Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library
Research Report Series - 0064
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
|Storage of Fruits and Vegetables — Introduction||1|
|Gathering Fruits and Vegetables for Storage||3|
|Methods of Winter Storage|
|Indoor Storage — Cellars||7|
|Attic Rooms — Garrets||17|
|Storing Vegetables in Salt||20|
|Storing Vegetables in Brine||23|
|Storing Uncooked Vegetables/Fruits in Layers of Sand Inside Containers, Containers Sometimes Buried||26|
|Bottling Uncooked Fruits and Vegetables, Containers Sometimes Buried||29|
|Bottling Scalded Fruits and Vegetables, Bottles Sometimes Buried||34|
|Drying Fruits and Vegetables, Uncooked||43|
|Drying Vegetables and Fruits, Cooked — To Be Boxed or Bagged||49|
|Index to Specific Fruits and Vegetables for Storage|
Seasonality had a great influence on the menu plans the housewife made for her family. Fresh fruits and vegetables were available in 18th century Virginia from spring until late fall. A longer growing season because of the climate, the planting of successive crops, and the use of garden glasses and hotbeds all determined the availability of specific fruits and vegetables.
Garden glasses served as portable greenhouses to protect plants from the cold, and like hotbeds, allowed for the forcing and rearing of delicate plants so they could be had slightly out of their normal growing season. Hotbeds were beds of earth covered with glass and heated by manure. Many garden glasses of the bell shape (called "bell glasses," also "melon" or "cucumber" glasses), were excavated around Williamsburg, thus indicating some serious local gardeners. (A. Noël Hume)
Preservation and storage of some of these fruits and vegetables, to assure a continuing supply during the cold winter months, was a significant task each year. To preserve them, many fruits and vegetables were pickled, made into catsups, or made into various confections (preserves, jellies, brandied, candied, syrups, etc.) and sweetmeats. These methods usually involved cooking, and changed the flavor, texture, and often the form of the produce — using salt and vinegar for pickling and syrup, sugar, or honey for confectionary.
Various methods were also employed for storage that basically little altered the form of the fruit or vegetable; in some cases, however, the taste and texture would be changed. This report concentrates on these methods. Straw, sand, and salt were frequently used as the "preservatives" in these storage situations. Some accounts of the use of sugar with fruits are related too.
Factors like climate and terrain determined the success and usefulness of specific storage methods. Jane Carson suggests a limited use of the traditional methods of drying fruits and vegetables in Tidewater Virginia due to the high humidity as compared to the Upcountry. Drying produce, either Indian-style in the sun or by hanging them high from ceiling beams, probably was not done so much in this area. According to English custom some vegetables could also be partially cooked and then dried in the oven and stored in containers.
This report on the early methods of storing foodstuffs is comprised of information provided from a variety of sources — manuals written by gardeners and cooks, and those guides for the various household servants, inventories and newspaper ads naming specific storage facilities, and existing archaeological and architectural evidence.2
Generally what was needed was a cool dry place, with the air excluded in some cases. Elizabeth Raffald emphasizes such storage in her "Observations on Keeping Garden-Stuff, and Fruit":
"The art of keeping garden-stuff is to keep it in dry places, for damp will not only make them mould, and give again, but take off the flavour, so it will likewise spoil any kind of bottled fruit, and set them on working; the best caution I can give, is to keep them as dry as possible, but not warm…" (p. 358-359)
Those fruits and vegetables to go into storage should be carefully selected — no bruises or rotten spots. One rotten one would spoil the whole barrel or cask. Often the best time of day and weather conditions under which the fruit or vegetable should be picked are indicated in garden manuals and receipt books.
In Adam's Luxury, and Eve's Cookery the following specifications are made on the gathering of fruit: "You must take Care not to bruise them, especially such as you design to keep, and that it be done when they have attained to their due Maturity; at which time they are not only best for eating, but even for keeping." (p. 202)
Francis Bacon advises that "Such fruits as you appoint for long keeping, you must gather before they be full ripe; and in a fair and dry day towards noon; and when the wind bloweth not south; and when the moon is under the earth, and in decrease." (p. 124)
According to Adam's Luxury, the best time for gathering winter fruit "is about Michaelmas, after the first Autumn Rains fall; when the Trees being sobbed and wet, swells the Wood and lossens the Fruit: Or when the Frost give Notice that 'tis time to lay them up. Begin to gather the softest Fruit first; but observe never to gather Fruit in wet Weather, and gather 'em by the Stalks to prevent bruising, and never begin to gather till ten or eleven a Clock in the Morning, that the Sun may exhale the Dew off them." (p. 202)
In The Domestic Encyclopedia it is explained that all fruits and vegetables for preservation should be cleaned and dried well first. The least humidity remaining on the vegetable will make them become mouldy. The fruits and vegetables should be checked during the winter to pick out those that are not keeping well.
Often the garden items were stored in containers with straw or dry sand, not only for cushioning but also to absorb moisture that encourages spoilage. Francis Bacon suggests conserving fruit "in vessels filled with fine sand, or with powder of chalk; or in meal and flower; or in dust of oak wook; or in mill." (p. 124)
In Adam's Luxury it is advised to not lay fruit "in Heaps, but on Nettles or other such like Weeds not offensive in Smell, which will perfect their Ripeness, sweat out their Superfluity, and make them sweeter in Taste. Keep them dry, and if the Weather be hot, let the cool North, East, or West Winds blow upon them, by opening of Windows, or other Conveniencies in clear dry Days." (p. 202-203)
Further directions for storing winter fruit in Adam's Luxury is that the fruit "must not be too hot, nor too cold, too close nor too open, but removed from all offensive Smells; for if any be near them, they will be apt to attract it, and Spoil their Taste, as well as corrupt them." (p. 203-204)
Whether burying fruits and vegetables outside or making use of cellars indoors, the ground was found to provide good insulation. Layers of dry straw or dry sand among the produce provided even better protection against freezing as well as against mold growth by absorbing moisture.
Occasional vegetables, with care, could withstand the Virginia winters out of doors. For such produce, trenches were dug and lined with straw for protection.
Sometimes bottled fruits and vegetables or those contained in barrels or stone pots with sand, were buried below ground or lowered into a living spring (running water.) In the late 16th and early 17th centuries Francis Bacon performed various experiments with burying fruits underground, stating that "burials in earth serve for preservation." (Vol. III, p. 80) He experimented with oranges, lemons, pomegranates, and apples as well as with bottles of beer and vinegar. (Works)
Bacon (Works) suggests preserving the fruits by putting "them in a pot or vessel well covered, that the moisture of the earth come not at them." (Vol. III, p. 81) He explains that the fruit should not touch the earth when buried, but should first be put into containers for burying.
Richard Bradley includes directions for preserving grapes in glazed earthen jars in layers of oats, filling the jars and then sealing each with a cork and mixture of pitch, bees-wax, and rosin. The jars should be kept "in a cool Place; and to bury it three Foot under ground, is better." (R. Bradley, p. 18-19)
Other alternatives to burying foodstuffs directly in the earth for cool storage and preservation mentioned by Francis Bacon are: a vault "20 foot at least under the ground" (Works, p. 81), a conservatory of snow, and a deep well. He describes vaulting the earth, "whereby it may hang over them, and not touch them: for if the earth touch them, it will do more hurt by the moisture, causing them to putrefy, than good by the virtual cold, to conserve them; except the earth be very dry and sandy." (Ibid, p. 80)
In Chamber's Cyclopedia the practice of burying bottles underground in sandy soil or in a spring is described in an essay on bottling:
"Something also depends on the place where the bottles are set, which ought to be such as exposes them as little as possible to the alterations and impressions of the air: the 5 ground is better for this purpose than a frame, sand better than the bare ground, and a running water, or a spring often changed, best of all." (Vol. I)
In The Farmer's Assistant, the Jerusalem Artichoke is described as "easily kept through Winter in the ground, nothing being requisite further than to dig a trench round them, to prevent the water injuring them." (Nicholson, p. 196)
Child's cookbook includes the statement that cabbages that are "put into a hole in the ground will keep well during the winter, and be hard, fresh, and sweet, in the spring." (p. 33)
According to The American Gardener, in November, cabbages should be laid "on ridges of dry-earth, covering the roots and stems with earth, and making a shelter to preserve the whole from frost and rain." (Gardiner, p. 95)
For the Spring supply of cabbages, in The Farmer's Assistant, it is suggested, "let a trench be made in a dry soil and line it with straw; set the heads closely together with the roots upwards; cover them with straw, and then with earth, piled up as steep as possible. In this manner they will keep till May, and may occasionally be dug out as they are wanted." (Nicholson, p. 41)
Since cabbages give off odors, Bacon (1981) suggests burying them upside down in a trench along the cellar wall away from other produce — perhaps in a dark, humid, well-ventilated root cellar.
For cauliflowers, Joseph Prentis and John Randolph, both local gardeners, give similar advice. In November, as intense frosts approach, Randolph explains to:
"take your Cauliflowers up by the roots in a morning, with as much mould as you can, and put them in the ground, in a hole dug about two feet below the surface, well sheltered by straw or thatching, as near one another as you please, and cut them as you have occasion. They may be preserved in this manner the greatest part of the winter, though they acquire an earthy taste from their confined situation." (Warner, p. 12)
Prentis writes of the lettuce, "It is a hard Plant and will stand most of our Winters if covered only with Pea Vines, Asparagus Haulm, Matts or Straw." (p. 37)
Most vegetables and fruits require housing during the winter months, some merely on a cellar floor or in casks with straw. Roberts says, "Vegetables will keep best on a stone floor, if the air be excluded." (p. 173) Again, dry sand or straw or salt were important "preservatives." Some vegetables were stored with layers of sand inside stone pots. Others were stored in stone pots or tubs or casks with layers of salt or in a brine until used.
The cool temperature is important in keeping fruit from ripening sooner than they are wanted and thus spoiling. As explained in The Domestic Encyclopedia, the proper temperature could be gained "in a dry cellar, or beneath the soil. Or well covered with straw or mats in a dry chamber." (Willich,. Vol, III, p 105) A stone or brick-floor provided a desired cool surface.
In The Domestic Encyclopedia it is observed that fruit may be preserved by "keeping it in pits dug in a dry soil, or in dry-cellars, or even in barns, if the temperature be between 32 and 48 degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer." (Vol. III, p. 87) These pits should be covered.
In her receipt book with the directions for brewing drink, Sarah Harrison explains:
"Where there are not good Cellars, Holes have been sunk in the Ground, and large Oil-Jars put into them, and the Earth filled close about the Sides: One of these Jars may hold about a dozen Quart Bottles, and will keep the Drink very well; but the Tops of the Jars must be kept close covered up: And in Winter-time, when the Weather is frosty, shut up all the Lights or Windows into such Cellars, and cover them close with fresh Horse-dung, or Horse-litter; but it is much better to have no Lights or Windows at all to any Cellar." (p. 215)
Cellars were located below the main house or under a dependency, or outside underground as a separate unity.
