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Title: The Chemistry of Cookery
Author: Williams, W. Mattieu
Language: English
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‘The reader who wants to satisfy himself as to the value of this book,
and the novelty which its teaching possesses, need not go beyond the
first chapter, on “The Boiling of Water.” But if he reads this he
certainly will go further, and will probably begin to think how he can
induce his cook to assimilate some of the valuable lessons which Mr.
Williams gives. If he can succeed in that he will have done a very good
day’s work for his health and house. . . . About the economical value
of the book there can be no doubt.’—SPECTATOR.

‘Will be welcomed by all who wish to see the subject of the preparation
of food reduced to a science. . . . Perspicuously and pleasantly Mr.
Williams explains the why and the wherefore of each successive step
in any given piece of culinary work. Every mistress of a household
who wishes to raise her cook above the level of a mere automaton
will purchase two copies of Mr. Williams’s excellent book—the one
for the kitchen, and the other for her own careful and studious

‘Thoroughly readable, full of interest, with enough of the author’s
personality to give a piquancy to the stories told.’—WESTMINSTER REVIEW.

‘Mr. Williams is a good chemist and a pleasant writer: he has evidently
been a keen observer of dietaries in various countries, and his little
book contains much that is worth reading.’—ATHENÆUM.

‘There is plenty of room for this excellent book by Mr. Mattieu
Williams. . . . There are few conductors of cookery classes who are so
thoroughly grounded in the science of the subject that they will not
find many valuable hints in Mr. Williams’s pages.’—SCOTSMAN.

‘Throughout the work we find the signs of care and thoughtful
investigation. . . . Mr. Williams has managed most judiciously to
compress into a very small compass a vast amount of authoritative
information on the subject of food and feeding generally—and the volume
is really quite a compendium of its subject.’—FOOD.

‘The British cook might derive a good many useful hints from Mr.
Williams’s latest book. . . . The author of “The Chemistry of Cookery”
has produced a very interesting work. We heartily recommend it to
theorists, to people who cook for themselves, and to all who are
anxious to spread abroad enlightened ideas upon a most important
subject. . . . Hereafter, cookery will be regarded, even in this
island, as a high art and science. We may not live to those delightful
days; but when they come, and the degree of Master of Cookery is
granted to qualified candidates, the “Chemistry of Cookery” will be
a text-book in the schools, and the bust of Mr. Mattieu Williams
will stand side by side with that of Count Rumford upon every
properly-appointed kitchen dresser.’—PALL MALL GAZETTE.

‘Housekeepers who wish to be fully informed as to the nature of
successful culinary operations should read “The Chemistry of

‘In all the nineteen chapters into which the work is divided there
is much both to interest and to instruct the general reader, while
deserving the attention of the “dietetic reformer.” . . . The author
has made almost a life-long study of the subject.’—ENGLISH MECHANIC.


Crown 8vo. cloth extra, 7_s._ 6_d._


‘Few writers on popular science know better how to steer a middle
course between the Scylla of technical abstruseness and the Charybdis
of empty frivolity than Mr. Mattieu Williams. He writes for intelligent
people who are not technically scientific, and he expects them to
understand what he tells them when he has explained it to them in his
perfectly lucid fashion without any of the embellishments, in very
doubtful taste, which usually pass for popularisation. The papers are
not mere réchauffés of common knowledge. Almost all of them are marked
by original thought, and many of them contain demonstrations or aperçus
of considerable scientific value.’—PALL MALL GAZETTE.

‘There are few writers on the subjects which Mr. Williams selects whose
fertility and originality are equal to his own. We read all he has to
say with pleasure, and very rarely without profit.’—SCIENCE GOSSIP.

‘Mr. Mattieu Williams is undoubtedly able to present scientific
subjects to the popular mind with much clearness and force: and these
essays may be read with advantage by those, who, without having had
special training, are yet sufficiently intelligent to take interest in
the movement of events in the scientific world.’—ACADEMY.

Crown 8vo. cloth limp, 2_s._ 6_d._


‘This is an unpretending little work, put forth for the purpose of
expounding, in simple style, the phenomena and laws of heat. No
strength is vainly spent in endeavouring to present a mathematical view
of the subject. The Author passes over the ordinary range of matter
to be found in most elementary treatises on heat, and enlarges upon
the applications of the principles of his science—a subject which is
naturally attractive to the uninitiated. Mr. Williams’s object has
been well carried out, and his little book may be recommended to those
who care to study this interesting branch of physics.’—POPULAR SCIENCE

‘We can recommend this treatise as equally exact in the information it
imparts, and pleasant in the mode of imparting it. It is neither dry
nor technical, but suited in all respects to the use of intelligent

‘Decidedly a success. The language is as simple as possible,
consistently with scientific soundness, and the copiousness of
illustration with which Mr. Williams’s pages abound, derived from
domestic life and from the commonest operations of nature, will commend
this book to the ordinary reader as well as to the young student of

    London : CHATTO & WINDUS, Piccadilly, W.

Demy 8vo. cloth extra, price 7_s._ 6_d._


‘The work is well deserving of careful study, especially by the
astronomer, too apt to forgot the teachings of other sciences than his

‘It is characterised throughout by a carefulness of thought and an
originality that command respect, while it is based upon observed facts
and not upon mere fanciful theory.’—ENGINEERING.

‘Mr. Williams’s interesting and valuable work called “The Fuel of the

    London: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO.








DURING the infancy of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, when
my classes in Cannon Street constituted the whole of its teaching
machinery, I delivered a course of lectures to ladies on ‘Household
Philosophy,’ in which ‘The Chemistry of Cookery’ was included. In
collecting material for these lectures, I was surprised at the strange
neglect of the subject by modern chemists.

On taking it up again, after an interval of nearly thirty years, I find
that (excepting the chemistry of wine cookery), absolutely nothing
further, worthy of the name of research, has in the meantime been
brought to bear upon it.

This explanation is demanded as an apology for what some may consider
the egotism that permeates this little work. I have been continually
compelled to put forth my own explanations of familiar phenomena, my
own speculations, concerning the changes effected by cookery, and
my own small contributions to the experimental investigation of the

Under these difficult circumstances I have endeavoured to place
before the reader a simple and readable account of what is known of
‘The Chemistry of Cookery,’ explaining technicalities as they occur,
rather than abstaining from the use of them by means of cumbrous
circumlocution or patronising baby-talk.

With a moderate effort of attention, any unlearned but intelligent
reader of either sex may understand all the contents of these chapters;
and I venture to anticipate that scientific chemists may find in them
some suggestive matter.

