skip to Main Content
Simple Biscuits

Simple Biscuits


Today’s recipe is based on a recipe out of Eliza Smith’s cookbook and let me read you the recipe. It says, “To make biscuits, to a quart of flour take a quarter of a pound of butter and a quarter of a pound of sugar, one egg and what caraway seeds you please, wet it with milk as stiff as you can and then roll them out very thin. Cut them with a small glass and bake them on tin plates. Your oven must be slack. Prick them well just before you set them in and keep them dry when baked.”

bisketSimple Biscuits (Time 0_00_21;02)

 

 

 

  • 4 cups Flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Caraway seeds
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 oz. Butter
  • Milk

While preheating your oven to 250-300 degrees, allow your butter to melt, but don’t let it get hot enough to cook your egg.

Simple Biscuits (Time 0_01_56;22)
Now start off with 4 cups of flour and mix in about a half cup of sugar. Now’s a good time to add you caraway seeds to our mixture, and you just add as many as you think is fit for your taste. Once that is good and mixed, whisk up your egg and add it to the flour. Next, the butter can be added to the mixture.

Simple Biscuits (Time 0_02_32;16)
The recipe says to mix these in and we will get too stiff of a paste and we add the milk in to get to the right consistency. Just add the milk a little bit at a time until you have the right stiffness, then turn out onto a floured surface and work into a flat sheet, probably about an eighth of an inch thick.

Simple Biscuits (Time 0_03_26;17)
Cut out your biscuits and place on a well-greased baking tin. You don’t have to worry about these growing on the sheet so you can put these right up against each other. There’s not leavening in this. They’re almost a bit more like a cracker than they are a biscuit. All we need to do is place them on the tin and then right before we put them in the oven we’re going to follow the directions in the book and poke little holes in them.Simple Biscuits (Time 0_04_48;20)

Depending on the temperature of your oven these will take about 7 to 15 minutes. When they are done they will be a very light golden brown and crispy. These should be kept in a cool dry place for storage.Simple Biscuits (Time 0_05_58;18)

 

Transcript of Video:

18th century cookbooks abound with recipes for simple biscuits. Something we might call a cross between a cookie and a cracker. Today we’re going to bake some simple biscuits.

Today’s recipe is based on a recipe out of Eliza Smith’s cookbook and let me read you the recipe. It says, “To make biscuits, to a quart of flour take a quarter of a pound of butter and a quarter of a pound of sugar, one egg and what caraway seeds you please, wet it with milk as stiff as you can and then roll them out very thin. Cut them with a small glass and bake them on tin plates. Your oven must be slack. Prick them well just before you set them in and keep them dry when baked.”

Today’s simple biscuit recipe has flour, butter, some eggs, a little bit of sugar, milk and caraway seeds for flavoring. Caraway seeds are a favorite flavoring for biscuits and cookies in the 18th century.

I’ve got my oven preheating and while that’s preheating I’m going to set four ounces of butter here in a skillet right at the edge of the oven to melt it.

We’re going to start with four cups of flour and into that I’m going to mix up a half a cup of sugar.

Now’s a good time to add our caraway seeds to our mixture, and you just add as many as you think is fit for your taste. Now it’s time to take one egg, whisk it up and add it to our flour. Let’s get this whisked here.

It doesn’t need to be done extremely well. This is just to get it mixed up. Let’s put that into our flour.

And now our premelted butter, we can add that right in too. We want to make sure it’s not too hot. We don’t want to cook our egg with that. Let’s get this mixed up.

The recipe says to mix these in and we will get too stiff of a paste and we add the milk in to get to the right consistency.

We’re just going to go a little bit at a time and I think just a little bit more should bring us to our right stiffness.

Okay, let’s turn this out onto a floured surface and we can start to work it into a flat sheet.

We’ve got some flour here. Just get a nice surface, turn out our dough here. Let’s roll this out.

Recipe calls for it to be very thin. There, I’ve got that rolled out nice and thin. Probably about an eighth of an inch thick, and we are going to now cut these out and put them on our baking tin.

I’ve got the oven cleaned out and I’m going to make sure to put a trivet in the oven so that the biscuits don’t burn on the bottom.

I’ve got a well-greased baking tin here. Let’s put our biscuits on there and we don’t have to worry about these growing on the sheet so we can put these right up against each other. There’s not leavening in this. They’re almost a bit more like a cracker than they are a biscuit. All we need to do is place them on the tin and then right before we put them in the oven we’re going to follow the directions in the book and poke little holes in them.

