Old Cookbooks – How About The White House?

Some times a directed semi-random walk ends up in an interesting place. In an earlier posting on fats I’d mentioned not really wanting to get into making my own lard. But, things being as they are, I thought maybe I ought to see if it had improved any since Dad had shown me how to do it some half century ago. (For some reason likely having to do with an Amish mom and growing up on an Iowa farm in The Great Depression he thought I needed ‘schooling’ in every possible DIY process to stay alive on some dirt with some animals… we even dug a well in the back yard using a post hole digger and used it to water the garden.)

Turns out making lard has gotten a lot easier. The Slow Cooker and those electronic temperature controlled ovens both improved things greatly compared to a big pot on a gas burner with frequent monitoring and stirring…

The basic process is to heat a load of trimmed fat (meat and blood vessels removed, cut into dice sized chunks) at just a little over the boiling point of water. The water evaporates and the fat ‘renders’ or drips out. Then pour it though ‘cheesecloth’ or even a paper towel to filter out ‘cracklins’ and put it in jars. Cool. That’s basically it for either beef fat (tallow) or pig fat (lard). Also works on chicken fat (schmaltz) and butter (ghee).

Cooking with those fats can be a guilty pleasure all its own as the flavors and textures are much better than with shortening. Lard makes the best possible pastry only outclassed by using butter, maybe…

The major advance is that an electric oven can now be set to 220 F (about 110 C ) and the fat in a ‘steamer basket’ over a pot (my stock pot has one built in) holds the fat while the drippings collect in the bottom. Similarly, a slow cooker does the same job. Just set it up, turn it on, and come back several hours later. MUCH less fuss. A couple of links:

The classic way with a big stock pot:


Some good points if you are starting from the “whole hog”:


Alton Brown uses a Dutch Oven inside a kitchen oven:


But the one that I liked the most was this one. Using a crock pot. Clearly a Mom Type who has a sense of how to do things without all that fuss and without being away from other duties and kids quite so much:


It also includes a bunch of nice links to various pages citing the rediscovery that saturated fats are not really bad and that it’s OK to use them, perhaps even improves your health. The following text has ‘hot links’ in the original.

Why I ♥ Lard
It’s Rich In The “Happiness Vitamin”

Next to cod liver oil, lard is the second richest source of Vitamin D. (source 1, source 2) According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, one tablespoon of lard obtained from pastured pigs has been found to contain up to 1,100 IU of Vitamin D.

Why is this important? Because a growing number of studies are confirming the positive (though not exclusive) role of Vitamin D in preventing conditions like heart disease, hypertension and even common illnesses like the flu. (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4)

It has also been found helpful for reducing symptoms associated with asthma, respiratory infections, and inflammatory bowel disease. (source 1, source 2, source 3) Preliminary research has also determined that certain cancers, such as breast and colon cancer, are associated with low Vitamin D levels. (source 1, source 2)

It’s Heart Healthy

Yes, I’m serious. Lard is about 45% oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fats “are responsible for lowering LDL levels while leaving HDL (‘good’) cholesterol levels alone.” (source) It also contains saturated fat, which even TIME Magazine now admits is beneficial. Want to learn more about the health benefits of this under-appreciated fat? Check out these articles: Why We Try Hard To Eat Lard and 10 Reasons To Bring Lard Back.

Note that she is also particularly talking about “pastured hogs”. Don’t know quite how to find free range hog fat these days, but I’m sure someone sells it somewhere… Eating greens is where the Omega-3 fatty acids comes from.

But lard was only the thing that lead me to this posting.

I’d wondered if there was a way to “clean up” bacon grease to make it more lard like. I didn’t find much in web searches, so decided on an experiment. I gently simmered some collected bacon grease over a water layer. It didn’t help much…

There is some less smell of bacon to it. I’d simmered it over water (the debris sinking into the water) then cooled it in the fridge. Lifted the solid fat off the top, then heated to dry it. Straining the (dried and cooled but still liquid) fat through a paper towel after decanting from over the bacon bits left a fat with much less debris in it.

However, the washing process left the fat with water content. It also left it with a significant dark color. Either from bits so small they don’t migrate to the water, or from things that dissolve into the fat layer in preference. Then dehydrating the fat via frying it causes some significant spatter and froth (rather like frying bacon all over again, but cleaner). In the end, the product isn’t any better than simple bacon grease, really, and looks a bit darker to me. Maybe some future research will find a better way, but for now it’s just not interesting enough.