If these expectations are justified by results, this preliminary essay
will fulfil its double object. It will diffuse a knowledge of what
is at present knowable of ‘The Chemistry of Cookery’ among those who
greatly need it, and will contribute to the extension of such knowledge
by opening a wide and very promising field of scientific research.

I should add that the work is based on a series of papers that appeared
in ‘Knowledge’ during the years 1883 and 1884.

                                                   W. MATTIEU WILLIAMS.

    _March 1885._


    CHAPTER                                              PAGE
        I. INTRODUCTORY                                     1
       II. THE BOILING OF WATER                             8
      III. ALBUMEN                                         19
        V. ROASTING AND GRILLING                           47
       VI. COUNT RUMFORD’S ROASTER                         63
      VII. FRYING                                          84
     VIII. STEWING                                        111
       IX. CHEESE                                         127
        X. FAT—MILK                                       156
       XI. THE COOKERY OF VEGETABLES                      173
      XII. GLUTEN—BREAD                                   194
      XVI. THE COOKERY OF WINE                            265
     XVII. THE VEGETARIAN QUESTION                        294
    XVIII. MALTED FOOD                                    303
      XIX. THE PHYSIOLOGY OF NUTRITION                    313

    INDEX                                                 325





THE philosopher who first perceived and announced the fact that all the
physical doings of man consist simply in changing the places of things,
made a very profound generalisation, and one that is worthy of more
serious consideration than it has received.

All our handicraft, however great may be the skill employed, amounts
to no more than this. The miner moves the ore and the fuel from their
subterranean resting-places, then they are moved into the furnace,
and by another moving of combustibles the working of the furnace is
started; then the metals are moved to the foundries and forges, then
under hammers, or squeezers, or into melting-pots, and thence to
moulds. The workman shapes the bars, or plates, or castings by removing
a part of their substance, and by more and more movings of material
produces the engine, which does its work when fuel and water are moved
into its fireplace and boiler.

The statue is within the rough block of marble; the sculptor merely
moves away the outer portions, and thereby renders his artistic
conception visible to his fellow-men.

The agriculturist merely moves the soil in order that it may receive
the seed, which he then moves into it, and when the growth is
completed, he moves the result, and thereby makes his harvest.

The same may be said of every other operation. Man alters the position
of physical things in such wise that the forces of Nature shall operate
upon them, and produce the changes or other results that he requires.

My reasons for this introductory digression will be easily understood,
as this view of the doings of man and the doings of Nature displays
fundamentally the business of human education, so far as the physical
proceedings and physical welfare of mankind are concerned.

It clearly points out two well-marked natural divisions of such
education—education or training in the movements to be made, and
education in a knowledge of the consequences of such movements—_i.e._
in a knowledge of the forces of Nature which actually do the work when
man has suitably arranged the materials.

The education ordinarily given to apprentices in the workshop, or
the field, or the studio—or, as relating to my present subject, the
kitchen—is the first of these, the second and equally necessary being
simply and purely the teaching of physical science as applied to the

I cannot proceed any further without a protest against a very general
(so far as this country is concerned) misuse of a now very popular
term, a misuse that is rather surprising, seeing that it is accepted
by scholars who have devoted the best of their intellectual efforts to
the study of words. I refer to the word _technical_ as applied in the
designation ‘technical education.’

So long as our workshops are separated from our science schools
and colleges, it is most desirable, in order to avoid continual
circumlocution, to have terms that shall properly distinguish between
the work of the two, and admit of definite and consistent use. The two
words are ready at hand, and, although of Greek origin, have become, by
analogous usage, plain simple English. I mean the words _technical_ and

The Greek noun _techne_ signifies an art, trade, or profession, and our
established usage of this root is in accordance with its signification.
Therefore, ‘technical education’ is a suitable and proper designation
of the training which is given to apprentices, &c., in the strictly
technical details of their trades, arts, or professions—_i.e._ in the
skilful moving of things. When we require a name for the science or the
philosophy of anything, we obtain it by using the Greek root _logos_,
and appending it in English form to the Greek name of the general
subject, as geology, the science of the earth; anthropology, the
science of man; biology, the science of life, &c.

Why not then follow this general usage, and adopt ‘technology’ as
the science of trades, arts, or professions, and thereby obtain
consistent and convenient terms to designate the two divisions of
education—technical education, that given in the workshop, &c., and
technological education, that which _should be_ given as supplementary
to all such technical education?

In accordance with this, the present work will be a contribution to
the technology of cookery, or to the technological education of cooks,
whose technical education is quite beyond my reach.

The kitchen is a chemical laboratory in which are conducted a number of
chemical processes by which our food is converted from its crude state
to a condition more suitable for digestion and nutrition, and made more
agreeable to the palate.

It is the _rationale_ or _ology_ of these processes that I shall
endeavour to explain; but at the outset it is only fair to say that
in many instances I shall not succeed in doing this satisfactorily,
as there still remain some kitchen mysteries that have not yet come
within the firm grasp of science. The _whole_ story of the chemical
differences between a roast, a boiled, and a raw leg of mutton has not
yet been told. You and I, gentle reader, aided by no other apparatus
than a knife and fork, can easily detect the difference between a
cut out of the saddle of a three-year-old Southdown and one from a
ten-months-old meadow-fed Leicester, but the chemist in his laboratory,
with all his reagents, test-tubes, beakers, combustion-tubes,
potash-bulbs, &c. &c., and his balance turning to one-thousandth of a
grain, cannot physically demonstrate the sources of these differences
of flavour.

Still I hope to show that modern chemistry can throw into the kitchen a
great deal of light that shall not merely help the cook in doing his or
her work more efficiently, but shall also elevate both the work and the
worker, and render the kitchen far more interesting to all intelligent
people who have an appetite for knowledge, as well as for food; more so
than it can be while the cook is groping in rule-of-thumb darkness—is
merely a technical operator unenlightened by technological intelligence.

In the course of these papers I shall draw largely on the practical
and philosophical work of that remarkable man, Benjamin Thompson, the
Massachusetts ’prentice-boy and schoolmaster; afterwards the British
soldier and diplomatist, Colonel Sir Benjamin Thompson; then Colonel
of Horse and General Aide-de-Camp of the Elector Charles Theodore of
Bavaria; then Major-General of Cavalry, Privy Councillor of State and
head of War Department of Bavaria; then Count Rumford of the Holy
Roman Empire and Order of the White Eagle; then Military Dictator of
Bavaria, with full governing powers during the absence of the Elector;
then a private resident in Brompton Road, and founder of the Royal
Institution in Albemarle Street; then a Parisian _citoyen_, the husband
of the ‘Goddess of Reason,’ the widow of Lavoisier; but, above all, a
practical and scientific cook, whose exploits in economic cookery are
still but very imperfectly appreciated, though he himself evidently
regarded them as the most important of all his varied achievements.

