May 09, 2022

Vintage Recipes: Tomato Butter (an early version of ketchup) and Vinegars! Cider vinegar, potato vinegar and corn vinegar!

Some of my favorite cookbooks are old... really old.  I even have one published in 1910.  
Most of my vintage cookbooks were handed down to me from my Grandmother, including her handwritten recipe notebooks from high school when she would listen to the radio 'cooking' chat shows and copy down recipes they featured.  (Back in the 1920's - 1940's homemaking 'cooking and chat' radio shows were popular for Midwest housewives and young women to listen to, copy recipes and household hints from and connect with other women 'chit-chatting' about whatever the radio hostess felt like talking about that day - the farm, children, husbands, neighbors, church, crafts, animals, etc.)  

These days it's also fun and easy to find old cookbooks online, digitally kept and free as they are no longer under copyrights (although, sadly many of these free old books are offered as printed copies for exorbitant amounts of money by unscrupulous people on sites like Amazon who simply download the text versions from online educational library's and Gutenberg Project, and run them through a printer and sell it.)  

While reading one of my old 'War Foods' (1917)  cookbooks, I came across "TOMATO BUTTER" - which is simply a very early recipe for homemade ketchup. 
Tomato Butter Scald and plunge into cold water eight pounds of ripe tomatoes; peel, and add four pounds of sugar and one pint of vinegar; boil till they begin to thicken, then add one teaspoonful of cloves, one tablespoonful of mace» two tablespoonfuls of cinnamon, one teaspoonful of allspice. Cook till very thick, being careful not to burn. Spoon measurements should be level.

I currently make my own apple scrap vinegar and usually have a new batch going at all times, so I was interested when I came to the part about homemade vinegars and saw options for... potato vinegar and corn vinegar!?   (Note:  this image comes from a G**gle version which doesn't actually scan the pages (which is my favorite) but the scans are computerized so the text is often wrought with errors as the computer doesn't recognize individual letters but makes a 'guess' and prints out what it thinks it's seeing.  
It's very easy to figure out the words, but I just wanted to note why potato looks like paUdo for example.  A human would read the "tat" while the computer sees "U". 

Cider Vinegar

Put cider in a barrel or keg.  The bung-hole must be left open and protected from insects by tacking a piece of cheesecloth over it.  Keep in a moderately warm place.  It will be ready for use in from four to six months.  If a very strong vinegar is desired, add 3 tablespoons brown sugar to each gallon.

Potato Vinegar

To two gallons of water that potatoes have been boiled in, add one pound brown sugar and one cake of yeast dissolved in a little warm water.  Keep in a warm place for 3 or 4 weeks.  There should be a chance for it to ferment.  If it is in a jug, the cork must be left out and a piece of cheesecloth tied over the top of the jug.  It is said cucumbers cut fresh from the vine will keep in this vinegar without salt.

Corn Vinegar

Add to one gallon of water one pint of brown sugar, and one pint of corn cut from the cob.  Put it in a jar and cover with a cloth; set in the sun for 3 weeks and the vinegar will be ready for use.

Source:  War food; practical and economical methods of keeping vegetables, fruits and meats - published in 1917.

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