Yet I ran into something that WAS interesting. Seems that the historic Cook Book of The White House is available. From ‘way back when’ including things like using or rendering lard. As I’m always up for new “Old Books”, I’ve downloaded it… It will be fun to read even if I don’t fire up the old cast iron wood stove and bake without a thermometer setting or ‘time to done’ ;-)

But back at using a Slow Cooker to render lard from fresh pork fat:


Pork fat, preferably from pastured pigs. If you can’t find it locally, you can find it online here.
1/4 cup water


Slow cooker

Then put it in, turn it on, and come back in a couple or three hours and filter. That I can live with… The original has a bunch of really nice high res pictures in it too.

Then that same site has how to render tallow, and it was that posting that lead me to the Cook Book issue…


If you’ve ever cracked open the 1885 edition . . .
Of The White House Cookbook, you may have noticed a peculiar list of kitchen “must haves” that includes an ash bucket, step ladder and coal shovel, plus a collection of cake recipes with no baking times or temperatures. This may seem like an oversight at first, but when you take your kids on a tour of President Andrew Jackson’s 200 year old plantation, it will click.

Somewhere between the custom upholstered horse hair couch and bound volumes of newspapers collected over decades . . .

And the perfectly preserved dining room and kitchen – complete with door to the root cellar under the prep table – it will click. Things have changed.

With some very nice pictures of things like wood stoves and root cellar doors… (hit the link…)

She goes on, again with embedded links to citations:

What is tallow?

Tallow is rendered beef fat. Before unhealthy vegetable oils took over our kitchens, tallow was often used for frying because it’s remarkably stable at high temperatures. In addition, it contains several components that are thought to be beneficial, such as . . .

Conjugated linoelic acid (CLA) – Studies suggest that CLA may assist with fat loss, help regulate the immune system, and promote heart health. (source 1, source 2)

Vitamin K2 – This is the elusive “X Factor” studied by Weston A. Price, DDS. It is thought to promote bone health, heart health and optimal brain function.

Omega 3 fatty acids – According to the Mayo Clinic, studies suggest the omega 3 fatty acids may benefit the heart, cognitive function, and joint function among many other things. You can read their full analysis here.

A note on sourcing

Before you run out to your local butcher shop to buy what they have on hand, consider this: According to this study, the CLA content of grass-fed cows is 300-500% higher than what is found in cows fed 50% silage and 50% grain. Another analysis found that tallow obtained from grass-fed beef had four times more omega 3 fatty acids than grain fed.

Also, antibiotics and other unwanted substances given to conventionally-raised cows are likely to be stored in their fat. For this reason, I recommend obtaining beef suet from pastured sources.

Just a very nicely done page. Not just for the artwork, nor even just for the words, but for actually having done the work to find citations for things claimed. There are no less than 8 links in that last quoted chunk. (No, I’m not going to put then in here… a lot of work, and besides, you really want to go look at the pictures anyway ;-)

But What About Cookbooks?

OK, there’s the one she references from Amazon:


The Original White House Cook Book, 1887 Edition Hardcover – January 1, 1999
by F. L. Gillette (Author), Hugo Ziemann (Author)

from $5.59
46 Used from $5.59
18 New from $26.92

But being as copyright ought to have expired some of these ought to be public domain and available for free download…


The White House cook book; a comprehensive cyclopedia of information for the home ..
by Gillette, F. L. (Fanny Lemira), 1828-1926; Ziemann, Hugo

Published 1913 [c1887]

Publisher New York, Akron, O. [etc.] The Saalfield Pub. co.
Pages 672
Possible copyright status NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Language English
Call number ucb:GLAD-84153794
Digitizing sponsor MSN
Book contributor University of California Libraries
Collection cdl; americana

Full catalog record MARCXML

In several formats. (Text downloaded fast, PDF took a while…)



Read this book online: HTML	1.6 MB			
EPUB (with images)	2.0 MB			
EPUB (no images)	500 kB			
Kindle (with images)	5.4 MB			
Kindle (no images)	2.3 MB			
Plain Text UTF-8
{Under "more files" -EMS}
	13923-8.txt	09-Oct-2009 09:30	1.2M	 
[   ]	13923-8.zip	09-Oct-2009 09:32	417K	 
[   ]	13923-h.zip	09-Oct-2009 09:32	1.9M	 
[DIR]	13923-h/	09-Oct-2009 12:20	-	 
[TXT]	13923.txt	09-Oct-2009 09:29	1.2M	 
[   ]	13923.zip	09-Oct-2009 09:32	417K	 

There are also other listings at other sites, and possibly even other versions. I didn’t explore them all.