His faith in cookery is well expressed in the following, where he is
speaking of his experiments in feeding the Bavarian army and the poor
of Munich. He says:

‘I constantly found that the richness or quality of a soup depended
more upon the proper choice of the ingredients, and a proper management
of the fire in the combination of these ingredients, than upon the
quantity of solid nutritious matter employed; much more upon the art
and skill of the cook than upon the sums laid out in the market.’

A great many fallacies are continually perpetrated, not only by
ignorant people, but even by eminent chemists and physiologists, by
inattention to what is indicated in this passage. In many chemical
and physiological works may be found elaborately minute tables of the
chemical composition of certain articles of food, and with these the
assumption (either directly stated or implied as a matter of course)
that such tables represent the practical nutritive value of the food.
The illusory character of such assumption is easily understood. In the
first place the analysis is usually that of the article of food in its
raw state, and thus all the chemical changes involved in the process of
cookery are ignored.

Secondly, the difficulty or facility of assimilation is too often
unheeded. This depends both upon the original condition of the food and
the changes which the cookery has produced—changes which may double
its nutritive value without effecting more than a small percentage
of alteration in its chemical composition as revealed by laboratory

In the recent discussion on whole-meal bread, for example, chemical
analyses of the bran, &c., are quoted, and it is commonly assumed that
if these can be shown to contain more of the theoretical bone-making or
brain-making elements, that they are, therefore, in reference to these
requirements, more nutritious than the fine flour. But before we are
justified in asserting this, it must be made clear that these outer
and usually rejected portions of the grain are as easily digested and
assimilated as the finer inner flour.

I think I shall be able to show that the practical failure of this
whole-meal bread movement (which is not a novelty, but only a revival)
is mainly due to the disregard of the cookery question; that whole-meal
prepared as bread by simple baking is less nutritious than fine flour
similarly prepared; but that whole-meal otherwise prepared may be, and
has been, made more nutritious than fine white bread.

Another preliminary example. A pound of biscuit contains more solid
nutritive matter than a pound of beefsteak, but may not, when eaten by
ordinary mortals, do so much nutritive work. Why is this?

It is a matter of preparation—not exactly what is called cooking, but
equivalent to what cooking should be. It is the preparation which has
converted the grass food of the ox into another kind of food which we
can assimilate very easily.

The fact that we use the digestive and nutrient apparatus of sheep,
oxen, &c., for the preparation of our food, is merely a transitory
barbarism, to be ultimately superseded when my present subject is
sufficiently understood and applied to enable us to prepare the
constituents of the vegetable kingdom in such a manner that they shall
be as easily assimilated as the prepared grass which we call beef and
mutton, and which we now use only on account of our ignorance of the
subject treated in the following chapters. I do not presume to assert
or suggest that my efforts towards the removal of this ignorance will
transport us at once into a vegetarian millennium, but if they only
open the gate and show us that there is a road on which we may travel
towards great improvements in the preparation of our food as regards
flavour, economy, and wholesomeness, my reasonable readers will not be

So much of cookery being effected by the application of heat, a sketch
of the general laws of heat might be included in this introductory
chapter, but for the necessary extent of the subject.

I omit it without compunction, having already written ‘A Simple
Treatise on Heat,’ which is divested of technical difficulties by
presenting simply the phenomena and laws of Nature without any
artificial scholastic complications. Messrs. Chatto & Windus have
brought out this little essay in a cheap form, and, in spite of the
risk of being accused of puffing my own wares, I recommend its perusal
to those who are earnestly studying the whole philosophy of cookery.



AS this is one of the most rudimentary of the operations of cookery,
and the most frequently performed, it naturally takes a first place in
treating the subject.

Water is boiled in the kitchen for two distinct purposes: 1st, for the
cooking of itself; 2nd, for the cooking of other things. A dissertation
on the difference between raw water and cooked water may appear
pedantic, but, as I shall presently show, it is considerable, very
practical, and important.

The best way to study any physical subject is to examine it
experimentally, but this is not always possible with everyday means. In
this case, however, there is no difficulty.

Take a thin[1] glass vessel, such as a flask, or, better, one of the
‘beakers,’ or thin tumbler-shaped vessels, so largely used in chemical
laboratories; partially fill it with ordinary household water, and
then place it over the flame of a spirit-lamp, or Bunsen’s, or other
smokeless gas-burner. Carefully watch the result, and the following
will be observed: first of all, little bubbles will be formed,
adhering to the sides of the glass, but ultimately rising to the
surface, and there becoming dissipated by diffusion in the air.

This is not boiling, as may be proved by trying the temperature with
the finger. What, then, is it?

It is the yielding back of the atmospheric gases which the water
has dissolved or condensed within itself. These bubbles have been
collected, and by analysis proved to consist of oxygen, nitrogen, and
carbonic acid, obtained from the air; but in the water they exist by no
means in the same proportions as originally in the air, nor in constant
proportions in different samples of water. I need not here go into the
quantitative details of these proportions, nor the reasons of their
variation, though they are very interesting subjects.

Proceeding with our investigation, we shall find that the bubbles
continue to form and rise until the water becomes too hot for the
finger to bear immersion. At about this stage something else begins to
occur. Much larger bubbles, or rather blisters, are now formed on the
bottom of the vessel, immediately over the flame, and they continually
collapse into apparent nothingness. Even at this stage a thermometer
immersed in the water will show that the boiling-point is not reached.
As the temperature rises, these blisters rise higher and higher,
become more and more nearly spherical, finally quite so, then detach
themselves and rise towards the surface; but the first that make this
venture perish in the attempt—they gradually collapse as they rise, and
vanish before reaching the surface. The thermometer now shows that the
boiling-point is nearly reached, but not quite. Presently the bubbles
rise completely to the surface and break there. Now the water is
boiling, and the thermometer stands at 212° Fahr. or 100° Cent.

With the aid of suitable apparatus it can be shown that the atmospheric
gases above named continue to be given off along with the steam for a
considerable time after the boiling has commenced; the complete removal
of their last traces being a very difficult, if not an impossible,
physical problem.

After a moderate period of boiling, however, we may practically regard
the water as free from these gases. In this condition I venture to call
it cooked water. Our experiment so far indicates one of the differences
between cooked and raw water. The cooked water has been deprived of
the atmospheric gases that the raw water contained. By cooling some
of the cooked water and tasting it, the difference of flavour is very
perceptible; by no means improved, though it is quite possible to
acquire a preference for this flat, tasteless liquid.

