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Propagating Wild Yeast for Reenactments


Today, if you asked 50 people about how to start a wild yeast culture for making sourdough bread, it’s likely you’ll get 100 different answers, but in reality, all it takes is a little bit of flour, some water and…

Which Yeast (Time 0_00_55;12)

September 29, 2017


Akara Recipe


Akara is a simple, easy to make snack that was frequently made in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Dried Black-eyed Peas Onions Parsley flour Boiling water Lard First, pulverize the dried black-eyed peas into very small pieces. Add to…

akara-time-0_00_0921


A Fanciful Yet Easy Asparagus Soup


This delicious Asparagus Soup recipe from Elizabeth Cleland’s A new and easy methods of cookery (1755). Many of this recipe's techniques, including roux, food coloring, bone broth, and court-bouillon (the ingredients boiled in the soup that are removed before eating)…

Asp6

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September 28, 2017


Rye and Indian Bread


This is called Rye and Indian bread, because it’s made of part rye flour and part Indian meal or sometimes we call it cornmeal. You can use just those two grains to make the flour, or you can add wheat…

rye-and-indian-bread-time-0_08_1818


Simple Boiled Plum Pudding


Many people hear the word pudding today and they think about some little custardy stuff in a cup or something you buy at the grocery store in a box and mix it up with some milk. Pudding has a much…

Plum Pudding (Time 0_11_05;10)


An Onion Soup Recipe from 1801


This recipe for onion soup is out of John Mollard’s 1801 cookbook, “The Art of Cooking Made Easy and Refined”. 4 oz. Butter 4 tbsps. Flour 8 midsized Onions of choice Salt 3 qts. Beef Stock 4 Egg Yolks 1…

onion-soup-time-0_00_4313


A White Pot Recipe


A White Pot with Raisins and Dates Serves 1 - 6 (depending on how polite you are) The name “White Pot” originates from the Devon region of England. But this sweet, buttery custard bread pudding, layered with sweetmeats (dried fruits)…

Also Known as a White Pudding


Master Wood Turner Erv Tschanz


In this special video, master wood turner Erv Tschanz shares his passion for the craft. Erv is one of several skilled artisans that sells handcrafted items through Jas. Townsend & Son. The treenware cherry wood plate being made in this…

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September 13, 2017


Weaver/Trapper Interview: Experiencing History Through Reenacting


We've been busy interviewing fellow reenactors for the purpose of inspiring and encouraging viewers who are interested in getting involved in historical reenacting but don't know how to begin. Today we interview Tony Baker, a weaver by trade, who has…

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Starting a Living History Group from Scratch


It took an idea and a group of friends, and it went from there. Albert Roberts tells the story of how the innovative historical interpretive group "The HMS Acasta" was born. http://ift.tt/2wQkO31 More great information! ***************************** Our Retail Website -…

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Page 1 of 69
Propagating Wild Yeast For Reenactments

Propagating Wild Yeast for Reenactments

Today, if you asked 50 people about how to start a wild yeast culture for making sourdough bread, it’s likely you’ll get 100 different answers, but in reality, all it takes is a little bit of flour, some water and time. Now the question is, did people in the 18th century knowingly and intentionally propagate wild yeast? Our initial conclusion was yes due to the frequent references to sour bread, but as we dug deeper we found only 3 references to propagated wild yeast, none of those prior to 1790. These references were either examples of scientific experiments or were from non-European cultures.

Which Yeast (Time 0_01_56;07)

Interestingly, the typical response to these experiments is astonishment. Let me read to you a little piece from a journal dated 1790 from the transactions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing, and Commerce. The context is about a contest the society had on the manufacture of yeast. This is a man writing about experiments that he’s doing to make yeast talking about his assistant. “He accordingly brought me some small vessel with the full head of yeast upon it, assuring me with some degree of exaltation that neither oil of vitriol with chalk nor any portion of old yeast had been employed on that occasion. This greatly surprised me and I desired he would proceed with the experiment.” So his experiment had to do with having boiled water and malt and nothing else and just letting this set over time. He was cultivating wild yeast and he didn’t even know it.

Now there are many 18th century recipes for making yeast and circumstances when yeast was in short supply, but other than these experiments that I’ve already mentioned, they all have to do with propagating yeast from a little bit of preexisting yeast, so it was very surprising for these experimenters to find that you could make a yeast slurry without adding any preexisting yeast. So it’s apparent that these experiments flew against the conventional wisdom.

Which Yeast (Time 0_00_58;05)

So what does this mean for the 18th century reenactor or historic site? Should we be using a bread baked with barm or sourdough bread made with leaven? Well, it really depends on who we are trying to portray, what our culture is, what our class is, and what our climate is. The one thing we can seem to draw from this information is propagating wild yeast in the manner in which we do today to make sourdough bread is not a historically accurate option.

Transcript of Video:

For a couple of weeks now we’ve been anticipating doing an episode on cultivating wild yeast to make an 18th century sourdough bread but the more we did research the more it became apparent that this was not something that they did in the 18th century.

Now today, if you asked 50 people about how to start a wild yeast culture for making sourdough bread, it’s likely you’ll get 100 different answers, but in reality all it takes is a little bit of flour and some water and some time. Now the question remains, did people in the 18th century knowingly and intentionally propagate wild yeast? Our initial conclusion was yes due to the frequent references to sour bread but as we dug deeper we found only 3 references to propagated wild yeast, none of those prior to 1790. They were either examples of scientific experiments or they were from non-European cultures. Interestingly, the typical response to these experiments is a astonishment. Let me read to you a little piece from a journal. This is dated 1790 and it’s from the transactions of the society for the encouragement of arts, manufacturing, and commerce, and this is in context to about a contest. The society had a contest about the manufacture of yeast and this is a man writing about experiments that he’s doing to make yeast.

Here the man writes about his assistant, “He accordingly brought me some small vessel with the full head of yeast upon it, assuring me with some degree of exaltation that neither oil of vitriol with chalk nor any portion of old yeast had been employed on that occasion. This greatly surprised me and I desired he would proceed with the experiment.” So his experiment had to do with having boiled water and malt and nothing else and just letting this set over time. He was cultivating a wild yeast and he didn’t even know it.

Now there are many 18th century recipes for making yeast and circumstances when yeast was in short supply. Now other than these experiments that I’ve already mentioned, they all have to do with propagating yeast from a little bit of preexisting yeast, so it was very surprising for these experimenters to find that you could make a yeast slurry without adding any preexisting yeast. So it’s apparent that these experiments flew against the conventional wisdom.

So what does this mean for the 18th century reenactor or historic site? Should we be using a bread baked with barm or sourdough bread made with leaven? Well, it really depends on who we are trying to portray, what our culture is, what our class is, and what our climate is. The one thing we can seem to draw from this information is, is that propagating wild yeast in the manner in which we do today to make sourdough bread is not an historically accurate option.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this slightly different episode today. We want to take this opportunity to announce our new historic cooking blog SavoringThePast.net. In this cooking blog we’re going to give you authentic 18th and 19th century recipes along with some of the references and documentation that go on behind our videos. We invite you to subscribe to this new SavoringThePast.net so you can get immediate notification of new posts. Also we invite you to give us your historic cooking experiences and documentation by leaving us feedback.

SavoringThePast.net is a companion to our other blog SiftingThePast.com which is a website that’s intended to give you a snap shot though art of the lives and customs of people in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th century. I also invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can get notification of new videos as soon as they’re available and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for all the latest news at Jas. Townsend and Son.

Jas. Townsend and Son offers hundreds of quality 18th century reproduction clothing items and personal accessories including a great line of cooking vessels and utensils. All these can be found on our website or in our print catalog and I want to thank you for watching today and I want to invite you to come along as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

Akara Recipe

Akara Recipe

Akara is a simple, easy to make snack that was frequently made in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

  • Dried Black-eyed Peas
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • flour
  • Boiling water
  • Lard

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First, pulverize the dried black-eyed peas into very small pieces. Add to this some chopped onion and parsley to taste.

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Add some boiling water to the mixture to soften and allow to rest until the water has been absorbed. Add a little flour to bring the mixture together.

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When your mixture looks like a nice thick batter you can place it by the spoonful into the heated lard in your frying pan.

Akara has a wonderful fried flavor and can be made your own by eating it with hot pepper, or adding other spices to the mixture.

Transcript of Video:

[Jon] Hi, I’m Jon Townsend and again we’re here at Historic Gunston Hall. I’ve got Michael Twitty, a culinary historian. What are we cooking this morning?

[Michael] Akara.

[Jon] Akara. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

[Jon] So, Akara, what exactly is this?

[Michael] It’s a fritter that’s made from black-eyed peas.

[Jon] Okay.

[Michael] Think of it sort of like a West African version of falafel.

[Jon] Okay.

[Michael] Not quite the same, but very similar. It’s eaten as a snack with hot pepper. Basically, you either boil the peas and mash them without the skin, take every bit of skin off, or you pound them dry like we’ve done here. Pulverize them until they were in little pieces, and then took some chopped onion and some chopped parsley and mashed that with it as well. So, what I need to do now is take some of the boiling hot water and pour it on top to soften it and to let it swell a little bit up, and when this batter that we have going on settles, we’ll be able to take it out by the spoonful and fry it in oil and that will make the akara.