Now some of the advice would cause the present crop of Health Nazis to scream “Death To The Infidel!” I’m sure… yet they were good enough for the President then. (Even if we did lose a few ;-)


Berries and all ripe, mellow fruit require but little cooking, only long enough for the sugar to penetrate. Strew sugar over them, allow them to stand a few hours, then merely scald with the sugar; half to three-quarters of a pound is considered sufficient. Harder fruits like pears, quinces, etc., require longer boiling. The great secret of canning is to make the fruit or vegetable perfectly air-tight. It must be put up boiling hot and the vessel filled to the brim.

Have your jars conveniently placed near your boiling fruit, in a tin pan of hot water on the stove, roll them in the hot water, then fill immediately with the hot, scalding fruit, fill to the top, and seal quickly with the tops, which should also be heated; occasionally screw down the tops tighter, as the fruit shrinks as it cools, and the glass contracts and allows the air to enter the cans. They must be perfectly air-tight. The jars to be kept in a dark, cool, dry place.

Use glass jars for fruit always, and the fruit should be cooked in a porcelain or granite-iron kettle. If you are obliged to use common large-mouthed bottles with corks, steam the corks and pare them to a close fit, driving them in with a mallet. Use the following wax for sealing: One pound of resin, three ounces of beeswax, one and one-half ounces of tallow. Use a brush in covering the corks and as they cool, dip the mouth into the melted wax. Place in a basin of cold water. Pack in a cool, dark and dry cellar. After one week, examine for flaws, cracks or signs of ferment.

The rubber rings used to assist in keeping the air from the fruit cans sometimes become so dry and brittle as to be almost useless. They can be restored to normal condition usually by letting them lie in water in which you have put a little ammonia. Mix in this proportion: One part of ammonia and two parts water. Sometimes they do not need to lie in this more than five minutes, but frequently a half hour is needed to restore their elasticity.

Corks? CORKS? Driven in with a mallet? Oh My… Though I do remember making Jam with Mum and using wax to seal it… so I know it does work with acid fruits. Yet now the use of things like corks, wax, and rejuvenating rubber will get you arrested for child abuse or contributing to the delinquency of a jar or somethings… /sarc;…

For other things, they hardly change at all. Some of these sauces are just as simple as can be:


A good sauce to go with plain fruit puddings is made by mixing one cupful of brown sugar, one cupful of best molasses, half a cupful of butter, one large teaspoonful of flour; add the juice and grated rind of one lemon, half a nutmeg grated, half a teaspoonful of cloves and cinnamon. When these are all stirred together, add a teacupful of boiling water; stir it constantly, put into a saucepan and let it boil until clear; then strain.


One pint of sour cream, the juice and finely grated rind of a large lemon; sugar to taste. Beat hard and long until the sauce is very light. This is delicious with cold “Brown Betty”—a form of cold farina—cornstarch, blanc mange and the like.


Stir together one cupful of white sugar and half a cupful of butter until it is creamy and light; add flavoring to taste. This is very nice, flavored with the juice of raspberries or strawberries, or beat into it a cupful of ripe strawberries or raspberries and the white of an egg beaten stiff.

The section on corn breads goes on for a couple of pages. Must have had a lot of corn bread in The White House of old. Wonder how much now?…


Two cups of sifted meal, half a cup of flour, two cups of sour milk, two well-beaten eggs, half a cup of molasses or sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, two tablespoonfuls of melted butter. Mix the meal and flour smoothly and gradually with the milk, then the butter, molasses and salt, then the beaten eggs, and lastly dissolve a level teaspoonful of baking soda in a little milk and beat thoroughly altogether. Bake nearly an hour in well-buttered tins, not very shallow. This recipe can be made with sweet milk by using baking powder in place of soda.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans.


Three cups of white corn meal, one cup of flour, one tablespoonful of sugar, one teaspoonful of salt, two heaping teaspoonfuls of baking powder, one tablespoonful of lard, three cups of milk and three eggs. Sift together the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt and baking powder; rub in the lard cold, add the eggs well beaten and then the milk. Mix into a moderately stiff batter; pour it into well-greased, shallow baking pans (pie-tins are suitable). Bake from thirty to forty minutes.


One cup of sweet milk, two of sour milk, two-thirds of a cup of molasses, one of wheat flour, four of corn meal and one teaspoonful of [Pg 248]soda; steam for three hours, and brown a few minutes in the oven. The same made of sweet milk and baking powder is equally as good.


Mix a teacupful of powdered white sugar with a quart of rich milk, and cut up in the milk two ounces of butter, adding a saltspoonful of salt. Put this mixture into a covered pan or skillet, and set it on the fire till it is scalding hot. Then take it off, and scald with it as much yellow Indian meal (previously sifted) as will make it of the consistency of thick boiled mush. Beat the whole very hard for a quarter of an hour, and then set it away to cool.

