Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Notable Food Things.

Today I am going to share with you some ideas on keeping food “fresh” for longer, from our source for the week - A Thousand Notable Things. The edition I am using is from 1815, but the original version was written in the late sixteenth century. Some of these techniques sound very scary today, when we are obsessed with staleness, germs and disease. The fact that so many survived such undoubtedly contaminated food should perhaps give us pause to give credit to the human gastro-intestinal and immune systems. (But I don’t recommend that you test your own out with the following ideas for meat and fish preservation!)

Easy Method of preserving Animal Food sweet for several days in the heat of Summer.
Veal, mutton, beef, or venison may be kept for nine or ten days perfectly sweet and good in the heat of summer, by lightly covering the same with bran, and hanging it in a high and windy room; therefore a cupboard full of small holes, or a wire safe, so as the wind has passage through, is recommended to be placed in such a room, to keep away the flies.

The method was apparently also used to preserve fish.

To keep Dead Fish long.
Roll them in Wheat Bran, and lay them on a stone pavement in a cool cellar, or underground kitchen, cover them lightly with flags, grass, or rushes, and they will keep sweet a week, evne in the summer season.

Another suggested method of preserving (and tenderizing) fowl flesh is:

To keep Fowls long, and make them tender.
Have a White Wine or Rhenish Cask set up on end in a cool cellar, cut it so that the Fowl may be hanged up in it, and they will keep many days longer than otherwise.

And as for fruit and nuts, the following ideas might still work today.

Whosoever will preserve Chestnuts, and keep them safe and sound, let them lay and mix them with Walnuts; for they will drink up and consume such humours whereby they corrupt; and they will not suffer them to wax mouldy. Mizuldus.

To Preserve Apples or Pears from specking or rotting.
Dip their stalks in melted Pitch, and rub the fruit over with the Juice of Spearming, and hang them up by their stalks, that they touch not each other, and so that he air may freely come at them, but no rain or damp mists, and so they will keep very long.

Quotation for the Day.

The difference of a single day is perceptible. Vegetables can only be tasted in perfection, gathered the same day.”
John Pintard (1759-1844)


ershadsocal said...

The name is kind of cute Old Foodie

Ken Albala said...

Janet, This is great stuff! And I have no qualms trying it all. Is it really 16th century? Where did you find this? I have to read it now. ken

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Ken - the main source for the week is definitely 19th C - the version I have used is in Google Books. The "original" by Thomas Lupton is "A thousand notable things, of sundry sortes Wherof some are wonderfull, some straunge, some pleasant, diuers necessary, a great sort profitable and many very precious. ... " There are several versions at EEBO,which I presume you have access to. I have been looking at the 1579 version (because there is a text version so it is easier for the eyes to scan) - I am trying to match up the sixteenth century and the ninteenth century versions to see what has been added to the later editions. It is a bit time-consuming though, so I dont know if the preserving methods are later additions, as I havent found them yet in the 16th C edition. It would be fun to follow the book through the centuries! I will be interested in your thoughts, if you get chance to look.
So many projects, so little time ....

Anonymous said...

To preserve foods with bran, actually works because there are good bacterias on the surface who will kill germs which turn the food bad, they also soak excessive liquid up.

Nowadays it would not work so easy because of the chemicals which are sprayed on the crops which also kill the good bacterias which normally would live on the crop from the start of growing it on the field.

Pickling vegetables and also fish in rice bran, is done still in asian countries. The bran is soaked with water, turned everyday until the bacterias have grown enough and the smell is earthy, a bit sour but pleasant and then vegetables and also fish are placed in the wet bran.


Take a look at that wonderfull small radishes which have been kept !5! weeks in the bran and are still as beautiful looking as if freshly plucked from the earth!

Even the leaves are perfectly green and fresh