Sunday, May 31, 2009

Walnut Catsup

Building on the subject of the last post, I wanted to talk again about the old tome The Hearthstone; or, Life at Home: A Household Manual, by Laura C. Holloway, published in 1883. Google has the entire book available online, here.

You might remember me making fun of this book’s “Toast and Water” recipe some weeks ago. Turns out some retro recipes deserve to recede into dim history!

But we were talking about ketchup, or catsup, as some would spell it. (Editor’s note: Webster’s 11th Collegiate has ketchup as the first spelling, followed by catchup and catsup in that order, so among U.S. editors, ketchup would almost always be the preferred spelling. Unless you have a good reason to prefer one of the alternate spellings . . . such as when you’re quoting from an 1880s cookbook that spells it catsup throughout and don’t want to annoy your reader by switching back and forth a lot . . .)

So, there are a lot of catsup recipes in Holloway’s book, beginning on page 508, in a section called “Pickles and Catsups.” Here’s a list of the recipes in that section:

--To Pickle Lemons with the Peel on.
--To Pickle Lemons without the Peel.
--Knickerbocker Pickle [“for beef, mutton and pork”; recipe makes one hundred pounds of pickled meat].
--To Pickle Green Tomatoes.
--To Pickle Red Tomatoes.
--Indian or Yellow Pickle (Mrs. Reynolds’ recipe).
--Mangoes. [Not what you think! It is muskmelons stuffed “with mustard-seed, allspice, horseradish, small onions, etc., and sewed up” and pickled.]
--Mushrooms.
--Onion and Cucumber Pickles.
--To Pickle Gherkins.
--Nasturtiums.
--Pickled Grapes.
--To Pickle Peaches [3 different recipes for these].
--Pickled Peppers.
--Pickled Onions.
--Spanish Onions—Pickled.
--Pickled Plums [2 versions].
--East India Pickle [What the hey? It’s cabbage, onions, horseradish, green peppers, vinegar, mace, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, alum, and salt.]
--English Pickles.
--To Pickle Eggs.
--Universal Pickle.
--A Tennessee Recipe for Tomato Catsup (1) [I think Holloway was from Tennessee; no wonder she lists it first].
--Tomato Catsup (2).
--Tomato Catsup (3) (Mrs. Reynolds’ recipe).
--Tomato Catsup (4) [Yes! Four different recipes for tomato catsup! Glory!].
--Cucumber Catsup.
--Walnut Catsup.
--To Make Curry Powder.

. . . So, are we scared yet, or intrigued? My home-canning skills are pretty minimal, so if I attempted to put up any of these, you should be very afraid. But I think it would nifty if a skilled home-canner explored some of these recipes and used modern (trustworthy) canning materials and techniques to produce some recipes from history.

For fun, and because I’ll be talking more along these lines shortly, here is Holloway’s recipe for Walnut Catsup, found on pages 515–14 of her book. No, there are no paragraph breaks. (Her book was going to be long enough as it was, huh?)

Walnut Catsup.—One hundred walnuts, one handful of salt, one quart of vinegar, one-quarter of an ounce of mace, one-quarter of an ounce of cloves, one-quarter of an ounce of ginger, one-quarter of an ounce of whole black pepper, a small piece of horseradish, twenty shallots, one-quarter of a pound of anchovies, one pint of port wine; procure the walnuts at a time when you can run a pin through them; slightly bruise, and put them into a jar with the salt and vinegar; let them stand eight days, stirring every day; then drain the liquor from them and boil it, with the above ingredients, for about half an hour; it may be strained or not, as preferred, and, if required, a little more vinegar or wine can be added, according to taste. When bottled well, seal the corks.

Poking a pin through the walnut is the way to tell if the nut inside is still soft enough to be pickled and eaten; if the pin can’t penetrate, then the shells have formed too hard inside. Which, truth be told, would be sometime in June for around these parts, if I gauge correctly.

Interesting how she says you can either strain it or leave them whole. Wild, huh?

Well, more on this subject later . . .


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