Advice in Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery is included on the use of cellars for storage: "When your Fruit are in Cellars, take care there is no damp, sweaty Walls, which will make them rot in time, and spoil their Taste." (p. 204) The cellar should be "clean and sweet, either paved or boarded, but not too stifling or close." (Ibid)
Further caution in Adam's Luxury includes organizing fruit in storage for use according to its ripeness: "Lay by themselves those that are earliest subject to decay; those that last till Christmas, by themselves; those that last till Shrovetide, by themselves, and such as last all the Year by themselves." (Ibid)8
In the Tidewater one major problem in storing foods was the high humidity. Thus a good dry cellar below one's house or kitchen was invaluable. Virginia Gazette ads for dwelling houses for sale often made a point of specifying: "a brick cellar," "a dry cellar," "a fine dry cellar with two brick partitions," or "an exceeding good dry cellar."
A look at the inventory of the contents in the Palace cellars gives an idea of the typical foodstuffs the Botetourt staff stored there under lock and key. In addition to the ciders, beers, wines, and various alcoholic beverages, there were some fruits and vegetables, most having been preserved in some way and requiring the cool, dry storage. The fruits were comprised of pots of sweetmeats (dried fruits, nuts), pickled mangoes, jars and casks of currants, pots of walnuts, bottles of gooseberries, and a barrel of cranberries. Vegetables included bushel casks of split peas (dried) and bottles of capers and olives. Other foodstuffs recorded in the cellars were: brown sugar and rice in casks, lard in pots, bottled honey, and some cheeses.
At the other extreme in cellars was the simple hole dug in front of the kitchen hearth and covered over with wooden planks. Such a cellar would provide a "dry" location (being near the fireplace) for those root vegetables that mold easily, the underground providing the coolness needed. Many such root cellars of various sizes and depths have been found in eastern Virginia, often in outbuildings like kitchens, stores, and slave quarters.
Apples and pears were carefully gathered, dried off well, and then laid in casks or chests in layers with clean dry straw or dry sand, and covered.
In The American Gardener for October, instructions for winter apples and pears are that:
"…they must be gathered in dry weather, about noon, or thence till evening — be careful not to bruise the fruit in gathering — lay them in heaps in a dry place, each kind separate, and there let them remain about ten days or a fortnight to sweat — afterwards wipe them separately with a dry cloth, and lay them up in casks or chests, with clean dry straw round the packages — cover the fruit with straw, and exclude the air as much as possible from the fruit. "(Gardiner, p. 164)
Philip Miller suggests packing the pears and apples "up close in baskets of wheat straw." (p. 230) And Roberts emphasizes that the straw to lay apples on, "should be quite dry, to prevent a musty taste." (p. 174)
In The Domestic Encyclopedia it is explained that when clean wheaten straw is used for storage of apples, pears, etc., it is necessary "to examine them frequently and to remove such as begin to decay; because the straw, by absorbing moisture, will become so tainted, as to communicate an unpleasant flavour." (Willich, p. 88, "F")
Roberts, for preserving apples for the year round, advises:
"Put them in casks in layers of dry sand; let the sand be perfectly dry, and each layer being covered keeps them from the air, from moisture, from frost, and from perishing, as the sand absorbs their moisture, which generally perishes them; pippins have often been kept in this manner until mid-summer, and were as fresh then as when put in."(p. 109-110)
Simmons describes "A new method of keeping apples fresh and good, through the winter and into summer":
"Take a quantity of pippins, or other good winter apples: take them from the trees carefully when ripe, and before frost, make a hole through each one with a goose quill from stem to eye, fill this with sugar, lay in this position two weeks, till they are a little wilted, then put them in a tight cask, and keep them from freezing. " (p. 40)
Randolph says of "cantaleupe," "Gather your fruit in a morning before the sun has warmed it, but if gathered after, put it into cold 10 water or ice, and keep those got in the morning in the coolest place; a few hours' delay in gathering will spoil the fruit, wherefore they ought to be overlooked twice a day." (p. 33) A cellar floor could be "the coolest place" for the cantelopes. (Warner, p. 33)
In The American Gardener, during November, it is suggested that cauliflowers that have not flowered "be put in a cellar to blow, covering the roots with earth." Then in December, you are to examine those in the cellar and cut them as they flower. (Gardiner, p. 93)
Landon Carter wrote of doing this very thing. On January 15, 1764 (Sunday), he says:
"I lookt at my Cauliflowers put into my Cellar against the wall in November with earth to their roots. They then were not flowered but now they are all flowered. 27 of them. Two we use today for dinner. I have ordered a fresh layer of earth to their roots tomorrow that they may be guarded against the frost the rem[ainder] of the winter and seed may be saved from them. I once did 10 at my father's and saved fine seed." (Greene, p. 251)
According to The American Gardener, celery can be taken up during the month of December, "in mild dry weather" and placed "in a dry place, covering them with dry earth, sand, or litter." (Gardiner, p. 97-98)
Child, in her cookbook, says, "Celery should be kept in the cellar, the roots covered with tan, to keep them moist." (p. 35)
Directions for the storage of stone fruits are given in Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery as follows:
"When you gather Stone Fruits, rub off gently the Wooliness, pack them in Straw in a dry Cask, with a Layer of Straw between each Layer of Fruit, for they are very subject Mouldiness and rotting upon the least contracted Moisture, and must be placed at a Distance from other Fruits, because their Scent is offensive to them." (p. 203)
Another receipt for keeping cherries in layers of straw is included in Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery. Hess (1981) explains that fruits do keep a remarkably long time packed in hay as the receipt describes because of the exclusion of light and the cradling effect of the hay. 11 Hess states that the French still use hay or straw in this way, although usually in cellars, The receipt follows:
"TO KEEPE CHERRIES yt YOU MAY HAVE THEM FOR TARTS AT CHRISTMASS WITHOUT PRESERVEING
Take ye fayrest cherries you can get, fresh from ye trees; wth out bruising, wipe them one by one with a linnen cloth, yn put ym into a barrell of hay & lay them in ranks, first laying hay on the bottom, &then cherries, & yn hay & then cheryes, & then hay agayne. stop them close up yt noe Ayre get to ym. then set them under a fether bead where one lyeth continually, for ye warmer they are kept, ye better it is. see they be neere noe fire. thus doeing, you may have cherries any time of ye yeare. you allsoe may keep cherries or other fruits in glasses, close stopt from ayre." (Hess, 1981, p. 162)
Glasse includes a receipt for keeping fruits in a box in layers of dry sand. The receipt from The Compleat Confectioner follows:
"To keep grapes, gooseberries, apricots, peaches, nectarins, cherries, currants, and plumbs, the whole year.
Take fine dry sand, that has little or no saltness in it, and make it as dry as possible with often turning it in the sun; gather your fruits when they are just ripening, or coming near ripe, and dip the ends of the stalks in melted pitch or bees wax; and having a large box with a close lid, dry your fruit a little in the sun to take away the superfluous moisture, and lightly spread a layer of sand at the bottom of the box, and a layer of fruit on it, but not too near each other; then scatter sand very even about an inch thick over them, and so another layer till the box is full; then shut the lid down close, that the air may not penetrate; and whenever you take out any thing, be sure to mind the placing them even again; so you will have them fit for tarts, or other uses, till the next season; if they are a little wrinkled, wash them in warm water and they will plump up again: you may use millet instead of sand, if you think it more convenient."(Glasse, 1770, p. 79)
The basic purpose of root cellars was to provide a cool place in which to store edible roots and other foodstuffs. Generally these roots (beets, potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc.) were kept in bulk and could only be preserved in cool, dark places, insulated from winter frosts and protected from too much dampness as would encourage spoilage.
The detached root cellar dug into a hillside (like a cave or tunnel) on high enough ground so that water would not collect in it, was common on farms and plantations. Sometimes storage cellars were made of stone or brick, and earth was banked around the sides and covered the roof to a depth of three feet. A door at one end provided the only ventilation, with the bare earth floor controlling the humidity. (Bacon, 1981)
In very rare cases special buildings were erected to serve as root cellars. Herman describes Williams Wessell's unusual late 18th century "root cellar and storeroom," in Accomack County, Virginia. On the Eastern Shore, it is on land that is very low with the water table at most only 3 or 4 feet below the ground. A building with a basement under the house would have been impractical since the water table here is so high. The rectangular brick structure measuring approximately 26' x 16', with walls rising about 4' above grade, has a floor level about 2' below grade. The cellar walls and floor are brick. There is a storage loft at the upper part of the steep-pitched roof. Herman explains that this loft also prevents heat from penetrating to the cellar area below and gives greater protection from moisture and small animals to items stored there. (Herman)
For convenience, root cellars were often incorporated into basements of houses or outbuildings, often in the form of a pit sunk into the ground. Evidence in Virginia of small cellars having been dug in the ground (or floor) of certain outbuildings is seen not only by archaeologists and architectural researchers, but one can also read of their uses in receipt books, garden manuals, diaries, and Virginia Gazette articles.
These small cellars are often found in 18th and 19th century Virginia dependencies like kitchens, storehouses and slave quarters. They are frequently located near the hearth of the room, presumably because the hearth's fire provided the dryness needed for storage.
These holes vary in size and depth (averaging 2' to 4' deep.) Some are lined with wood or brick — some only partially lined (like only the walls.) Many have sandy layers of soil inside. Some have wooden trap doors on top; others are covered with wood planks merely laid across the top. (Information is from Kelso's reports on the archaeology at Kingsmill and discussions with members of the Architectural Research Department at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)13
Robert Beverly mentions such cellars in Virginia early in the 18th century when he describes potato storage. About potatoes he writes, "they are so tender that it is very difficult to preserve them in the winter, for the least frost coming at them rots and destroys them; and therefore people bury 'em under ground near the fire hearth all the winter." (Wright, 1947; p. 82)
In Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery there are directions for storing turnips in a trench dug inside to a depth of 27". The trench is made "in ye ground yt is light & sandy; though it be out of dores, it matters not; & lay in yr turneps, about 3 quarters of a yerd deepe your trench must be; & ever as you have occasion to use them, digg them up, & cover up ye place againe." (Hess, 1981, p. 16.3)
On May 26, 1768, published in the Rind issue of the Virginia Gazette, is an article on the robberies of cellars and stores in Williamsburg. Tools and stolen meat were found in a "cellar" that had been dug under the floor of one particular smokehouse. Note that the floors and sides of the "cellar" had been lined with bricks and that there is mention of the meat being packed there carefully, so as to preserve it. The article follows:
The Virginia Gazette: Williamsburg, May 26, 1768 (Rind) "Last Monday, on searching a suspected house in this city, fifty four keys were found calculated for locks of all sorts and sizes; one of them so formed that wards are not of the least use against it, as was proved by its opening many different locks with great ease.—A great variety of curious tools, such as saws, files, cooper's and others, were also found, all adapted for such villainous purposes. A great quantity of bacon was found in a smoke-house, under the floor, where there was a large sort of cellar dug, the floor and sides of which were done with bricks; and there the meat was packed very carefully, so as to preserve it. As no sort of locks are a security against these keys, there is not the least doubt but many houses, stores and cellars have been robbed in this city and the neighborhood; and it may justly be pronounced a species of villainy truly alarming. Several of the suspecting persons are now in the publick gaol. "
Most cellars of this type were used for root vegetables rather than other foodstuffs. Perhaps bottled (and sealed) fruits and vegetables that could be buried would be stored in these cellars too. In garden manuals directions for the storage of root vegetables generally include layers of dry sand in with layers of the roots. Sometimes the heap was then covered with straw.14
Produce varies in the amount of humidity and temperature needed for storage. Those items requiring higher humidity include: apples, pears, potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots. The best temperature for most of these is 32° to 40°; sweet potatoes require a temperature of 55° to 60°. Those needing lower humidity are onions, pumpkins, and squash. Thus if a variety of fruits and vegetables in large quantities are kept, several storage areas would likely be arranged. (Farmers & Consumers Market Bulletin)
For root cellar storage, vegetables should be harvested as late as possible and at the proper stage of maturity. Only perfect vegetables should be selected for storage — those that are firm, free from cuts and bruises, and undamaged by disease and insects. Rather than washing the vegetable (some believe washing may encourage decay), excess dirt may simply be brushed off. The vegetables should not be touching each other during storage and should be checked routinely for spoilage. Air circulation around the vegetables and proper ventilation are essential, as are a tight-fitting cellar door and darkness. (Ibid and Virginia Gazette, 9-1-84)
Beets are stored like carrots in layers of dry sand (see directions for carrots.)
