Tuesday, June 3, 2014


This article comes from Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book ©1871. It's a rather lengthy article but you'll want to continue with the read, as she gives a list of the essential ingredients every home should have.

The art of keeping a good table, consists, not in loading on a variety at each meal, but rather in securing a successive variety, a table neatly and tastefully set, and everything that is on it, cooked in the best manner.
There are some families who provide an abundance of the most expensive and choice articles, and spare no expenses in any respect, who yet have everything cooked in such a miserable way, and a table set in so slovenly a manner, that a person accustomed to a really good table, can scarcely taste a morsel with any enjoy merit.'
On the contrary, there are many tables where the closest economy is practised, and yet the table-cloth is so white and smooth, the dishes, silver, glass, and other table articles so bright, and arranged with such propriety, the bread so white, light, and sweet, the butter so beautiful, and every other article of food so well cooked, and so neatly and tastefully served, that everything seems good, and pleases both the eye and the palate.
A habit of doing everything in the best manner, is of unspeakable importance to a housekeeper, and every woman ought to aim at it. however great thedifficu'aes she may have to meet. If a young housekeeper commences with a determination to try to do everything in the best manner, and perseveres in the effort, meeting all obstacles with patient cheerfulness, not only the mor al, but the intellectual tone of her mind is elevated by the attempt. Although she may meet many insuperable difficulties, and may never reach the standard at which she aims, the simple effort, persevered in, will have an elevating influence on her character, while at the same tvne she actually will reach a point of excelience far ahead of those who, discouraged by many obstacles, give up in despair, and resolve to make no more efforts, and let things go as they will. The grand distinction between a noble and an ignoble mind is, that one will control circumstances; the other yields, and aV lows circumstances to control her.
It should be borne in mind, that the constitution of man demands a variety of food, and that it is just as cheap to keep on hand a good variety of materials in the store-closet, so as to make a frequent change, as it is to buy one or two articles at once, and live on them exclusively, till every person is tired of them, and then buy two or three more of another kind.
It is too frequently the case, that families fall into a very limited round of articles, and continue the same course from one year to another, when there is a much greater variety within reach, of articles which are just as cheap and easily obtained, and yet remain unthought of and untouched.
A thrifty and generous provider, will see that hei store-closet is furnished with such a variety of articles, that successive changes can be made, and for a good length of time. To aid in this, a slight sketch of a well-provided store-closet will be given, with a description of the manner in which each article should be stored and kept, in order to avoid waste and injury. To this will be added, modes of securing a successive variety, within the reach of all in moderate circumstances.
It is best to have a store closet open from a kitchen, because the kitchen fire keeps the atmosphere dry, and this prevents the articles stored from moulding, and other injury from dampness. Yet it must not be kept warm, as there are many articles which are injured by warmth.
A cool and dry place is indispensable forastore-ioom, and a small window over the door, and another opening out-doors, is a great advantage, by securing coolness, and a circulation of fresh air.
Flour should be kept in a barrel, with a flour scoop to dip it, a sieve to sift it, and a pan to hold the sifted flour, either in the b irrel, or close at hand. The barrel should have a tight cover to keep out mice and vermin. It is best, when it can be conveniently done, to find, by trial, a lot of first-rate flour, and then Buy a year's supply. But this should not be done, unless there are accomirodations for keeping it dry and cool, and protecting it from vermin.