[Jon] So it’ll be a nice thick batter that we can work with and easily pop in the pan.

[Michael] Right.

[Jon] So we’ve let this set for a while. We poured boiling water on it

[Michael] With a little bit of flour to help bring it together, but ultimately this is mostly black-eyed peas and onions put together. So, our job right now is to turn it into a little bit of a fritter, so what we’re going to do is put it in some hot fat, fry it up in little drop batches, and then we’ll see what it tastes like.

[Jon] It’s ready to go.

[Michael] Being a cook, being an enslaved cook was a tremendously important job, not just because it represented a great deal of skill and ability for the white household, but because it represented a person who was someone who transmitted knowledge between the field quarter and the big house. Important knowledge that could lead to freedom, that could lead to access to knowledge, education. All of these fruits have come out of our struggle to fully become ourselves, and I want our young people of all backgrounds to be proud of what African Americans have achieved and what all African people have achieved.

[Jon] They’ve got a very interesting look to them and they smell great. I guess I’m going to find out what they taste like.

[Michael] Yep, try one.

[Jon] Here we go. Wonderful fried flavor, it’s got a really interesting flavor that I’m not used to. Those black-eyed peas in a fried bean cake, not something that I’d normally eat, but they taste really good. You know if you’re putting this in a meal with multiple dishes

[Michael] It’s more like a snack.

[Jon] Oh really?

[Michael] It’s more like something you eat as a snack but on Virginia plantation tables, we know this was eaten. Mary Randolph has a recipe for black-eyed pea cakes.

[Jon] Okay.

[Michael] So this is sort of like the root of her recipe.

[Jon] Sure.

[Michael] So, you can imagine this being a food that she would eat, probably at the time the black-eyed peas were still in dried form, not fresh.

[Jon] Right.

[Michael] So not so much in summer and early fall, but more like winter and spring.

[Jon] Wonderful, and very interesting way of making it and interesting kind of take on what’s going on with peas and how you cook them and how you’re going to use them in your cooking, so wonderful. Thank you so much for bringing this recipe to us and again a very interesting experiment in what food was like in the 18th and 19th century. Those mixes of cultures. Really interesting, so thank you Michael for bringing this to us and thank you all out there for sharing with us. Coming along with us as we experiment, as we savor the flavors of the 18th century.

I want to thank everyone there at Gunston Hall for their wonderful help with this series. If you’re interested in Gunston Hall, make sure to check out their website.

A Fanciful Yet Easy Asparagus Soup

A Fanciful Yet Easy Asparagus Soup

This delicious Asparagus Soup recipe from Elizabeth Cleland’s A new and easy methods of cookery (1755).

recipe asparagus soup

Many of this recipe’s techniques, including roux, food coloring, bone broth, and court-bouillon (the ingredients boiled in the soup that are removed before eating) might be considered quite refined today.  However, in the 18th century these procedures were fairly common ways of enhancing flavor, color, and texture.  If you give them a try you’ll notice they are quite easy.  This recipe, being simple to make and extraordinarily delicious, makes you wonder why Americans don’t still cook today like they did in the 18th century.

Jon uses a bone broth that he discusses in a previous video:

The recipe for this is also from Cleland’s book:

clelandbroth

Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large handfuls of spinach
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • Jelly Bag (which you can find on the Jas Townsend and Son Store)
  • 1 quart of bone broth
  • 15-20 asparagus stalks chopped in 1/2 inch segments
  • 1 onion
  • about 6 cloves (stuck in the onion)
  • 1/3 teaspoon of mace
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed black pepper
  • 1 large pinch of allspice
  • a small bunch sweet herbs
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 cup of flour

Directions

For the Roux

Set the butter in a small pan over a low flame.

After the butter melts but before it begins to brown add the flour, making sure the ingredients are evenly spread.

Cook this mixture until it is a nutty brown color.

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Use immediately or preserve it in the fridge for up to two weeks.

For the spinach coloring

With a mortar and pestle (or blender) mash the spinach with a little bit of water.

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Strain the mixture through the Jelly bag, squeezing out as much of the colored liquid as possible.

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Use the coloring immediately or preserve in the fridge for 1 week.

For the Soup

Add the spinach “green” to the broth.

In a large pot, bring the liquid to a boil.

Add the asparagus, onion, spices, herbs, and salt to the pot.

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Boil the pot until the asparagus is cooked, but not soggy (approximately 5 minutes).

Add the roux.

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Again bring the mixture to boil, stirring regularly.

When the roux is dissolved immediately remove the pot from the heat.

Strain out the sweet sweet herbs, onion, and clove.

Garnish with some herbs and spinach “green”.

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I like to eat soups like this with a slice of rustic wheat bread, and I know Jon enjoys Ships Crackers.  What hardy addition would you toss into this soup?

Rye And Indian Bread

Rye and Indian Bread

This is called Rye and Indian bread, because it’s made of part rye flour and part Indian meal or sometimes we call it cornmeal. You can use just those two grains to make the flour, or you can add wheat flour.

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Adding wheat flour is a good way to make it stretch as well as adding a different texture, allowing the bread to bind together better and making it a bit sturdier.

  • Yeast Sponge (made from barm)
  • ½ teacup Molasses (to taste)
  • ¾ cup Water
  • 1 cup Indian Meal
  • 1 cup Rye Flour
  • 2 cups Wheat Flour
  • 2 tsps. Salt

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Add all of your ingredients together and stir until it becomes a ball. Resist the urge to add any more water to the mixture until you really get your hands into it. Knead your dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes nice and strong and doesn’t stick to your hands quite as much. Keep in mind that due to the molasses, it will continue to be at least a little bit sticky.

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The yeast sponge used in this recipe is much like the sponge made in an earlier post, Making Leaven. To start this leaven, we used barm and instead of storing the yeast cake in salt, we are using cornmeal to dry it out and store it.

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For this bread, you can reconstitute this yeast cake by simply crumbling it up and adding some water to it. It should be ready to use within a few hours.

Once your ball of dough is stiff but slightly sticky to the touch, line a bowl with a towel, then sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto the towel. Place your dough onto the towel good side down and allow to rest until it’s about 50% larger.

rye-and-indian-bread-time-0_07_3004

This mixture will not be as dense as cornbread but it will still be a pretty dense bread.

Make sure that your oven is preheated. When you are using an Earthen Oven to bake your bread, you will need about 2 hours to get your oven up to temperature.

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When you can toss some cornmeal in and it doesn’t burn immediately, but only toasts, it’s at the correct temperature. If your oven is too hot, allow it to cool a little.

rye-and-indian-bread-time-0_07_5610

When it’s done, this bread has a wonderful texture to it. It would go great with a little bit of butter or molasses added on top.

Transcription of Video:

We’re here today at Connor Prairie in Fishers Indiana. It’s a premier living historic site and we’ve got a wonderful recipe for you. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

[Jon] I’m here today with Ms. Barker and we’re going to talk about Rye and Indian bread. So, explain to me a little bit about what we’re cooking here today.

[Ms. Barker] We call it rye and Indian bread because it’s made of part rye flour and Indian meal or sometimes we call it cornmeal and you can use just those two grains to make the flour or you can use wheat flour. We’ve actually put some wheat flour into it because it’s a good way to stretch your wheat if you don’t have a whole lot. See, here in Indiana, we have a lot of corn and we grow rye very easily too and wheat is more of a second crop, so we have much more abundance of corn, so this is a bread that’s good for stretching since we eat bread three times a day, but it’s very similar to a cornbread but more of a mix between a cornbread and an Indian pudding.

[Jon] Tell me the difficulties that we’re going to have with corn and making bread. Why can’t we just make bread with corn?

[Ms. Barker] Well, you could, but it would be quite dense and a little bit crumbly, so a lot of folks, especially with making rye and Indian bread, they’ll say to scald the meal, which adds boiling water, but I find that that makes a very pasty bread. Very dense. If you like that, then that’s what you should do, but we’re just going to put plain water into in and then we’re also going to put in the wheat flour in there to give it a little bit more chew, it’ll bind together a little bit more. It’ll be a little bit sturdier.

[Jon] Well, let’s get started. What do we need to make this?

[Ms. Barker] Well, first you need to start off with some sponge. Now this is just a regular old sponge. It’s got lively yeast into it. We’ve broken down one of our yeast cakes which we’ve made recently. But it’s basically just about a cup of lively yeast, and then we’re going to add to that about a half a teacup of molasses. You can add more or less to your taste. It makes it quite dark if you add a lot of it, but if you like it sweeter, then you just do what you please. Now I’m going to add maybe ¾ cup of water and then what we have in our bowl is 1 cup of Indian meal, 1 cup of rye flour, 2 cups of wheat flour and 2 teaspoons of salt. If you want to put that in here, I’ll stir while you pour.

[Jon] Okay.