In The Farmer's Assistant, Nicholson says that "they should not be suffered to freeze, as this makes them tough and unfit for use." (p.34)
Worlidge says that "some of the fairest laid up in reasonable dry Sand, will keep throughout the Winter." (p. 154) For Virginia, Randolph repeats this message with, "In November take up your roots and put them in dry sand, and you may use them as occasion requires." (Warner, p. 13.)
Also for Virginia, Prentis gives directions for putting the carrots "in a hole" the last of November or first of December. He explains to:
"…take up your Carrots, in a dry Mild Day and cut off the Tops, clean them from the Earth and carry them to some dry place, then lay a Bed of dry Sand on the floor about two or three Inches thick, place the roots upon the Sand close together laying their Heads outwards, Cover the roots with Sand, two Inches, and then lay on more roots, and then more Sand. — after this cover them with Straw." (Prentis, p. 18)
In The American Gardener, directions are that "horse radish" may be handled and laid up as directed for beets and carrots in layers of dry sand. See directions for carrots. (Gardiner)
Worlidge says that towards the winter, parsnips may be disposed of in sand, to preserve the same as carrots and turnips.
Prentis suggests disposing of parsnips "in a hole" in the same manner as for carrots. He says to do this "when the Frost has bit your Parsnips." (p. 12)
For Virginia, Randolph explains, "When the leaves begin to decay, which will be about February, after frosts, they should be dug up and put into dry sand, which will preserve them until April. They are not sweet until bit by the frosts." (Warner, p. 37)
In Adam's Luxury it is directed for parsnips that when their leaves begin to wither, to cut off their tops and bury them in some dry sand "in a House," layering the parsnips with the sand and covering with sand.
See directions for carrots.
Landon Carter writes in his diary for Monday, October 27, 1766, that he was "this day housing my Irish potatoes." (Greene, p. 330) He was very likely putting them into a root cellar in the storehouse on his plantation. Or the potatoes might have been buried in another outbuilding underground "near the fire hearth all the winter," as Robert Beverly describes Virginians doing. (Wright, p. 82) Or Carter may have been housing his potatoes in a detached root cellar.
Randolph explains that "The Haum of these plants is generally killed by the first frost, at which time they should be taken up and kept in sand quite dry for use, not too thick, and very dry, least they should heat and spoil." (Warner, p. 41)
In The American Gardener a sort of detached outdoor root "cellar" or vault is described for storing potatoes. It is suggested that the potatoes be buried "in a deep hole lined with straw," and then covered with more straw and earth thrown over them in the form of a roof. "The hole should be in high dry ground where the rain don't lodge." (Gardiner, p.94)
Randolph advises, "Radishes may be preserved in sand, as Carrots are, until the spring." (Warner, p. 43) See directions for carrots.
Salsafy is stored, like other roots. In The American Gardener for November, it is suggested that salsafy be laid up as directed for beets and carrots. See directions for carrots. (Gardiner)
Worlidge says about storing turnips, "After they are in their prime, you must house them from the Frost, by laying them in your Celler, or suchlike place, on heaps." (p. 155)
Landon Carter writes of similarly storing his turnips on Monday, October 27, 1766: "House my turnips 2 days agoe. 3 hogheads full." (Greene, p. 330)
Directions given in Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery involve digging a sort of cellar (or "trench") 27 inches deep, either indoors or outdoors for keeping turnips after cutting off their tops. Note that sandy soil is necessary. The receipt follows:
"TO KEEPE TURNUPS ALL Ye YEAR FROM SEEDING
First cut of ye tops of yr turneps after michaellmass, & make A trench in ye ground yt is light & sandy; though it be out of dores, it matters not; & lay in yr turneps, about 3 quarters of a yerd deepe your trench must be; & ever as you have occasion to use them, digg them up, & cover up ye place againe… " (Hess, 1981, p" 163)
Directions in The American Gardener are to lay turnips up the same way as for beets and carrots. Layers of dry sand (2 - 3 inches thick) are alternated with layers of the roots (that have been first brushed clean and their tops cut off. Then the heap is covered with straw. See directions for carrots. (Gardiner)
In The Farmer's Assistant, there are directions for constructing a special "apartment" for preserving turnips from winter frosts. The building is also used to store hay. One method includes a cellar for storing the turnips in layers of sand under the building for holding hag. (Nicholson)
Bacon (1981) advises that since turnips give off odors, they should be stored away from other produce.
Some vegetables need a warmer and drier place for storage than the cellar could maintain. Such vegetables were best kept in a garret or attic room.
In her cookbook Martha Bradley says that when the leaves of the kitchen bulbs (onion, "garlick") wither, they should be taken up, "and carefully dried, the best way is to spread them on the Floor of an airy Room, and turn them now and then, 'till they are fit to put up for the Winter Service." (p. 134)
In Adam's Luxury it is suggested that when the "In-leaves" turn yellow, the garlick be dug up and "spread abroad in the Sun and dried; and so cutting off the small Fibres and part of the Top, tie them up in Bunches and hang them up for use." (p. 40)
For Virginia, John Randolph discusses the "garlick." He says that these bulbs "die about July, and then should be taken: up and hung in a dry room for winter use." (Warner, p. 37)
Bacon (1981) says that garlic, like onions and shallots, can be braided and hung in the attic or an unused, darkened room. The room should be "dry, cool, well-ventilated." (p. 61)
Francis Bacon describes grapes as continuing to stay "fresh and moist all winter long," if they are hung "cluster by cluster in the roof of a warm room; especially if when you gather the cluster, you take off with the cluster some of the stock." (Vol. III, p. 129)
Raffald includes a receipt for keeping bunches of grapes by hanging them in a dry room, so that air can pass freely between the bunches:
"To keep GRAPES.
CUT your bunches of grapes, with a joint of the vine to hang them up in a dry room, that the bunches do not touch one another, and the air pass freely betwixt them, or they will grow mouldy and rot; they will keep till the latter end of January, or longer.
N.B. The Frontiniac grape is the best." (p. 363)
Bacon (1740) also suggests hanging grapes with the stalk "in an empty vessel well stopped." He continues with setting "the vessel not in a cellar, but in some dry place; and it is said they will last long. But it is reported by some, they will keep better in a vessel half full of wine, so that the grapes touch not the wine." (Vol. III, p. 124)
Worlidge says that when onions are ripe, they "are to be taken up and dried in the Sun, and reserved for use in places rather dry than moist." (p. 155)
Prentis, Squibb, and Randolph each give directions for handling and storing onions that are ready during the summer months. The roots should be taken up in dry weather, leaving 4 to 5 inches of the stalk to each root. The heads then are to be placed in a dry place (either on the ground or a scaffold made for that purpose) to harden exposed to the sun a few days, turning them frequently.
Afterwards they are to be gathered up (on a dry day), "well cleaned from earth, and all outer loose skins," and spread on the floor of a dry airy room. According to Squibb and Prentis the windows should be kept open during fair dry weather. Randolph suggests laying out the onions as thin as possible in a room or garret "as close from the air as possible." (Warner, p. 35)
At least once a month, onions lying on the floor should be turned over, and the decayed ones picked out. The decayed ones "will affect the rest; or if too near one another, or in heaps, they will heat, and probably ruin the whole crop." (IBID)
In the "Larder" of the Governor's Palace on Botetourt's inventory are listed "6 Ropes of Onions." (CWF Inventory, p. 14) As stated previously for garlic, according to Bacon (1981), onions and shallots can be braided and hung in the attic or an unused, darkened room. The room should be "dry, cool, well-ventilated." (p. 61) To braid onions, leave stems on and braid in long strands.
Onions being shipped from New England, for market, according to The Farmer's Assistant, were "usually tied up in wisps of straw." If "they be hung up in this way they will, perhaps, keep longer than any other. If they incline to sprout, sear the roots with a hot iron, which will stop their growth." (Nicholson, p. 271)
In Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery it is explained to cut off the small fibres and tops of the shallots and then: "spread the Bulbs to dry for a Week or ten Days in the Sun, turning them over every Day; and when they are thoroughly dry, they may be put into Bags, and kept in a dry Room for Use." (p. 73)
Squash and pumpkins require less humidity and warmer temperatures and can be kept on the attic floor for months. (Bacon, 1981) Robert Beverly talks about the Virginia Indians laying by the cushaws and pompions (crook-neck squash and pumpkins), "which will keep several months good after they are gather'd." (Wright, p. 181)
Squashes, Child explains, "should never by kept down cellar when it is possible to prevent it. Dampness injures them." She advises to "keep them in some dry, warm place." (p. 33-34)
In The Farmer's Assistant, Nicholson says that pumpkins may be stored in a dry cellar for most of the winter. However, "the cellar must not be too warm; and care must be taken not to break off the stems off pumpkins, but leave these attached to them; otherwise they will soon commence roting, at the places where the stems are broken off." (p. 310)
Bacon (1981), too, advises handling squash and pumpkins carefully, and also to store them without touching each other.
Pumpkins and squash should be allowed to ripen fully on the vine. After being harvested, and having a piece of the stem left attached, they should be cured in the sun to form a hard rind before storage. (Virginia Gazette, 9-1-84)
John Randolph explains that peas and kidney beans may be preserved "by laying them in different layers of salt, in their pods, and being kept quite close." (Warner, p. 40)
Mary Randolph, in The Virginia Housewife, includes similar instructions for preserving "Lima, or Sugar Beans" and "French beans (snaps)" for winter use. She suggests putting the beans up "as late in the season, as they can be with convenience."
Three English receipt books (Glasse, Smith, and Raffald) give explicit directions for using this method to keep "French Beans." Glasse's receipt "To keep French Beans all the Year" includes directions for dressing the beans when ready to use them.
