Thieves’ Vinegar

July 22nd, 2017

Take a large handful of lavender blossoms, and the same quantity of sage, mint, rue, wormwood and rosemary. Chop and mix them well. Put them into a jar, with half an ounce of camphor that has been dissolved in a little alcohol, and pour in three quarts of strong clear vinegar. Keep the jar for two or three weeks in the hot sun, and at night plunge it into a box of heated sand. Afterwards strain and bottle the liquid, putting into each bottle a clove of garlic sliced. To have it very clear, after it has been bottled for a week, you should pour it off carefully from the sediment, and filter it through blotting paper. Then wash the bottles, and return the vinegar to them. It should be kept very tightly corked. It is used for sprinkling about in sick-rooms; and also in close damp oppressive weather. Inhaling the odour from a small bottle will frequently prevent faintness in a crowd.

It is best to make it in June.

This vinegar is so called from an old tradition, that during the prevalence of the plague in London the composition was invented by four thieves, who found it a preservative from contagion; and were by that means enabled to remain in the city and exercise their profession to great advantage, after most of the inhabitants had fled.

Source: Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches, Eliza Leslie

French Polish

June 6th, 2017

Take a quarter of an ounce of gum sandarac and a quarter of an ounce of gum mastic; pick the dirt and black lumps out very carefully, and pound them in a mortar quite fine; put them into a bottle, and add to them a quartern (old measure) of strong spirit of wine; cork it down and put it in a warm place; shake it frequently till the gum is entirely dissolved, which will be in about twenty-four hours.

Before using it, be careful to ascertain that no grease is on the furniture, as grease would prevent its receiving the polish. If the furniture has been previously cleaned with bees’-wax or oil, it must be got off by scraping, which is the best way, but difficult to those who do not perfectly understand it, because if you are not very careful, you may scratch the surface, and create more expense than a workman would charge to do it properly at first. Or it may be done by scouring well with sand and water, and afterward rubbed quite smooth with fine glass paper, being careful to do it with the grain of the wood. To apply the polish, you must have a piece of list or cloth twisted, and tied round quite tight, and left even at one end, which should be covered with a piece of fine linen cloth; then pour a little of the polish on the furniture, and rub it well all over till it is worked into the grain of the wood, and begins to look quite smooth; then take a soft fine cloth, or what is better, an old silk handkerchief, and keep rubbing lightly until the polish is complete, which will take two or three hours. It will greatly help the polish if it is done near a fire.

If it does not look so smooth and clear as it should, a little sweet oil rubbed lightly over, and cleaned off directly, will greatly heighten it. If any part of the furniture has carving about it, where it will be impossible to polish, it must be done with mastic varnish, and a camel’s hair brush, after the rest is finished.

When the polish begins to look dull, it may be recovered with a little spirit of wine.

Source: The Cook’s Oracle and Housekeeper’s Manual, W.M. Kitchener

Techniques: Digestion

January 1st, 2008

Digestion resembles maceration, except that the process is assisted by a gentle heat. The ingredients are placed in a flask, such as salad oil is sold in, which should be fitted with a plug of tow or wood, and have a piece of wire twisted round the neck. The flask is held by means of the wire over the flame of a spirit lamp, or else placed in some sand warmed in an old iron saucepan over the fire, care being taken not to place more of the flask below the sand than the portion occupied by the ingredients.

Source: Enquire Within Upon Everything.