On Fruits, Vegetables, & Herbs 1798 Amelia Simmons Cookbook
ROOTS and VEGETABLES--and the best cook cannot alter the first quality, they must be good, or the cook will be disappointed.
Potatoes, take rank for universal use, profit and early acquirement. The smooth skin, known by the name of How's Potatoe, is the most mealy and richest flavor'd; the yellow rusticoat next best; the red, and red rusticoat are tolerable; and the yellow Spanish have their value--those cultivated from imported feed on sandy or dry loomy lands, are best for table use; though the red or either will produce more in rich, loomy, highly manured garden grounds; new lands and a sand foil, afford the richest flavor'd; and most mealy Potatoe much depends on the ground on which they grow--more on the species of Potatoes planted--and still more from foreign feeds--and each may be known by attention to connoisseurs; for a good potatoe comes up in many branches of cookery, as herein after prescribed.--All potatoes should be dug before the rainy seasons in the fall, well dryed in the sun, kept from frost and dampness during the winter, in the spring removed from the cellar to a dry loft, and spread thin, and frequently stirred and dryed, or they will grow and be thereby injured for cookery.
A roast Potatoe is brought on with roast Beef, a Steake, a Chop, or Fricassee; good boiled with a boiled dish; make an excellent stuffing for a turkey, water or wild fowl; make a good pie, and a good starch for many uses. All potatoes run out, or depreciate in America; a fresh importation of the Spanish might restore them to table use.
It would swell this treatise too much to say every thing that is useful, to prepare a good table, but I may be pardoned by observing, that the Irish have preserved a genuine mealy rich Potatoe, for a century, which takes rank of any known in any other kingdom; and I have heard that they renew their feed by planting and cultivating the Seed Ball, which grows on the tine. The manner of their managing it to keep up the excellency of that root, would better suit a treatise on agriculture and gardening than this--and be inserted in a book which would be read by the farmer, instead of his aimiable daughter. If no one treats on the subject, it may appear in the next edition.
Onions--The Medeira white is best in market, esteemed softer flavored, and not so fiery, but the high red, round hard onions are the best; if you consult cheapness, the largest are best; if you consult taste and softness, the very smallest are the most delicate, and used at the first tables. Onions grow in the richest, highest cultivated ground, and better and better year after year, on the same ground.
Beets, grow on any ground, but best on loom, or light gravel grounds; the red is the richest and best approved; the white has a sickish sweetness, which is disliked by many.
Parsnips, are a valuable root, cultivated best in rich old grounds, and doubly deep plowed, late sown, they grow thrifty, and are not so prongy; they may be kept any where and any how, so that they do not grow with heat, or are nipped with frost; if frosted, let them thaw on earth; they are richer flavored when plowed out of the ground in April, having stood out during the winter, though they will not last long after, and commonly more sticky and hard in the centre.
Carrots, are managed as it respects plowing and rich ground, similarly to Parsnips. The yellow are better than the orange and red; middling siz'd, that is, a foot long and two inches thick at the top end, are better than over grown ones; they are cultivated best with onions, sowed very thin, and mixed with other seeds, while young or six weeks after sown, especially if with onions on true onion ground. They are good with veal cookery, rich in soups, excellent with hash, in May and June.
Garlicks, though used by the French, are better adapted to the uses of medicine than cookery.
Asparagus--the mode of cultivation belongs to gardening; your business is only to cut and dress, the largest is best, the growth of a day sufficient, six inches long, and cut just above the ground; many cut below the surface, under an idea of getting tender shoots, and preserving the bed; but it enfeebles the root: dig round it and it will be wet with the juices--but if cut above ground, and just as the dew is going off, the sun will either reduce the juice, or send it back to nourish the root--its an excellent vegetable.
