Sunday, October 4, 2020

Garden to Table - Home-Made Clover Wine


John Greenwood (American artist, 1727-1792) Sea Captains Carousing, 1758.  Detail

George Washington's English visitor Richard Parkinson did not care for Washington's welcome drink or his clover.  Parkinson wrote Tour in America in 1798, 1799, & 1800: Exhibiting Sketches of Society & Manners, & a Particular Account of the America System of Agriculture, with its Recent Improvements (Travel in America).  Before sailing to the new republic, Parkinson had made something of a name for himself in England as a scientific agriculturist & had published a book called the Experienced Farmer. He apparently negotiated by letter with Washington for the rental of one of the Mount Vernon farms; & in 1798, without having made any definite engagement, sailed for the Potomac with a cargo of good horses, cattle & hogs. His plan for renting Washington's farm fell through, by his account because it was such poor land.  He settled for a time near Baltimore. 

Soured by the failure of his new techniques in Maryland, he returned to England, & published an account of his travels, partly with the avowed purpose of discouraging emigration to America. His opinion of the country he summed up by this sexist observation: "If a man should be so unfortunate as to have married a wife of a capricious disposition, let him take her to America, & keep her there three or four years in a country-place at some distance from a town, & afterwards bring her back to England; if she do not act with propriety, he may be sure there is no remedy." 

Even more revealing are his views of American "notions of equality," as he complains mightily of the "disrespectful manners of white servants toward masters," finding it shocking that "The idea of liberty & equality there destroys all the rights of the master, & every man does as he likes." In decrying his experience in America, Parkinson highlighted the very qualities that made the United States & Americans of the late 18C what they were, showcasing the cultural & material divide between England & her former colony.

Perhaps a few glasses of clover wine might have softened his haughty prejudices. 

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials & Liqueurs 1909 by Helen S. Wright

Three quarts blossoms, four quarts boiling water; let stand three days. Drain, and to the flower heads add three more quarts of water and the peel of one lemon. Boil fifteen minutes, drain, and add to other juice. To every quart, add one pound of sugar; ferment with one cup of yeast. Keep in warm room three weeks, then bottle.

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines is a cookbook for those who want to make their own wines & liqueurs from available ingredients, including fruits, flowers, vegetables, & shrubs from local gardens, farms, & orchards. It includes ingredients & instructions for making & fermenting spirits, from wine & ale to sherry, brandy, cordials, & even beer. 

Colonial Era Cookbooks

1615, New Booke of Cookerie, John Murrell (London) 
1798, American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (Hartford, CT)
1803, Frugal Housewife, Susannah Carter (New York, NY)
1807, A New System of Domestic Cookery, Maria Eliza Rundell (Boston, MA)
1808, New England Cookery, Lucy Emerson (Montpelier, VT)

Helpful Secondary Sources

America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking/Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings, and Their Gardens/Frances Phipps Hawthorn; 1972
Early American Beverages/John Hull Brown   Rutland, Vt., C. E. Tuttle Co 1996 
Early American Herb Recipes/Alice Cooke Brown  ABC-CLIO  Westport, United States
Food in Colonial and Federal America/Sandra L. Oliver
Home Life in Colonial Days/Alice Morse Earle (Chapter VII: Meat and Drink) New York : Macmillan Co., ©1926.
A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America/James E. McWilliams New York : Columbia University Press, 2005.