Preserving Old Recipes | Treasuries of Family Traditions

preserving old recipes
 An old family heirloom recipe for home-made BBQ sauce. The many food stains suggest that this was a well-loved recipe and one that deserves archival preservation!

There are some things in life that need to be preserved, cared for, and passed on to future generations. Family photographs come instantly to mind, especially when one reads about an individual who saved only one thing from a flood or a burning house—their family photo album.

Yet some things in life are more challenging to preserve. How do you capture the smell of your grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving? How do you pass along to your kids the flavors of the holidays they grew up enjoying? How do you recreate that moment of joy when you bring out your loved one’s favorite dish on a special occasion?

Its easy, actually, if you’ve taken the time to preserve your old family recipes!

preserving old recipes
Acid-free hinged lid boxes, short top boxes, and archival index cards, will help protect and preserve your old family recipes for generations to come.

Old family recipes are important because, like photographs, they can transport us back in time to our loved ones’ homes where many happy memories were made.

preserving old recipes
Recipe books frequently get a lot of wear and tear. It is time to transfer these heirloom recipes to archival pages and enclosures to ensure that generations to come can cook up the feasts that have pleased the family for decades.
preserving old recipes
Old family recipes come in many shapes and sizes, and archival preservation solutions can accommodate them all.

Preserving Old Recipes | Protect the Originals

Recipes written and used by a loved one hold a lot of significance, perhaps more than you’ve ever really considered. In many cases multiple generations have enjoyed the same recipes, passed down from one family member to another over the years, decades, and centuries.

Paper, however, is delicate. If not cared for properly these unassuming treasures will yellow, get torn, and the handwriting or ink may fade. Another danger that recipes experience is food splatter. So keep these keys to the past safe by protecting them with the right archival materials and practices.

preserving old recipes
Archival print pages come in a variety of sizes and pocket formats to allow you to preserve all shapes and sizes of family recipes.

If your recipes are written on small cards, sheets of notepaper or cut out of an old newspaper or magazine, you can easily keep these originals together and safe in an archival binder. Even if your recipes are all over the map in terms of size and shape, archival print pages are available in a number of sizes and formats. These pages will hold your recipes in safe and secure pockets that will help you get organized and, in addition, these durable, translucent, archival polypropylene pages will also protect your originals from the various splashes and spills that happen in every kitchen.

preserving old recipes
A full-sized print page for storing full-sized recipes.

If you have larger or full-sized 8 1/2 x 11″ recipes, you can easily store them in print pages or 3-ring page protectors, which will display Grandma’s beloved apple pie recipe while keeping it safe from your everyday kitchen mishaps. Both of these types of pages fit nicely into collection-grade ring binders or a binder-in-a-box which make the perfect gifts for those hard-to-please family members or friends.

preserving old recipes
Collector Grade Binders with Slipcases
preserving old recipes
Old family recipes can be protected and preserved in archival polyethylene bags, which can be stored in acid-free boxes to help preserve them for generations to come.

By preserving and using old recipes you are maintaining an active link to your family’s history, and enjoying the results at dinnertime or your next holiday party!

Preserving Old Recipes | Go Digital

If you’re the type of person who prefers to keep backups of precious original materials that have been in the family for years, you may wish to digitize your recipes. This will also allow you to access your recipes directly from a tablet or smartphone instead of using your precious family heirloom originals.

preserving old recipes
Some family recipes straight off the scanner. Black paper was placed on top of these recipes before scanning, as this color contrast really sets the recipes apart.

You can upload your recipes to a computer a few ways. If you have a scanner you can simply scan the recipes into the computer. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can take pictures of your recipes using a digital camera or your smartphone.

Once in your computer or tablet you can organize your recipes in many of the programs you may already be familiar with, from basic Word docs to more elaborate software or apps that will allow you to create and store your recipes, as well as those you find online. You can sort and categorize them based on food type, cuisine style, or when it was first prepared. You can even attach images of the dish to each recipe, depending on which program(s) you’re using. 

While everyone has their own method for protecting family treasures, consider these suggestions to protect your important family recipes so that you and the generations to come can make your loved ones’ favorite dishes whenever you want!

Cooking Up Other Ideas for Preservation

If you have any additional questions or would like more information on the archival storage and presentation materials that are right for you, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.