Parsley, of the three kinds, the thickest and branchiest is the best, is sown among onions, or in a bed by itself, may be drying for winter use; tho' a method which I have experienced is much better--In September, I dig my roots, procure an old thin stave dry cask, bore holes an inch diameter in every stave, 6 inches asunder round the cask, and up to the top--take first a half bushel of rich garden mold and put into the cask, then run the roots through the staves, leaving the branches outside, press the earth tight about the root within, and thus continue on thro' the respective stories, till the cask is full; it being filled, run an iron bar thro' the center of the dirt in the cask, and fill with water, let stand on the fourth and east side of a building till frosty night, then remove it, (by slinging a rope around the cask) into the cellar; where, during the winter, I clip with my scissars the fresh parsley, which my neighbors or myself have occasion for; and in the spring transplant the roots in the bed in the garden, or in any unused corner--or let stand upon the wharf, or the wash shed. Its an useful mode of cultivation, and a pleasurably tasted herb, and much used in garnishing viands.
Raddish, Salmon coloured is the best, purple next best--white--turnip--each are produced from southern feeds, annually. They grow thriftiest sown among onions. The turnip Raddish will last well through the winter.
Artichokes--the Jerusalem is best, are cultivated like potatoes, (tho' their stocks grow 7 feet high) and may be preserved like the turnip raddish, or pickled--they like,
Horse Raddish, once in the garden, can scarcely ever be totally eradicated, plowing or digging them up with that view, seems at times rather to increase and spread them.
Cucumbers, are of many kinds; the prickly is best for pickles, but generally bitter; the white is difficult to raise and tender; choose the bright green, smooth and proper sized.
Melons-- The Water Melons is cultivated on sandy soils only, above latitude 41 1-2, if a stratum of land be dug from a well, it will bring the first year good Water Melons; the red cored are highest flavored; a hard rine proves them ripe.
Muskmelons, are various, the rough skinned is best to eat; the short, round, fair skinned, is best for Mangoes.
Lettuce, is of various kinds; the purple spotted leaf is generally the tenderest, and free from bitter--your taste must guide your market.
Cabbage, requires a page, they are so multifarious. Note, all Cabbages have a higher relish that grow on new unmanured grounds; if grown in an old town and on old gardens, they have a rankness, which at times, may be perceived by a fresh air traveller. This observation has been experienced for years--that Cabbages require new ground, more than Turnips.
The Low Dutch, only will do in old gardens.
The Early Yorkshire, must have rich foils, they will not answer for winter, they are easily cultivated, and frequently bro't to market in the fall, but will not last the winter.
The Green Savoy, with the richest crinkles, is fine and tender; and altho' they do not head like the Dutch or Yorkshire, yet the tenderness of the out leaves is a counterpoise, it will last through the winter, and are high flavored.
The Yellow Savoy, takes next rank, but will not last so long; all Cabbages will mix, and participate of other species, like Indian Corn; they are culled, best in plants; and a true gardener will, in the plant describe those which will head, and which will not. This is new, but a fact.
The gradations in the Savoy Cabbage are discerned by the leaf; the richest and most scollup'd, and crinkled, and thickest Green Savoy, falls little short of a Colliflower.
The red and redest small tight heads, are best for slaw, it will not boil well, comes out black or blue, and tinges other things with which it is boiled.
To boil Cabbage.
If your cabbage is large, cut it into quarters; if small, cut it in halves; let your water boil, then put in a little salt, and next your cabbage with a little more salt upon it; make your water boil as soon as possible, and when the stalk is tender, take up your cabbage into a cullender, or sieve, that the water may drain off, and send it to table as hot as you can.
Savoys are dressed in the same manner.
B E A N S.
The Clabboard Bean, is easiest cultivated and collected, are good for string beans, will shell--must be poled.
The Windsor Bean, is an earlier, good string, or shell Bean.
Crambury Bean, is rich, but not universally approved equal to the other two.
Frost Bean, is good only to shell.
Six Weeks Bean, is a yellowish Bean, and early brought forward, and tolerable.
Lazy Bean, is tough, and needs no pole.
English Bean what they denominate the Horse Bean, is mealy when young, is profitable, easily cultivated, and may be grown on worn out grounds; as they may be raised by boys, I cannot but recommend the more extensive cultivation of them.