[Ms. Barker] And once it comes to a ball, you’re going to have to start kneading it and kneading it is important. Really resist the urge to add water until you really get your hands into it. So, I think it’s really important to get at least one hand into it, because the spoons not going to do you any good from this point and I come from a potter’s family, so I like to knead in a bowl.

[Jon] Mmhm.

[Ms. Barker] So you’re going to want to knead this for about 10 minutes or so until it becomes nice and strong and it’s not sticking to your hands too much. Now don’t ever look for it to never stick to your hands. Because of that molasses, it’s going to stick.

[Jon] Oh, yeah. So, tell me a little bit about the leaven that you’ve used in this. You just had a sponge, but what was this sponge made out of?

[Ms. Barker] Well, you can get it from lively emptyings, which is whenever you go to your brewer, you ask for some beer barm and that barm is what you can use to start your bread and you can start a lively yeast that you can keep at your house as long as you keep feeding it. So basically, that was a little teacup full of barm and feed it some flour and some water, equal parts and then you stir it up and that’s that. I would let it set for a bit and then that will make your bread, and if you wanted to preserve that, you could make your yeast cake, and so to that mixture that I just told you, you should add some cornmeal until it becomes a very stiff batterlike biscuit, cut them into biscuit shapes and then you just lay them out to dry.

[Jon] Right and then that’s what you’ve used here to make this.

[Ms. Barker] Yes indeed, so to reconstitute this, you just crumble this up and add some warm water to it. Two of these will make a nice loaf of bread.

[Jon] And it’ll get all active and alive again after a few hours or half a day.

[Ms. Barker] Yes, and in the summertime, you know, it’s a lot faster to make bread than in the winter.

[Jon] How’s our ball doing?

[Ms. Barker] It’s good and strong now. It’s very, very stiff, it’s still sticky to the touch, so when it gets to that point, when you’ve kneaded it about 8 or 10 minutes or so, you want to put it into a ball shape and, you see, it’s very dense.

[Jon] Yeah, that’s tough.

[Ms. Barker] But that is going to keep you going throughout the day. So, I’m going to put, we’ve got a bowl here, I’m going to line it with a towel and then sprinkle a generous amount of flour, whatever flour you please really, and then you want to put the good side down.

[Jon] So that will be the top of the loaf when we’re done?

[Ms. Barker] Yes, and then we’re just going to let it rest until it, it’s never going to get double in size, when it does get that size it’s going to be too deflated, so just let it get 50% larger. Well, we’ve got one that we made earlier, and as you see, it’s not very tall, but it’s going to be just enough chew and rise. It’s not going to be as dense as cornbread.

[Jon] So these were the same size?

[Ms. Barker] Yes, indeed.

[Jon] Okay, so it has grown a little bit, it has flattened out and we’ve got, you can see that it’s grown some.

[Ms. Barker] Mmhm, yeah and it’s light to the touch, it’s not near as dense as this. It’s got some air into it.

[Jon] That looks great.

[Ms. Barker] Earlier I prepared the oven with some hot coals from the hearth. We cheated a little bit. Every cook knows, don’t ever let your fire go out, so add some little sticks and then some larger sticks and we put them in there and with a little bit of some wood shavings, we got the fire going. It was a small fire. We let that burn down a little bit and then we pushed it to the middle and then made another small fire and let that burn down and then we put the hot coals and distributed them around the bottom to let the bricks really soak up that heat, and then I push them to the back and put my door on to really keep the heat in. Now we’re just going to wait until the coals die down completely and I’ll rake them out.

[Jon] So exactly how long does it take to get this oven up to temperature?

[Ms. Barker] It depends on how long you want to use it. Since we’re only baking a couple loaves of bread, it’s only about 2 hours. If you wanted to use it all day long, I would suggest maybe at least 3 hours.

[Jon] So tell me about the oven in the setting that we have here with your house.

[Ms. Barker] Well, this is the Zimmerman’s bake oven and they asked Doctor Campbell if they could put it on their property and this is the Inn so if you’re needing a place to stay they’ve got a really nice facility, but it’s managed by Doctor Campbell and this is a wonderful tool now that Mrs. Zimmerman has to use and we actually, my family being potters, we provided the clay. It’s mostly made out of clay, sand, and straw in different ratios and so it’s about 11 inches thick and 30 inches in diameter

[Jon] From the inside?

[Ms. Barker] Yes, so it could fit 6 loaves of bread very comfortably and it can keep heat for 6+ hours. So, once the oven has been swabbed out, we’re going to cast on some corn meal to see how hot the oven is. If the oven is too hot, the cornmeal will burn immediately and if that’s the case, just let it cool down some, but if it just toasts, then it’s ready to use.

[Jon] So the loaf is done, the bread smells amazing. I can’t wait to try this. I’ll let you cut into it.

[Ms. Barker] Yes indeed.

[Jon] Mmm, that’s wonderful. It’s got a great texture to it. What comes out for the most for you flavor wise?

[Ms. Barker] Definitely the cornmeal, and I would say I would put molasses on it instead of butter. More in it or more on it or both. That’s how I take my bread.

[Jon] Well, I really want to thank Ms. Barker for showing us this wonderful rye and Indian bread. Great recipe and not very difficult to do.

[Ms. Barker] Not indeed.

[Jon] And I really want to encourage everyone who is in this area to come and check out Connor Prairie. It is an amazing site. It really is something that if you are anywhere close, you really should try to come and visit it, there’s so many things here. I really want thank you for coming along with us as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th and early 19th century.

I want to give a special thanks to all the folks at Connor Prairie and make sure to check out their website. If you’re new to our channel, I want to welcome you. You can subscribe by clicking the button right up here. Also, check out our related videos. Thanks so much for watching.

Simple Boiled Plum Pudding

Simple Boiled Plum Pudding

Many people hear the word pudding today and they think about some little custardy stuff in a cup or something you buy at the grocery store in a box and mix it up with some milk. Pudding has a much deeper richer history. The word pudding is based on the old English words for gut or for stomach. The original puddings were actually meat or organ meats mixed with grains and cooked in stomachs or in intestines, much like modern day sausage or, if you’ve ever heard of a Scottish haggis. Haggises are like a true old pudding.

So these original puddings had their ingredients stuffed in a stomach and tied off then put in boiling water for several hours. It wasn’t until the early 17th century when they started making these puddings in cloth sacks instead of in stomachs, and we started seeing the ingredients change a lot, too. Some of the meats were taken out and more grains and other things put in, so we start to see an evolution in puddings, and they started to become very popular in the 17th and 18th century.

So today we’re going to be working on a simple boiled plum pudding.

Plum Pudding

  • 1 cup Flour
  • ½ cup Milk
  • 1 whole Egg + 1 Egg Yolk
  • 4 oz. Butter
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Mace
  • Ground Ginger
  • Raisins
  • Currants
  • 1 tbsp. Sugar

Plum Pudding Sauce

  • 1 cup Sac Wine or Sherry
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Butter

Plum Pudding

You’re going to need a pot, at least a gallon or so, to boil the pudding in. You also need a pudding cloth, a piece of tightly woven fabric, something not soapy but nice and clean. Go ahead and toss your cloth in the pot of boiling water while we start mixing the batter. It’s going to stay there until the batter is all mixed up and ready to put inside of it.

Plum Pudding (Time 0_04_13;07)

First let’s start with our wet ingredients. We need 2 eggs separated. We want actually 1 whole egg and then just the yolk from the other one. With our egg and a half, we need to add about 4 ounces of milk, that’s half a cup. Whisk them up, get them mixed well, and set aside.

For the dry ingredients, in your mixing bowl add about 4 ounces of flour, about a cup. We used just plain rough ground wheat flour. We’re going to add some salt, not any great quantity, a teaspoonful or so. We’re also going to add our mace, again about a teaspoon full. The recipes aren’t real specific so it’s really how much you want, how much you like. Add some of the ground ginger, nutmeg, and finally we have about a tablespoon of sugar.

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Now it’s time to get the butter into these dry ingredients. That’s going to be a little bit tricky. We’re going to use about 4 ounces of butter. You need to chop your butter up, put it in and then use the spoon to mush it around and then crumble it up to get it in there. Once you have that mixed pretty well, it’s time to add in the milk and eggs, then the raisins and currants.

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So, we want to get a consistency that’s sort of a stiff battery kind of a drop biscuit consistency, not too stiff and not so runny that it runs around. If it’s too runny, add a little bit of flour. If it’s a little too stiff, add a little bit more milk until you get the right consistency.

Now let’s take our cloth out of the hot water. You want to be careful if it’s too hot. Lay it out on a bowl and flour the inside. Make sure that the whole inside of this is nice and floured. Now place the batter in the center, wrap it up and tie it off with another strip of fabric.

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When you’re ready to put the pudding in, you want to make sure that the water is fully boiling. Then just gently drop it in. This is a smaller size pudding. It’s about a quarter of a normal recipe, so this one should take about 2 hours and maybe as much as 3 hours to cook. I wouldn’t cook it any more than that. You don’t really have a good way to know exactly when it’s done, because there isn’t a good way to check it, so you just have to know that this size takes about 2 hours. Usually, if it’s a full recipe, like most of the ones that use a pound of flour and a pound of suet, they are much bigger, almost a soccer ball size, and take quite a while to cook, 4 hours at least and probably more like 5 or 6.