If a fish be placed in such cooked water it swims for a while with its
mouth at the surface, for just there is a film that is reacquiring its
charge of oxygen, &c., by absorbing it from the air; but this film is
so thin, and so poorly charged, that after a short struggle the fish
dies for lack of oxygen in its blood; drowned as truly and completely
as an air-breathing animal when immersed in any kind of water.

Spring water and river water that have passed through or over
considerable distances in calcareous districts suffer another change
in boiling. The origin and nature of this change may be shown by
another experiment as follows: Buy a pennyworth of lime-water from a
druggist, and procure a small glass tube of about quill size, or the
stem of a fresh tobacco-pipe may be used. Half fill a small wine-glass
with the lime-water, and blow through it by means of the tube or
tobacco-pipe. Presently it will become turbid. Continue the blowing,
and the turbidity will increase up to a certain degree of milkiness. Go
on blowing with ‘commendable perseverance,’ and an inversion of effect
will follow; the turbidity diminishes, and at last the water becomes
clear again.

The chemistry of this is simple enough. From the lungs a mixture
of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbonic acid is exhaled. The carbonic
acid combines with the soluble lime, and forms a carbonate of lime
which is insoluble in mere water. But this carbonate of lime is to a
certain extent soluble in water saturated with carbonic acid, and such
saturation is effected by the continuation of blowing.

Now take some of the lime-water that has been thus treated, place it in
a clean glass flask, and boil it. After a short time the flask will be
found incrusted with a thin film of something. This is the carbonate
of lime which has been thrown down again by the action of boiling,
which has driven off its solvent, the carbonic acid. This crust will
effervesce if a little acid is added to it.

In this manner our tea-kettles, engine-boilers, &c., become incrusted
when fed with calcareous waters, and most waters are calcareous; those
supplied to London, which is surrounded by chalk, are largely so. Thus,
the boiling or cooking of such water effects a removal of its mineral
impurities more or less completely. Other waters contain such mineral
matter as salts of sodium and potassium. These are not removable
by mere boiling, being equally soluble in hot or cold, aerated, or
non-aerated water.

Usually we have no very strong motive for removing either these or
the dissolved carbonate of lime, or the atmospheric gases from water,
but there is another class of impurities of serious importance. These
are the organic matters dissolved in all water that has run over land
covered with vegetable growth, or, more especially, that which has
received contributions from sewers or any other form of house drainage.
Such water supplies nutriment to those microscopic abominations, the
_micrococci_, _bacilli_, _bacteria_, &c., which are now shown to be
connected with blood poisoning. These little pests are harmless, and
probably nutritious, when cooked, but in their raw and growing state
are horribly prolific in the blood of people who are in certain states
of what is called ‘receptivity.’ They (the bacteria, &c.) appear to be
poisoned or somehow killed off by the digestive secretions of the blood
of some people, and nourished luxuriantly in the blood of others. As
nobody can be quite sure to which class he belongs, or may presently
belong, or whether the water supplied to his household is free from
blood-poisoning organisms, cooked water is a safer beverage than raw
water. I should add that this germ theory of disease is disputed by
some who maintain that the source of the diseases attributed to such
microbia is chemical poison, the microbia (_i.e._ little living things)
are merely accidental, or creatures fed on the disease-producing
poison. In either case the boiling is effectual, as such organic
poisons when cooked lose their original virulent properties.

The requirement for this simple operation of cooking increases with the
density of our population, which, on reaching a certain degree, renders
the pollution of all water obtained from the ordinary sources almost

Reflecting on this subject, I have been struck with a curious fact that
has hitherto escaped notice, viz. that in the country which over all
others combines a very large population with a very small allowance
of cleanliness, the ordinary drink of the people is boiled water,
flavoured by an infusion of leaves. These people, the Chinese, seem in
fact to have been the inventors of boiled-water beverages. Judging from
travellers’ accounts of the state of the rivers, rivulets, and general
drainage and irrigation arrangements of China, its population could
scarcely have reached its present density if Chinamen were drinkers of
raw instead of cooked water. This is especially remarkable in the case
of such places as Canton, where large numbers are living afloat on the
mouths of sewage-laden rivers or estuaries.

The ordinary everyday domestic beverage is a weak infusion of tea,
made in a large teapot, kept in a padded basket to retain the heat.
The whole family is supplied from this reservoir. The very poorest
drink plain hot water, or water tinged by infusing the spent tea-leaves
rejected by their richer neighbours.

Next to the boiling of water for its own sake, comes the boiling
of water as a medium for the cooking of other things. Here, at the
outset, I have to correct an error of language which, as too often
happens, leads by continual suggestion to false ideas. When we speak
of ‘boiled beef,’ ‘boiled mutton,’ ‘boiled eggs,’ ‘boiled potatoes,’
we talk nonsense; we are not merely using an elliptical expression, as
when we say, ‘the kettle boils,’ which we all understand to mean the
contents of the kettle, but we are expounding a false theory of what
has happened to the beef, &c.—as false as though we should describe the
material of the kettle that has held boiling water as boiled copper or
boiled iron. No boiling of the food takes place in any such cases as
the above-named—it is merely heated by immersion in boiling water; the
changes that actually take place in the food are essentially different
from those of ebullition. Even the water contained in the meat is not
boiled in ordinary cases, as its boiling-point is higher than that of
the surrounding water, owing to the salts it holds in solution.

Thus, as a matter of chemical fact, a ‘boiled leg of mutton’ is one
that has been cooked, but not boiled; while a roasted leg of mutton is
one that has been partially boiled. Much of the constituent water of
flesh is boiled out, fairly driven away as vapour during roasting or
baking, and the fat on its surface is also boiled, and, more or less,
dissociated into its chemical elements, carbon and water, as shown by
the browning, due to the separated carbon.

As I shall presently show, this verbal explanation is no mere verbal
quibble, but it involves important practical applications. An enormous
waste of precious fuel is perpetrated every day, throughout the whole
length and breadth of Britain and other countries where English
cookery prevails, on account of the almost universal ignorance of the
philosophy of the so-called boiling of food.

When it is once fairly understood that the meat is not to be boiled,
but is merely to be warmed by immersion in water raised to a maximum
temperature of 212°, and when it is further understood that water
cannot (under ordinary atmospheric pressure) be raised to a higher
temperature than 212° by any amount of violent boiling, the popular
distinction between ‘simmering’ and boiling, which is so obstinately
maintained as a kitchen superstition, is demolished.