While it is cooling, beat three eggs very light, and stir them gradually into the mixture when it is about as warm as new milk. Add a teacupful of good strong yeast and beat the whole another quarter of an hour, for much of the goodness of this cake depends on its being long and well beaten. Then have ready a tin mold or earthen pan with a pipe in the centre (to diffuse the heat through the middle of the cake). The pan must be very well-buttered as Indian meal is apt to stick. Put in the mixture, cover it and set it in a warm place to rise. It should be light in about four hours. Then bake it two hours in a moderate oven. When done, turn it out with the broad surface downwards and send it to table hot and whole. Cut it into slices and eat it with butter.

This will be found an excellent cake. If wanted for breakfast, mix it and set it to rise the night before. If properly made, standing all night will not injure it. Like all Indian cakes (of which this is one of the best), it should be eaten warm.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans.


Sift one quart of Indian meal into a pan; make a hole in the middle and pour in a pint of warm water, adding one teaspoonful of salt; with a spoon mix the meal and water gradually into a soft dough; stir it very briskly for a quarter of an hour or more, till it becomes light and spongy; then spread the dough smoothly and evenly on a straight, flat board (a piece of the head of a flour-barrel will serve for this purpose); place the board nearly upright before an open fire and put an iron against the back to support it; bake it well; when done, cut it in squares; send it hot to table, split and buttered.

Old Plantation Style.

[Pg 249]

Beat two eggs and one-fourth cup sugar together. Then add one cup sweet milk and one cup of sour milk in which you have dissolved one teaspoonful soda. Add a teaspoonful of salt. Then mix one and two-thirds cups of granulated corn meal and one-third cup flour with this. Put a spider or skillet on the range and when it is hot melt in two tablespoonfuls of butter. Turn the spider so that the butter can run up on the sides of the pan. Pour in the corn-cake mixture and add one more cup of sweet milk, but do not stir afterwards. Put this in the oven and bake from twenty to thirty-five minutes. When done, there should be a streak of custard through it.


Mix with cold water into a soft dough one quart of southern corn meal, sifted, a teaspoonful of salt, a tablespoonful of butter or lard melted. Mold into oval cakes with the hands and bake in a very hot oven, in well-greased pans. To be eaten hot. The crust should be brown.

Note the lack of temperatures and times? People cooked by smell and looking at things then… You used a hot oven, or a medium oven, or maybe a slow oven, and got to know which was which. ( I still do some times…)

Ever wonder what General Grant had for his Birthday Dinner? It’s in there, under special menus:


Accompanied by: Haute Sauterne.

Consommé Imperatrice
Bisque de Crabes.
Accompanied by: Amontillado.

Bouchées á la Régence.

Fruites de riviere Hollandaise vert pré.
Pommes de terre á la Parisienne.
Accompanied by: Johannisberger.

Filet de Boeuf á la Bernardi.
Accompanied by: Ernest Jeroy.

Ailes de Poulets á la Perigord.
Petits Pois au Beune.
Caisses de ris de Vean á l’Italienne.
Haricots verts.
Asperges, sauce Crême.
Sorbet Fantaisie.

Salade de Laitue.
Accompanied by: Nuits.

Croute aux Mille Fruits.
Cornets á la Chantilly.
Gelée á la Prunelle.

Glace Varietees.
Petits Fours.

How about Mrs. Cleveland’s Wedding Lunch?


Consommé en tasse.
Soft Shell Crabs.
Accompanied by: Chateau Iquem.
Coquilles de Ris de Vean.
Snipes on Toast.
Lettuce and Tomato Salade.
Accompanied by: Moet & Chandon.
Fancy Ice-cream.

Oh, and if you ever need to throw together a buffet for 1000 people on short notice…



Consommé on Tasse.
* * *

Caviar on Toast.
* * *

Cold Salmon Mayonnaise.
Lobster and Shrimp Salad.
* * *

Westphalia Ham á la Gelée.
* * *

Boned Turkey.
Galautine of Faison.
Cold Game in Season.
Mayonnaise of Chicken.
Cold Turkey.
Fillet of Beef.
Game Pig.
Saddle of Venison, Currant Jelly.
* * *

Russian Salad.
* * *

Neapolitaine Ice-cream.
Water Ices.
Nesselrode Puddings.
Claret and Champagne Jellies.
Biscuits Glacée.
Charlotte Glacée.
* * *

Assorted Cakes.
Assorted Candies.