Plum Pudding Sauce

When your pudding is almost done you need to get started on your sauce. You will need to add about a cup of our sac wine in a small pan or pipkin and then start to put in about 2 tablespoons of sugar. Just get these mixed in and warmed up.

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Once it is warm, remove from heat and add about 3 tablespoons of butter in a little bit at a time. It’s best if your butter is cold so it won’t separate. You want to keep whisking and slowly incorporate the butter one piece at a time. As it gets incorporated, then you add the next little piece and just keep whisking the whole time.

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Once the sauce is ready, set it away from the fire so it doesn’t heat up and separate and get the pudding out.

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Place the pudding in cold water just to cool it off, then open it up turn it out onto a plate, slice it and gently add the sauce. Enjoy.

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There are a lot of different variations of this that you can make, plain ones to go along with different meats, you can add vegetables, and you can change the grains. There are so many interesting things you can do with boiled puddings. I really encourage you to try one of these boiled puddings out. They were very popular for an 18th century dish.

Transcript of Video:

Puddings. Many people hear the word pudding today and what do they think about? They think about some little custardy stuff in a cup or something you buy at the grocery store in a box and mix it up with some milk. Pudding has a much deeper richer history. Today we’re going to look at boiled puddings from the 17th and 18th century.

So the word pudding is based on the old English words for gut or for stomach. In the original puddings were actually meat or organ meats mixed with grains and cooked in stomachs or in intestines, so much more like say, modern day sausage or, if you’ve ever heard of a Scottish haggis. Haggises are like a true old pudding.

So these original puddings had their ingredients stuffed in a stomach and then that tied off and they were put in boiling water and they were boiled for many hours. It wasn’t until the 17th century, the early 17th century, when there was a change, there was an evolution in this pudding. They started making these puddings in cloth sacks instead of in stomachs, and we started seeing the ingredients change a lot too. Some of the meats were taken out and more grains and some other things put in there, so we’re starting to see an evolution in puddings, and puddings started to become very popular in the 17th and 18th century.

Most of those puddings in the 18th century cookbooks call for 4 main ingredients. They called for flour. They called for milk. They called for eggs, and they called for some kind of fat. Usually suet is the one that’s most often referred to in the cookbooks. Suet can be very hard to come by in the United States. It’s not commonly used in cooking, so today we’re going to substitute butter for the suet.

So today we’re going to be working on a simple boiled plum pudding. Let’s get started.

So in addition to our four main ingredients, we’ve got some other smaller ingredients that we’re going to talk about now. We’ve got salt which is in most recipes. We also have a nutmeg we’re going to grate into that, which nutmeg is in all the different pudding recipes. We’ve got some mace which is in most of them which is related to nutmeg. We’ve got ground ginger. Ground ginger was inexpensive in the time period and a very commonly used spice. It’s a plum pudding and the plums aren’t plums, but they’re raisins in this. These have regular raisins. We also have some currants and currants in English cookbooks from the time period are actually just miniature seedless raisins from the Corinth region, and we also have some sugar that we’re going to add into this recipe.

So before we get going and start mixing things, we need to have some things happening in the background. I’ve got some water boiling here. We’re going to need a pot, at least a gallon or so, so that we can boil our pudding. We also need a pudding cloth, a piece of tightly woven fabric, something not soapy but nice and clean. I’m going to toss this in the pot and then we can start mixing. I’m just going to toss this cloth in. We’re going to leave it in here until I’ve got the batter all mixed up and ready to put inside of it.

Well, let’s start getting our ingredients mixed up. Let’s start with out wet ingredients. We need 2 eggs and we don’t want all of both of them, we want actually 1 whole egg and then just the yolk from the other one. This egg let’s separate out. We just want the yolk so I’m going to split this open and separate it. There we are.

So with our egg and a half here we’re going to add about 4 ounces of milk, and that should be about right. That’s half a cup. Let’s whisk this up and get these mixed well.

Okay, once we’ve got that mixed well, we’re going to set these wet ingredients aside.

So for our dry ingredients, we need our mixing bowl, we’re going to add about 4 ounces of flour, should be about a cup, and this is just plain rough ground wheat flour. We’re going to add some salt, not any great quantity, a teaspoonful or so. We’re also going to add our mace, again about a teaspoon full. The recipes aren’t real specific so it’s really a flavor, how much you want, how much you like, and some of the ground ginger. Now let’s grind up some of our fresh nutmeg.

Okay, looks about right, and finally we have about a tablespoon of sugar.

Now it’s time to get the butter into these dry ingredients. That’s going to be a little bit tricky. I’ve already chopped this butter up and I’m just going to put it in here and then use the spoon, mush it around and then crumble it up to get it in there.

In the period recipes, when they’re using suet, they actually were specific about not getting the suet too well mixed so that the suet would end up being in little pockets in the finished pudding and not spread completely throughout it. This, we want to get the butter pretty mixed up in here.

We’re going to use about 4 ounces of butter. Okay that looks pretty good. Now it’s time to mix in our milk and our eggs. Now it’s time to add our final ingredient here. We’re going to add our raisins and currants. Okay, there we are, and we’re going to mix those in well. So, we want to get a consistency that’s sort of a stiff battery kind of a drop biscuit consistency, not too stiff and not so runny that it runs around. If it’s too runny, add a little bit of flour. If it’s a little too stiff, add a little bit more milk. You’ll get to about this consistency. Let’s get the bag ready to put this in.

Now let’s take our cloth, we just brought it out of the hot water, you want to be kind of careful if it’s too hot, we’re going to lay it out on the bowl here and we’re going to flour the inside of our bag or our piece of cloth, so I’m going to take some flour and going to make sure that the whole inside of this is nice and floured. There we are, now we can get our batter here and put it in.

Now let’s wrap it up and we just need to tie this off. I’ve just got a little strip of fabric I’m going to use to tie it.

So, when we’re ready to put the pudding in, you want to make sure that the water is fully boiling. We’re going to drop this pudding in. This is a smaller size pudding. It’s about a quarter of a normal recipe, so this one should take about 2 hours and maybe as much as 3 hours to cook. I wouldn’t cook it any more than that. 2 hours is about right. You don’t really have a good way to know exactly when it’s done. I mean it’s not a good way to check it, so you just have to know that this size takes about 2 hours. That’s about it. Usually if it’s a full recipe size like most of the ones use a pound of flour and a pound of suet, those are much bigger, almost a soccer ball size, those take quite a while to cook, 4 hours at least and probably more like 5 or 6.

When our pudding is about done, it’s time to work on the sauce portion and we’ve got a nice red ware pipkin that we’re going to prepare our sauce in. Our sauce has 3 components. We’ve got some sac wine which is a white wine from Spain commonly known today as sherry. We need some sugar and then we’re going to add some butter, but first let’s put together the sac and the sugar and warm them up.

So, let’s warm up our pipkin. We’re going to add about a cup of our sac wine. There we go, and we’re going to start to put in our sugar. This is about 2 tablespoons of sugar we’re going to add in, and let’s get these mixed up and warmed up. So, let’s take our sac and our sugar off the fire now and now that it’s warm, we’re going to take and we’re going to add our butter in a little bit at a time. We’re going to stir it in, whisk it in, it’s best if your butter’s cold and that way it won’t separate. We’re going to add about 3 tablespoons of butter just a little bit at a time and keep whisking it up.

So you want to keep whisking and slowly incorporate the butter one piece at a time. As it gets incorporated, then you add the next little piece and just keep whisking the whole time.

That’s going to taste really good on this pudding. Our sauce we’re going to set that away from the fire so it doesn’t heat up and separate. Let’s get this pudding out.

Okay there it is.

Okay we’re going to put this in cold water here just to cool it off and now we can open it up.

Okay, let’s crack this open and I’ll turn it out onto a plate. Let’s see, ah, here, scissors.

And now a little sauce.

Mmm, this pudding’s really great. The sauce really lifts it up and the raisins are really, really good in this bready kind of a pudding mix. Very nice. You know, I’ve prepared some variations on this same basic recipe.

Here’s a cornmeal pudding. This one’s got butter but it’s a plain cornmeal pudding, like a cornmeal dumpling. Here’s a pudding that I did, it’s a plain bread pudding, but it’s got carrots in it though, and then here’s a final one over here. Here’s a suet and oatmeal. So there’s a lot of different interesting variations you can do, plain ones to go along with different meats, you can add vegetables, you can change the grains, so there’s so many interesting things you can do with boiled puddings. I really encourage you to try one of these boiled puddings out. Very popular for an 18th century dish.

So all the things you’ve seen here today, the utensils, the cooking equipment, even the clothing, all these things are available on our website or you can get our print catalog and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and hey, I’m going to go eat the rest of this pudding.

An Onion Soup Recipe From 1801

An Onion Soup Recipe from 1801

This recipe for onion soup is out of John Mollard’s 1801 cookbook, “The Art of Cooking Made Easy and Refined”.