The recipe calls for a slack oven so under 300 degrees. 250-300.

There we go. And this is going to take, depending on the temperature of your oven, 7 to 15 minutes.

18th century cookbooks are chalked full of really interesting recipes. They’re a great way to kind of dig back into history and find out what it was really like through taste. Now I can smell those biscuits cooking so they’re probably just about right. They’re one of those kinds things you really have to watch them to make sure they don’t burn. You don’t want to get these all black on the bottom. Let’s go check these out.

It looks like they’ve turned out just perfectly. Very light golden brown. Nice and crispy, they should be something that’s kept dry. They’re meant to be a crispy dry snappy kind of a cookie, almost a cross between a cracker and a cookie. Very good.

All of the things you’ve seen here today, all of the cooking equipment and the clothing, these things are available on our website, in our print catalog and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

How to Build an Earthen Oven

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_00_41;14)
The existence of ovens like this is easily documented for the 18th century. In fact, just about every ancient culture had a very similar oven. There’s one particular wood cut illustration from medieval times depicting an earthen oven built on a wagon.
There are references in 18th century literature and also archaeological evidence that you would find ovens like these in private homes and in fort settings. There are also references to communal ovens where the baker would bake bread for an entire village.Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_01_10;13)

  • Sand
  • Clay
  • Straw, Dried Grass or Hay
  • paper
  • Bricks
  • Canvas Tarp
  • Water

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_00_17;16)Before you build your oven, you have to consider what you’re going to build your oven on. There are historical examples of ovens built on tables, brick or stone plinths, and hearths. You will also need to make sure that your oven is protected from the weather. This is water soluble and it will just wash away with the rain, so if we need this to last a while you’re going to want a little roof over it.

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_01_32;28)
Once you have decided where you are going to put it, lay out a layer of brick for the floor of the oven and chalk out a design. Ours is about 22 inches across for the inside measurement. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_01_58;15)
The walls are going to be about 6 inches think. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_02_01;07)
Our door is about 12 inches across so we can get something as big as a pie in without too much trouble. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_02_11;16)There aren’t very many critical things about the shape and the size of your particular oven, but there is one critical thing, and that is the height of the opening tunnel compared to the height of your dome. This has to be a particular ratio or else the air won’t draw through when you’re burning the wood inside. The tunnel needs to be between 60-65%, or about 63%, of the height of the dome.Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_02_42;04)

Once you have decided on the design of your oven, you should start working on your cob. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_04_28;29)
You probably want to make a whole bunch of this cob beforehand. It ages well, so it won’t go bad waiting overnight, and that way, as soon as you’re done with your sand castle core, you can start putting it on right away and you don’t have to worry about the sand drying out and blowing away while you’re making your cob. Make sure to wrap your wet cob in plastic so that it does not dry out before you are ready to use it.

The inner most layer of mud or cob that we’re going to put on our oven is just sand and clay. About 2 parts sand to 1 part clay. You mix those two together so that they’re very well mixed. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_04_53;15)
We want to make sure it’s got about the right consistency that we can still work it but it isn’t so wet that it’s sloppy, and you want to make sure to err on the side of a little more sand than too much clay. The more clay you’ve got the more it’s going to shrink and crack. Learning just the right consistency can be tricky. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_04_57;25)
You want it to form into a ball, like a snowball and does not deform easily.

Now you want to go ahead and build the core. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_02_28;16)
This is going to be like a sand castle, just very wet sand that we’re going to build the oven over the top of. You need to make sure that the sand stays wet until we get the first layer on. Sometimes you’ll see other people doing it with sticks and things like that, but this is going to be much easier and quicker. At the door, you should place a brick wall, to get a nice flat surface to build up against.

Once your inner core is built, you need to put paper on it. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_03_26;13)
Wet the paper down and layer it over the sand to give us a layer to separate the sand from the inner surface and make later removal of the sand easier. Once the paper is on you can start putting on the first layer of cob.

