of the meat. When it was done, the meat or fish had a brownish crust.
They used specific trees for the firewood and added other items to the fire such as apples or corncobs for a distinctive smoked flavor. In Pinellas they used hardwoods such a pecan, oak, hickory and buttonwood in the smokehouses. Although very plentiful, they never used pine unless they wanted their food to have a turpentine taste!
Folks in rural Pinellas filled their smokehouses with mullet caught in nets from the Gulf, beef jerky from the cattle they raised or smoked ham from their hogs that roamed freely. The Largo Area Historical Society operates the Smoke House at special events at Heritage Village.
Sugar Cane Mill
To extract juice from the sugar cane plant, workers fed stalks in between the two rollers and caught the crushed can as it came out. The cane juice flowed from the grinder into a huge barrel. They rolled the full barrel to the boiling shed and emptied it into a cast iron kettle. Then they cooked the juice down to make sugar cane syrup.
This structure resembles many boiling sheds found along Florida’s west coast during the late 1800s and early 1900s when sugar cane was a supplemental cash crop.
Farmers harvested stalks of cane and ran them through a sugar mill to extract the juice. They boiled the juice to make sugar cane syrup. A fire at the back of the shed, tended with a long rake, swirled heat around and under the kettle of syrup making an even temperature. The longer the syrup boiled, the thicker it became. It takes 10 gallons of sugar cane juice to make 1 gallon of syrup. The Largo Area Historical Society operates the Sugar Cane Mill and Boiling Shed at special events at Heritage Village.