Raffald says that the beans should be gathered dry and "not too old." Glasse suggests "fine young beans." Smith says to break each bean in the middle before putting them into "a narrow-mouth'd jar.". Glasse's receipt calls for "a large stone jar." Randolph suggests using "a clean and dry keg" as the container.
Smith instructs to a peck of beans use 2 pounds of beaten salt. Begin and end with a layer of salt, alternating layer of beans with layer of salt until the jar is filled.
Smith explains to press the layers down close and to put a weight of some kind on top before covering the jar. It is important that no air is able to get to the beans inside. To close the jar up tightly Raffald and Glasse suggest putting a board and weight on top of the cover over the jar (the cover being either leather or a coarse cloth.)
Raffald and Glasse say to store them "in a dry cellar." As they are used, be sure the jar is closed up tightly again. They should sit in water overnight before being dressed, and salt is not needed for seasoning.
From Mary Randolph:
"LIMA, OR SUGAR BEANS.
Like all other spring and summer vegetables, they must be young and freshly gathered: Boil them till tender, drain them, add a little butter, and serve them up. These beans are easily preserved for winter use, and will be nearly as good as fresh ones. — Gather them on a dry day, when full 21 grown, but quite young: have a clean and dry keg, sprinkle some salt in the bottom, put in a layer of pods, containing the beans, then a little salt, do this till the keg is full; lay a board on, with a weight, to press them down; cover the keg very close, and keep it in a dry cool place — they should be put up as late in the season, as they can be with convenience. When used, the pods must be washed, and laid in fresh water all night; shell them next day, and keep them in water till you are going to boil them; when tender serve them up with melted butter in a boat. French beans (snaps) may be preserved in the same manner." (Hess, 1984, p. 130-131)
From Hannah Glasse:
To keep French Beans all the Year,
TAKE fine young beans, gather them on a very fine day, have a large stone jar ready, clean and dry, lay a layer of salt at the bottom, and then a layer of beans, then salt, and then beans, and so on till the jar is full; Cover them with salt, tie a coarse cloth over them, and a board on that, and then a weight to keep it close from all air; set them in a dry cellar; and when you use them, cover them close again; wash them you took out very clean, and let them lie in soft water twenty-four hours, shifting the water often; when you boil them, do not put any salt in the water. The best way of dressing them is, boil them with just the white heart of a small cabbage, then drain them, chop the cabbage, and put both into a sauce-pan with a piece of butter as big as an egg rolled in flour; shake a little pepper, put in a quarter of a pint of good gravy, let them stew ten minutes, and then dish them up for side-dish. A pint of beans to the cabbage. You may do more or less, just as you please. (Glasse, 1796, p. 372-373)
Glasse has a receipt for making "Sour Crout" which she explains "is made use of amongst the Germans, and in the North Countries, where the frost kills all the cabbages." The directions are similar to those for keeping green beans, using a tub into which you put shredded hard white cabbage and salt. A heavy weight is needed on top to press the cabbage down before covering up the tub. The kraut is ready to use after a month and will keep for a year.
To make Sour Crout.
TAKE your fine hard white cabbage, cut them very small, have a tub on purpose with the head out, according to the quantity you intend to make; put them in the tub; to every four or five cabbages throw in a large handful of salt; when you have done as many as you intend, lay a very heavy weight on them to press them down as flat as possible, throw a cloth on them, and lay on the cover; let them stand a month, then you may begin to use it. It will keep twelve months; but be sure to keep it always close covered, and the weight on it; if you throw a few carraway seeds pounded fine amongst it, they give it a fine flavour. The way to dress it is with a fine fat piece of beef stewed together. It is a dish much made use of amongst the Germans, and in the North Countries, where the frost kills all the cabbages; therefore they preserve them in this manner before the frost takes them. Cabbage-stalks, caulliflower-stalks, and artichoke-stalks, peeled, and cut fine down in the same manner, are very good. (Glasse, 1796, p. 37.5)
Smith, Raffald, and M. Bradley give directions for keeping some vegetables in a brine.
The brine should be salty enough "to bear an egg." In other words, put into the water enough salt so that an egg will float on top. This brine is first boiled and skimmed if necessary, then poured over the vegetable to cover it. The directions vary with vegetable as to the rest of the process;—whether first cooked or not, whether the brine is poured on hot or cold, etc.
Generally large stone jars or casks are used as containers. All should be kept well covered or closed down (with bladder, leather) so no air gets in, and kept in a dry place. The artichokes are covered with the brine and then a layer of melted fat before being closed down.
Before dressing, the vegetable "must be first sweetened" (Bradley) by letting it sit or steep' in fresh water for a few hours.
5. To Preserve Artichokes Moist.
Boil up a large Quantity of Water with some Salt, and set it by that the Foulness of the Salt may settle to the Bottom; and then pour off the clear Brine into a large earthen Pan.
Set on another Pot of Water without any Salt; when this boils, put the Artichokes you intend to preserve into it, and let them boil till they are so far softened, that the Choaks may be got out.
This done wash them in two or three Waters, and when they are perfectly clean, put them into the Pan of Brine ; cover them in the Brine, and pour on it a good quantity of melted Fat, so that the whole Surface may be covered a Finger's breadth Thick.
Then tie over the Pan with a large wet Bladder, and cover that with a Piece of Leather. Set it in a Place where it may stand quiet, and lay a Board upon it, to prevent any ones shaking it, which might break the Fat, and let in the Air, and the Brine then could not preserve them.
Artichokes will keep thus all the Year round, and when they are to be used, they must be taken out some Time before, and steeped in fresh Water; this and the boiling will take out the Saltness of the Brine, and they will eat nearly as well as when fresh.
Some put Vinegar to the Brine that is made for them; but it is of no use in the preserving, of them, and it is liable to this Disadvantage, that they get a Relish from it, which the boiling does not take away.M. Bradley, p. 458-459.
E. Smith includes the following receipt:
To pickle Asparagus.
GATHER your asparagus, and lay them in an earthen pot ; make a brine of water and salt strong enough to bear an egg. pour it hot on them, and keep it close : when you use them hot, lay them in cold water for two hours, then boil and butter them for the table ; if you use them as a pickle, boil them and lay them in vinegar.(p. 106)
From Raffald is this receipt:
To keep FRENCH BEANS a Second Way.
MAKE a strong salt and water that will bear an egg, and when it boils put in your French beans for five or six minutes, then lay them on a sieve, and put to your salt and water a little bay salt, and boil it ten minutes, skim it well, and pour it into an earthen jar to cool and settle, put your French beans into narrow-topped jar, and pour your clear liquor over them; tie them close down that no air can get in, and keep them in a dry place. N.B. Steep them in plenty of spring water the night before you use them, and boil them in hard water.(p. 359-360)
Simmons included the following directions:
To preserve bush beans fresh and good until winter.
Take half a bushel of beans, of a suitable size and age for eating green, string and break them, then put them into a cask, first sprinkling in salt, then a layer of beans, and so alternately till the cask is full, then add a weak brine so as to cover them; take out for use, and freshen twenty four hours in water, often changing it; boil three hours in fresh water.(p. 40)
From Martha Bradley is this receipt:
6. To preserve Greens.
Chuse some fine well-grown Cabbages, clean them, cut away the Stalks, split them in four, and throw them into boiling Water; let them lie a few Minutes in it, then throw them into a Vessel of cold Pump Water, and when they are thoroughly cold drain them well.
Prepare a Cask, and that being ready make a strong Brine; it must not be quite strong enough to make an Egg swim, but very little weaker: It is best made by boiling up common Salt in Water, and skimming it if any Thing rises.
When this is cold, and the Cask ready, lay in the Cabbages very evenly and carefully, pressing them down gently, but not squeezing them too much; when a Parcel of them are in put in some of the Brine.
Then lay in more of the Cabbages, and pour in more Brine; in this Manner proceed till the Cask is filled, and the Brine swims to some Depth over the Top of the Cabbages; then put on the lId of the Cask, and close it well down.
French Beans, and almost every Kind of Greens, are to be preserved in the same Manner.
When they are to be dressed they must be first sweetened, by putting them into fresh Water for a few Hours, and they will eat very well.(p. 716-717)
Simmons includes a receipt for preserving parsley in a brine:
To preserve Parsley fresh and green, to garnish viands in the winter.
Put any quantity of green parsley into a strong pickle of salt and water boiling hot, and keep for use" (Simmons, p. 40)
Smith and Glasse each include receipts for keeping vegetables layered with sand inside containers — a barrel for cabbage (head) lettuce, a large jar for walnuts or lemons, and a stone pot for pods of peas and beans. The stone pot with the peas is to be stopped down close, pitched, and leather tied on top, before it is buried two feet in the earth.
In 1756, near Charleston, South Carolina, Eliza Lucas Pinckney wrote in her manuscript directions for keeping artichokes in layers of sand in a barrel that was to be buried. With the high humidity, southerners must have been successful, however, with burying certain contained foodstuffs as a means of storage.
Important to remember is that the sand inside the container and the container itself should be very dry; that the vegetables should not touch one another in the layers; and that only the freshest vegetables should be stored. Glasse specifies "sea-sand" for the walnuts and lemons, possibly because of its saltiness for better preservation; and "fine writing-sand" for the peas and beans. In Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery for fruit in a sealed box, it is suggested "fine dry Sand that has little or no Saltness in it." (p. 205)
From Eliza Pinckney are the following instructions:
"TO KEEP ARTICHOKES ALL THE YEAR
Put them in a barl. and lay every layor with Sand that the leaves do not touch one another, then bury them about a foot into the ground." (South Carolina Society of the Colonial Dames, p. 16)
From E. Smith is the following receipt:
Cabbage Lettuce to keep
ABOUT the latter end of the season take very dry sand, and cover the bottom of a well season'd barrel ; then set your lettuce in so as not to touch one another: you must not lay above two rows one upon another; cover them well with sand, and set them in a dry place, and be careful that the frost: come not at them. The lettuce must not be cut, but be pull'd up by the roots. (p. 113)
In Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery it is suggested for October or November when frosty weather begins to come, to either cover garden peas with some fern or straw or to "dig them up and lay them in dry Sand in a House, where they will keep good till the Middle or End of March, and sometimes longer." (p. 68)
In the following receipt Glasse provides more details on gathering peas and explains to keep them in their pods for storage in sand:
To keep Green Peas, Beans, &c. and Fruit, fresh and good till Christmas.
OBSERVE to gather all your things on a fine clear day in the increase or full moon; take well glazed earthen or stone pots quite new, that have not been laid in water, wipe them clean lay in your fruit very carefully, and take great care none is bruised or damaged in the least, nor too ripe, but just in their prime; stop down the jar close, and pitch it; and tie a leather over; Do kidney-beans the same; bury two feet deep in the earth, and keep them there till you have occasion for them. Do peas and beans the same way, only keep them in the pod, and do not let your peas be either too young or too old; the one will run to water, and the other the worm will eat; as to the two latter, lay a layer of fine writing-sand, and a layer of pods, and so on till full; the rest as above. Flowers you may keep the same way.(p. 373, 1796)
From Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery are the following directions:
"To keep GRAPES, GOOSBERRIES, APRICOTS, PEACHES, CURRANTS, PLUMBS, the whole Year.