  • 4 oz. Butter
  • 4 tbsps. Flour
  • 8 midsized Onions of choice
  • Salt
  • 3 qts. Beef Stock
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1 cup Cream
  • Frazer’s Mixed Spices (Black Pepper, Allspice, Nutmeg, Clove)
  • Bread

Start by placing 4 ounces of butter and about 4 tablespoons of flour in a large skillet. Keep it stirred well while it browns so it doesn’t burn.

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Next add about 8 midsized onions, peeled and sliced very thin. Any onions will do, white, yellow, sweet. I like onions, so I’m using a lot of red onion which is the stronger flavor. Red onions were used in the 18th century probably more often in medicine, but they were used in cooking as well. You can also mix your onions to get a unique flavor.

Season your onions with a little salt and stir until the onions are soft and have begun to caramelize. The longer you reduce them, the sweeter and more flavorful they will become.

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Bring about 3 quarts of beef stock to boil and add the onions to the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

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While your onions are simmering, you need to prepare the rest of the ingredients. This version is a cream of onion soup, so we need to prepare what is called a liaison. Gently whip together 4 egg yolks and a cup of cream with just a little bit of salt, then add to the onion soup.

At this point, this is a very basic, plain onion soup. You could add a lot of things to this. I’m going to season this one with a little bit of our Mrs. Frazer’s Mixed Spices.

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This is an authentic blend of spices from an 18th century recipe. It contains black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and clove. This will be a great addition. You could also add other things like vegetables or other kinds of spices.

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Onion soup was routinely served over a piece of bread. Sometimes that bread was toasted as we are doing, other times it was fried. After another 20 minutes this is ready to serve.

Transcript of Video:

You’re going to love this episode today. We went back in the archives and we got an episode on French Onion Soup we did several years ago. It’s a great one and we are working on so much right now. We’ve got lots of great episodes coming up, bonus topics, the next season of 18th Century Cooking starts next week, so stay tuned. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

In a previous episode, we did a dish, Fried Onion Rings. Something that’s thought to be purely modern, but it actually came from John Mollard’s 1801 cookbook, “The Art of Cooking Made Easy and Refined”. Today we’re going to be making another one of John Mollard’s recipes. A recipe for 18th century Onion Soup. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with Jas. Townsend and Son.

We start by placing 4 ounces of butter in our spider along with about 4 tablespoons of flour. I’ll want to keep this stirred well while it browns so it doesn’t burn. Next I’ll add 8 midsized onions, peeled and sliced very thin. Any onions will do, white, yellow, sweet. I like onions, so I’m using a lot of red onion which is the stronger flavor. Red onions were used in the 18th century probably more often in medicine, but they were used in cooking as well.

I’ll season this with a little salt. I’ll continue to stir this until the onions are soft and they have begun to caramelize. The longer I reduce them, the sweeter and more flavorful they will become.

We need about 3 quarts of beef stock on the fire here and we’re going to add our onions.

We’re going to let this simmer about 30 minutes. While this is simmering, I’m going to prepare the rest of our ingredients. Onion soup was routinely served over a piece of bread. Sometimes that bread was toasted as we are doing, other times it was fried.

In addition, Mollard’s version of the onion soup here is a cream of onion soup, so I have prepared what’s called a liaison, it’s 4 egg yolks, a cup of cream and a little bit of salt and we’re going to add this to the soup. Mollard’s onion soup here is just a very plain basic onion soup. You could add a lot of things to this. I’m going to season this one with a little bit of our Mrs. Frazer’s Mixed Spices. This is an authentic blend of spices from an 18th century recipe. It contains black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and clove. This will be a great addition. You could also add other things like vegetables or other kinds of spices.

After 20 minutes this is looking wonderful. I’m going to dish some out.

This smells wonderful. Let’s give it a quick try.

Mmm. This is really, really good. You’re going to really enjoy this. It’s got a wonderful medley of flavors. The wonderful sweet onions. You can get all those wonderful spice flavors in there. The texture of the bread. This is really great.

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

A White Pot Recipe

A White Pot Recipe

A White Pot with Raisins and Dates

Serves 1 – 6 (depending on how polite you are)

The name “White Pot” originates from the Devon region of England. But this sweet, buttery custard bread pudding, layered with sweetmeats (dried fruits) and topped with a caramelized sugar crust, was known to colonial cooks as well, if not by name, by construction. As far as we are concerned, this dessert deserves a culinary resurgence.

Notes:

You will need a sloped-sided baking pan for this recipe that holds about a quart, such as a Charlotte mould (named after King George III’s wife), a trade kettle, or any other sloped-sided ceramic or metal vessel. In our video on “Baking a White Pot,” we used a Tin Bowl, available on our website (product # TB-30). A medium rectangular bread pan will work as well.

If you use your range oven at home, preheat your oven to 350-degrees (F). A wood-fired oven should be heated to full temperature and then swept out and allowed to cool to medium heat. If you use a Dutch oven, prepare a small fire from which you can use embers. Or if using charcoal briquettes with your Dutch oven, use this formula: for the ring of coals used beneath your Dutch oven, take the diameter of your Dutch oven in inches minus two (example: if your Dutch oven is 12” in diameter, use 10 briquettes beneath). For the ring of coals for the top of your Dutch oven, take the diameter in inches plus two (example: for a 12” Dutch oven use 14 coals on top). That will heat your dutch oven to approximately 350 degrees. .

If you are using a wood-fired oven or Dutch oven, be sure to also use a trivet onto which you can place your baking pan. This will prevent the bottom of your White Pot from burning. Jas. Townsend & Son sells a baking trivet on our website (product # TR-618). If you don’t have a baking trivet, a tripod of pebbles will do in the meantime.

Ingredients:

1 pint heavy cream

1 cinnamon stick (or ¼ t ground cinnamon)

¼ t ground mace

¼ t freshly grated or ground nutmeg

dash of salt

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

3 T sugar

1 loaf of white bread (we used soft Italian bread, but white sandwich bread will work)

½ cup (1 stick) softened butter, plus enough to butter the inside of your baking dish

1 cup raisins

1 cup dates, pitted, and sliced

additional sugar for sprinkling on top

Assembling:

Liberally butter the inside of your cooking vessel and set aside. Do not skip this step or you’ll be disappointed.

Mix the heavy cream, spices, and salt. Set over medium/low heat and bring to a simmer, occasionally stirring to prevent a skin from forming. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

Beat together the eggs, egg yolk, and sugar. When the cream mixture has cooled slightly, remove the cinnamon stick, and pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cream into your egg mixture, whisking as you pour until the cream is well incorporated. This will temper your eggs so they will not curdle. Continue to add approximately ¼ cup of cream at a time to your egg mixture, whisking well as you pour, until all the cream is incorporated into the eggs. This is your custard liquid. Set it aside.

Slice your bread into approximately ½” slices, then trim away the crusts leaving only the slices of crumb. Butter your bread slices fairly liberally. This works best if your butter is softened.

Place a layer of bread, buttered-side down, into the bottom of your buttered baking pan. Push your bread down just a bit, but take care not to compress it. Fill in any gaps with smaller pieces of bread. Sprinkle a layer of raisins and dates on top of your first bread layer. It does not have to be a solid layer of fruit, as the raisins will expand while baking. Repeat the bread layer once more, placing the buttered-side down. Top with another raisin/date layer.

Once you have two layers of bread and two layers of fruit, pour enough custard liquid to fill the pan just to the top of the bread. Repeat layering as described in the previous paragraph. Cover with just enough custard to cover the bread layer. Continue until your pan is full.

Top off your pan with a layer of bread, buttered-side up. The custard liquid will soak up into this layer. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar on top. Your White Pot is assembled and ready to bake.

Baking:

Baking times will vary, depending on the size of your pan and the actual temperature of your oven. Check your White Pot after 30 minutes. The top will be well browned when it’s done. Your White Pot may jiggle a bit when jostled, but there should not be liquid pooled in the middle. If the top is not browned, continue to bake it, checking every 10 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Serving:

Once your White Pot is finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the inside edge of the baking dish. If you are using a tin-lined pan, be especially careful with your knife so you don’t damage your tin lining. Invert the pan onto a plate and rap on the pan and jiggle it to get the White Pot to separate from the bottom of the pan. This is why it is important to butter your pan liberally.

An extra special finishing touch for your White Pot is to sprinkle it with sugar and brown the sugar as you would on a creme brulee. This is best done with a Salamander (you guessed it, Jas. Townsend & Son also offers Salamanders: product # SM-279). Heat the plate of the salamander until it is cherry red, and prop the plate over the sugared top until it bubbles and browns. (Be very careful doing this. Handling a hot salamander requires a good pair of thermal gloves). You may also brown the sugared top using a modern kitchen torch or a conventional oven broiler. If you use a broiler, watch your White Pot closely to avoid over browning.

Slice into wedges. White Pot may be eaten warm or cold. It is delicious topped with a little cream or sack (sweet sherry).

“A white-pot custard for my white-pot queen,” cried Kemp, waving his bauble, “Mark this boy, …A white-pot mermaid custard, with a crust, lashings of cream, eggs, apple-pulse and spice, a little sugar and manchet bread. Away! Be swift!”