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_05_27;15)
This first layer does not have any straw or hay because that would just burn up anyway. It needs to be about 3 inches thick. Start from the very bottom and work your way up so you can watch as you go to make sure the thickness stays about the same. When you are done with this layer, allow it to set overnight so it will be slightly firmer but don’t allow it to get too dry or else the next layer won’t adhere properly. Scratch up the layer a little bit so the next layer of cob adheres nicely.Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_09_39;06)

The next layer of cob that we put on is going to have grass or hay or straw in it to give it a lot more strength than the inner layer. We’re going to mix our clay and our sand first. As soon as that’s getting close to the right consistency, that’s when we’ll add our other binding material in.Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_06_48;16)

We need to mix this up just slightly wetter, since we’re going to add in dry straw, it’s going to dry it up a bit. This will add some amazing strength to it. When it dries up it really binds it together.Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_06_58;14)

It’s helpful to make this cob up beforehand. It really makes it work better if its couple days old, but you don’t want to let it get too old because as it’s wet for a long time, the grass will start to rot in there, so you don’t want that to happen. If it’s a day or two old, keep it wrapped in plastic so it’s wet and pliable. It’ll really work even better after a day or two.

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_06_15;11)
So, to make this go faster, I suggest you invite a bunch of friends over. Have a cob party. They can be stomping on this stuff while you’re putting it on your stove. Everyone will have fun.

About five or six big loaves of cob ready to go is a good start. I’m not sure exactly how many it’s going to take to cover this oven, so we’re going to put this on and then see how much more is needed.
Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_08_01;11)
The outside layer should also be about 3 inches thick. Make sure your loaves butt up well with the inner core so there isn’t a big air space between them and just start adding on your cob all the way around. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_08_07;00)
You might want to start a little thinner at the bottom than the finish because some of it will sag down into position a little bit as you go.

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_08_42;25)When you are done with the main body, remove the brick wall at the opening and add a nice rounded opening to it because it will have more strength than a sharp one.Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_09_03;14) Keep in mind that whenever you add two pieces together you really have to work it so that the two pieces adhere to each other and it doesn’t just fall off. Add some sand to the opening to support the new lip around the opening.Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_09_32;00)

Depending on where you’re at, your environment, the time of year, and what the humidity is, this could take anywhere from 2 to 4 week or longer for it to get dry enough for you to even start thinking about warming it up from the inside. While it’s drying, you don’t want it to get rained on so you’re going to need to protect it from the weather, but don’t cover it with plastic so that it can’t dry. You want to protect it from the rain, but still let it breath.

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_10_25;07)
After it has started drying out enough to support itself you can start slowly digging the sand out and even pulling off some of the paper. Don’t worry too much about the paper because it will burn out anyway. Every few days dig out a little bit more of the sand so that you can start getting some are into the center of it to dry the inside.

Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_11_24;17)
Once the sand core has been removed and your oven is adequately dry you will be ready to fire it. If your oven is not adequately dry before you fire it, it will cause cracking, or at least more cracking than normal, in the body. Even if you wait like we did, it’s inevitable that some cracking will occur. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_11_10;07)Don’t be alarmed if the cracks are especially big, you can repair them with a little extra sand and clay and let that dry in place. When the oven is close to dry, you can employ a few warming fires to help it along. The walls of this oven are extremely durable. Build Earthen Oven (Time 0_11_39;09)It takes a lot to break this material up so if you need to do modifications you really have to chop at it to break it.

 

Transcript of Video:

In this video, we’re going to show you how to build and earthen oven.

The existence of ovens like this is easily documented for the 18th century. In fact, just about every ancient culture had a very similar oven. There’s one particular wood cut illustration from medieval times depicting an earthen oven built on a wagon. There are references in 18th century literature and also archaeological evidence that you would find ovens like this in private homes and in fort settings. There are also references to communal ovens where the baker would bake bread for an entire village. We’re going to need several things to make our mud oven out of. We’re going to need sand. That’s the major component of our oven. We’re going to need a good bit of clay. This is dried clay you can get at a masonry store or you can get damp clay out of ditch bank. You’re going to need straw or dried grass or maybe hay. You may need some bricks, so some fire bricks, even regular bricks will work, and you’re going to need a canvas tarp to mix your cob together with and you’re definitely going to need a good bit of water.

Before you build your oven, you have to consider what you’re going to build your oven on. There are historical examples of ovens built on tables or on brick or stone plinths, on hearths. On the top of our very sturdy table, we’ve laid out a layer of fire brick. That’s doing to be the floor of our oven. We’ve also chalked out here the design. About 22 inches across to the bottom on the inside. That’s the inside measurement. The walls are going to be about 6 inches thick so we’ve got markings here so we can see about how big it’s going to look on the surface. The door width right here is about 12 inches across that we can get something as big as a pie in without too much trouble.