The experiment described on pages 8 and 9 showed that immediately the
bubbles of steam reach the surface of the water and break there—that
is, when simmering commences—the thermometer reaches the boiling-point,
and that however violently the boiling may afterwards occur, the
thermometer rises no higher. Therefore, as a medium for heating the
substances to be cooked, simmering water is just as effective as
‘walloping’ water. There are exceptional operations of cookery, wherein
useful mechanical work is done by violent boiling; but in all ordinary
cookery simmering is just as effective. The heat that is applied to
do more than the smallest degree of simmering is simply wasted in
converting water into useless steam. The amount of such waste may be
easily estimated. To raise a given quantity of water from the freezing
to the boiling point demands an amount of heat represented by 180° in
Fahrenheit’s thermometer, or 100° Centigrade. To convert this into
steam, 990° Fahr. or 550° Cent. is necessary—just five-and-a-half times
as much.

On a properly-constructed hot-plate or sand-bath a dozen saucepans
may be kept at the true cooking temperature, with an expenditure of
fuel commonly employed in England to ‘boil’ one saucepan. In the
great majority of so-called boiling operations, even simmering is
unnecessary. Not only is a ‘boiled leg of mutton’ not itself boiled,
but even the water in which it is cooked should not be kept boiling, as
we shall presently see.

The following, written by Count Rumford nearly 100 years ago, remains
applicable at the present time, in spite of all our modern research and
science teaching:

‘The process by which food is most commonly prepared for the
table—BOILING—is so familiar to everyone, and its effects are so
uniform and apparently so simple, that few, I believe, have taken
the trouble to inquire _how_ or in _what manner_ these effects are
produced; and whether any and what improvements in that branch of
cookery are possible. So little has this matter been an object of
inquiry that few, very few indeed I believe, among the _millions of
persons_ who for so many ages have been _daily_ employed in this
process, have ever given themselves the trouble to bestow one serious
thought upon the subject.

‘The cook knows _from experience_ that if his joint of meat be kept
a certain time immersed in boiling water it will be _done_, as it is
called in the language of the kitchen; but if he be asked what is done
to it, or _how_ or _by what agency_ the change it has undergone has
been effected—if he understands the question—it is ten to one but he
will be embarrassed. If he does not understand he will probably answer
without hesitation, that “_The meat is made tender and eatable by being
boiled_.” Ask him if the boiling of the water be essential to the
process. He will answer, “_Without doubt_.” Push him a little further
by asking him whether, _were it possible_ to keep the water _equally
hot_ without boiling, the meat would not be cooked _as soon_ and _as
well_ as if the water were made to boil. Here it is probable he will
make the first step towards acquiring knowledge by _learning to doubt_.’

In another place he points to the fact that at Munich, where his chief
cookery operations were performed, water boils at 209½° (on account
of its elevation), while in London the boiling-point is 212°. ‘Yet
nobody, I believe, ever perceived that boiled meat was less done at
Munich than at London. But if meat may without the least difficulty be
cooked with a heat of 209½° at Munich, why should it not be possible
to cook it with the same degree of heat in London? If this can be done
in London (which I think can hardly admit of a doubt), then it is
evident that the process of cookery, which is called _boiling_, may be
performed in water which is not boiling hot.’

He proceeds to say, ‘I well know, from my own experience, how difficult
it is to persuade cooks of this truth, but it is so important that no
pains should be spared in endeavouring to remove their prejudices and
enlighten their understandings. This may be done most effectually in
the case before us by a method I have several times put in practice
with complete success. It is as follows: Take two equal boilers,
containing equal quantities of _boiling hot water_, and put into them
two equal pieces of meat taken from the same carcase—two legs of
mutton, for instance—and boil them during the same time. Under one of
the boilers make a _small fire_, just barely sufficient to keep the
water _boiling hot_, or rather just _beginning to boil_; under the
other make _as vehement a fire as possible_, and keep the water boiling
the whole time with the utmost violence. The meat in the boiler in
which the water has been kept _only just boiling hot_ will be found to
be quite as well done as that in the other. It will even be found to
be much better cooked, that is to say tenderer, more juicy, and much
higher flavoured.’

Rumford at this date (1802) understood perfectly that the water just
boiling hot had the same temperature as that which was boiling with
the utmost violence, but did not understand that the best result is
obtained at a much lower temperature, for in another place he states
that if the meat be cooked in water under pressure, so that the
temperature shall exceed 212°, it will be done proportionally quicker
and as well. My reasons for controverting this will be explained in the
following chapters.


[1] In applying heat to glass vessels, thickness is a source of
weakness or liability to fracture, on account of the unequal expansion
of the two sides, due to inequality of temperature, which, of course,
increases with the thickness of the glass. Besides this, the thickness
increases the leverage of the breaking strain.



IN order to illustrate some of the changes which take place in the
cooking of animal food, I will first take the simple case of cooking
an egg by means of hot water. These changes are in this case easily
visible and very simple, although the egg itself contains all the
materials of a complete animal. Bones, muscles, viscera, brain, nerves,
and feathers of the chicken—all are produced from the egg, nothing
being added, and little or nothing taken away.

I should, however, add that in eating an egg we do not get _quite_
so much of it as the chicken does. Liebig found by analysis that in
the white and the yolk there is a deficiency of mineral matter for
supplying the bones of the chick, and that this deficiency is supplied
by some of the shell being dissolved by the phosphoric acid which is
formed inside the egg by the combination of the oxygen of the air
(which passes through the shell) with the phosphorus contained in the
soft matter of the egg.

By comparing the shell of a hen’s egg after the chicken is hatched from
it with that of a freshly-laid egg, the difference of thickness may be
easily seen.

When we open a raw egg, we find enveloped in a stoutish membrane
a quantity of glairy, slimy, viscous, colourless fluid, which, as
everybody now knows, is called _albumen_, a Latin translation of
its common name, ‘_the white_.’ Within the white of the egg is the
yolk, chiefly composed of albumen, but with some other constituents
added—notably a peculiar oil. At present I will only consider the
changes which cookery effects on the main constituent of the egg,
merely adding that this same albumen is one of the most important, if
not the one most important, material of animal food, and is represented
by a corresponding nutritious constituent in vegetables.

We all know that when an egg has been immersed during a few minutes in
boiling water, the colourless, slimy liquid is converted into the white
solid to which it owes its name. This coagulation of albumen is one of
the most decided and best understood changes effected by cookery, and
therefore demands especial study.

Place some fresh, raw white of egg in a test-tube or other suitable
glass vessel, and in the midst of it immerse the bulb of a thermometer.
(Cylindrical thermometers, with the degrees marked on the glass stem,
are made for such laboratory purposes.) Place the tube containing the
albumen in a vessel of water, and gradually heat this. When the albumen
attains a temperature of about 134° Fahr., white fibres will begin to
appear within it; these will increase until about 160° is attained,
when the whole mass will become white and nearly opaque.[2] It is now
coagulated, and may be called solid. Now examine some of the result,
and you will find that the albumen thus only just coagulated is a
tender, delicate, jelly-like substance, having every appearance to
sight, touch, and taste of being easily digestible. This is the case.

