There is much interest these days in "alternative" grains - alternative to wheat, that is - wheat historically being the "gold standard" in most of Europe. Wheat is certainly the best for making bread, if you like your bread in the form of lighter well-risen loaves, because of its hight gluten content. Other grains and cereals are useful for pottages and porridges (which are variations of the same word), and coarse heavy breads, or flat breads and pancakes, and some of these (such as oats and rye, for example) formed the bulk of the diet for the les well-off folk of most of Europe for millenia.
The less-well known grains and cereals such as millet were known by the
cookery book writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (whoby
definition were writing for the better-educated and better-off folk), as
the following extracts show:
Millet.—This is much used in eastern countries, as food for horses and
cattle, and to fatten poultry. It is also sometimes used by the peasants
of Europe for bread. It is, however, more fashionable to make it into
puddings; and some prefer it in this way to rice. In America, or at
least in New England, it would be hardly worth cultivating.
The young house-keeper, or, Thoughts on food and cookery, By William Andrus Alcott, 1838.
Bread made of millet, if eaten when warm, is pretty palatable, but when
cold, it becomes dry and crumbly. Besides, though nutritive when boiled,
it is not so in bread, but becomes a very powerful astringent.
According to Pliny, however, it would appear, that millet was in very
general use as food in Italy among the peasantry. " There is no grain,"
he says, " more heavy, or which swells more in baking." Probably the
Italians had some method for counteracting its astringent properties. It
is said to be an excellent leaven, and has been recommended for
The Complete Cook, J.M.Sanderson 1846
There is a dearth of recipes for millet in early cookery books, but here
are a a few that might tempt those of you interested in Trying a
Wash four tablespoonfuls of the seed, boil it in a quart of milk with
grated nutmeg and lemon-peel, and stir in, when a little cooled, an
ounce of fresh butter; sweeten with brown sugar, and add the well-beaten
yolks of four, and the whites of two eggs, and a glass of wine or
spirits. Bake it in a buttered dish.
A Millet Pudding.
Spread a quarter of a pound of butter at the bottom of a dilh ; lay into
it six ounces of millet, and a quarter oT a pound of fugar. When going
to the oven, pour over it three pints of milk.
The London complete art of cookery containing the most approved receipts ...1787
These sound pretty interesting and certainly worth a go, just to see what really happens. Just so happens that I have some millet on hand and gonna give this a try. Thanks, as always, for your research and information. You're way too cool.
Doing some catch-up reading thanks to insomnia and I'm delighted to find these recipes. Here in Ghana millet is found on the market but I'm a bit at a loss sometimes as to what to do with it. Thanks for new old ideas!
Hi Pipedreams: a belated hello and thankyou! I love new-old recipes best of all.
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