Tuesday, September 22, 2020


 Post by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines

It's that time of year when we start thinking about canning, preserving, and preparing for the coming fall and winter months. While I was researching old recipes, I came across some fun, interesting, and some that made me go humm. I thought perhaps you might like to take a look for yourselves at how they made use of their produce in 1870s. Let me know what you think.

One that we all know and probably love is Apple Jelly. Here's one for you to try:

Apple Jelly. One pack of sharp green apples; pare and core them, put them into a well tinned sauce pan, pour on them 1 quart of spring – water, put them over a slow fire till all of a wash, pour through a new flannel bag; when cold, to every pint of juice add 1/4 pound of loaf sugar, boil fast and skim it well until it jellies, pour into molds for dessert; double the quantity of sugar if you wanted to keep all year.

Perhaps you'd like to try some Sweet Potatoe Pie. I know I used to love it.

Sweet Potato Pie. Boil the potatoes; peel and slice them. Put a layer in the baking dish, either with or without pastry. Dot it over with butter, sprinkle with sugar and a little allspice, or any other seasoning you may prefer. Proceed in this way until the dish or plate is full; then pour over the top milk or cream until the pieces are well soaked. Then bake slowly and regularly till done.

Now this one surprised me, but I found it quite interesting. It looks like you can make your own Rice Cakes. Here's how:

Rice Cakes. Beat 3 eggs very lightly; then add to them a half a pound of boiled rice, mashed up well with a lump of butter twice the size of a hen's egg. Put in a cup full of sour milk, with a teaspoon of saleratus, and finally, after of course, putting in a little salt, sift in enough flour to make a soft batter for gridiron cakes, or a little more, so that you can bake in muffin rings. Use milk also in forming the batter. These cakes are delicious.

Of course, if you would like you can preserve the fruit by crystalizing it or creating a preserve. Below are the two options:

To Crystallize Fruit. Pick out the finest of any kind of fruit; leave on their stalks; beat the whites of three eggs to a stiff froth, lay the fruit in the beaten eggs with the stocks upward; drain; beat the part that drips off again; select them out one by one and dip them into a cup of finely powdered sugar; cover a pan with a sheet of find paper; place the fruit inside of it in an oven that is cooling; when the icing of the fruit becomes firm pile them on a dish and set them in a cool place.

Nutmeg or Citron–Mellon Preserves. Cut the melon into slices half an inch thick. Take off the rind. Keep them in salt water for 3 days. Boil them in fresh water 6 hours, changing the water three times. Make a syrup of one and a half pounds of sugar to 1 pound of fruit, seasoned with the extract of lemon, mace, cinnamon and white ginger, soaked and dried, to your taste. Boil the fruit in the syrup till it is perfectly transparent. During the whole process the boiling must be very slow, or the fruit will fall to pieces.

Hope you enjoyed a look back to how they did it way back when. In many ways, these remind me of my great grandmother. She might not have gone through all the processes, but it does bring up fond memeries.

Let me know if these bring back any memories for you.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet


  1. My maternal grandmother lived in an old Victorian farm house in northwestern Pennsylvania. She had a coal burning stove which was quite elegant. It even had a water tank on the side to heat water for bathing and washing clothes and dishes. It used coal because that part of PA was coal mining territory. That stove heated even the upstairs because there were fancy iron grates in the floors of the upstairs bedrooms that allowed rising heat to warm the rooms. They were also great for listening to grownup conversations after our bedtime. Just sayin'...

    She canned all summer long and filled the pantry shelves in the basement with fruits and vegetables she canned on that stove. Her strawberry jam was legendary. We didn't get up there for many holidays, but one Thanksgiving we were there and enjoyed the turkey she made in that oven which, by the way, took all night to roast. Everything she put in that oven came out super great.

    Thank you for those recipes, Doris, and thank you for this marvelous blog. All the best to your corner of the universe...

    1. Sarah, I remember the grates in my great grandparents home. I used to listen to the adult conversations also.

      Sometimes I think the way they had to do things back then, the time and eye to detail is what made those foods, etc. so special. The love for lack of a better word. They were just better. Doris


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