Having settled these points, proceed with the experiment by heating the
remainder of the albumen (or a new sample) up to 212°, and keeping it
for awhile at this temperature. It will dry, shrink, and become horny.
If the heat is carried a little further, it becomes converted into a
substance which is so hard and tough that a valuable cement is obtained
by simply smearing the edges of the article to be cemented with white
of egg, and then heating it to a little above 212°.[3]

This simple experiment teaches a great deal of what is but little known
concerning the philosophy of cookery. It shows in the first place that,
so far as the coagulation of the albumen is concerned, the cooking
temperature is not 212°, or that of boiling water, but 160°, _i.e._
52° below it. Everybody knows the difference between a tender, juicy
steak, rounded or plumped out in the middle, and a tough, leathery
abomination, that has been so cooked as to shrivel and curl up. The
contraction, drying up, and hornifying of the albumen in the test tube
represents the albumen of the latter, while the tender, delicate,
trembling, semi-solid that was coagulated at 160°, represents the
albumen in the first.

But this is a digression, or rather anticipation, seeing that the
grilling of a beefsteak is a problem of profound complexity that we
cannot solve until we have mastered the rudiments. We have not yet
determined how to practically apply the laws of albumen coagulation as
discovered by our test-tube experiment to the cooking of a breakfast
egg. The non-professional student may do this at the breakfast
fireside. The apparatus required is a saucepan large enough for boiling
a pint of water—the materials, two eggs.

Cook one in the orthodox manner by keeping it in boiling water
three-and-a-half minutes. Then place the other in this same boiling
water; but, instead of keeping the saucepan over the fire, place it on
the hearth and leave it there, with the egg in it, about ten minutes
or more. A still better way of making the comparative experiment is to
use, for the second egg, a water-bath, or _bain-marie_ of the French
cook—a vessel immersed in boiling, or nearly boiling water, like a
glue-pot, and therefore not quite so hot as its source of heat. In this
case a thermometer should be used, and the water surrounding the egg
be kept at or near 180° Fahr. Time of immersion about ten or twelve

A comparison of results will show that the egg that has been cooked
at a temperature of more than 30° below the boiling-point of water is
tender and delicate, evenly so throughout, no part being hard while
another part is semi-raw and slimy.

I said ‘ten minutes or more,’ because, when thus cooked, a prolonged
exposure to the hot water does no mischief; if the temperature of 160°
is not exceeded, it may remain twice as long without hardening. The
180° is above-named because the rising of the temperature of the egg
itself is due to the difference between its own temperature and that
of the water, and when that difference is very small, this takes place
very slowly, besides which the temperature of the water is, of course,
lowered in raising that of the cold egg.

In order to test this principle severely, I made the following
experiment. At 10.30 P.M. I placed a new-laid egg in a covered
stoneware jar, of about one-pint capacity, and filled this with boiling
water; then wrapped the jar in many folds of flannel—so many that,
with the egg, they filled a hat-case, in which I placed the bundle and
left it there until breakfast-time next morning, ten hours later. On
unrolling, I found the water cooled down to 95°; the yolk of the egg
was hard, but the white only just solidified and much softer than the
yolk. On repeating the experiment, and leaving the egg in its flannel
coating for four hours, the temperature of the water was 123° and the
egg in similar condition—the white cooked in perfection, delicately
tender, but the yolk too hard. A third experiment of twelve hours,
water at 200° on starting, gave a similar result as regards the state
of the egg.

I thus found that the yolk coagulates firmly at a lower temperature
than the white. Whether this is due to a different condition of the
albumen itself or to the action of the other constituents on the
albumen, requires further research to determine. The albumen of the
yolk has received the name of ‘vitellin,’ and is usually described as
another variety differing from that of the white, as it is differently
affected by chemical reagents; but Lehmann[4] regards it as a mixture
of albumen and casein, and describes experiments which justify his
conclusion. The difference of the temperature of coagulation does not
appear to have been observed, and I cannot understand how the admixture
of casein can effect it.

When eggs are cooked in the ordinary way, the 3½ minutes’ immersion
is insufficient to allow the heat to pass fully to the middle of the
egg, and therefore the white is subjected to a higher temperature than
the yolk. In my experiment there was time for a practically uniform
diffusion of the heat throughout.

I shall describe hereafter what is called the ‘Norwegian’ cooking
apparatus, wherein fowls, &c., are cooked as the eggs were in my

Albumen exists in flesh as one of its juices, rather than in a
definitely-organised condition. It is distributed between the fibres of
the lean (_i.e._ the muscles), and it lubricates the tissues generally,
besides being an important constituent of the blood itself—of that
portion of the blood which remains liquid when the blood is dead—_i.e._
the serum. As blood is not an ordinary article of food, excepting in
the form of ‘black puddings,’ its albumen need not be here considered,
nor the debated question of whether its albumen is identical with the
albumen of the flesh.

Existing thus in a liquid state in our ordinary flesh meats, it is
liable to be wasted in the course of cookery, especially if the cook
has only received the customary technical education and remains in
technological ignorance.

To illustrate this, let us suppose that a leg of mutton, a slice of
cod, or a piece of salmon is to be cooked in water, ‘boiled,’ as the
cook says. Keeping in mind the results of the previously-described
experiments on the egg-albumen, and also the fact that in its liquid
state albumen is diffusible in water, the reader may now stand as
scientific umpire in answering the question whether the fish or the
flesh should be put in hot water at once, or in cold water, and be
gradually heated. The ‘big-endians’ and the ‘little-endians’ of Liliput
were not more definitely divided than are certain cookery authorities
on this question in reference to fish. Referring at random to the
cookery-books that come first to hand, I find them about equally
divided on the question.

Confining our attention at present to the albumen, what must happen
if the fish or flesh is put in cold water, which is gradually heated?
Obviously a loss of albumen by exudation and diffusion through the
water, especially in the case of sliced fish or of meat exposing much
surface of fibres cut across. It is also evident that such loss of
albumen will be shown by its coagulation when the water is sufficiently

Practical readers will at once recognise in the ‘scum’ which rises to
the surface of the boiling water, and in the milkiness that is more or
less diffused throughout it, the evidence of such loss of albumen. This
loss indicates the desirability of plunging the fish or flesh at once
into water hot enough to immediately coagulate the superficial albumen,
and thereby plug the pores through which the inner albuminous juice
otherwise exudes.