TAKE fine dry Sand that has little or no Saltness in it; make it as dry as possible, gather your Fruits when they are just ripening, or coming something near Ripeness; dip the Ends of their Stalks in melted Pitch or Bees-Wax, and having a large Box to shut down with a close Lid, dry your Fruit in the Sun a little, to take away the superfluous Moisture, and lightly spread a Layer of Sand in the Bottom of the Box, and a Layer of Fruit on them, but not too near each other; then scatter Sand, with much Evenness, about an Inch thick over them, and so another Layer till the Box is full; then shut down the Lid close, and as you take them out, lay them even again. In this Manner you will have them fit for Tarts and other uses, till new ones come again. If they are a little wrinkled, wash 'em in warm Water, and it will plump them up again. You may use Millet instead of Sand, if you will."(p. 205)
From Richard Bradley:
To preserve Grapes all the Winter.
TAKE an Earthen Jar, well glaz'd, that will hold about six Gallons, or more; then dry some Oats, a little, in the Sun. upon Leads if you can, so that they have lost some part of their Moisture: lay them then two Inches thick, at the bottom of the Jar, and upon them, your Bunches of Grapes, gather'd full ripe and dry; and if in any Bunch there is a rotted Grape, cut it off, and see that your Bunches are quite clean in their Berries; and besides, that all the Parts you have cut the Grapes from, are quite dry. Lay these on the Oats, and upon them put two Inches thick of Oats, dry'd as before; and on them again, a Layer of Grapes, and so the Oats upon them, continuing this Practice till the Vessel is full. Then take a Cork, well soak'd in Oil, and slop it close in the Jar, and seal it up with Pitch, Bees Wax, and a little Rosin, melted together, and keep it in a cool Place; but to bury it three Foot under ground, is better.(R. Bradley, p. 18-19)
For long-term storage, the tips discussed previously concerning the gathering of the fruits are important to follow. For keeping fruit, Glasse directs the cook "to gather all your things on a fine clear day, in the increase or full moon." (1796, p. 373) Francis Bacon advises that fruit for long keeping be just about ripe, and should be gathered "in a fair and dry day towards noon … and when the moon is under the earth, and in decrease." (Vol. III, p. 124)
The key word to bottling uncooked fruits and vegetables is "dry" — the day the fruit is gathered, the fruit itself, the container, and the place of storage, all require dryness. In fact, in Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery directions for keeping various berries specify airing the stone bottles well in the sun or by the fire and drying the fruit "to prevent its sweating' before bottling them "by a Fire" and corking the bottles quickly. (p. 206)
The fruit should be at its best — damsons, when they just have turned color; herbs just before they blossom (they are most potent then); peas, when they are neither too old, nor too young. Richard Bradley says that before bottling, currants and cherries must be "full ripe;" gooseberries should be full grown but not ripe for preserving. (p. 104)
The Domestic Encyclopedia includes a discussion of preserving fruit by packing it in glazed earthen jars which should be kept in dry apartments:
"For this purpose, apples and pears are to be wrapped separately in soft paper, and laid at the bottom of the vessel on a thin stratum of well-dried bran: alternate layers of bran and fruit are then to follow, till the jar be filled; when it should be gently shaken, in order to settle its contents. Every vacancy must new be supplied with bran, covered with paper, and the whole secured from air and moisture by a piece of bladder, over which the cover of the vessel must be carefully fitted." (Willich, p. 89)
The following receipts specify glass bottles, that are to be sealed by cooking them closely. Glasse's receipt for Green Peas says to dip the neck of the corked bottle into melted rosin. Raffald's receipt for Green Pease directs to tie a bladder over the cork to seal it. The damsons require "wide-mouthed bottles," and the peas need "quart bottles with little mouths."30
The bottles of berries to be stored according to Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery need a "moderate cool Place," covered with sand and laid sideways, as "the Closeness will preserve them." (p. 206) Raffald's bottles of damsons and the currants are stored in dry sand. Glasse's (1796, p.373) bottled fruit is to be buried 2 feet deep in the earth. Simmons' bottled cherries or plums are to be stored at the bottom of a spring of water.
Glasse also includes a receipt for preserving cherries in brandy. The cherries are uncooked and put into a jar that is filled with sweetened brandy. Currant jelly is put on top, and the jar tied down. (1796)
In Adam's Luxury are directions for keeping figs and stone fruit in a honey solution. The fruit is layered with its own leaves in a large earthen pot. Water and honey are boiled together and poured over the fruit warm. Then the vessel is stopped close.
In The Compleat Confectioner, Glasse includes a receipt for keeping fruit in layers of sugar in a pot to be sealed with a bladder and leather. Her directions follow:
"How to keep fruit for tarts all the year.
Take your fruit when it is fit to pot, and strew some sugar at the bottom of the pot, then fruit, and then sugar; so on till the pot is full; cover them with sugar, tie a bladder over the pot, then leather, and keep it in a dry place."(1770, p. 79)
To preserve plumbs and cherries, six months or a year, retaining all that bloom and agreeable flavor, during the whole of that period, of which they are possessed when taken from the tree.
Take any quantity of plumbs or cherries a little before they are fully ripe with the stems on; take them directly from the tree, when perfectly dry, and with the greatest care, so that they are not in the least bruised—put them with great care into a large stone jug, which must be dry, fill it full, and immediately make it proof against air and water, then sink it in the bottom of a living spring of water, there let it remain for a year if you like, and when opened they will exhibit every beauty and charm, both as to the appearance and taste, as when taken from the tree.(Simmons, p. 41-42)
To bottle CRANBERRIES.
GET your cranberries when they are quite dry, put them into dry clear bottles, cork them up close, and set them in a dry cool place.(Raffald, p. 363)
To bottle GREEN CURRENTS.
GATHER your currants when the sun is hot upon them, strip them from the stalks, and put them into glass bottles, and cork them close, set them over head in dry sand, and they will keep till spring.(Raffald, p. 363)
To bottle DAMSONS to eat as good as fresh ones.
GET your damsons carefully when they are just turned colour, and put them into wide-mouthed bottles, cork them up loosely, and let them stand a fortnight, then look them over, and if you see any of them mould or spot, take them out and cork the rest close down; set the bottles in sand, and they will keep till spring, and be as good as fresh ones.(Raffald, p. 362)
"To keep Figs and Stone Fruit found all the Year.
Take a large Earthen Pot, put the Fruit into it in Layers, with their own Leaves between each Layer. Then boil up Water and Honey, scumming it till no more will arise, but make it not too thick of the Honey, and pour it in warm to them; stop up the Vessel close, and when you take them out for use, put them two Hours in warm Water, and they will have in a great Measure their natural Taste," (Adam's Luxury, p. 206)
"To keep Strawberries, Raspberries, Currants, Gosberries, and Mulberries.
Take new Stone Bottles, air them well in the Sun, or by the Fire, dry your Fruit from superfluous Moisture, to prevent its sweating; take off the Stalks, and put them into the empty Bottles by a Fire, that will draw out as much of the Air as may be; then suddenly cork them up, and tye down the Corks with Wires; let the Corks be sound, and not any ways Visibly porous, for if they be, the Air will come in abundantly, and corrupt the Fruit; then put it in a moderate cool Place, cover the Bottles with Sand, laying them sideways, and the Closeness will preserve them."(Adam's Luxury, p. 206)
"TO DRY HERBS
Gather them on a dry day, just before they begin to blossom; brush off the dust, cut them in small branches, and dry them quickly in a moderate oven; pick off the leaves when dry, pound and sift them — bottle them immediately, and cork them closely. They must be kept in a dry place. (Hess, 1984, p. 243 — Mary Randolph's receipt)
"How to keep green peas till Christmas.
Take young peas, shell them, put them in a cullendar to drain, then lay a cloth four or five times double on a table, then spread them on, dry them very well, and have your bottles ready, fill them, cover them with mutton suet fat when it is a little soft; fill the necks almost to the top, cork them, tie a bladder and leather over them and set them in a dry cool place."(Simmons, p. 14)
To keep GREEN PEASE another Way.
GATHER your pease in the afternoon, on a dry day; shell them, and put them into dry clean bottles, cork them close, and tie them over with a bladder; keep them in a cool dry place as before.(Raffald, p. 359)
Another Way to preserve Green Peas.
GATHER your peas on a very dry day, when they are neither old, nor too young, shell them, and have ready some well dried quart bottles with little mouths; fill the bottles and cork them well, have ready a pipkin of rosin melted, into which dip the necks of the bottles, and set them in a very dry place that is cool. (Glasse, p. 373)
William Byrd of Westover described some bottled cherries he had for supper at his cousin Edmund Berkeley's home, Barn Elms in Middlesex County, on November 7, 1709:
"His wife was at home and gave us a good supper. I ate boiled beef. Then we had some cherries which had been scalded in hot water which did not boil and then put in bottles without water in them. They were exceedingly good." (I. Noël Hume, p. 26)
In March, 1770, William Sparrow entered into the Palace kitchen accounts for Governor Botetourt, a payment for "Gooseberries, 5 Bottles." Bottles of gooseberries are listed in the "Cooks Cellar" on the Palace inventory taken later that year.
Berries or green peas could be scalded and then bottled and sealed either dry or in a liquid. One of Raffald's receipts for bottled Gooseberries says to put the berries in a hair sieve and hold it in the boiling water until the berries turn white; then they are drained on cloth. Pinckney says that she has baked the gooseberries instead of boiling "and they are quite as good."
The green peas in Raffald's and Glasse's receipts are first boiled and then drained in a collander or sieve. A manuscript cookbook owned by MESDA has a condensed receipt similar to Glasse's.
In The Domestic Encyclopedia it is suggested to gather some fruits during their acid state, "before that acid juice is converted into sugar, as lemons, oranges, gooseberries, pears, and some apples." (Willich, p. 106) They are then cooked partially "to leave the acidity more concentrated," and thus in corked bottles they are less likely to ferment.
Or sometimes the berries were put into the bottles, and the bottles were coddled (beginning with cold water in the kettle and letting it boil gently.) Then the bottles were sealed. Howland says that plums and currants may be done so — however, the bottles of fruit are sealed before scalding. Simmons' receipt for keeping damsons suggests putting the fruit into snuff bottles that are then sealed and boiled. She explains, "the plumbs must be hard." (p. 41)
The purpose of scalding the berries for bottling seems to have been more for tenderizing the skins rather than for preserving the berries. In her receipt "To keep Green Gooseberries till Christmas," Glasse explains that you "may keep them without scalding, but then the skins will not be so tender, nor bake so fine." (p. 374) In Adam's Luxury the directions for keeping gooseberries for tarts include bottling the berries, corking them, and scalding them in a slow oven "till they are tender and crack'd." (p. 138)35
Richard Bradley suggests bottling the fruit, corking the bottles gently, and then putting the filled bottles into an oven "after the Bread is drawn" until they have "shrunk about a fourth part." (p. 104)
The bottles of fruit or vegetables are allowed to cool. Then to seal the bottles, they are corked close; and the neck of the bottle is either dipped in rosin, or a bladder is tied over the cork. The bottles of peas first have melted fat poured on top of the peas, filling the bottles, before corking them close.
