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Does a Paper Recipe Really Need to be Digitally Restored?

Does a Paper Recipe Really Need to be Digitally Restored?

The simple answer is YES! One person in particular sent me several recipes from her grandmother’s recipe box — some of which were her great-great-grandmother’s recipes! They were yellow or simply brown with age, the edges of the paper are worn out and misshaped, and some were badly torn. The words were difficult to read as some were faded, buried under layers of stains, or even food splatters. Yes, these were extremely old recipes but the same things happen with more recent ones if they’re not cared for properly.

Comparison, before and after: 100+ year old recipe needing restoration. Stained, yellowed with age, edges are badly deteriorating on the left. Right side is restored with clear ledgible words and handwriting preserved.

Comparison, before and after of two recipes: Old recipe torn in several places. Left is recipe badly needing restoration and right side is the recipe restored..

Comparison, before and after of two recipes: Old recipe torn in several places. Left is recipe badly needing restoration and right side is the recipe restored..

Paper, being a natural product can and will breakdown. After decades of use, some handwritten recipes are so frail that they’re not even able to be handled — which nearly renders it useless, especially if you need to turn it over.¬†Below is a list of 5 things that have a negative effect on papers:

  • Light
  • High humidity & heat
  • Liquid and oil — left on the counter or on your hands while cooking/baking
  • Dust and soot
  • Fire — I realize this is obvious but it can be a real threat to your recipe while cooking/baking so keep it far away from the flame.

Here’s 2 great articles that talk about how to store important papers. One is from the American Museum of Natural History and the other helpful article that specifically focuses on recipes is from Archival Methods.

Need help with preserving and restoring your family’s handwritten treasures? There is hope and I’m here to help! Contact me, Marinette Kozlow, via email here.