Clearly a different world and time, yet not so different really.

In Conclusion

It’s at times like this that I sometimes wonder how I got from ‘making lard’ with a slow cooker to State Dinners… but it happens.

My Mum had an old blue cookbook from England. Date was somewhere in the ’20s or 30’s I think. It was fun to read. Had directions on things like “preparing the bird” which started off with ‘get an ax’… and proceeded through plucking and drawing… I have no idea where that book got off to, but hope one of my elder sisters has it. This one is not quite that detailed, but some of the directions are still ‘interesting’:

Fowls, and also various kinds of game, when bought at our city markets, require a more thorough cleansing than those sold in country places, where as a general thing the meat is wholly dressed. In large cities they lay for some length of time with the intestines undrawn, until the flavor of them diffuses itself all through the meat, rendering it distasteful. In this case, it is safe, after taking out the intestines, to rinse out in several waters, and in next to the last water, add a teaspoonful of baking soda, say to a quart of water. This process neutralizes all sourness, and helps to destroy all unpleasant taste in the meat.

Poultry may be baked so that its wings and legs are soft and tender, by being placed in a deep roasting pan with close cover, thereby retaining the aroma and essences by absorption while confined. These pans are a recent innovation, and are made double with a small opening in the top for giving vent to the accumulation of steam and gases when required. Roast meats of any kind can also be cooked in the same manner, and it is a great improvement on the old plan.

I wonder if the present White House Staff have ever found need to draw a chicken and wash it with soda… Times change.

Then we have Catsups. Unlike now, when that means a tomato condiment, then there were many kinds. This matters to me, now, as the spouse and I are both reacting to tomatoes with an arthritic response. So tomatoes are now off the menu. So I’ll likely need to make my own catsup… and I’ll need knowing how to do it without tomatoes too.


Ten pounds of fruit gathered just before ripening, five pounds of sugar, one quart of vinegar, two tablespoonfuls each of ground black pepper, allspice and cinnamon. Boil the fruit in vinegar until reduced to a pulp, then add sugar and the other seasoning. Seal it hot.

Grape catsup is made in the same manner.


Take cucumbers suitable for the table; peel and grate them, salt a little, and put in a bag to drain over night; in the morning season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar, put in small jars and seal tight for fall or winter use.


Four pounds of currants, two pounds of sugar, one pint of vinegar, one teaspoonful of cloves, a tablespoonful of cinnamon, pepper and allspice. Boil in a porcelain saucepan until thoroughly cooked. Strain through a sieve all but the skins; boil down until just thick enough to run freely from the mouth of a bottle when cold. Cork and set aside.


Peel and quarter a dozen sound, tart apples; stew them until soft in as little water as possible, then pass them through a sieve. To a [Pg 179]quart of the sifted apple, add a teacupful of sugar, one teaspoonful of pepper, one of cloves, one of mustard, two of cinnamon, and two medium-sized onions, chopped very fine. Stir all together, adding a tablespoonful of salt and a pint of vinegar. Place over the fire and boil one hour, and bottle while hot; seal very tight. It should be about as thick as tomato catsup, so that it will just run from the bottle.

All in all, there are still things worth learning from a dusty old book, even if it comes home now as clean electronic bits on a PDF reader…

There’s an entire section on “Facts Worth Knowing”. From polishing things to making ant repellent to preserving fats, hanging pictures, and deodorizing cooking ham and cabbage. A wealth of wisdom.


An Agreeable Disinfectant:—Sprinkle fresh ground coffee on a shovel of hot coals, or burn sugar on hot coals. Vinegar boiled with myrrh, sprinkled on the floor and furniture of a sick room, is an excellent deodorizer.

To Prevent Mold:—A small quantity of carbolic acid added to paste, mucilage and ink, will prevent mold. An ounce of the acid to a gallon of whitewash will keep cellars and dairies from the disagreeable odor which often taints milk and meat kept in such places.

To Make Tracing-Paper:—Dissolve a ball of white beeswax, one inch in diameter, in half a pint of turpentine. Saturate the paper in this bath and let it dry two or three days before using.

To Preserve Brooms:—Dip them for a minute or two in a kettle of boiling suds once a week and they will last much longer, making them tough and pliable. A carpet wears much longer swept with a broom cared for in this manner.

To Clean Brass-Ware, etc.:—Mix one ounce of oxalic acid, six ounces of rotten stone, all in powder, one ounce of sweet oil, and sufficient water to make a paste. Apply a small portion, and rub dry with a flannel or leather. The liquid dip most generally used consists of nitric and sulphuric acids; but this is more corrosive.