The Small White Bean, is best for winter use, and excellent.
Calivanse, are run out, a yellow small bush, a black speck or eye, are tough and tasteless, and little worth in cookery, and scarcely bear exportation,
The Crown Imperial, takes rank in point of flavor, they blossom, purple and white on the top of the vines, will run from three to five feet high, should be set in light sandy soil only, or they run too much to vines.
The Crown Pea, is second in richness of flavor.
The Rondehaval, is large and bitterish.
Early Carlton, is produced first in the season--good.
Marrow Fats, green, yellow, and is large, easily cultivated, not equal to others.
Sugar Pea, needs no bush, the pods are tender and good to eat, easily cultivated.
Spanish Manratto, is a rich Pea, requires a strong high bush.
All Peas should be picked carefully from the vines as soon as dew is off, shelled and cleaned without water, and boiled immediately; they are thus the richest flavored.
To boil all kinds of Garden Stuff. In dressing all sorts of kitchen garden herbs, take care they are clean washed; that there be no small snails, or caterpillars between the leaves; and that all the coarse, outer leaves, and the tops that have received any injury by the weather, be taken off; next wash them in a good deal of water, and put them into a cullender to drain, care must likewise be taken, that your pot or sauce pan be clean, well tinned, and free from sand, or grease.
To keep Green Peas till Christmas.
Take young peas, shell them, put them in a cullender 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 a leather over them and set them in a dry cool place.
To boil French Beans.
Take your beans and string them, cut in two and then across, when you have done them all, sprinkle them over with salt, stir them together, as soon as your water boils put them in and make them boil up quick, they will be soon done and they will look of a better green than when growing in the garden; if they are very young, only break off the ends, then break in two and dress them in the same manner.
To boil broad Beans.
Beans require a great deal of water and it is not best to shell them till just before they are ready to go into the pot, when the water boils put them in with some picked parsley and some salt, make them boil up quick, when you see them begin to fall, they are done enough, strain them off, garnish the dish with boiled parsley and send plain butter in a cup or boat.
To boil green Peas.
When your peas are shelled and the water boils, which should not be much more than will cover them, put them in with a few leaves of mint, as soon as they boil put in a piece of butter as big as a walnut, and stir them about, when they are done enough, strain them off, and sprinkle in a little salt, shake them till the water drains off, send them hot to the table with melted butter in a cup or boat.
To boil Asparagus.
First cut the white ends off about six inches from the head, and scrape them from the green part downward very clean, as you scrape them, throw them into a pan of clear water, and after a little soaking, tie them up in small even bundles, when your water boils, put them in, and boil them quick; but by over boiling they will lose their heads; cut a slice of bread for a toast, and toast it brown on both sides; when your asparagus is done, take it up carefully; dip the toast in the asparagus water, and lay it in the bottom of your dish; then lay the heads of the asparagus on it, with the white ends outwards; pour a little melted butter over the heads; cut an orange into small pieces, and stick them between for garnish.
Herbs, useful in Cookery.
Thyme, is good in soups and stuffings.
Sweet Marjoram, is used in Turkeys.
Summer Savory, ditto, and in Sausages and salted Beef, and legs of Pork.
Sage, is used in Cheese and Pork, but not generally approved.
Parsley, good in soups, and to garnish roast Beef, excellent with bread and butter in the spring.
Penny Royal, is a high aromatic, although a spontaneous herb in old ploughed fields, yet might be more generally cultivated in gardens, and used in cookery and medicines.
Sweet Thyme, is most useful and best approved in cookery.
F R U I T S.
Pears, There are many different kinds; but the large Bell Pear, sometimes called the Pound Pear, the yellowest is the best, and in the same town they differ essentially.
Hard Winter Pear, are innumerable in their qualities, are good in sauces, and baked.
Harvest and Summer Pear are a tolerable desert, are much improved in this country, as all other fruits are by grafting and innoculation.