– Tales of the Mermaid Tavern, by Alfred Noyes

Pemmican

Pemmican

Pemmican is the ultimate survival food from the 18th and 19th centuries, originally made by indigenous peoples in North America. Buffalo was the obvious selection for large scale pemmican production. Many native peoples of America depended on pemmican for their survival. It kept well and it was an excellent food source, especially during hard winter months. Pemmican was also an important food source for many voyagers, frontiersmen, explorers, and fur traders. At the height of its production, from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, the vast majority of it was made with bison, although at times deer, moose and elk were used depending upon availability.

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The Metis were a unique group of people with their own cultural identity who originated from the descendants of French voyageurs and their Native American wives. They were responsible for most of the pemmican that was sold and traded throughout the northern regions of North America. The Metis developed an entire societal structure based upon the buffalo hunt. They conducted two hunts per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. A single Metis hunting party could have up to a thousand ox drawn carts in tow and could return from the hunt with up to a million pounds of pemmican and dried meat, and there were multiple Metis hunting parties.

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While the men hunted buffalo, the women processed them. Period accounts say that a skilled Metis woman could dismantle up to 10 buffalo carcasses a day leaving very little behind for the wild animals to scavenge. A single bison cow, when processed properly, would produce about 250 pounds of raw meat or about 50 pounds of dried meat. This same cow would also produce about 50 pounds of rendered tallow.

Once the useable portions of the animal were harvested, they’d be processed over the next few days. The meat was cut into thin strips and laid out on wooden racks to dry near the fire and in the heat of the sun. The skins were stripped of their hair and sewn into rawhide bags that would be used to store the pemmican. Suet was melted and refined into tallow and the bones were cracked and the delicate marrow extracted. The dried meat was then pulverized and placed into rawhide bags. Sometimes dried berries were mixed in. Then the liquid suet was poured in over the top and mixed in well and the bag was sewn shut.

Pemmican, produced and stored in this fashion, would last a long time. Some reports suggest 10, 20, even 30 years. About half of the pemmican produced by the Metis was kept and used by them to get them through the hard winter. The remaining pemmican was sold to the Hudson Bay Company or its competitor The North-West Company. The pemmican sold to these companies would provision vast crews of voyageurs that used to transport their goods. It was also sold to other backwoodsmen and to outlying military posts. Competition between these two companies was so fierce that battles broke out between the employees of these companies and became known as the pemmican war. The British government eventually had to step in and settle the matter by forcing a merger between the two companies.

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During the late 1700’s, great buffalo herds extended from just west of the Appalachian Mountains all the way to the Rockies, as far south as what is now Mexico to arctic Canada, but the demand for pemmican put a tremendous strain on the buffalo herd. Today, only about 500,000 bison still live in the wild across North America.

Pemmican can be easily made in a modern kitchen so you can use it at your next historical reenactment, survival outing, or even camping trip. It can also be stored long term for times of shortage.

  • Beef (or other meat)
  • Suet
  • Dried berries (optional)

Slice your meat very thin and against the grain. Place in your oven preheated to the lowest possible temperature. If you wish to use a dehydrator, I recommend baking your meat strips in your oven at 200 degrees for about a half hour first. Your meat should be completely dry and brittle in about 10-12 hours. For every pound of raw beef, you should end up with about a quarter pound of dried beef. It is best not to use beef jerky for this process, because it is typically very highly salted, highly spiced and also contains nitrates. These all add up to a very concentrated flavor which isn’t good in pemmican. The other problem is that jerky is cut with the grain instead of against the grain, so it’s very difficult to break up into powder.

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Once the meat is dry and brittle, melt an equal amount by weight of suet in a saucepan. While your suet is melting, grind your meat into a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle or your food processor. Mix together your meat powder and melted suet. If you are using dried berries, now would be the time to add them, though it will cause your pemmican to not keep as well. A common version in the time period called seed pemmican had ground up choke berries.

You can eat your pemmican raw or you can use it to make other delicious dishes.

Transcription of Videos:

Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Food – Episode 1

This is pemmican. It’s food from the 18th and 19th centuries, originally made by indigenous peoples in North America and then used by voyagers, frontiersmen, and explorers alike. It is a highly condensed nutritious form of food. It’s in fact, the ultimate survival food. Over the next few episodes, we’re going to talk about exactly what pemmican is, how it was made historically, how you can make it in your modern kitchen and also how we can cook with it, whether it’s at home, at an historical event or in your next survival outing. I want to thank you for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son.

Pemmican was traditionally made of just two or three ingredients; dried meat, animal fats, and dried berries. At the height of it’s production, from the late 18th century to the mid 19th century, the vast majority of it was made with bison, although at times deer, moose and elk were used depending upon availability.

A group of people called the Metis were most famous for their pemmican. The Metis were a unique people group with their own cultural identity. They originated from the descendants of French voyageurs and their Native American wives. They were responsible for most of the pemmican that was sold and traded throughout the northern regions of North America.

The Metis people developed an entire societal structure based upon the buffalo hunt. While the men hunted buffalo, the women processed them. Period accounts say that a skilled Metis woman could dismantle up to 10 buffalo carcasses a day leaving very little behind for the wild animals to scavenge.

Once the useable portions of the animal were harvested, they’d be processed over the next few days. The meat was cut into thin strips and laid out on wooden racks to dry near the fire and in the heat of the sun. The skins were stripped of their hair and sewn into rawhide bags that would be used to store the pemmican. Suet was melted and refined into tallow and the bones were cracked and the delicate marrow extracted.

A single bison cow when processed properly, would produce about 250 pounds of raw meat or about 50 pounds of dried meat. This same cow would produce, also, about 50 pounds of rendered tallow. The dried meat was pulverized and placed into rawhide bags. Sometimes dried berries were mixed in. Then the liquid suet was poured in over the top and mixed in well. Then the bag was sewn shut.

Pemmican produced and stored in this fashion would last a long time. Some reports suggest 10, 20, even 30 years. It was the ultimate survival food. In our next episode, we’ll show you how you can make this authentic pemmican at home.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can also visit our website and you can request a print catalog. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

 

Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Food – Episode 2

In our last episode, I showed you how pemmican, the ultimate survival food, was made in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, I’m going to show you how you can easily make it in a modern kitchen so that you can use it at your next historical reenactment, your survival outing or even your next camping trip. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son.

 

Large quantities of pemmican was made with bison. Today we’re using beef. If you have access to bison, or perhaps a venison, you may use that instead.

Bison was the obvious selection for large scale pemmican production. Now, today the wild bison herd is very small, but during the late 1700’s, great buffalo herds extended from just west of the Appalachian mountains all the way to the Rockies, and as far south as what is now Mexico, all the way north to arctic Canada.

Many native peoples of America depended on pemmican for their survival. It kept well and it was an excellent food source, especially during hard winter months. Pemmican was also an important food source for many voyagers and fur traders.

The demand for pemmican put a tremendous strain on the buffalo herd. There is one particular group of people call the Metis. They were descendants of early voyageurs and their Native wives. The Metis produced and supplied most of the pemmican. They conducted two hunts per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. A single Metis hunting party could have up to a thousand ox drawn carts in tow and could return from the hunt with up to a million pounds of pemmican and dried meat, and there were multiple Metis hunting parties. About half of the pemmican produced by the Metis was kept and used by them to get them through the hard winter. The remaining pemmican was sold to the Hudson Bay Company or it’s competitor The North-West Company.

The pemmican sold to these companies would provision vast crews of voyageurs that used to transport their goods. It was also sold to other backwoodsmen and to outlying military posts. Competition between these two companies was fierce. So fierce that battles broke out between the employees of these companies. These battles became known as the pemmican war. The British government eventually had to step in and settle the matter by forcing a merger between the two companies.

 

Now back to our meat. I’m slicing this meat very thinly.

I’m going to put this in my modern oven, preheated to the lowest temperature possible. You can use a dehydrator too if you wish. If you do, you ought to bake your meat strips first in your oven at 200 degrees for about a half an hour and then you can place them into the dehydrator to dry up.

The process will take between 10 and 12 hours. Your meat should be completely dry and brittle when it’s done. For every pound of raw beef, you should end up with about a quarter pound of dried meat.

 

Now some of you are probably thinking, Jon why don’t you just use beef jerky instead of dried beef in this recipe? Well, typically is very highly salted, it’s highly spiced and it also contains nitrates. These all add up to a very concentrated flavor which isn’t good in pemmican. The other problem is, it’s cut with the grain instead of against the grain, so it’s very difficult to break up into our powder.

Once our meat is dry and brittle, I’m going to melt in a saucepan an equal amount by weight of suet. Today, I’m using Atora’s suet in this recipe, which is available online on our website. Now you can render your own tallow from raw suet, but make sure to watch our previous episode on suet that’ll give you instructions on how to do that.

Now I’m going to take my dried meat and I could use a mortar and pestle, or even easier, I could use my food processor at home. Reguardless, I want to end up with a coarse powder. I’ve got about 8 ounces of dried beef here. I’m going to mix in about an ounce of dried berries, those are optional, along with 8 ounces of melted suet.