It even has directions to make Scrapple and Pickled Pigs Feet. Things not likely to grace a presidential table today, but common when I was a kid in the country. And, yes, even how to “try out lard”.


Skin the leaf lard carefully, cut it into small pieces, and put it into a kettle or saucepan; pour in a cupful of water to prevent burning; set it over the fire where it will melt slowly. Stir it frequently and let it simmer until nothing remains but brown scraps. Remove the scraps with a perforated skimmer, throw in a little salt to settle the fat, and, when clear, strain through a coarse cloth into jars. Remember to watch it constantly, stirring it from the bottom until the salt is thrown in to settle it; then set it back on the range until clear. If it scorches it gives it a very bad flavor.

Somehow I feel better about making my own lard, knowing that I’m just doing what they do at The White House…

Ah, for “other times” (d’autres fois) when the occupants of The White House were in touch with the average folks of the land. When they ate 6 kinds of corn bread, knew what scrapple was and thought lard worthy of making. When, I think, I’d have been comfortable having a mug of suds with the General while picking up a wedge of cheese and slice of fresh roast…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Old Cookbooks – How About The White House?

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    Fun stuff indeed. I switched to grocery store lard a couple years ago, although I do also use olive oil. I have an empty spam can that I melt an inch thick slice of lard off the brick and what ever bacon drippings I have together. All the crackles in the bacon grease settles to the bottom of the can. It is just the right width that you can stick the end of your spatula in and pick up a little grease right on the end of the spatula and place it directly in the fry pan. Periodically I re-settle it by setting the can in the empty but still hot fry pan after fixing my morning eggs. When It all cools it has all settled into a new clean bit of lard and bacon fat in the bottom of the can. I cover it with a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. I have notice that at first, the mixture is a bit “loose” almost a liquid but after setting for a few days it stiffens to a semisolid like the raw lard. Not sure if this is moisture in the bacon grease slowly drying out of the mix or what.

    On the wax I remember my mom sealed every jar of canned fruit etc. with melted paraffin. Reading in some on line sources recently on canning, I guess this is deprecated now with more emphasis on proper temperatures and hold times to ensure safe storage than depending on the wax seal to keep it uncontaminated. In a survival situation I would likely do both as the wax would serve as a safety seal against a damaged lid with a leaky seal.
    I still have some blocks of paraffin and a block of beeswax in the pantry.

  2. omanuel says:

    Old cookbooks and old science textbooks are far more reliable than politically correct rubbish.

  3. Another Ian says:


    Around that era. Not sure where my wife found this but just in case one of your readers has a need – –

    20 pounds flour
    20 pounds sugar
    20 pounds butter
    20 pounds raisins
    40 pounds currants
    12 pounds citron
    20 nutmegs
    1 oz mace
    4 ozs cinnamon
    20 glasses wine
    20 glasses brandy
    10 eggs to the pound
    add cloves to your taste

    That makes 132 pounds of mixture, and at 10 eggs to the pound, 1320 eggs!!!! Wow I don’t know how many were expected to the wedding.

  4. Another Ian says:

    It is called “Carolina Wedding Cake” – on the file name and I forgot to add it to the text.

  5. Another Ian says:

    And, pardon my cynoicism, but what would the White House be cooking today?

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    “To start Sunday Chicken Dinner, grab an axe and head to the chicken yard”. 8-)
    I remember those days as I got that honor several times before I was 12 years old, got to remove the feathers as well!. Mother did the rest. Turkey Dinner was a bit larger project.
    To clean up your used lard or tallow, use sliced potatoes, hot! deep fried potato pieces. pg

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Dad made sure I knew how to dispatch a chicken. Unfortunately, I was not expecting the sudden strong reaction to head separation… and this headless chicken began running all around our large back yard (we “started”, or perhaps “ended”… in front of the old horse buggy shed called a garage). I have a direct understanding of “like a chicken with its head cut off” now. Running into things, flipping over and still running, neck flopping back and forth spraying blood… Took it a surprisingly long time to run out of blood and stop… Later I learned that wringing the neck prevents that… and learned that hosing down the yard is work… and washing up a set of clothes and me was work… and…

    I also learned I never wanted to pluck bird feathers… but that was on a few pheasants…

    I usually use bacon grease ‘straight’ as I like the flavor. Often I’m just using it on the next batch of bacon (bacon deep fat fried in bacon grease is the best way to cook it.) You also need a deep puddle for ‘laced eggs’ – eggs floated in bacon grease and with hot grease pumped over the top with the spatula to cook the tops. Hot enough the edges get a lacy look of crispy bits. Tops decorated with bacon bits from the grease… YUM! So I typically don’t worry about how to clean it.