First thing we’re going to do is we’re going to build the core. It’s going to be like a sand castle, just wet sand that we’re going to build the oven over the top of. Sometimes you’ll see other people doing it with sticks and things like this, but this is going to be much easier and quicker. This is where our door is going to be. I just went ahead and put a couple of bricks in here to be the inner core of the door. They’ll be removed. And right here I placed a brick wall to give us a nice flat surface to build up against.

So we’ve taken about an hour to put this together. We’ve used very wet sand so that it stays into shape. Now we’ve got to make sure that this stays wet until we get our first layer on. There aren’t very many critical things about the shape and the size of your particular oven but there is one critical thing, and that is the height of the opening tunnel here compared to the height of your dome. These need to be a particular ratio or else the air won’t draw through this when you’re burning the wood inside of the thing. So, this is between 65 and 60% or about 63% height here compared to the height there.

The next thing we’re going to do is put paper on this. We’re going to put paper, we’re going to wet it down so that it’ll give us a layer to separate so when we take the sand out it doesn’t stick to the inner surface.

We’ve got the paper covering done on our sand inner core. This will make it much easier to take the core out from underneath it. Now it’s time to make the first layer of cob or mud to put on our oven.

This inner most layer of mud or cob that we’re going to put on our oven is just sand and clay. About 2 parts sand to 1 part clay. You mix those two together so that they’re very well mixed and then we just put it on there. We want to make sure it’s got about the right consistency that we can still work it but it isn’t so wet that it’s sloppy, and you want to make sure to have err on the side of a little more sand than too much clay. The more clay you’ve got the more it’s going to shrink and crack.

So you probably want to make a whole bunch of this cob beforehand. It ages well. It won’t go bad waiting overnight, and that way, as soon as you’re done with your sand castle core, you can start putting it on right away and you don’t have to worry about that drying out and blowing away while you’re making your cob.

So, learning just the right consistency can be a trick. As you see here, I’ve been stomping on this pile for a little while and this is starting to feel really good. It forms up into a ball, like a snowball. It doesn’t deform easily. It’s not sloppy and you can still form it into any shape you want and it’s not too drippy either. That’s what you’re looking for, something that holds together well but still moldable.

So we’re working on putting this first layer on. This is a layer without any straw in it because that would just burn up anyway. It’s about 3 inches thick and we’re starting at the very bottom and we’re going to work our way up, that way we can watch as we go to make sure our thickness stays about the same.

Well, we finished the inner mud layer yesterday afternoon and we let this set overnight and it’s just slightly firmer than it was. We don’t want to let it get too dry or else the next layer won’t adhere to this layer properly. We’ve scratched this layer a little bit so that the next layer of cob we put on here will adhere nicely. This next layer of cob that we put on, it’s going to have grass or hay or straw in it to give it a lot more strength than this inner layer.

We’re going to mix our clay and our sand first. As soon as that’s getting close to the right consistency, that’s when we’ll add our other binding material here.

So, we’ve got this mixed up. I’m going to mix this up just slightly wetter. It’s feeling like a pretty good consistency now under my feet and since we’re going to add in this dry straw here, it’s going to dry it up a bit so I’m going to start with slightly wetter mixture, but we wanted to get this mixed first and then add in the binder.

This will add some amazing strength to it. When it dries up it really binds it together. So it’s helpful to make this cob up beforehand. It really makes it work better if its couple days old, but you don’t want to let it get too old because as it’s wet for a long time, the grass will start to rot in there, so you don’t want that to happen. If it’s a day or two old, keep it wrapped in plastic so it’s wet and pliable. It’ll really work even better after a day or two.

So, to make this go faster, I suggest you invite a bunch of friends over. Have a cob party. They can be stomping on this stuff while you’re putting it on your stove. Everyone will have fun.

Well, I’ve got about five or six big loaves of cob here ready to go. I think that’s a good start. I’m not sure exactly how many it’s going to take to cover this oven, so we’re going to put this on and then I’ll see how much more I need to make.

I’ve got marks here on the table to get about 2.5 to 3 inches for the outside layer. I’m going to start putting on our loaves. We’re going to make sure they butt up well with the inner core here so there isn’t a big air space between them, and I’ll just start adding these on all the way around.