Unbolted flour should be stored in barrels, and al « ays be kept on hand, as regularly as fine flour.
Indian meal should be purchased in small quantities, say fifteen or twenty pounds at a time, and be kept in a covered tub or keg. When new and sweet, it should not be scalded, but when not perfectly fresh and good when used, it is improved by scalding. It must be kept very cool and dry, and if occasionally stirred, is preserved more surely from growing sour or musty.
Rye should be bought in small quantities, say forty or fifty pounds at a time, and he kept in a keg, or halt barrel with a cover.
Buckwheat, Rice, Hominy, and Ground Rice must be purchased in small quantities, and kept in covered kegs, or tubs. Several of these articles are infest ed with small black insects, and examination must occasionally be made for them.
Arrowroot, Tapioca, Sago, Pearl Barley, American Isinglass, Macaroni, Vermicelli, and Oatmeal are all articles which help to make an agreeable variety and it is just as cheap to buy a small quantity of each, as it is to buy a larger quantity of two or three articles. Eight or ten pounds of each of these articles of food can be stored in covered jars, or covered wood boxes, and then they are always at hand to help make a variety. All of them are very healthful food, and help to form many delightful dishes for desserts. Some of the mop healthful puddings are those made of rice, tapioca sago, and macaroni, while isinglass, or American gelatine, form elegant articles for desserts, and is also excel lent for the sick.
Sugars should not be bought by the barrel, as the brown is apt to turn to molasses, and run out on to the floor. It is best to keep four qualities of sugar on hand Refined loaf for tea, crushed sugar for the nicest preserves and to use with fruit, nice brown sugar for coffee and common brown for cooking and more common use. The loaf can be stored in the papers, on a shelf. The others should be kept in close covered kegs, or covered wooden articles made for the purpose.
Butter must be kept in the dryest and coldest place you can find, in vessels of either stone, earthen, or wood, and never in tin.
Lard and Drippings must be kept in a dry, cold place, and should not be salted. Usually the cellar ia the best place for them. Earthen, or stone jars are the best to store them in.
Salt must be kept in the dryest place that can be found. Rock salt is the best for table salt. It should be washed, dried, pounded, sifted, and stored in a glass jar, and covered close. It is common to find it growing damp in the salt stands for the table. It should then be set by the fire to dry, and afterwards be reduced to fine powder again. Nothing is more disagreeable than coarse or damp salt on a table.
Vinegar is best made of wine, or cider. Buy a keg, or half barrel of it, and set it in the cellar, and then keep a supply for the castors in a junk bottle in the kitchen. If too strong, it eats the pickles.
Pickles never must be kept in glazed ware, as the vinegar forms a poisonous compound with the glazing.
Oil must be kept in the cellar. Winter strained must be got in cold weather, as the summer strained ivill not burn except in warm weather. The best of lard oil is preferred to every other by those who use it. Some lard oil is very poor.
Molasses, if bought by the barrel, or half barrel, should be kept in the cellar. Sugar bakers' is best for the table, and Porto Rico for cooking. If bought in small quantities, it should be kept in a demijohn. Nc vessel should be corked or bunged, if filled with molasses, as it will swell, and jurst the vessel, or run over.
Hard Soap shoul 1 be bought by large quantity, and laid to harden on a shelf, in a very dry place. It is much more economical to buy hard, than soft siap, as those who use soft soap are very apt to waste it in using it, as they cannot do with hard soap.
Starch it is best to buy by a large quantity. It comes very nicely put up in papers, a pound or two in each paper, and packed in a box. Starch, which by the single pound is five cents a pound, if bought by the box, is only three cents a pound, and this makes a good deal of difference, in a large family, by the year. The high-priceo starch is cheapest in the end.
Indigo 13 not always good. When a good lot is found by trial, it is best to get enough for a year or two, and store it in a tight tin box.
Coffee it is best to buy by the bag, as it improves by keeping. Let it hang in the bag, in a dry place, and it loses its rank smell and taste.
Tea, if bought by the box, is about five cents a pound cheaper than by small quantities. If well put up in boxes lined with lead, it keeps perfectly. But put up in paper, it soon loses its flavor. It therefore should, if in small quantities, be put in glass, or tin, and shut tight.
Saleratus should be bought in small quantities, then powdered, sifted, and kept tight corked in a large mouth glass bottle.
It grows damp if exposed to the air, and then cannot be used properly.
Raisins should not be bought in large quantities, as they are injured by time. It is best to buy the small boxes.
Currants for cake should be prepared as directed for cake, and set by for use in a jar.
Lemon and Orange Peel should be dried, pounded, and set up in corked glass jars.
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mace, and Allspice, should be pounded fine, and corked tight in small glass bottles with mouths large enough for a junk bottle cork, and then put in a tight tin box, made for the purpose. Or they can be put in small tin boxes with tight covers. Es sences are as good as spices.
Sweet Herbs should be dried, and the stalks thrown 'i'l'X THE PK0V1DJSB AND CARE OF FAMILY STORES,
away, and the rest be kept in corked large mouth bottles or small tin boxes.
Cream Tartar, Citric and Tartaric Acids, Bicar bonate of Soda, and Essences, should be kept in corked glass jars. Sal volatile must be kept in a large-mouth bottle, with a ground glass stopper to make it air-tight. Use cold water in dissolving it. It must be powdered.
Preserves and Jellies should be kept in glass or stone, in a cool, dry place, well sealed, or tied with bladder covers. If properly made, and thus put up, they never will ferment. If it is difficult to find a cool, dry place, pack the jars in a box, and fill the interstices with sand, very thoroughly dried. It is best to put jellies in tumblers, or small glass jars, so as to open only a small quantity at a time.
The most easy way of keeping Hams perfectly is to wrap and tie them in paper, and pack them in boxes or barrels with ashes. The ashes must fill all interstices, but must not touch the hams, as it absorbs the fat. It is much less labor, and quite as certain a mode as the one previously mentioned. It keeps them sweet, and protects from all kinds of insects.
After smoked beef, or ham, are cut, hang them in a coarse linen bag in the cellar, and tie it up to keep out flies.
Keep Cheese in a cool, dry place, and after it is cut, wrap it in a linen cloth, and keep it in a tight tin box.
Keep Bread in a tin covered box, and it will keep fresh and good longer than if left exposed to the air.
Cake also should be kept in a tight tin box. Tin boxes made with covers like trunks, with handles at the ends, are best for bread and cake.
Smoked herring keep in the cellar.
Codfish is improved by changing it, once in a while, back and forth from garret to cellar. Some dislike to have it in the house anywhere.
All salted provision must be watched, and kept under the brine. When the brine looks bloody, or smells badly, it must be scalded, and more salt put to it, and poured over the meat.Salt fish barrels must not be kept near other food, as they impart a fishy smell and taste to it.
Cabbages and Turnips in the cellar often impart a bad smell to a house. All decayed vegetable matter should be kept out of a cellar, as it creates a miasma, that sometimes causes the most fatal diseases. Therefore, always take care of the vegetable bins, and have all that are decaying removed.
A cellar should be whitewashed often, to keep it sweet and clean.


  1. Very enlightening post. What a job to keep a kitchen! Some things I've never heard of: saleratus, indigo. Would Indian meal be cornmeal?

  2. Indian meal would be corn. Indigo was used to dye things blue saleratus is baking soda.