Apples, are still more various, yet rigidly retain their own species, and are highly useful in families, and ought to be more universally cultivated, excepting in the most compactest cities. There is not a single family but might set a tree in some otherwise useless spot, which might serve the two fold use of shade and fruit; on which 12 or 14 kinds of fruit trees might easily be engrafted, and essentially preserve the orchard from the intrusions of boys, &c. which is too common in America. If the boy who thus planted a tree, and guarded and protected it in a useless corner, and carefully engrafted different fruits, was to be indulged free access into orchards, whilst the neglectful boy was prohibited--how many millions of fruit trees would spring into growth--and what a saving to the union. The net saving would in time extinguish the public debt, and enrich our cookery.
Currants, are easily grown from shoots trimmed off from old bunches, and set carelessly in the ground; they flourish on all soils, and make good jellies--their cultivation ought to be encouraged.
Black Currants, may be cultivated--but until they can be dryed, and until sugars are propagated, they are in a degree unprofitable.
Grapes, are natural to the climate; grow spontaneously in every state in the union, and ten degrees north of the line of the union. The Madeira, Lisbon and Malaga Grapes, are cultivated in gardens in this country, and are a rich treat or desert. Trifling attention only is necessary for their ample growth.
To dry Peaches.
Take the fairest and ripest peaches, pare them into fair water; take their weight in double refined sugar; of one half make a very thin sirup; then put in your peaches, boiling them till they look clear, then split and stone them, boil them till they are very tender, lay them a draining, take the other half of the sugar, and boil it almost to a candy; then put in your peaches, and let them lie all night, then lay them on a glass, and set them in a stove, till they are dry, if they are sugared too much, wipe them with a wet cloth a little; let the first sirup be very thin, a quart of water to a pound of sugar.
To pickle or make Mangoes of Melons.
Take green melons, as many as you please, and make a brine strong enough to bear an egg; then pour it boiling hot on the melons, keeping them down under the brine; let them stand five or six days; then take them out, slit them down on one side, take out all the seeds, scrape them well in the inside, and wash them clean with cold water; then take a clove of garlick, a little ginger and nutmeg sliced, and a little whole pepper; put all these proportionably into the melons, filling them up with mustard-seeds; then lay them in an earthen pot with the slit upwards, and take one part of mustard and two parts of vinegar, enough to cover them, pouring it upon them scalding hot, and keep them close stopped.
To pickle Barberries.
Take of white wine vinegar and water, of each an equal quantity; to every quart of this liquor, put in half a pound of cheap sugar, then pick the worst of your barberries and put into this liquor, and the best into glasses; then boil your pickle with the worst of your barberries, and skim it very clean, boil it till it looks of a fine colour, then let it stand to be cold, before you strain it; then strain it through a cloth, wringing it to get all the colour you can from the barberries; let it stand to cool and settle, then pour it clear into the glasses; in a little of the pickle, boil a little fennel; when cold, put a little bit at the top of the pot or glass, and cover it close with a bladder or leather. To every half pound of sugar, put a quarter of a pound of white salt.
To pickle Cucumbers.
Let your cucumbers be small, fresh gathered, and free from spots; then make a pickle of salt and water, strong enough to bear an egg; boil the pickle and skim it well, and then pour it upon your cucumbers, and stive them down for twenty four hours; then strain them out into a cullender, and dry them well with a cloth, and take the best white wine vinegar, with cloves, sliced mace, nutmeg, white pepper corns, long pepper, and races of ginger, (as much as you please) boil them up together, and then clap the cucumbers in, with a few vine leaves, and a little salt, and as soon as they begin to turn their colour, put them into jars, stive them down close, and when cold, tie on a bladder and leather.
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, 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 into 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.
American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life.
By Amelia Simmons. Hartford: Printed for Simeon Butler, Northampton, (1798)
Note: This information also appears in a book which is essentially a pirated editon of Amelia Simmons' American Cookery (1798).
The New-England cookery, or the art of dressing all kinds of flesh, fish, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plumb to the plain cake. Particularly adapted to this part of our country.
By Lucy Emerson. Montpelier, VT: Printed for Josiah Parks, 1808.