Okay, there it is. We’ve got the second layer of a cob type material on here. This is the stuff with the straw that’s built into it. It does, as you work it, it kind of sags down some so you might want to start a little thinner at the bottom than the finish, expecting some of it to sag down into position a little bit.

This gives us a good opportunity to look at the cross section of what’s going on here. You can see the cobs a little thicker down at the bottom than it is at the top because it’s kind of sagged a little bit. You can see our outer cob core, our inner core that doesn’t have the straw in it and here’s the sand core on the inside. We’re going to add a little bit to the outside here. We’re going to give it a nice rounded opening because a rounded opening is going to have more strength than this sharp one.

Well, we’ve finished putting our rounded opening on the oven so it will be a little bit stronger. We made sure to make the cob that we added back into this outer stuff. Whenever you add two pieces together you really have to work it so that the two pieces adhere to each other and it just doesn’t fall off. We added a little bit of sand on the front to help support that lip. Depending on where you’re at, your environment, the time of year, what the humidity is, this will take 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, maybe even a little bit longer for it to get dry enough for you start to even think about warming it up from the inside.

While this is drying, you don’t want it to get rained on so you’re going to protect this from the weather but don’t cover it with plastic so that it can’t dry. So you want to protect it from the rain but let it breath

So, it’s only been about 24 hours since we’ve been here last, but it’s firmed up enough with how the weather is here that we were able to go ahead and pull out some of the sand. I haven’t gone and dug the whole thing out but I wanted to let it start to dry out on the inside and even pull off some of the paper if you want to. That will all burn out anyway, but we just dug it out about halfway. We’ll come back in a couple of days and take out more.

We’ve removed the sand core from this oven and we’ve given it a couple weeks to dry so it’s almost ready to fire. You may not have to wait this long if you build an oven but if it’s not adequately dry before you fire it, it will cause cracking or at least more cracking than normal in the body. Even if you wait like we did, it’s inevitable that some cracking will occur. Don’t be alarmed if the cracks are especially big, you can repair them with a little extra sand and clay and let that dry in place.

We’ve employed a few warming fires in this oven and it’s dried out well. We’ve gotten a few cracks but overall we’re really pleased. The walls of this oven are extremely durable. Here’s a brick of the material and it takes a lot to break this material up, so if you need to do modifications, you’ll really have to chop at it. However, as sturdy as this is, it still needs to be protected from the weather. This is water soluble and it will just wash away with the rain, so if we need this to last a while we’re going to have to build a little roof over it.

Make sure to watch part 2 of this video where we learn how to bake bread in one of these earthen ovens. You know, this looks pretty good. I think I’m going to fire it up.

Mushroom Ketchup

Mushroom Ketchup(Time 0_05_50;07)
The first recipe for tomato ketchup was in 1801, but tomato ketchup did not become popular until the mid-19th century. The tomato plant is a member of the deadly nightshade family and many people considered it a deadly poison in the 18th century. Today we’re going to make an 18th century ketchup recipe with mushrooms. This would be a seasoning or a flavor that 18th century soldiers would be very familiar with.

  • 2 Pounds Fresh Common Brown Mushrooms
  • Couple spoonfuls of Salt
  • Couple of Bay leaves
  • 1 Chopped Onion
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated Horse Radish
  • ¼ teaspoon Cloves
  • Pinch of Cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon Allspice
  • ¼-½ cup Cider Vinegar

 

Mushroom Ketchup (Time 0_00_57;27)
We’re starting off with 2 pounds of fresh mushrooms, but first a word of warning. We’re using common brown mushrooms in our recipe today. Mushroom Ketchup(Time 0_01_18;26)
These mushrooms are native throughout Europe and North America, but even common mushrooms can easily be mistaken for poisonous or even deadly varieties, so make sure to use something you know is completely safe.

Mushroom KetchupTime 0_01_46;16)
We need to gently wipe these mushrooms off. We don’t want to rinse them off or wash them, because that added liquid would dilute our final flavors. Chop them into small pieces.

Mushroom Ketchup(Time 0_01_51;20)
Put the mushrooms in a container that can sit overnight and add a couple spoonfuls of salt to draw the juices out. In addition to that salt, we’re going to add a couple of bay leaves. We’re going to mash it up and smoosh these mushrooms down, then we’re going to cover it and then let it set for about 10 minutes.