    I was interested in this experiment as a learning one, and to see if it had a path to ‘lard’. It doesn’t, as the drying / frying step darkens and (as noted in the cookbook above) overheating it intensifies some flavors and color… so it will be easier to start from some fat back in the slow cooker.

    All I really learned was that instead of a “decant off of the bacon bits in the pan” with some escapees making it to the jar, I can instead “filter through paper towel cone in canning funnel” to take the bits out. But it’s already been heated too much to be lard like, and any attempt to wash it with water is a Bad Idea as you end up in a long slow hot foam drying step. So just accept that it is bacon grease and use where the flavor is desired and the color doesn’t matter. Probably will be the same for a roast ham. (Next big ham I’m going to experiment with the fat lumps post roasting…)

    Though I likely will cook some spuds in it ;-) Dad used to make hash brown potatoes of a flavor I have never been able to match. Now I suspect it was the bacon grease…. as I was trying to prove up my skill using regular cooking oil… and for timing reasons would make the hash browns in a pan next to the bacon / laced eggs pan, where I had all the bacon grease.

    @Another Ian:

    About a decade back I bought a 50 lb bag of flour. It had recipes on it for things like muffins and biscuits in a similar scale… Interesting way to see the world.

    Let’s see… At no more than 1/8 pound chunks of cake, that’s a minimum of 1056 people. Some wedding!

    Hey, now we have both a 1000 person buffet line recipe and a cake for them all! Time for one BIG party!!


    That has been my general impression. Also usually much more interesting and with a lot more usable technique in them.

    @Larry Ledwick:

    I typically use a wide mouth canning jar. Generally they are heat tolerant enough to accept still liquid bacon grease after the pan has cooled some. They have a tight fitting lid. And they can be put in the freezer (the ones with a straight taper to the sides, not a neck). I’ve kept some various fats for a year or two frozen and they are fine.

    BTW, I also make up roux that way. Chicken or turkey pan drippings? Skim cool fat, make roux with fat & four until just library paste stiff – about 50/50 mix, freeze it in small ‘jam jar’ size while the water part of the drippings goes in another. Now any time you want it, gravy is just a bit of roux and drippings away. (Microwave to melt the drippings if in a real hurry). Melt roux in pan. Add melted but not hot drippings. Stir while heating. Slow bubble for a few minutes while adjusting salt and pepper. If the bird was low on flavor or not much made it to the pan drippings, juice up the flavor with a bouillon cube ( that has salt in it, so do this prior to final salt adjustment…)

    I like your SPAM can idea. Would not need to use the microwave for the remelt (that is what I do for the jars…). Typically I’ve got more bacon grease than I use up. I’ve been meaning to try making biscuits with bacon grease in them ( fond memories…) but haven’t gotten around to it…

    Per the setting up over time: I suspect that is just the nature of fats. I’ve put 1/2 gallon clear jug of olive oil in the fridge and it stays liquid for several (many?) days. Then it starts to get a little flocculation… then more “sludge” forms and starts to settle making it thicker. If I wait long enough the whole thing goes solid. Warm to room temp, it’s back to original liquid. I think it just takes time for all the fat molecules to line up all their fatty acid chains next to the most compatible match for a solid.

    Straight paraffin is a bit brittle on setting and tends to ‘let go’ of the glass. Sometimes you can’t see the gap, but it can be big enough to let in bacteria. Which is part of why I found their mixture approach interesting. I’m wondering if the method works, but folks swapped from a gooier mix to straight paraffin and The Government Nanny decided it was easier to just tell folks “DON’T DO IT!!!” than explain the need to make it stick to glass better by adding beeswax and tallow…

    I doubt I’d do a ‘double seal’ to start. Lids tend to work well, but touching them when cooling can cause seal failures as the vacuum isn’t very strong yet. I’d wait until cooled, then tap to check for weak seals. Any with ‘failure to seal’ or a very weak seal, I’d likely reprocess enough to sterilize the lid and then paint on some wax as a way to help it ‘pull down’ on cooling.

    I’ve done lid re-use tests, and as long as you are careful to LIFT the lid on removal and not BEND it with a lever action, they can easily be re-used. I’d make a stack of them and role the edge on a table to bend the nick-bits back into place, then put them in a pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes to let the sealing compound “relax” and flow back to normal. Failure rate on canning was about the same as new.

