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Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:22 pm

Reading cookery books is a hobby of mine and, although my favourites are by the modern cooks, some old books have intriguing ingredients or methods. For instance, you could not only fresh yeast at the bakers, but you could also buy a lump of fresh dough to make teacakes, chelsea buns, bread rolls etc.

This morning I have been reading about Liquid Yeast. It was used during the Goldrush, the Klondyke and the Australian Outback where proper yeast was unavailable. Basically pour warm potato water into a beer bottle with 5 raisins, stopper it and leave for 2-3 days. Use this to replace water in abread recipe.

Next was Scratchins Cake, which is a cake made with the lumpy bits of fat left over after rendering down pig fat into lard. Similar to Lardy Cake or Stotty Cake as all made with lard, dried fruits, sugar, spices (except Scratchins was made with sugar, lemon juice and an egg).

Next was Fig Pie, or Figgy Pudding. I knew the name but hadn't ever thought what it might be. Apparently large raisins were called 'figs' in many parts of the country. Fig Pie is a pastry base, with a layer of raisins, topped with beaten egg, sugar and a pastry lid.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Suelle » Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:24 pm

Isn't Liquid Yeast what has become known as a sourdough starter these days?
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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:30 pm

Suelle, I wondered that too but I asked my husband who does our baking and he says sourdough starter is a mix of flour and water. There's no flour in the liquid 'yeast' recipe.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:44 pm

Soul Cakes - recipe is like that for parkin but small cakes made specially for 31 Oct in readiness for 1 Nov (All Souls Day). Given to children who came to the door. Replaced by Penny for the Guy in later years I expect.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Suelle » Fri Mar 12, 2021 1:16 pm

Binky wrote:Suelle, I wondered that too but I asked my husband who does our baking and he says sourdough starter is a mix of flour and water. There's no flour in the liquid 'yeast' recipe.


I think it's 'wild yeast' that I'm thinking of, which is still used as a method of bread-making. https://nourishedkitchen.com/wild-yeast/

I have a few old cookery books too. One of the most interesting is one written mainly for bachelors living in the 'tropics' (West Coast of Africa), which was written with the aim of helping them instruct their house-boys to cook the sort of British food they wanted. There is the occasional nod to local recipes and produce, and perhaps surprisingly for a book written in 1936, mentions the increasing availability of frozen food.
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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Fri Mar 12, 2021 1:32 pm

Frozen food in the '30s is a surprise. I knew that refrigerators were available (for the rich) but a freezer is definitely unexpected in that era.

What sort of recipes are in the 'tropical' cookbook? I don't know much about African cookery, but I know that we adopted a lot from India (kedgeree, chutney, curries, Lea & Perrins sauce).

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Suffs » Fri Mar 12, 2021 1:38 pm

[quote="Binky"...This morning I have been reading about Liquid Yeast. It was used during the Goldrush, the Klondyke and the Australian Outback where proper yeast was unavailable. Basically pour warm potato water into a beer bottle with 5 raisins, stopper it and leave for 2-3 days. Use this to replace water in abread recipe....[/quote]

I suspect the beer bottles weren't washed out ... there would be the remnants of the brewer's yeast in the bottle ... add warm water with starch in it and some sugar (raisins) and the yeast will grow.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Earthmaiden » Fri Mar 12, 2021 1:39 pm

I love reading old cookery books and so often they make sense of dishes which have evolved into different things during the 20th/21st centuries.

I hadn't realised that 'fig' was a term for other dried fruits.It makes perfect sense now!

I have read of soul cakes recently. I wondered if their demise, like other Halloween traditions, was a result of the Puritan influence. How nice it would be if we could have them instead of the commercial chocolate fest which has appeared now!

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Suelle » Fri Mar 12, 2021 1:40 pm

Most of the recipes look very inter-war British - roast, stews, fried chops etc - but the book does make use of local fruits and vegetables such as yams, plantains and peanuts.