Mushroom Ketchup(Time 0_02_39;25)
After 10 minutes check on your mushrooms to make sure they’ve already started reducing. Cover and set aside overnight in a safe place.

Mushroom Ketchup(Time 0_03_07;21)
Once the mushrooms have completely soaked, add in 1 chopped up onion, the zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon of finely grated horse radish. Mushroom Ketchup (Time 0_03_18;27)We’re going to use a ¼ teaspoon of cloves, a pinch of cayenne and about ½ teaspoon allspice.Mushroom Ketchup(Time 0_03_28;00)

The last ingredient we need is a ¼ – ½ cup of cider vinegar. We’re going to stir up all these things together and then put it over the fire and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Mushroom Ketchup (Time 0_04_20;27)
Once it is done simmering allow it to cool a bit. Mushroom Ketchup (Time 0_04_40;22)
Once cool enough pour it through a squeeze cloth into another container and squeeze all the liquid out.Mushroom Ketchup (Time 0_05_01;20)

Mushroom Ketchup (Time 0_05_26;12)
You can save both the liquid, but also the leftover dried mushrooms. You can use the dried mushrooms as is or grind it up to flavor other recipes.Mushroom Ketchup (Time 0_05_36;07)

There are some amazing complex flavors in this. You get the salt first, then some of the other spices, and the earthiness of the mushrooms. Some very complex and wonderful flavors.

 

Transcript of Video:

Many different 18th century recipes and a lot of writings refer to something called ketchup. Now ketchup in the 18th century wasn’t so much like this as it is more like this.

The word ketchup finds its roots in 17th century China. The Chinese had a similar sounding name for a concoction that consisted of pickled fish and spices. The British traders found this seasoning to be delightful. They brought it home and it quickly became the staple of the English and American diet.

Today we’re going to make an 18th century ketchup recipe with mushrooms. This would be a seasoning or a flavor that 18th century soldiers would be very familiar with.

James Townsend and Son carries all the equipment we’ll be using today and you can find each one of these things in our catalog or on our website. We’re starting off with 2 pounds of fresh mushrooms, but first a word of warning. We’re using common brown mushrooms in our recipe today. These mushrooms are native throughout Europe and North America but even common mushrooms can easily be mistaken for poisonous or even deadly varieties, so make sure to use something you know is completely safe.

With our mushrooms, we need to gently wipe these mushrooms off. We don’t want to rinse them off or wash them because that added liquid would dilute our final flavors.

And we’re going to add these to our tin cooking pot. We need to draw the juices out of our chopped up mushrooms. The best way to do that is to add a couple spoonfuls of salt. In addition to that salt, we’re going to add a couple of bay leaves. We’re going to mash it up, smoosh these mushrooms down in and then we’re going to cover it and then let it set for about 10 minutes.

We’ve let these set 10 minutes and they’ve already started reducing. The liquids being drawn out of the mushrooms and it’s already reduced in size a little bit. I’m going to transfer these into a milk pan here and then we can let this sit overnight.

I’m going to put this pie pan on top just to keep the critters out.

The first recipe for tomato ketchup was in 1801, but tomato ketchup did not become popular until the mid-19th century. The tomato plant is a member of the deadly nightshade family and many people considered it a deadly poison in the 18th century.

Well, let’s take a look.

There we have it. The mushrooms have completely soaked and now it’s time for the next step.

So now it’s time to add in 1 chopped up onion, the zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon of finely grated horse radish. James Townsend and Son offers a pocket spice kit. It comes with salt and pepper, cinnamon, cayenne and thyme. It also comes with an empty vial and in that vial I’ve added cloves. In the recipe here, we’re going to use a quarter teaspoon of cloves. We’re going to use a pinch of cayenne and some allspice also, about a half a teaspoon.

And the last ingredient we need is a quarter to a half a cup of cider vinegar. We’re going to stir up all these things together and then we’re going to put this over the fire and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

Joseph Plumb Martin’s book, sometimes called Private Yankee Doodle, many times it mentions when he’s eating, that they’re lacking sauce for their meat. More than likely this is what he was craving.

This is done simmering now. I’ve let it cool a little bit but now it’s time to pour it off and I’ve got our milk pan and I’ve got a squeeze cloth here. I’m going to pour this in here to let it cool.

Once this is cooled off, we’re going to take that cloth and bundle it up and squeeze all the liquid out.

