Tuesday, April 2, 2013

KiOS: Spices and Herbs

Imagine if you will:  It is 1903. Henry Ford just founded The Ford Motor Co. Orville and Wilbur Wright take the first test flight in their plane at Kitty Hawk, NC. The very first World Series is held, Boston vs. Pittsburgh. If you lived in a urban setting you are starting to see that homes are now being outfitted with electricity and  telephones. Life is exciting.

Think about this: In 1903, Stoves in the American home became common place just before the turn of the century. There were no "supermarkets". Today's supermarket food selection would have been considered luxurious even for rich families. If I look at the world from my great grandmothers eyes. I would believe that today'people lived like royalty. Even if we do not see it this way. In all respects we do. Information is at our finger tips. We eat out more than we eat at home. We can run to the store any time day or night. We have freezers and microwaves and phones that travel with us.

One of the things I love to do is looking over old ads and price lists:  Join me as I  meander to the butchers and see what they had for us.
 Meat Prices

Spring Chicken       7¢ lb. 
Beef      10¢ lb.
Sausage   12.5¢ lb. 
Hens        7¢ lb. 
Pork      10¢ lb. 
Turkey      10¢ lb.      
Veal      10¢ lb.     
Bacon   12.5¢ lb.      

WOW a 20 lb turkey for $2.00. Sounds good to me. Yeah but here is the Kicker. Average annual salary for a  Schoolteacher was only $358.  

Lets talk about spices

Now in 1903 the average class citizens viewed the ability to purchase spices a luxury. Most grew their own in the garden. Some spices where available at the drug stores and small markets.

From peppers to Flowers they were dried, infused, tinctured (made into essences) or candied. Remember no one had a throw out what spoiled attitude.  
The following recipes are samples on how to make your own herb blends. 


To Dry Herbs For Winter Use


On a very dry day, gather the herbs, just before they begin to flower. If this is done when the weather is damp, the herbs will not be so good a colour. (It is very necessary to be particular in little matters like this, for trifles constitute perfection, and herbs nicely dried will be found very acceptable when frost and snow are on the ground. It is hardly necessary, however, to state that the flavour and fragrance of fresh herbs are incomparably finer.) They should be perfectly freed from dirt and dust, and be divided into small bunches, with their roots cut off. Dry them quickly in a very hot oven, or before the fire, as by this means most of their flavour will be preserved, and be careful not to burn them; tie them up in paper bags, and keep in a dry place. This is a very general way of preserving dried herbs; but we would recommend the plan described in a former recipe.

Seasonable: From the month of July to the end of September is the proper time for storing herbs for winter use.

Source: The Book of Household Management (1861).

Herb Powder for Flavouring, When Fresh Herbs are Not Obtainable


1 ounce of dried lemon-thyme
1 ounce of dried winter savory
1 ounce of dried sweet marjoram and basil
2 ounces of dried parsley
1 ounce of dried lemon-peel


Prepare and dry the herbs; pick the leaves from the stalks, pound them, and sift them through a hair-sieve; mix in the above proportions, and keep in glass bottles, carefully excluding the air. This, we think, a far better method of keeping herbs, as the flavour and fragrance do not evaporate so much as when they are merely put in paper bags. Preparing them in this way, you have them ready for use at a moment's notice.

Mint, sage, parsley, etc., dried, pounded, and each put into separate bottles, will be found very useful in winter.

Source The Book of Household Management (1861).

Kitchen Pepper  (This Sounds Awesome to keep at the Table)


1 ounce of ground ginger
1/2 ounce of black pepper
1/2 ounce of ground cinnamon
1/2 ounce of nutmeg
1/2 ounce of allspice
1 teaspoonful of ground cloves
6 ounces of salt

Mix. Keep in a tightly corked bottle.
(Out of multiple recipes the spices should be ground into a powder.-Jen)
Source The White House Cookbook (1887)

Cayenne Pepper


Take ripe chillies and dry them a whole day before the fire, turning them frequently. When quite dry, trim off the stalks and pound the pods in a mortar till they become a fine powder, mixing in about one sixth of their weight in salt. Or you may grind them in a very fine mill. While pounding the chillies, wear glasses to save your eyes from being incommoded by them. Put the powder into small bottles, and secure the corks closely.

