Friday, November 01, 2013

The Curious Secret of Making Artificial Olives.

I am not at all sure that I would ever want to make artificial olives, mostly on account of the fact that extremely good real olives are easily available to me (and, I suspect, to most of you, too.) Nevertheless, in times past, occasional cooks felt the necessity for a substitute for the real thing, and applied the same process of lye-curing that is used for olives, to other small, round edible things, as the following recipes show:

Curious Secret of making artificial Olives, so as to resemble
in taste and appearance the real Olive.
Having procured, as a substitute for olives, some of the smallest green walnuts before there is any appearance of a shell, make a lie [lye] of wood ashes sufficiently strong to be capable of bearing an egg, boil enough of this lie to cover the walnuts, pour it hot over them, stop the vessel up close, and let them stand thus for at least two or three weeks, after which put them into a strong brine of salt and water, keep them so covered a fortnight, and then bottle them in the same liquor for use.
The universal receipt book: being a compendious repository of practical information in cookery, preserving, pickling, distilling, and all the branches of domestic economy. To which is added, some advice to farmers, by Priscilla Homespun (1818)

Florence artificial Olives.
Take young chestnuts or almonds; pick them of a handsome size and shape; make a lye of wood ashes sufficiently strong to bear an egg; have enough of this lye to cover the walnuts; pour it over hot, and cover them very well up; leave them from fourteen to twenty days; put them into a strong brine of salt and water, and leave them about the same time. Bottle them in this liquor for sale and use; but those that would have them superlatively good, must bottle them in equal quantities of Seville orange-juice and oil.

Domestic economy, and cookery, for rich and poor, by a lady (1827)

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