But this is not all. There are other juices besides the albumen; these
are the most important of the _flavouring_ constituents, and, _with
the other constituents of animal food_, have great nutritive value;
so much so, that animal food is quite tasteless and almost worthless
without them. I have laid especial emphasis on the above qualification,
lest the reader should be led into an error originated by the bone-soup
committee of the French Academy, and propagated widely by Liebig—that
of regarding these juices as a concentrated nutriment when taken alone.

They constitute collectively the _extractum carnis_, which, with
the addition of more or less gelatine (the less the better), is
commonly sold as Liebig’s ‘Extract of Meat.’ It is prepared by simply
mincing lean meat, exposing it to the action of cold water, and then
evaporating down the solution of extract thus obtained.

I shall return to this on reaching the subjects of clear soups and
beef-tea, at present merely adding as evidence of the importance of
retaining these juices in cooked meat, that the extracts of beef,
mutton, and pork may be distinguished by their specific flavours. Some
Extract of Kangaroo, sent to me many years ago from Australia by the
Ramornie Company, made a soup that was curiously different in flavour
from the other extract similarly prepared by the same company. Epicures
pronounced it very choice and ‘gamey.’[5] When these juices are removed
from the meat, mutton, beef, pork, &c., the remaining solids are all
alike, so far as the palate alone can distinguish.

Let us now apply these principles practically to the case of a leg
of mutton. First, in order to seal the pores, the meat should be put
into boiling water; the water should be kept boiling for five or ten
minutes. A coating of firmly-coagulated albumen will thus envelop
the joint. Now, instead of boiling or ‘simmering’ the water, set the
saucepan aside, where the water will retain a temperature of about
180°, or 32° below the boiling-point. Continue this about half as long
again, or double the usual time given in the cookery-books for boiling
a leg of mutton, and try the effect. It will be analogous to that of
the egg cooked on the same principles, and appreciated accordingly.

The usual addition of salt to the water is very desirable. It has a
threefold action: first, it directly acts on the superficial albumen
with coagulating effect; second, it slightly raises the boiling-point
of the water; and third, by increasing the density of the water, the
‘exosmosis’ or oozing out of the juices is less active. These actions
are slight, but all co-operate in keeping in the juices.

I should add that a leg of mutton for boiling should be fresh, and not
‘hung’ as for roasting. The reasons for this hereafter.

‘Please, mum, the fish would break to pieces,’ would be the probable
reply of the unscientific cook, to whom her mistress had suggested
the desirability of cooking fish in accordance with the principles
expounded above. Many kinds of fish would thus break if the popular
notions of ‘boiling’ were carried out, and the fish suddenly immersed
in water that was agitated by the act of ebullition. But this
difficulty vanishes when the true theory of cookery is understood and
practically applied by cooking the fish from beginning to end without
ever boiling the water at all.

In the case of the leg of mutton, chosen as a previous example, the
plunging in boiling water and maintenance of boiling-point for a few
minutes was unobjectionable, as the most effectual means of obtaining
the firm coagulation of a superficial layer of albumen; but, in the
case of fragile fish, this advantage can only be obtained in a minor
degree by using water just below the boiling-point; the breaking of
the fish by the agitation of the boiling water does more than merely
disfigure it when served—it opens outlets to the juices, and thereby
depreciates the flavour, besides sacrificing some of the nutritious

To demonstrate this experimentally, take two equal slices from the same
salmon, cook one according to Mrs. Beeton and other authorities by
putting it into cold water, or pouring cold water over it, then heating
up to the boiling-point. Cook the other slice by putting it into
water nearly boiling (about 200° Fahr.), and keeping it at about 180°
to 200°, but never boiling at all. Then dish up, examine, and taste.
The second will be found to have retained more of its proper salmon
colour and flavour; the first will be paler and more like cod, or other
white fish, owing to the exosmosis or oozing out of its characteristic
juices. When two similar pieces of split salmon are thus cooked, the
difference between them is still more remarkable. I should add that the
practice of splitting salmon for boiling, once so fashionable, is now
nearly obsolete, and justly so.

I was surprised, and at first considerably puzzled, at what I saw of
salmon-cooking in Norway. As this fish is so abundant there (1_d._ per
lb. would be regarded as a high price in the Tellemark), I naturally
supposed that large experience, operating by natural selection, would
have evolved the best method of cooking it, but found that, not only in
the farmhouses of the interior, but at such hotels as the ‘Victoria,’
in Christiania, the usual cookery was effected by cutting the fish
into small pieces and soddening it in water in such wise that it came
to table almost colourless, and with merely a faint suggestion of what
we prize as the rich flavour of salmon. A few months’ experience and
a little reflection solved the problem. Salmon is so rich, and has so
special a flavour, that when daily eaten it soon palls on the palate.
Everybody has heard the old story of the clause in the indentures of
the Aberdeen apprentices, binding the masters not to feed the boys on
salmon more frequently than twice a week. If the story is not true it
ought to be, for full meals of salmon every day would, ere long, render
the special flavour of this otherwise delicious fish quite sickening.

By boiling out the rich oil of the salmon, the Norwegian reduces it
nearly to the condition of cod-fish, concerning which I learned a
curious fact from two old Doggerbank fishermen, with whom I had a
long sailing cruise from the Golden Horn to the Thames. They agreed
in stating that cod-fish is like bread, that they and all their mates
lived upon it (and sea-biscuits) day after day for months together,
and never tired, while richer fish ultimately became repulsive if
eaten daily. This statement was elicited by an immediate experience.
We were in the Mediterranean, where bonetta were very abundant, and
every morning and evening I amused myself by spearing them from
the martingale of the schooner, and so successfully that all hands
(or rather mouths) were abundantly supplied with this delicious
dark-fleshed, full-blooded, and high-flavoured fish. I began by making
three meals a day on it, but at the end of about a week was glad to
return to the ordinary ship’s fare of salt junk and chickens.

The following account of an experiment of Count Rumford’s is very
interesting and instructive. He says: ‘I had long suspected that it
could hardly be possible that precisely the temperature of 212° (that
of boiling water) should be that which is best adapted for cooking _all
sorts of food_; but it was the unexpected result of an experiment that
I made with another view which made me particularly attentive to this
subject. Desirous of finding out whether it would be possible to roast
meat on a machine that I had contrived for drying potatoes, and fitted
up in the kitchen of the House of Industry at Munich, I put a shoulder
of mutton into it, and after attending to the experiment three hours,
and finding that it showed no signs of being done, I concluded that the
heat was not sufficiently intense, and despairing of success I went
home, rather out of humour at my ill success, and abandoned my shoulder
of mutton to the cookmaids.