There’re some amazing complex flavors in this. You get the salt first, then some of the other spices, the earthiness of the mushrooms, very complex, very wonderful flavor. We’re going to cork this up. We’re going to bottle it, cork it, and save it for our future recipes. So when you’re done with squeezing out the mushrooms, you don’t want to get rid of that. You don’t want to throw that out. That is especially good stuff. You dry that and you can either leave it like it is or you can grind it up. Some of this stuff you can sprinkle it almost like salt. It is really, really good stuff.

And there we have it, our ketchup. Our 2 pounds of mushrooms worked out to be a little over a pint of liquid ketchup. We also have our leftover dried mushrooms. Those are going to be great for future recipes. All the equipment that you saw here, all the utensils, it’s available on our website, in our print catalog, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

 

Stinging Nettle Soup

nettle1Stinging nettles hold a very special place in 18th century food and medicine. Medical books from the time period mention these stinging nettles as good for stopping hemorrhages and promoting urine flow.

  • Large amount of fresh Stinging Nettles
  • 1 ½ quarts Water
  • 4 oz Butter
  • 3 Medium Onions
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Stale Bread Crust
  • Mushroom Ketchup (optional)

Stinging Nettle Soup (Time 0_00_30;29)Gather together a good bunch of early springtime nettles. The best ones are right after they come out of the ground. You want to get the first half of the plant or the first 3 or 4 inches. You don’t want any of the hard stalks or roots. You might want to wear gloves when you pick these because they sting a little. Wash these off like you would lettuce for a salad and then chop them up finely.
Start the water boiling in a kettle and heat the butter in a skillet.
Add your chopped onions to your skillet when the butter has stopped making noise.Stinging Nettle Soup (Time 0_02_14;02) Once the onions are nice and brown, put the nettles in the skillet and stir for about 5-10 minutes.Stinging Nettle Soup (Time 0_02_41;23)

Next, shake on the flour and add salt and pepper mixing well. Stinging Nettle Soup (Time 0_03_03;22)
Pour all of the contents of the pan into the boiling water.
Add your chopped up stale bread to the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stinging Nettle Soup (Time 0_03_51;11)
Add your mushroom ketchup just before serving as an optional finishing touch and enjoy.Stinging Nettle Soup (Time 0_04_13;16)

 

Transcript of Video:

It’s springtime. It’s time to pick stinging nettles so you can make nettle soup.

Stinging nettles hold a very special place in 18th century food and medicine. Medical books from the time period mention these stinging nettles as good for stopping hemorrhages and promoting urine flow.

John Heckewelder was a missionary in remote Pennsylvania in 1756 and in his journal he writes this, “We live mostly upon nettles which grew abundantly in the bottoms and of which we frequently made two meals a day.” That’s amazing. You know, I think we’ve got enough nettles, let’s head to the kitchen.

I’ve got a good bunch of nettles gathered here. These are early springtime nettles, the best ones, right after they come out of the ground. You want to get the first half of the plant or first 3 or 4 inches. You don’t want any of the hard stalk or any of the roots. You might want to wear gloves when you pick these because they sting a little bit but in the early spring it’s usually not too bad. Wash these off like you would lettuce for a salad. Now let’s work on the base of our soup.

We need to get some water boiling here in our kettle. I’ve got about a quart and a half or so here.

And while that’s heating up, we’re going to sauté some onions in a little bit of butter.

This is about 4 ounces of butter. Hannah Glasse’s recipe for meager soup calls for the butter to be cooked until it’s done making noise and then you add the onions. We’re going to use about 3 medium onions.

While our onions are browning, let’s chop up our nettles nice and fine.

We can take our chopped nettles now and put it right into our browning onions.

Well, we stirred these for about five or ten minutes and now it’s time to shake on about a quarter of a cup of flour into this.

And a little bit of salt and pepper. So now it’s time to add the contents of our pan to our boiling water.

Many 18th century soup recipes call for a chopped up stale bread crust to be added to the soup.

We’re going to let this simmer for another ten minutes and then as an optional finishing touch, we’re going to add a little bit of this mushroom ketchup that we’ve made in an earlier episode.

This soup is excellent. If you’ve never had nettles before, nettles soup or any other kind of nettles, it’s the perfect time of year, right now, to go out and pick them. All the things you’ve seen here today, all the cooking equipment, all the clothing, all these things are available in our print catalog or on our website and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Back To Top