Monday, March 07, 2016

Protein Supplement Powder, 1904-style.

My story today came about as a result of my search for a recipe for ‘Mafeking Pudding’ (for I had heard there was such a thing) for Friday’s post. The second Mafeking Pudding which I found is quite different in style from the one I gave you in that post, and it also contained a most interesting ingredient. Here it is:-

Ingredients: 1 pint warm water; 10 teaspoonfuls Plasmon powder; 4 teaspoonfuls castor sugar; a few drops vanilla or other flavouring essence; 6 bananas ; 4 ozs. Savoy biscuits; ½ oz. gelatine ; 1 gill Plasmon stock.
Method. — Mix the Plasmon with warm water into a smooth paste, stir over the fire till it boils; add the gelatine till all is well dissolved, strain and sweeten and flavour. When set, turn jelly on to a flat dish, place a thick layer of bananas cut lengthways in slices on top of the jelly ; sprinkle lemon juice and sugar on the fruit; take 1 gill cold Plasmon stock, whip into a stiff cream ; sweeten, flavour, colour, if desired, and pile high on the dish just before serving. Decorate sides of the dish with Savoy biscuits standing up.
Plasmon cookery book: dainty, nutritious and economical dishes
for every household (London, 1904.)

So, what was this ingredient called Plasmon, which appears in both powder and stock in this recipe? It turns out that ‘Plasmon’ was the brand name for a protein supplement, and as with such products today, the manufacturing company used various strategies to promote its use. Free demonstrations of its use were offered daily at premises in Grosvenor Square, to which “Ladies Are Specially Invited; But If Unable To Come, They May Send Their Maids.”

Another marketing strategy for Plasmon was a method still commonly used by food manufacturers today - the publication of a promotional booklet heavy with recipes – the one referenced above. Here is a little more from the book – including, of course, another recipe:

Report on the Culinary Value and Possibilities of Plasmon in “Food and Cookery,” (London, August, 1903) edited by C. Herman Senn.

Since science of dietetics has become more intimately allied with the art of cookery, it has been recognised that the so-called “rich foods” are not always the most nourishing. That is to say, there are many substances which, while most useful as stimulants and producers of fat, are practically devoid of all flesh-forming and waste-repairing properties. Such foods taken in excess are positively harmful, loading the human system with substances difficult to eliminate and which induce disease. At the other end of the scale are starchy and watery foods, of less nutrient value. Of course, the aim in planning a dietary or cooking a meal must be to properly choose different foods, so as to provide a wellbalanced ration. But with the modern exigencies this is not always easy to do, and hence has arisen the necessity for prepared foods. These are, as a rule, associated with the feeding of the young, the aged, and the ailing. There are certain preparations, however, which have a far wider application. Take Plasmon as an instance. Plasmon is a white granulated substance, devoid of scent or flavour; so it can be easily manipulated, and when used in cookery does not alter the taste of any dish. It is, therefore, safe to use. Now let us consider the advisability of using it, Well, Plasmon is the scientifically prepared albumen of pure fresh milk. It is an lbumen which is in no way altered, so that it possesses all the nourishing qualities of the albumen of meat, white of egg, or milk, without the bulk of water. Unlike the casein of cheese, the albumen in this preparation is chemically consequently it is quite digestible and easily assimilated. As albumen is the chief requisite of the human system for the restoration of waste of muscle, nerve, bone, etc., etc., the importance of this substance will be at once recognised. As Plasmon possesses no flavour or scent, it can be safely added to any dish, with the surety that it will add enormously to its nourishing properties, and, moreover, assist in making it light and digestible.

There is indeed, as promised, a wide range of recipes in the book. My choice for you today is:

Shredded Wheat Biscuit Pudding.
(Excellent pudding for children.)
Ingredients: 4 shredded wheat biscuits ; ½ lb. raspberry; ½ pint Plasmon stock;
1 oz. castor sugar; 12 drops vanilla essence.
Method. — Take the shredded wheat biscuits; halve them lengthwise, and spread inside with raspberry jam, or stewed raspberry puree. Lay them in a glass dish; pour over them sufficient raspberry liquor (made by boiling raspberry jam in water, or with juice of fresh raspberry puree) to well soak the biscuits.

Beat ½ pint of Plasmon stock to a stiff snow, add sugar, flavour with 12 drops vanilla essence, heap over the biscuits and serve.

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