I've just found recipe for preparing and cooking porcupine! :shock:
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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Stokey Sue » Fri Mar 12, 2021 2:34 pm

[quote="Suffs

I suspect the beer bottles weren't washed out ... there would be the remnants of the brewer's yeast in the bottle ... add warm water with starch in it and some sugar (raisins) and the yeast will grow.[/quote]
I think you are right. Yeast spores on the raisins might also bloom

Going back to frozen foods - people didn’t have domestic freezers but New Zealand lamb and Argentine beef were imported frozen by the Victorians and once imported distributed and sold as fresh meat, there was a cold store in Regent’s Parke, I was reading about it recently

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Fri Mar 12, 2021 2:49 pm

There used to be 'ice houses' in the grounds of country houses. I think we saw one at Heligan a few years ago. Large room (sometimes partially underground ) that would have been lined with ice blocks. Victorians kept their ice cream and ice cubes in there as well as meat.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Stokey Sue » Fri Mar 12, 2021 2:59 pm

Stokey Sue wrote:
Suffs wrote:
I suspect the beer bottles weren't washed out ... there would be the remnants of the brewer's yeast in the bottle ... add warm water with starch in it and some sugar (raisins) and the yeast will grow.

I think you are right. Yeast spores on the raisins might also bloom

Going back to frozen foods - people didn’t have domestic freezers but New Zealand lamb and Argentine beef were imported frozen by the Victorians and once imported distributed and sold as fresh meat, there was a cold store in Regent’s Parke, I was reading about it recently

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Suffs » Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:41 pm

This ice house is just along the road from my old home and is visible from the road

https://www.reddit.com/r/ArchitecturalR ... gham_hall/

It has been used in living memory ... in hard winter weather blocks of ice were hauled up the hill from the lake and stacked in the ice house where they would remain frozen for months.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Seatallan » Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:00 pm

There was an ice house (or the remains of one- it wasn't in anywhere near as good condition as your pic Suffs) not far from where we used to live. We often walked past it on one of our local walks. I don't think many people knew about it as it was hidden in a wood up on a hill. It was near a former inn, which prior to being an inn had been a priory (it's now a private house) and I think it was probably associated. I loved it!
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Re: Very old recipes

Postby scullion » Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:52 pm

there are quite a few ancient cookbooks on project gutenberg and in the online archive - things like 'the form of cury' and 'hannah glass', among others.
i think the oldest original cookery book i have goes back to 1911.
i have a few (modern) books of old recipes like wartime ones and medieval ones etc.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Binky » Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:57 pm

A recipe from 1890 is for elvers, caught fresh near the River Severn. Not really a recipe, just an instruction to fry them in lard with salt & pepper. The next is for Pork Tail Soup, made with lentils, carrots, parsnip and onions. Can you even get pork tails or elvers these days?

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Stokey Sue » Fri Mar 12, 2021 6:13 pm

I have cooked pig's tails (which is what they were sold as) - maybe last 30 years ago, when I had a butcher who kept a brine tub and prepared salt pork

I put in them in a Caribbean recipe of rice cooked with pickled pork, specifically tails, they have also had them bought fresh and used in another Caribbean dish, souse, which is home pickled trotters, but the tails go in too
Versions of the recipe vary, this is how I have been taught:-
You boil the fresh trotters and tails in water until tender, then drain reserving the stock
You soak (souse) the pieces of meat in fresh lime juice with a lot of salt, Scotch bonnet peppers, onions and sliced cucumber for at least 24 hours
You drain it and put the meat into a little dressing made with some of the stock, more lime juice, onion, cucumber and a little more hot pepper if you like

In Barbados, where it is said to be best it is served with a local black pudding which is a bit different from the UK version, softer and different seasoning - I haven't been to Barbados, but I have had it made by a Bajan (Barbadian) in London

You can buy pickled (salted) tails from African and Caribbean shops in London, often dyed red

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Busybee » Fri Mar 12, 2021 6:17 pm

When I lived in Gloucester in the 90’s there would be an annual news piece on local tv about the elvers, if I remember correctly most were sold to Japan. I believe that very few were eaten locally.

Pork tail, can’t say I have ever come across it but I did have a slow cooker full of oxtail yesterday. It’s been slow cooked with an onion and stock cube. I have shredded the meat but I’m undecided what to do with it. Too much meat for soup, maybe a pie filling. Any ideas?

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Pampy » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:01 am

As far as I know, it's now illegal to catch elvers.

I have my Mum's copy of the 1947(ish) copy of the Good Housekeeping cookery book.

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Re: Very old recipes

Postby Stokey Sue » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:07 am

A quick look at government website suggests that you can fish elvers if you have a license, but I doubt you’d get one

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