Preserving Family Recipes
How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions

Valerie J. Frey

A step-by-step guide for the family food genealogist


“The history of families, of communities, of cultures has a lot to do with what they eat. Rarely do we document the repast, but Valerie J. Frey is aiming to patch that loss with Preserving Family Recipes. She is teaching us to preserve the recipes of our ancestors. It is an important read for the future and past of our food.”
—Hugh Acheson, author of A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen

“If you have ever been overwhelmed by the task of researching, analyzing, organizing, and preserving family recipes, you probably have longed for a trained archivist to take charge! Well, one finally has in this exhaustive and delightful work by educator/archivist Valerie J. Frey, who expertly guides readers step-by-step to create family cookbooks, heirloom recipe collections, and food-related oral histories and, most important, shows how to protect historic family recipes, recollections, papers, and artifacts for future generations to enjoy and savor.”
—Marcie Cohen Ferris, author of The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region

"Frey infuses her book with stories and recipes she collected from her own family, which makes it a cozy joy to read. At the same time, by including these, she proves that the process of documenting such recipes is not only feasible, but wholly worthwhile."
—Jenna Mason, Southern Foodways Alliance

"There is certainly more in this book than can be described here, so if you are a cookbook collector, family food historian, someone who likes old recipes, or you enjoy the history of cooking, especially Southern cooking, this book is for you. It would be a great last-minute gift as well."
—Kenneth H. Thomas, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"This guide is excellent for not only explaining how to preserve the many formats upon which family recipes have been recorded and saved over time but also for encouraging the conservation of a recipe’s essential value by continuing to create and share the dish. In seven engaging and informative chapters, Frey demonstrates how to organize, manage, and share a recipe preservation project from beginning to end. . . . This is as much of a useful, practical guide to preserving recipes as it is a manual for artistically preserving the memories of family connections, lifestyles, and traditions."
Library Journal

“Valerie Frey has put forth a wonderful book that will help anyone capture precious family recipes… This book offers detailed information of how to begin, how to tackle recipes that don’t offer cooking terms used today, and much more.”
—Sherry Monahan, National Genealogical Society Quarterly

More / Hide


Heirloom dishes and family food traditions are rich sources of nostalgia and provide vivid ways to learn about our families’ past, yet they can be problematic. Many family recipes and food traditions are never documented in written or photographic form, existing only as unwritten know-how and lore that vanishes when a cook dies. Even when recipes are written down, they often fail to give the tricks and tips that would allow another cook to accurately replicate the dish. Unfortunately, recipes are also often damaged as we plunk Grandma’s handwritten cards on the countertop next to a steaming pot or a spattering mixer, shortening their lives.

This book is a guide for gathering, adjusting, supplementing, and safely preserving family recipes and for interviewing relatives, collecting oral histories, and conducting kitchen visits to document family food traditions from the everyday to special occasions. It blends commonsense tips with sound archival principles, helping you achieve effective results while avoiding unnecessary pitfalls. Chapters are also dedicated to unfamiliar regional or ethnic cooking challenges, as well as to working with recipes that are “orphans,” surrogates, or terribly outdated. Whether you simply want to save a few accurate recipes, help yesterday’s foodways evolve so they are relevant for today’s table, or create an extensive family cookbook, this guidebook will help you to savor your memories.

Page count: 320
150 b&w images
Trim size: 8 x 9


List price: $26.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

Valerie J. Frey is a writer, archivist, and an educational consultant. She lives in Athens, Georgia.