It was often suggested to fill the bottle completely and seal it tightly to keep out air that would encourage spoilage. It is explained in Chamber's Cyclopedia that to preserve bottled liquors it is necessary that "the bottles be filled up to the mouth, that all the air may be excluded, which is the great enemy of bottled liquors." (Vol. I)
For fruits that have been heated and preserved with sugar, in The Domestic Encyclopedia it is suggested to cover their container with paper moistened with "vinous spirit" which prevents mold growth on the surface. (Willich)
Raffald's receipts for bottling mushrooms include seasoning and cooking the mushrooms, drying them in a cool oven, and then putting them into jars either with or without the cooled liquor in which they cooked. A third receipt calls for beating the cooked, dried mushrooms to a powder and putting it up in jars.
The completed bottles should be kept in a cool dry place. For the bottled gooseberries Pinckney explains to bury them. Simmons' bottled damsons "will keep twelve months if the bottles are stopped tight so as no air nor water can get to them. They will not keep long after the bottles are opened." (p. 41)
In The Domestic Encyclopedia for fruits like gooseberries and rhubarbÂstalks it is also suggested to put a teaspoonful of brandy in each quart bottle to prevent the growth of mold on the fruit. The fruit "should be kept in a cellar and corked in bottles, so as to be precluded from the changes of air and variations of heat." (Willich, p. 106)
Bottles of cherries that had been corked and had had wet clay wrapped over the corks, were excavated from the kitchen yard at Wetherburn's Tavern. The bottles had no sugar nor alcoholic content. (I. Noël Hume) They probably had been prepared in a similar way as those described by Byrd, and then buried around the kitchen and other outbuildings as was common practice in the eighteenth century.
To preserve Fruits for Tarts all the Year.
THE Goosberries must be full grown, but not ripe, they must be gather'd in dry Weather, and pick'd clean of their Stalks and Tops; then put them into Quart Bottles, that are made on purpose, with large wide Necks, and cork them gently with new found Corks, and put them into an Oven after the Bread is drawn, letting them stand there till they have shrunk about a fourth part; observing to change them now and then, because those which you set at the further part of the Oven, will be soonest done. When you find them enough, according to the above Direction, take them out, and immediately beat the Corks in as tight as you can, and cut the Tops off even with the Bottles, and pitch them over ; you must then set your Bottles by, in a dry Place. I have tasted of Fruits done this way, that have made as good Tarts at the Year's end, as those that were fresh gather'd: The only difference between the preserving Goosberries and Currants, is, that the Currants must be full ripe when we, put them into the Bottles, and so likewise the Cherries.
There is another way of putting up Fruits for this use, which is, by half preserving them with Sugar, i.e. half a Pound of Sugar to every Pound of Fruit. Apricots especially, when they are near ripe, make excellent Tarts; being split and pared from the Skin, and boiled in a Syrup, they will keep the Year round, as an ingenious Lady has told me. It is also to be remark'd, that ripe Goosberries make very fine Tarts.
The beginning of this Month, when the Goosberries are full grown, but not ripe, is the right Season for preserving of them in sweetmeat: The white Dutch Goosberry is the best for this use.
So likewise if you have plenty of Kentish Cherries, pick some of them from the Stalks, and lay the Cherries upon a fine wire Sieve, and dry them in an Oven; when they are dried enough, and quite cold, put them in an Earthen glazed Jar, and stop them up close: These must be kept in a dry place.
Upon the foot of the above Receipt, for preserving of Fruits, I have a Notion that we may preserve green Pease, after the same manner, in Bottles, that I have mention'd for the preserving of Goosberries, Currants, &c. So that they will eat tender and well tasted at Christmas: it is well worth the tryal, seeing that a Bottle or two cannot be any great Expence, and that Pease arc acceptable almost to everyone. This I have persuaded some of my Acquaintance to try, but particularly a very curious Person in such matters, who tells me, that provided this method answers what we aim at, he supposes they will be the most agreeable, either to be boiled with Cream, or stew'd in Gravey, after the French manner, for it is a dispute with him, whether they will hold their green Colour; but, as I observ'd before, it may be try'd at an easy Expence.(R. Bradley, p, 104-106)
TO KEEP GOOSEBERRYS OR BULLIES
Put them into bottles then cork them down close and put them into a kettle of cold water enough to cover them, and let them just boil. When they are cold put suet over them cork and Rosin them over that.
I have baked them instead of boiling and they are quite as good and if you only put them into a dry Bottle and stop them close and rosin them down and bury them they are as good as ever I tasted any.(p. 14)
To bottle GOOSEBERRIES.
PICK green walnut gooseberries, bottle them, and fill the bottles with spring water up to the neck cork them loosely, and set them in a copper of hot water till they are hot quite through, then take them out, and when they are cold, cork them close, and tie a bladder over and set them in a dry cool place.
To bottle GOOSEBERRIES a Second Way.
PUT one ounce of roach allum, beat fine, into a large pan of boiling hard water, pick your gooseberries, and put a few in the bottom of a hair sieve, and hold them in the boiling water, till they turn white; then take out the sieve, and spread the gooseberries betwixt two clean cloths, put more gooseberries in your sieve, and repeat it till you have done all your berries. put the water into a glazed pot till next day, then put your gooseberries into wide-mouthed bottles, and pick out all the cracked and broken ones, pour your water clear out of the pot, and fill up your bottles with it; then put in the corks loosely, and let them stand for a fortnight, and if they rise to the corks, draw them out, and let them stand for two or three days uncorked, then cork them close, and they will keep two years.(p. 362-363)
To keep Green Gooseberries till Christmas.
PICK your large green gooseberries on a dry day, have ready your bottles clean and dry, fill the bottles, and cork them, set them in a kettle of water up to the neck, let the water boil very softly till you find the gooseberries are coddled, take them out, and put in the rest of the bottle, till all are done; then have ready some rosin melted in a pipkin, dip the necks of the bottles in, and that will keep all air from coming at the cork, keep them in a cold dry place where no damp is, and they will bake as red as a cherry. You may keep them without scalding, but then the skins will not be so tender, nor bake so fine.(Glasse, 1796) (p. 373-374)
From Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery:
"To keep Goosberries for Tarts. Put your Goosberries before they are ripe into wideÂmouth'd Bottles, cork them close, and set them in a slow Oven, till they are tender and crack'd; then take them out and pitch the Corks." (p. 138)
From Simmons' receipts:
To keep damsons.
Take damsons when they are first ripe, pick them off carefully, wipe them clean, put them into snuff bottles, stop them up tight so that no air can get to them, nor water; put nothing into the bottles but plumbs; but put the bottles into cold water, hang them over the fire, let them heat slowly, let the water boil slowly for half an hour, when the water is cold take out the bottles, set the bottles in a cold place, they will keep twelve months if the bottles are stopped tight so as no air nor water can get to them. They will not keep long after the bottles are opened; the plumbs must be hard.(p. 41)
244. To preserve Whortleberries for Winter Use.
Put the berries in a bottle, then cork and seal it, place the bottle in a kettle of cold water, and gradually let it boil. As soon as it boils, take it off and let it cool; then take the bottles out and put them_away for winter use.
Gooseberries, plums, and currants, may be preserved in the same manner.(p. 64)
To keep GREEN PEASE.
SHELL any quantity of green pease, and just give them a boil in as much spring water as will cover them, then put them in a sieve to drain, pound the pods with a little of the water that the pease were boiled in, and strain what juice you can from them, and boil it a quarter of an hour, with a little salt, and as much of the water as you think will cover the pease in the bottles, fill your bottles with pease, and pour in your water, when cold put rendered suet over, and tie them down close with a bladder, and a leather over it, and keep your bottles in a dry place.(p. 359)
Glasse's receipt: (1796)
To keep Green Peas till Christmas.
TAKE fine young peas, shell the, throw them into boiling water with some salt in, let them boil five or six minutes, throw them into a cullender to drain; then lay a cloth four or five times double on a table, and spread them on; dry them very well, and have your bottles ready, fill them and cover them with mutton-fat tried; when it is a little cool, fill the necks almost to the top, cork them, tie a bladder and a lath over them, and set them in a cool dry place. When you use them, boil your water, put in a little salt, some sugar, and a piece of butter; when they are boiled enough, throw them into a sieve to drain; then put them into a sauce-pan with a good piece of butter, keep shaking it round all the time till the butter is melted, then turn them into a dish, and send them to table.(p.373)
From manuscript cookbook owned by MESDA:
"To keep Pease
Set on the Water and let it boyl then put in your pease and give them 3 or 4 boyles Just to Plump them then dreen them through a Sive and put them in a Cloath and dry them well then put them into bottles and fill them up to the Necks and fill them up with mutton fatt and Seale them up cloce and when you Use them shake them up with butter and put in a Spoonfull of Sugar to make them Eat Sweetish…"
From Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery:
"Another Way to preserve Green Peas.
WHEN you have shell'd them, fry them with Butter, and season them as you do to eat, but don't fry them too much; then put them in an Earthen Pot, season them again, and cover them well, and put them in a cool Place; and when you would use them, wash the Salt from them, and pass them in a Pan as at other Times." (p. 160)
To keep MUSHROOMS to eat like fresh ones.
WASH large buttons as you would for stewing, lay them on sieves, with the stalk upwards, throw over them some salt to fetch out the water ; when they are drained, put them in a pot, and set them in a cool oven for an hour, then take them carefully out, and lay them to cool and drain, boil the liquor that comes out of them with a blade or two of mace, and boil it half away, put your mushrooms into a clean jar well dried, and when the Liquor is cold, cover your mushrooms in the jar with it, and pour over it rendered suet, tie a bladder over it, set them in a dry closet, and they will keep very well most of the winter.—When you use them, take them out of the liquor, pour over them boiling milk, and let them stand an hour, then stew them in the milk a quarter of an hour, thicken them with flour, and a large quantity of butter, and be careful you don't oil it, then beat the yolks of two eggs with a little cream, and put it in, but don't let it boil after the eggs are in; lay untoasted sippets round the inside of the dish, and serve them up; they will eat near as good as fresh gathered mushrooms; if they don't taste strong enough, put in a little of the liquor: this is a valuable liquor, and it will give all made dishes a flavour like fresh mushrooms.
To keep MUSHROOMS another Way.
SCRAPE large flaps, peel them, take out the inside, and boil them in their own liquor and a little salt, then lay them on tins, and set them in a cool oven, and repeat it till they are dry; put them in clean jars, tie them close down, and they will eat very good. (p.360-361)Both receipts from Raffald
Receipts for various powders of dried vegetables (with herbs and spices) as "convenience foods" were prepared ahead to be used later for sauces, soups, and flavoring agents.
A receipt for "mushroom powder" follows:
9. Mushroom Powder.
Clean a Quantity of large Mushrooms, then set them over the Fire with a Handful of Salt, a good deal of Pepper, some Blades of Mace, and an Onion stuck with Cloves; let them stew a little, then throw in a Stick of Cinnamon broken.