    HOWEVER… After about 5 uses the risk that the enamel inside has picked up a nick rises. You start to get the occasional lid with a spot of rust starting on a nick where the lid lifter or the spoon or something put a weak or broken spot in the enamel varnish coating. I use a small permanent marker to put a tally mark on top of any lid that has had a failure to seal. Any lid can get one and be fine. Two is a bit suspect. Once they have three, it’s off to dry food storage lid use… (My ‘canisters’ are large canning jars and anything with grain or flour from a box goes into a jar. So I have a lot of jars of ‘dry goods’. Why? I don’t like to eat bugs …) Also every used lid gets an inside surface inspection on opening the jar and again before reuse.

    Only new lids get used on acidic things like pickles. Cheap things like canned beans get the recycles. I use 2 tick ones for ‘experimental’ things where I’m not going to be leaving it on the shelf for more than a week (so no time to rust, really, and a failing seal will be noticed immediately) or for things like jam where it isn’t much of a vacuum needed really and not salt water inside. I’d likely experiment with the ‘double seal’ adding wax on the 2 tick mark lids.

    Why did I do that? Not to be cheap on lids (though they ARE a major cost of canning, they are monopoly priced way too high…) but to see if the technique would be usable “after the fall”. It is. As long as you are aware of the risks and use paranoid procedures ( LOTS of QA checking). On the “todo” list is find out what makes a decent “food grade lacquer” for coating the inside of lids… for repairs… I’m sure somewhere there’s an old formula for lid lacquer and sealing compound. Just hasn’t been enough of a priority to make it to top of queue…

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    When using glass jar canning Be Sure to Wipe Clean the jar rim after filling before placement of the lid! The glass to sealer material must be clean for a good seal. I generally reuse the lids several times after washing and inspection. Waste not, Want not, is the way I was raised. Canning jars of several size, 1 pint to 1/2 gallon, all with wide mouth are very handy for all kinds of long term storage of wet and dry things, even food. ;-) pg

  9. Judy F. says:

    I am the lucky custodian of a “White House Cookbook”, New and Enlarged Edition. The inside page with the publishing date is missing, but it is a well worn book. I got it after my Grandmother passed away, but it could have belonged to my great grandmother. It is fascinating to read through. I also have a 1907 ” Lowney’s Cook Book” and a 1921 “Boston Cooking School Cook Book” by Fannie Farmer. The Boston Cooking School book lists times for baking things, but no temperatures. The other two books list neither time nor temperature.

    In the White House cook book I did find a few interesting recipes. The first was a Rum Omelette; the second was parsnip fritters. But the most interesting was in the Health Suggestions chapter in the book entitled” Recipes for Felons”. I will admit the last one had me puzzled for a while, when it talked of taking rock salt and mixing it with turpentine, then putting it in a rag and wrapping it around the affected parts. I had to go to the dictionary to find that a felon is suppurating wound on the finger or toe.

    My Grandmother would seal all her jams and jellies with paraffin, then she would cover the tops of the jars with paper tied on with string. She made kumquat jelly, loquat jelly, strawberry jam with whole strawberries ( which made an incredibly lumpy but wonderful PBJ sandwich) and boysenberry jam and jelly. All the fruits were grown in their yard/ orchards. She made great pies, but oddly enough, always used Crisco and not lard in her pie crusts.

    Ball Company (the canning jar people although they aren’t Ball anymore- Jarden Home Brands?), now make a plastic screw on lid for food storage, NOT for canning purposes. I use them for storage of things in the fridge, or to use on my 1/2 gallon glass jars when I make tea for ice tea. They go in the dishwasher and seal fairly tightly, although not air tight. They come in regular and wide mouth sizes. I find them in our local Wal Mart, seasonally, because there are a lot of people who still do canning here. You might be able to make a plastic ring to make them more airtight, for things like flour storage.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F:

    Oh Dear, I’d forgotten about that meaning of felon… but yes, I knew it a half century ago ;-)

    I also have a single box of the plastic lids. Somehow never quite get around to using them much. I think I’ve used one or maybe two? Likely because I have so many other lids floating around… They work fine, just never remember where they are when I want a lid pronto and the others are right there and…

    We always called the lumpy jam “preserves”, and yes, it is wonderful on a PBJ. Like chunks of fruit wrapped in sugar syrup mixed with salty and a bit of savory. Now I’m hungry again ;-)

    Saw the parsnip section. As I love parsnips, but pretty much only “boil and butter” them, I’ll be exploring that section at the stove.


    Yup. Usually go through several wipe cloths / towels as I never use the same spot twice. They are typically used fairly hot too… (cold on those to be pressure canned, but heated / sterilized dunk for those on hot water canning use. Then again, I’m not paranoid, just worried ;-)

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