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)