A great deal of Liquor will come from them, and they must stand over the Fire 'till that is entirely wasted; then they must be taken out, laid on a Sieve to dry a little, and after that, laid on Tin Plates and sent to be dried in an Oven, and then beat to Powder: This Powder must be put up in Jarrs, and is ready for various Uses: It must be kept well rammed down. (M. Bradley, p: 718)
Following is a receipt for a parsnip powder to use in making "Parsnip-Cakes."
Parsnip-Cakes. From the same.
SCRAPE some Parsnip-Roots, and slice them thin, dry them in an Oven and beat them to Powder; mix them then with an equal quantity of Flour, and make them up with Cream and Spices powder'd; then mould them into Cakes, and bake them in a gentle Oven. N.B, The sweetness of the Parsnip Powder answers the want of Sugar. To(R. Bradley, p. 43)
Richard Bradley includes a receipt for a "Travelling Powder" as follows:
A dry Travelling Powder, for Sauce, or Pocket-Sauce. From Mynheer Vanderport of Antwerp.
TAKE pickled Mango, and let it dry three or four Days in the Room; then reduce it to Powder by means of a Grater. Take of this Powder six Ounces, to which add three Ounces of Mushrooms, dry'd in a gentle Oven, and reduced to Powder, by beating in a Mortar; add to this, a Dram of Mace powder'd, half as much Cloves powder'd; or in their room, a large Nutmeg grated, and a Dram of black Pepper, beat fine: mix these Ingredients well together, and sift them through an open HairÂSieve: and half a Tea spoonful, or less, of the Powder will relish any Sauce you have a mind to make, though it be a quart or more, putting it into the Sauce, when it is warm. To this, one may add about nine Grains of sweet Basil, dry'd and powder'd; or of Summer sweet Marjoram powder'd. If we use this Sauce for Fish, it is extremely good, adding only a little Anchovy Liquor and white Wine.(R. Bradley, p. 18)
Although a common method of preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter was drying them, this probably was not practiced too successfully in the Tidewater. Due to the extremely humid climate, the foods were likely to mold in the process.
Where foods could be dried there would be screens or trays covered with clean cloths upon which the sliced fruit or vegetables were spread, then placed in front of the fireplace or out in the sun to dry.
Or some were hung to dry high from ceiling rafters in rooms to dry by the heat of a fireplace. Nails or nailholes are often found on ceiling rafters in 18th and 19th century kitchen rooms (in front of the hearth) and garrets, probable evidence of the use of this method of food storage. (CWF Architectural Research Department)
The final dried product was stored away in stone or glass jars, in casks, or in bags, ready for use. Containers should be tight and placed in a cool, dry location.
Apples and peaches were either sliced up into thin slivers, or cored and sliced into rings.
According to The Foxfire Book, the rings were strung on a broomstick or a pole to dry. The slices were spread out on boards or trays, then set out in the sun or in front of the fireplace, depending on the weather, "until the slices were brown and rubbery." (Wigginton, p. 183) This usually took two or three days. While drying, the fruit was turned over frequently so that it would dry evenly. When dry, the pieces of fruit were taken up and stored in sacks for use.
Robert Beverly mentions that the Indians in Virginia save the peaches they grow by drying them in the sun. (Wright)
Glasse gives directions for hanging lemons and pears so they don't touch each other in an airy dry place. A fine packthread is run through the nib at the end of each lemon. Roberts also says that pears should be tied up by the stalk for storage.
Glasse's receipt follows:
Another Way to keep Lemons.
TAKE the fine large fruit that are quite sound and good, and take a fine packthread about a quarter of a yard long, run it through the hard nib at the end of the lemon; then tie the string together, and hang it on a little hook in an airy dry place; so do as many as you please; but be sure they do not touch one another nor any thing else, but hang as high as you can. Thus you may keep pears, &c. only tying the string to the stalk.(p. 374)
Roberts gives directions for drying the rinds of lemons and oranges for later use:
"Some of the lemons and oranges used for juice should be pared first, to preserve the peel dry; some should be halved, and when squeezed, the pulp cut out, and the outsides dried for grating. If for boiling in any liquid, the first way is best. When these fruits are cheap, a proper quantity should be bought and prepared as above directed, especially by those who live in the country, where they cannot always be had; and they are perpetually wanted in cookery." (p. l74-l75)
Directions in The Foxfire Book include: "Corn was cut as if it were going to be cooked (twice around the cob…), and then spread out in the sun, sometimes on a piece of tin." (p. 174, Wigginton)
For "Leather Breeches Beans," according to The Foxfire Book:
"String tender green beans. Fill a long needle with a long strong thread. Push the needle through the center of the bean, pushing the beans together at the end of the thread, filling from knot end to needle. Hang up the string by one end in the warm air, but not in direct sunlight. This gives the beans a better flavor. Let them remain hanging until the beans become dry. Store in a bag until ready to use." (p. 175, Wigginton)
On the 1770 inventory of the Governor's Palace in the "small beer Cellar" is listed "2 Bushel Cask of Split Pease."
According to The Foxfire Book:
"Pick the peas when ripe, and lay them in the sun to dry. After they are thoroughly dry, place them on a sheet outside on a windy day, and beat the hulls off with a stick. The wind will blow the chaff away and leave just the peas. Store the peas in sacks in a dry place until you're ready to eat them." (p. 175-176, Wigginton)
The Oxford-English Dictionary includes a reference to drying pompions (pumpkins and squash) under "Barbecue". "They cut them (pompions) into slices, which they barbecue, or dry with a slow heat." (Adair, Amer. Ind., 1775) A "barbecue" according to the OED could refer to a rude wooden framework for supporting above a fire meat that is to be smoked or dried.
The directions given in The Foxfire Book:
"You slice the pumpkin around in circles, take the seeds out, peel it, and hang it on a stick crosswise of the joists of the house, Let it hang there until it dries. Then store it in sacks. It took a long time to cook, and you have to cook it several hours." (p. 174. Wigginton)
The directions in The Foxfire Book follow:
"Boil the potatoes until done. Slip off the skins and slice. Put on a clean white cloth and put out in the sun each day. Then stack for winter use in pudding, pie, etc. Some people would just peel and slice without boiling, and set it out to dry." (p. 174. Wigginton)
Herbs, used for seasoning foods and for medicinal purposes, could be grown locally, unlike expensive spices that had to be imported. With garden space, a household likely grew its own herbs rather than purchase them from an apothecary or merchant.
In her cookbook Child advises, "Those who have a little patch of ground, will do well to raise the most important herbs; and those who have not, will do well to get them in quantities from some friend in the country; for apothecaries made very great profit upon them." (p. 36)
Properly harvesting, preserving, and storing herbs are important tasks to insure a good supply for one's kitchen.
Robert Squibb in The Gardener's Calendar (1787) gives directions for gathering and preserving herbs during the month of May:
"GATHER SWEET AND POT HERBS
Towards the later end of this month, gather mint, balm, sage, thyme, hysop, savory, etc. for drying: Provided the plants are nearly at their full growth.
Gather also all such physical herbs as are now in flower.
The latter should be always gathered when they begin to flower; for they are then in their greatest perfection, and much the best for their several purposes; nor should they be gathered before that period.
They must be cut in a dry day, and immediately spread or hung up in a dry room, out of the reach of the sun, where they may dry gently — Never lay those herbs in the sun to dry, for that would exhaust them too much, and render them useless."(p. 88-89)
Child also emphasizes, "Herbs should be gathered while in blossom. If left till they have gone to seed, the strength goes into the seed." (p. 36) Richard Bradley suggests that "all Herbs, designed to be dried, must be gather'd in dry Weather, and laid in some Room or cover'd Place, to dry in the Shade." (p. 92)
As Child stresses, "All herbs should be carefully kept from the air." Otherwise, the herbs will lose their potency to be flavorful and fragrant. And direct sunlight will bleach them.
In The Domestic Encyclopedia it is advised that herbs be gathered, "When the leaves have attained their full growth, though previously to the appearance of the flower-buds." Then they must be "cautiously dried in a gentle heat, so that their strength and properties may be more completely preserved: and, if they contain any subtle or volatile matter, it will be advisable to pulverize them as speedily as possible, and to keep such powder in close glass vessels." (Willich, p. 239)47
Mary Randolph also gives directions for bottling herbs: "brush off the dust, cut them in small branches, and dry them quickly … pick off the leaves when dry, pound and sift them — bottle them immediately, and cork them closely. They must be kept in a dry place." (Hess, 1984, p. 243)
In addition to bottling, storing herbs in bags or boxes was also suggested. Martha Bradley says that "for winter use (of herbs), cut in the summer, just when beginning to flower, tie them up in small bunches, and hang on lines at a distance from one another to dry. When they are thoroughly dry, they must be put up in boxes." (p. 90)
The drying process generally takes from three days to several weeks, depending on the particular herb. The best drying place is a room with a steady temperature of about 70 — a loft or attic (dark and well-ventilated) is an ideal drying area since it is less susceptible to nighttime cooling. (R. Bacon, 1972, p. 52-53)
In Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery is the recommendation for putting dried herbs "in a bag, and hang them thus in a dry room, where they will keep good all winter, and may be used when there are none in the garden." (p. 98) The bags would not only block out light that would bleach the herbs, but would also discourage dust from settling as the herbs dry.
Child continues, "Few people know how to keep the flavor of sweet-marjoram; the best of all herbs for broth and stuffing. It should be gathered in bud or blossom, and dried in a tin-kitchen at a moderate distance from the fire; when dry, it should be immediately rubbed, sifted, and corked up in a bottle carefully." (p. 37)
About "sage," Child writes that it is very useful "for all kinds of stuffing, When dried and rubbed into powder. It should be kept tight from the air." (p. 36) In Adam's Luxury are directions for drying sage: "If you would save any of these sorts of Sage dry, you must cut it in the End of June, or the beginning of July, drying it in the Shade; afterward tying it in Bunches, hang it up in a dry Room for Use." (p. 72)
Directions for storing "Marygold" flowers for winter use are in Adam's Luxury as follows:
"In August or September you may gather a Quantity of the Flowers, and drying them in the Shade; put them in a Bag and hang them up in a dry Room, where they will keep good all the Winter, and may be used when there is none In the Garden." (p. 48)48
Following are directions from The Forgotten Art of Growing, Gardening and Cooking with Herbs (R. Bacon, 1972) for preserving and storing specific herbs:
Bunch herbs like sage, basil, savory, marjoram, catnip, lovage, and the mints. For winter blossoms, do the same with the artemisias, yarrow, horehound, wild marjoram, and tansy.
The seed herbs — dill, fennel,]coriander, anise, and caraway — should be harvested at the end of the summer. When the seeds begin to brown, they should be carefully watched to guard against the ravages of birds and wind. Clip the ripe seed heads into perforated paper bags, and hang them up to dry in a dark, well ventilated place. When they are dry, either shake the bag to dislodge the seeds, pick them over by hand, or place your harvest on a clean sheet on the lawn and flail it. This will cause the seeds to drop and the chaff to be carried away by the wind. No matter how careful you are there will always be finicky handwork left — especially with anise — in order to separate the small stems from the equally tiny seeds before you use them. After flailing, spread the seeds on cheesecloth for four or five days more so they will be thoroughly dry before you bottle and store them. Again, remember to label each container accurately.