A common version in the time period had ground up choke berries. These you can find online. If you add dried berries to your pemmican, it will not keep as well. This version is called seed pemmican. Let’s see what this pemmican tastes like raw.

You know, there’s not a lot of flavor right up front. After you chew it for a while, you get a nice little beefy flavor. The texture might turn off some, but hey, if you’re tired and you’re hungry, this will keep you going.

And here it is, authentic pemmican. In our next episode, I’ll show you how to prepare easy, delicious dishes with this wonderful mixture.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can also visit our website and you can request a print catalog. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

Copy of Pemmican (Time 0_00_03;06)

Pemmican is the ultimate survival food from the 18th and 19th centuries, originally made by indigenous peoples in North America. Buffalo was the obvious selection for large scale pemmican production. Many native peoples of America depended on pemmican for their survival. It kept well and it was an excellent food source, especially during hard winter months. Pemmican was also an important food source for many voyagers, frontiersmen, explorers, and fur traders. At the height of its production, from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, the vast majority of it was made with bison, although at times deer, moose and elk were used depending upon availability.

Copy of Pemmican (Time 0_01_24;03)

The Metis were a unique group of people with their own cultural identity who originated from the descendants of French voyageurs and their Native American wives. They were responsible for most of the pemmican that was sold and traded throughout the northern regions of North America. The Metis developed an entire societal structure based upon the buffalo hunt. They conducted two hunts per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. A single Metis hunting party could have up to a thousand ox drawn carts in tow and could return from the hunt with up to a million pounds of pemmican and dried meat, and there were multiple Metis hunting parties.

Copy of Pemmican (Time 0_01_53;02)

While the men hunted buffalo, the women processed them. Period accounts say that a skilled Metis woman could dismantle up to 10 buffalo carcasses a day leaving very little behind for the wild animals to scavenge. A single bison cow, when processed properly, would produce about 250 pounds of raw meat or about 50 pounds of dried meat. This same cow would also produce about 50 pounds of rendered tallow.

Once the useable portions of the animal were harvested, they’d be processed over the next few days. The meat was cut into thin strips and laid out on wooden racks to dry near the fire and in the heat of the sun. The skins were stripped of their hair and sewn into rawhide bags that would be used to store the pemmican. Suet was melted and refined into tallow and the bones were cracked and the delicate marrow extracted. The dried meat was then pulverized and placed into rawhide bags. Sometimes dried berries were mixed in. Then the liquid suet was poured in over the top and mixed in well and the bag was sewn shut.

Pemmican, produced and stored in this fashion, would last a long time. Some reports suggest 10, 20, even 30 years. About half of the pemmican produced by the Metis was kept and used by them to get them through the hard winter. The remaining pemmican was sold to the Hudson Bay Company or its competitor The North-West Company. The pemmican sold to these companies would provision vast crews of voyageurs that used to transport their goods. It was also sold to other backwoodsmen and to outlying military posts. Competition between these two companies was so fierce that battles broke out between the employees of these companies and became known as the pemmican war. The British government eventually had to step in and settle the matter by forcing a merger between the two companies.

Copy of Pemmican (Time 0_01_48;08)

During the late 1700’s, great buffalo herds extended from just west of the Appalachian Mountains all the way to the Rockies, as far south as what is now Mexico to arctic Canada, but the demand for pemmican put a tremendous strain on the buffalo herd. Today, only about 500,000 bison still live in the wild across North America.

Pemmican can be easily made in a modern kitchen so you can use it at your next historical reenactment, survival outing, or even camping trip. It can also be stored long term for times of shortage.

  • Beef (or other meat)
  • Suet
  • Dried berries (optional)

Slice your meat very thin and against the grain. Place in your oven preheated to the lowest possible temperature. If you wish to use a dehydrator, I recommend baking your meat strips in your oven at 200 degrees for about a half hour first. Your meat should be completely dry and brittle in about 10-12 hours. For every pound of raw beef, you should end up with about a quarter pound of dried beef. It is best not to use beef jerky for this process, because it is typically very highly salted, highly spiced and also contains nitrates. These all add up to a very concentrated flavor which isn’t good in pemmican. The other problem is that jerky is cut with the grain instead of against the grain, so it’s very difficult to break up into powder.

Copy of Pemmican (Time 0_01_02;23)

Once the meat is dry and brittle, melt an equal amount by weight of suet in a saucepan. While your suet is melting, grind your meat into a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle or your food processor. Mix together your meat powder and melted suet. If you are using dried berries, now would be the time to add them, though it will cause your pemmican to not keep as well. A common version in the time period called seed pemmican had ground up choke berries.

You can eat your pemmican raw or you can use it to make other delicious dishes.


Transcription of Videos:

Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Food – Episode 1

This is pemmican. It’s food from the 18th and 19th centuries, originally made by indigenous peoples in North America and then used by voyagers, frontiersmen, and explorers alike. It is a highly condensed nutritious form of food. It’s in fact, the ultimate survival food. Over the next few episodes, we’re going to talk about exactly what pemmican is, how it was made historically, how you can make it in your modern kitchen and also how we can cook with it, whether it’s at home, at an historical event or in your next survival outing. I want to thank you for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son.

 

Pemmican was traditionally made of just two or three ingredients; dried meat, animal fats, and dried berries. At the height of it’s production, from the late 18th century to the mid 19th century, the vast majority of it was made with bison, although at times deer, moose and elk were used depending upon availability.

A group of people called the Metis were most famous for their pemmican. The Metis were a unique people group with their own cultural identity. They originated from the descendants of French voyageurs and their Native American wives. They were responsible for most of the pemmican that was sold and traded throughout the northern regions of North America.

The Metis people developed an entire societal structure based upon the buffalo hunt. While the men hunted buffalo, the women processed them. Period accounts say that a skilled Metis woman could dismantle up to 10 buffalo carcasses a day leaving very little behind for the wild animals to scavenge.

Once the useable portions of the animal were harvested, they’d be processed over the next few days. The meat was cut into thin strips and laid out on wooden racks to dry near the fire and in the heat of the sun. The skins were stripped of their hair and sewn into rawhide bags that would be used to store the pemmican. Suet was melted and refined into tallow and the bones were cracked and the delicate marrow extracted.

A single bison cow when processed properly, would produce about 250 pounds of raw meat or about 50 pounds of dried meat. This same cow would produce, also, about 50 pounds of rendered tallow. The dried meat was pulverized and placed into rawhide bags. Sometimes dried berries were mixed in. Then the liquid suet was poured in over the top and mixed in well. Then the bag was sewn shut.

Pemmican produced and stored in this fashion would last a long time. Some reports suggest 10, 20, even 30 years. It was the ultimate survival food. In our next episode, we’ll show you how you can make this authentic pemmican at home.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can also visit our website and you can request a print catalog. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

 

 

 

Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Food – Episode 2

In our last episode, I showed you how pemmican, the ultimate survival food, was made in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, I’m going to show you how you can easily make it in a modern kitchen so that you can use it at your next historical reenactment, your survival outing or even your next camping trip. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son.

 

Large quantities of pemmican was made with bison. Today we’re using beef. If you have access to bison, or perhaps a venison, you may use that instead.

Bison was the obvious selection for large scale pemmican production. Now, today the wild bison herd is very small, but during the late 1700’s, great buffalo herds extended from just west of the Appalachian mountains all the way to the Rockies, and as far south as what is now Mexico, all the way north to arctic Canada.

Many native peoples of America depended on pemmican for their survival. It kept well and it was an excellent food source, especially during hard winter months. Pemmican was also an important food source for many voyagers and fur traders.

The demand for pemmican put a tremendous strain on the buffalo herd. There is one particular group of people call the Metis. They were descendants of early voyageurs and their Native wives. The Metis produced and supplied most of the pemmican. They conducted two hunts per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. A single Metis hunting party could have up to a thousand ox drawn carts in tow and could return from the hunt with up to a million pounds of pemmican and dried meat, and there were multiple Metis hunting parties. About half of the pemmican produced by the Metis was kept and used by them to get them through the hard winter. The remaining pemmican was sold to the Hudson Bay Company or it’s competitor The North-West Company.

The pemmican sold to these companies would provision vast crews of voyageurs that used to transport their goods. It was also sold to other backwoodsmen and to outlying military posts. Competition between these two companies was fierce. So fierce that battles broke out between the employees of these companies. These battles became known as the pemmican war. The British government eventually had to step in and settle the matter by forcing a merger between the two companies.

 

Now back to our meat. I’m slicing this meat very thinly.

I’m going to put this in my modern oven, preheated to the lowest temperature possible. You can use a dehydrator too if you wish. If you do, you ought to bake your meat strips first in your oven at 200 degrees for about a half an hour and then you can place them into the dehydrator to dry up.

The process will take between 10 and 12 hours. Your meat should be completely dry and brittle when it’s done. For every pound of raw beef, you should end up with about a quarter pound of dried meat.