Source: Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches (1840)

Dried Celery and Parsley

If you ever use celery, wash the leaves, stalks, roots and trimmings, and put them in a cool oven to dry thoroughly; then grate the root, and rub the leaves and stalks through a sieve, and put all into a tightly corked bottle, or tin can with close cover; this makes a most delicious seasoning for soups, stews, and stuffing. When you use parsley, save every bit of leaf, stalk or root you do not need, and treat them in the same way as the celery. Remember in using parsley that the root has even a stronger flavor than the leaves, and do not waste a bit.

Source: Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six (1879).

Essences and Extracts

Lemon and Orange Tincture


Never throw away lemon or orange peel; cut the yellow outside off carefully, and put it into a tightly corked bottle with enough alcohol to cover it. Let it stand until the alcohol is a bright yellow, then pour it off, bottle it tight, and use it for flavoring when you make rice pudding. Add lemon and alcohol as often as you have it, and you will always have a nice flavoring.

Source Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six (1879)

Vanilla Extract


1 ounce of Mexican vanilla bean
2 ounces of loaf sugar
8 ounces of French rose water
24 ounces of alcohol 95 per cent


Cut up the bean and pound with the sugar in a mortar, sift and pound again until all is a fine powder. Mix the alcohol and rose water; put the vanilla in a paper filter, pour over it a little of the liquid at a time until all is used; filter again if not all is dissolved. Paper filters may be obtained at any of the large drug stores. The extract may be darkened by using a little caramel.

Source: The Golden Age Cook Book (1898).

Rose Water


Gather the damask rose leaves; have a tin pan that will fit under your warming-pan; wring a thin towel out of water, spread it over the pan, and put rose leaves on this about two inches thick; put another wet towel on top of the leaves, and three or four thicknesses of paper on it; put hot embers in the warming-pan, and set it on top of the paper, propped up so as not to fall; when you renew the coals, sprinkle the towel that is at the top of the rose leaves; when all the strength is out of the leaves, they will be in a cake; dry this, and put it in your drawers to scent the clothes; put another set of leaves in, sprinkle the towels, and so till you have used up all your rose leaves. Rose water is a very nice seasoning for cake or pudding; it should be kept corked tightly.

Source Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers.

Candied and Sugared

Praline Powder


1 1/2 cupfuls of sugar
1/2 cupful of water
1 cupful of shelled almonds
1 cupful of shelled filberts

Put the sugar and water into a saucepan on the fire; stir until the sugar is well dissolved; then add the almonds and filberts without removing the skins. Let it cook, without touching, until it attains a golden color, the caramel stage. Turn it onto a slab or oiled dish. When it is cold pound it in a mortar to a coarse powder. Keep the praline powder in a close preserve jar ready for use.

Source The Century Cook Book (1901).

Lemon Sugar


rind of 12 lemons
1 pound powdered sugar

Grate the rind; mix the grated lemon peel with the powdered sugar; put into well closed jars and set in a cool place; is used for cake sauces and puddings instead of freshly grated lemon peel.

Source: Desserts and Salads (1920).

Candied Mint Leaves


Fresh mint leaves
egg white slightly beaten
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 drops oil of spearmint 

Wipe mint leaves, remove from stems and rub each leaf gently with the finger dipped in egg white. Mix granulated sugar with oil of spearmint, and sift over each side of the mint leaves. Lay close together on a cake rack covered with wax paper and leave in a warm but not a hot place until crisp and dry. Serve in tea with sliced lemon and loaf sugar.

Source For Luncheon and Supper Guests (1923).