Some herbs can merely be left on screens to dry until you are ready to process and store them. These include thyme, camomile, lavender, and tarragon. Thyme can be bunched if you prefer, but I consider it a waste of effort since it dries perfectly well stacked on screens. The woody stems will prevent matting and allow good air circulation.
Basil leaves too can be dried by first separating them from their stems and then laying them carefully on screens or cheesecloth. But basil always presents the problem of browning if the leaves are bruised, and we have had good success by hanging them in small bunches in the shed. If the bunches are too large, this herb may also mold. Whichever method, the drying process will take several weeks.
A few herbs will need some supplemental heat from the oven to dry them quickly and prevent mold. These are parsley, chives, chervil, and the weed of dill and fennel. Discard the larger stems from parsley, chervil, dill, and fennel, and spread the leaves or weed on a cookie tray or piece of screening cut to fit your oven. Chives should be cut into quarter inch lengths with a sharp knife. Adjust the control to warm, insert the filled tray, and leave the oven door partially open. (If the aroma of the drying herb permeates the house, you are using too much heat and driving off the essential oils. Open the door further and fluff the herbs so the air will circulate.) Periodically rearrange the herbs on the screens to overcome their tendency to steam and mold before they start to dry.
If you have a wood-burning stove, you can set up a rack for screens, as we do, above and to either side of the stove. Each rack holds several layers of screens, and there is ample room for the air to circulate. As the drying proceeds we fluff the herbs and periodically lower each batch to the source of the heat.
When the leaves are brittle enough to crumble easily, they are dry. But don't store them until they have had a chance to cool and you have checked over the entire tray for dryness. Bottling a slightly damp herb will ruin your whole crop. On the other hand, moisture in the atmosphere can quickly be reabsorbed by the herb; so finish the process as soon as you can. If you find you have misjudged, and vapor is forming in the container, pull out the contents and start the drying procedure again.
When you have completed drying a batch of herbs — which can be a daily process for a large part of the summer if you have planted much variety — it is time to store the crop.(p. 53-55)
Martha Bradley provides two receipts for cooking specific vegetables, then drying them in a slack oven and packing them up in boxes to be kept in a dry place. In Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery are directions for preserving green peas by blanching them, and then drying them in the sun or in an oven before packaging.
Roots like carrots, parsnips, and onions are fried in butter "to a good brown," then baked before packing. Particularly useful for travel, they are ready for soups, ragoos', and such dishes. Mushrooms and artichokes can be stewed a while and then dried in a slack oven (usually after baking bread or tarts.)
Fruits are often preserved with great amounts of sugar (or syrup) which "will not pass into fermentation" and prevent mold growth. There are several receipts for baking pears and apples to preserve them without adding sugar. In The Domestic Encyclopedia it is explained that drying fruits by gradual heat also helps to preserve them by converting the acid particles in the fruit to sugar. This reference suggests drying other fruits like figs, dates, raisins, and apricots gradually with heat for preservation and then storing them in a dry place. (Willich)
A receipt for drying pippins (a variety of apples) is included in the manuscript cookbook found in Virginia and owned by MESDA. The apples are set in an oven after baking bread, juices drained out well, and dried. They are boxed up for storage. Glasse includes a similar receipt, "To dry Pears without Sugar."
The artichoke bottoms should be "as dry as a board" according to Glasse, before putting them in a paper bag and hanging them in a dry place. Raffald suggests that you will know when the artichokes are dry if you hold them up against the light and can see through them. The MESDA manuscript cookbook says that after drying them very well, to box them up for use,
"and when you Use them put them in boyling water and butter as the other."
From Adam's Luxury:
"To dry Apples or Pears without Sugar.
Wipe them clean, and run a Bodkin in at the Head, and out at the Stalk, and put them in a flat Earthen Pot, and bake them, but not too much; you must tie double Papers over them that they may not scorch when they are bak'd. When they are cold, drain them from the Liquor, and lay them on Sieves with wide Holes, and dry them in a hot Stove, or an Oven."(p. 105)
"To dry Pears without Sugar.
Take the Norwich pears, pare them with a knife, and put them in an earthen pot, and bake them, not too soft; put them into a white plate pan, and put dry straw under them, and lay them in an oven after bread is drawn, and every day warm the oven to the degree of heat as when bread is newly drawn. Within one week they must be dry."(1796, p. 368-369)
In the MESDA manuscript cookbook:
"To dry pippins
Take the largest and finest Pippens you can get and put them in a Driping pan after brown bread and when they are drained put them down Gently with your hand then sett them in the oven again and when you Draw them put them down with your hand tell they are Dry Enough don't dry them to much but According to your taste and Judgment box them up … "(p. 10b)
In Adam's Luxury are the following receipts:
"To keep Artichokes dry.
Blanch them, and take out the Chokes as before, drain them, and bake them till they are dry. Before you use them steep them two Days in luke warm Water. In blanching them off, put in the Water a little Verjuice, Salt, and Butter."(p. 114)
"To keep Artichokes dry another Way.
Cut off the Leaves and the Chokes, and put the Bottoms in Water. When you take them out of the Water, throw them into Flower, and cover them all over with it. Then range them one by one on a Hurdle, and dry them in an Oven. Before you use them let them soak a Day and a Night in Water, then boil them as you do other Artichokes."(IBID)
Glasse includes the following receipts:
Artichokes to keep all the Year.
BOIL as many artichokes as you intend to keep; boil them so as just the leaves will come out; then pull off all the leaves and choke, cut them from the strings, lay them on a tin plate, and put them in an oven where tarts are drawn; let them stand till the oven is heated again, take them out before the wood is put in, and set them in again after the tarts are drawn; so do till they are as dry as a board, then put them in a paper bag, till they are as dry as a board, then put them in a paper bag, and hang them in a dry place. You should lay them in warm water three or four hours before you use the, shifting the water often. Let the last water be boiling hot. They will be very tender, and eat as fine as fresh ones. You need not dry all your bottoms at once, as the leaves are good to eat; so boil a dozen at a time, and save the bottoms for this use.
Artichokes preserved the Spanish Way.
TAKE the largest you can get, cut the tops of the leaves off, wash them well and drain them; to every artichoke, pour in a large spoonful of oil; season with pepper and salt. Send them to the oven, and bake them, they will keep a year.
N.B. The Italians, French, Portuguese, and Spaniards have variety of ways of dressing fish, which we have not, viz. As making fish-soups, ragoos, pies, &c. For their soups they use no gravy, nor in their sauces, thinking it improper to mix flesh and fish together; but make their fish-soups with fish, viz. either of craw-fish, lobsters, &c. taking only the juice of them. For example: take your craw-fish, tie them up in a muslin rag, and boil them; then press out their juice for the above-said use.(1796, p. 372)
MESDA's manuscript cookbook includes a receipt for pickling artichoke bottoms and another for drying them:
"To keep Harty Choake Bottoms52
Take your Artichokes and throw them in Water and Salt for half a Day then set on a pott of Water to boyl and when it boyls put in your Artichoke and let them boyl till you can Just draw the leaves from the bottoms then cut out your bottoms very handsome and Smooth then put them into a pott with Salt and Venigar Peper and few Cloves a bay leaf or two then pore some melted butter over them enough to Cover them then tye them down Close and when you like them boyl ym in boyling water with a little peice of butter to plump ym up then dress them as you Please —(p. 31c)
"To Dry them Order them as you did the other but instead of putting them into Pickle lay them on Sives and set them in an Oven after household bread is drawn so dry them very well and box them up for Use and when you Use them put them in boyling Water and butter as the other." (IBID, p. 32a)
Raffald gives the following receipt:
To dry ARTICHOKE BOTTOMS.
PLUCK the artichokes from the stalks, (just before they come to their full growth) it will draw out all the strings from the bottoms, and boil them so that you can just pull off the leaves, lay them on tins, and set them in a cool oven, and repeat it till they are dry, which you may know by holding them up against the light, and if you can see through them, they are dry enough; put them in paper bags, and hang them in. a dry place.(p. 361-362)
Martha Bradley includes the following receipt for drying roots:
7. To preserve Roots day.
Cut some Carrots into Slices, cut some Parsnips also in the same Manner, and peel some Onions, and cut them also in the same Manner.
All these are to be prepared in the same Manner for preserving, and therefore the same Rules will serve.
When the Roots are sliced set on a Stewpan with a good deal of fresh Butter, put in some of any one of the Roots, for they must be done separate, and preserved separate, and when they are fried to a good brown take them out, and put in more.
As they are taken out, Parcel after Parcel, place them on Hair Sievs to dry, and the next Day send them to be baked in a very slack Oven.
This will thoroughly dry them; they must then be put up in Boxes, and kept dry.
They will thus keep longer, and be fitter for Use than if carried on board in their natural Condition: They are ready for all Soups, Raggoos, and the like.(p. 717)
In Adam's Luxury are receipts for drying mushrooms and for keeping them in a "pickle" of salt and water:
To keep Mushrooms without Pickle.
PEEL them, take out the Inside, and lay them in Water three or four Hours; then take them out, dry them, lay them on Tin-plates, and set them in a cool Oven to dry. Do so several times till they are quire dried. Then put them in Pots or Boxes, and stop them close and dry.
To keep Mushrooms all the Year.
PICK your Mushrooms, put them in boiling Water four or five Minutes; then drain them, and when cold put them in a well-glazed Earthen Pan, with some Nutmeg, Cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, Basil, young Onions, and Bay-Leaves, Then make a Pickle of Salt and Water, let it stand two Hours, then pour it into your Mushrooms, and let it cover them; then pout clarified Butter on the Top, tie it down close, and set it in a cool Place. When you use them, wash them well in Water till they are fresh.
H 2 To(p. 147)
Martha Bradely has the following receipt for drying mushrooms:
8. To dry Mushrooms.
Clean a Parcel of large Mushrooms, cut out the Stalks, peel them, and scrape out the Gills.
Set them over the Fire in a Saucepan with a little Salt, and let them stew a while in their own Liquor, then throw them into a Sieve to drain: When they are tolerably dry send them to a slack Oven upon Tin Plates, and let them be thoroughly dried; then pack them up in shallow Boxes, and keep them in a dry Place.(p. 717)
In Adam's Luxury is the following receipt for drying peas:
To preserve Green Peas, and to dress them.
BLANCH the Quantity of Green Peas you would preserve, put Salt in the Water, and when they have had two Boils, take them out, and spread them on a Cloth, and let them lie till they are cold. If you have Convenience, dry them in the Sun, otherwise in an Oven not too hot: When dried, put them in a dry Place; and when you would use them, put them into lukeÂwarm Water, to make them turn green again. If you have any large dry Peas, put a Handful to them, and that will thicken them, and let them stew: When stew'd, put a Lump of Butter in a Stewpan, a Bunch of green Onions, and a Bunch of(p.159)