 

Now some of you are probably thinking, Jon why don’t you just use beef jerky instead of dried beef in this recipe? Well, typically is very highly salted, it’s highly spiced and it also contains nitrates. These all add up to a very concentrated flavor which isn’t good in pemmican. The other problem is, it’s cut with the grain instead of against the grain, so it’s very difficult to break up into our powder.

Once our meat is dry and brittle, I’m going to melt in a saucepan an equal amount by weight of suet. Today, I’m using Atora’s suet in this recipe, which is available online on our website. Now you can render your own tallow from raw suet, but make sure to watch our previous episode on suet that’ll give you instructions on how to do that.

Now I’m going to take my dried meat and I could use a mortar and pestle, or even easier, I could use my food processor at home. Reguardless, I want to end up with a coarse powder. I’ve got about 8 ounces of dried beef here. I’m going to mix in about an ounce of dried berries, those are optional, along with 8 ounces of melted suet.

A common version in the time period had ground up choke berries. These you can find online. If you add dried berries to your pemmican, it will not keep as well. This version is called seed pemmican. Let’s see what this pemmican tastes like raw.

You know, there’s not a lot of flavor right up front. After you chew it for a while, you get a nice little beefy flavor. The texture might turn off some, but hey, if you’re tired and you’re hungry, this will keep you going.

And here it is, authentic pemmican. In our next episode, I’ll show you how to prepare easy, delicious dishes with this wonderful mixture.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can also visit our website and you can request a print catalog. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

Kitchen Pepper Recipes

Kitchen Pepper Recipes

I have a friend who is an award-winning BBQ pit master. Follow your nose through my sleepy little hometown on any given Saturday, and that unmistakable aroma of meat on the grill will lead you straight to him. You can find him there in the grocery store parking lot from 9:00 a.m. until the food runs out (usually between 1:00 and 2:00 in the afternoon). For anyone unfamiliar with his product, it may seem kind of silly for a steady line of people to stand single-file in the blistering mid-day sun, or ankle-deep in a Noahic downpour, or huddled against each other in a blinding side-ways snowstorm. But those who have tasted his fall-off-the-bone ribs, buttery smoked pork chops, melt-in-your-mouth double-smoked bacon, and of course, his signature pulled pig piled high on a bun with his “spirited” sauce on the side…well, they get it. One bite is all it takes to be hopelessly hooked on this succulent smokey crack.

Some people like their BBQ smothered with sauce, and that is completely their prerogative. I like mine with sauce on the side. That’s not to say the sauce is bad. That sauce is seriously good stuff. I try to resist drinking it straight from that little Styrofoam cup. Keeping the sauce on the side, however, heightens my meal to a sensual experience. I’m better able to fully experience the layering of flavors, from sauce, to smoke, to meat. And tucked somewhere in between is my friend’s secret blend of spices and seasonings.

Every BBQ pit master has his or her special blend of spices, the formulas of which often remain highly guarded secrets. Such spice blends are used to achieve a unique and consistent flavor profile that keeps BBQ fans line up for more.

Spice blends have been used for hundreds of years long before BBQ came ashore on this continent, so let’s set BBQ aside just for now. “Powder Blanch,” “Powder deuce” (sweet powder) and “Powder fort” (strong powder) were used in medieval English and French Kitchens to season a variety of soups, stews, and roasted dishes. By the end of the 17th century, kitchen blends began to take a more standardized form with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper taking on predominate roles. Some were loaded with salt, some weren’t. I suspect their popularity was largely borne out of convenience. Spices were primarily sold in whole form and had to be ground or grated when needed. A pre-ground preparation of the more commonly used (and desired) spices made the seasoning of foods much easier.

By the end of the 18th century, these spice blends had acquired the common name “kitchen pepper.” For the most part, the various recipes included in the period cookbooks are very similar to one another. There were also a number of outright plagiarisms that food historians expect of the period. But as the popularity of kitchen spread into the 19th century, a broader variety of recipes began to appear on the published pages. Here are some of the recipes I found in my research.

From “A Lady’s Assistant,” by Charlotte Mason (1777)

kitchenpeppermason

From “The Practice of Cookery,” by Mrs. Frazer (1791)

kitchenpepperfrazer

From “A New System of Domestic Cookery,” by Maria Rundell (1808)

kitchenpepperrundell

From “The English Housekeeper,” by Anne Cobbett (1835)

kitchenpeppercobbett01

kitchenpeppercobbett02

A 200-Year Old Chicken Salad Recipe

A 200-Year Old Chicken Salad Recipe

This recipe is called a French Salad and it comes from Maria Rundell’s 1808 cookbook, “A New System of Domestic Cookery”, but even though it is a 19th century recipe, it is very similar to a number of different 18th century recipes for salads.

  • 2 or 3 Anchovies
  • 1 Chopped Shallot
  • ¾ cup chopped Parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive or Almond Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Distilled Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Mustard of choice
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¾ pound Roasted Chicken completely cooled

chicken-salad-time-0_02_5218

Mince your anchovies and mix with the shallot and parsley. In another bowl, mix your oil with the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk together, then add it back to the other bowl and mix well.

chicken-salad-time-0_03_3814

Next, break your chicken up into small pieces or strips and add it to the vinaigrette, completely coating the chicken. Cover your bowl and set aside in a cool place like your refrigerator for about 3 hours.

chicken-salad-time-0_04_1215

This would traditionally have been served on toast, but can also be served as a sandwich or even straight out of the bowl.

Transcription of Video:

Today I’m going to be demonstrating a simple and refreshing chicken salad right out of the 18th century. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

Today’s recipe is called a French Salad and it comes from Maria Rundell’s 1808 cookbook, “A New System of Domestic Cookery”. I know, 1808, now that’s the early 19th century isn’t it, but it turns out that this is very similar to a number of different 18th century recipes for salad. Salads have been around for hundreds of years, even thousands of years. We know that the Romans had salads and especially in the 17th and 18th century, the French and Italians were known for their salads.

Now the salads, this one’s called a French salad, and that’s quite likely because the English were so fond of French cooking and in fact they imported French cooks to cook for them and so salads were kind of known as a French dish in the English culture.

In the 18th century, salads took on many different forms. Of course, they had their cabbages and their lettuces. In fact, today we know this as Romain lettuce, in the 18th century it was just Roman lettuce. They also had a variety of vegetables. Endive, radish tops, leeks, and green onions were commonly used. Some vegetable salads were raw and some were cooked or even boiled. Other salads used meats or pickled fish. They also used herbs in their salads, not just as accents, but as major ingredients. Things where we might never put into a salad.

Now many people think of flowers in a salad as a new thing, but in fact in the 18th century, flowers were very common in salads. They had periwinkle and violets, nasturtium, those were all in 18th century salad recipes. Sometimes they were fresh and other times they might be candied. They were favored for, not only their color, but their flavor also. Ivy did a video a year ago on how to candy violets. If you haven’t seen that video, I invite you to watch it. I’ll make sure to put a link down in the description of this video.

Now what we’re making today is a meat salad. Now the common element that seems to tie all these kinds of salads together was the dressing which was usually some kind of vinaigrette and that’s where we’re going to start.

I’m going to mince 2 or 3 anchovies and put those in a large bowl, mix them with 1 chopped shallot and about ¾ of a cup of chopped parsley. The recipe calls for oil, about a tablespoon of oil and I’m using olive oil here. Now occasionally they would have used, say an almond oil also in an 18th century recipe like this and that might be an interesting variation you could try.

So now let’s add the acid. We need about twice as much acid. The recipe calls just for vinegar. Now likely what they mean is a malt vinegar in the time period. I’m not using malt vinegar today, but actually half lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons, and half distilled vinegar. To this I’ll add a teaspoon of, say the mustard of my choice, along with a little bit of salt, a little bit of pepper and I’m going to whisk this together.

Now it’s time for the meat. I have here some roasted chicken. It’s about ¾ of a pound that I had from earlier. It’s completely cooled and I can start to add this to our vinaigrette. This needs to be covered and set aside for about 3 hours so that the flavors can blend. I suggest you store it in a cool place like your refrigerator.

So, let’s give this a try.

Mmm, wonderful blend of flavors. They’re all right there. You can get a little bit of that lemon juice, but it’s not overpowering and it works so well with that oil. It all blends together so well and those flavors are just boom, they’re just right there. So this one is really good and they likely would have served this over toast or, you know, in a modern context this would go really good on a croissant although they didn’t have anything quite like that in the 18th century, but still, and you could just eat it just like this, just right out of a bowl. It is great.

Well, there you have it, a delightful 18th century chicken salad. Really good, very simple. You should try this one out. You know, I really want to encourage you to share this video. If you enjoyed it please share it on Facebook or the social network of your choice. Whenever you do that, it is so helpful, so thank you for that and if you’re interested in living history, in reenacting, we’ve got this great little getting started course. It’s a free 7 or 8 episode course and it’s kind of fun. You’ll learn a lot, so definitely check that out. I’ll put a link down in the description section of this video and I want to thank you for coming along as we try out these really interesting recipes from history, as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

If you’re new to our channel, I want to welcome you. You can subscribe by clicking the button right up here. Also, check out our related videos. Thanks so much for watching.

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