‘It being late in the evening and the cookmaids thinking, perhaps, that
the meat would be as safe in the drying machine as anywhere else, left
it there all night. When they came in the morning to take it away,
intending to cook it for their dinner, they were much surprised at
finding it _already cooked_, and not merely eatable, but perfectly well
done, and most singularly well tasted. This appeared to them the more
miraculous, as the fire under the machine was quite gone out before
they left the kitchen in the evening to go to bed, and as they had
locked up the kitchen when they left it, and taken away the key.

‘This wonderful shoulder of mutton was immediately brought to me in
triumph, and though I was at no great loss to account for what had
happened, yet it certainly was quite unexpected; and when I tasted the
meat I was very much surprised indeed to find it very different, both
in taste and flavour, from any I had ever tasted. It was perfectly
tender; but though it was so much done it did not appear to be in the
least sodden or insipid; on the contrary, it was uncommonly savoury and
high flavoured.’

What I have already explained concerning the coagulation of albumen
will render this result fairly intelligible. It will be still more
so after what follows concerning the effect of heat on the other
constituents of a shoulder of mutton.

The Norwegian cooking apparatus, to which I have already alluded,
and which is now commercially supplied in England, does its work
in a somewhat similar manner. It consists of an inner tin pot with
well-fitting lid, which fits into a box, having a thick lining of
ill-conducting material—such as felt, wool, or sawdust (it should be
two or three inches thick bottom and sides). A fowl, for example,
is put into the tin, which is then filled up with boiling water and
covered with a close-fitting cover lined like the box, and firmly
strapped down. This may be left for ten or twelve hours, when the fowl
will be found most delicately cooked. For yachtsmen and ‘camping-out’
parties, &c., it is a very luxurious apparatus.


[2] Tarchnoff has recently discovered the curious fact that the
white of the eggs of birds that are hatched without feathers remains
transparent when coagulated, while the eggs which produce chickens
and other birds already fledged become opaque when coagulated. This
is familiarly illustrated by the difference between plovers’ eggs and
hens’ eggs when cooked.

[3] ‘Egg-cement,’ made by thickening white of egg with finely-powdered
quicklime, has long been used for mending alabaster, marble, &c. For
joining fragments of fossils and mineralogical specimens, it will be
found very useful. White of egg alone may be used, if carefully heated

[4] _Physiological Chemistry_, vol. ii. p. 356.

[5] It was given to me in 1868. I have just found that some of
it remains unused (December 1884), and that it still retains its
characteristic flavour.



GELATIN is a very important element of animal food; it is, in fact, the
main constituent of the animal tissues, the walls of the cells of which
animals are built up being composed of gelatin. I will not here discuss
the question of whether Haller’s remark, ‘Dimidium corporis humani
gluten est’ (‘half of the human body is gelatin’), should or should
not now, as Lehmann says, ‘be modified to the assertion that half of
the solid parts of the animal body _are convertible, by boiling with
water_, into gelatin.’ Lehmann and others give the name of ‘glutin’ to
the component of the animal tissue as it exists there, and gelatin to
it when acted upon by boiling water. Others indicate this difference by
naming the first ‘gelatin,’ and the second ‘gelatine.’

The difference upon which these distinctions are based is directly
connected with my present subject, as it is just the difference between
the raw and the cooked material, which, as we shall presently see,
consists mainly in solubility.

Even the original or raw gelatin varies materially in this respect.
There is a decidedly practical difference between the solubility of the
cell-walls of a young chicken and those of an old hen. The pleasant
fiction which describes all the pretty gelatine preparations of the
table as ‘calf’s-foot jelly,’ is founded on the greater solubility of
the juvenile hoof, as compared to that of the adult ox or horse, or to
the parings of hides about to be used by the tanner. All these produce
gelatin by boiling, the calves’ feet with comparatively little boiling.

Besides these differences there are decided varieties, or, I might say,
species of gelatin, having slight differences of chemical composition
and chemical relations. There is _Chondrin_, or cartilage gelatin,
which is obtained by boiling the cartilages of the ribs, larynx, or
joints for eighteen or twenty hours in water. Then there is _Fibroin_,
obtained by boiling spiders’ webs and the silk of silkworms or other
caterpillars. These exist as a liquid inside the animal, which
solidifies on exposure. The fibres of sponge contain this modification
of gelatin.

Another kind is _Chitin_, which constituted the animal food of St. John
the Baptist, when he fed upon locusts and wild honey. It is the basis
of the bodily structure of insects; of the spiral tubes which permeate
them throughout, and are so wonderfully displayed when we examine
insect anatomy by aid of the microscope; also of their intestinal
canal, their external skeleton, scales, hairs, &c. It similarly forms
the true skeleton and bodily framework of crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and
other crustacea, bearing the same relation to their shells, muscles,
&c., that ordinary gelatin does to the bones and softer tissues of the
vertebrata; it is ‘the bone of their bones, and the flesh of their
flesh.’ It is obtainable by boiling these creatures down, but is more
difficult of solution than the ordinary gelatin of beef, mutton,
fish, and poultry. To this difficulty of solution in the stomach, the
nightmare that follows lobster suppers is probably attributable.

I once had an experience of the edibility of the shells of a
crustacean. When travelling, I always continue the pursuit of knowledge
in restaurants by ordering anything that appears on the bill of fare
that I have never heard of before, or cannot translate or pronounce.
At a Neapolitan restaurant I found ‘_Gambero di Mare_’ on the _Carta_,
which I translated ‘Leggy things of the sea,’ or sea-creepers, and
ordered them accordingly. They proved to be shrimps fried in their
shells, and were very delicious—like whitebait, but richer. The chitin
of the shells was thus cooked to crispness, and no evil consequences
followed. If reduced to locusts, I should, if possible, cook them in
the same manner, and, as they have similar chemical composition, they
would doubtless be equally good.

Should any epicurean reader desire to try this dish (the shrimps, I
mean), he should fry them as they come from the sea, not as they are
sold by the fishmonger, these being already boiled in salt water;
usually in sea water by the shrimpers who catch them, the chitin being
indurated thereby.

The introduction of fried and tinned locusts as an epicurean delicacy
would be a boon to suffering humanity, by supplying industrial
compensation to the inhabitants of districts subject to periodical
plagues of locust invasion. The idea of eating them appears repulsive
_at first_, so would that of eating such creepy-crawly things
as shrimps, if no adventurous hero had made the first exemplary
experiment. Chitin is chitin, whether elaborated on the land or
secreted in the sea. The vegetarian locust and the cicala are free from
the pungent essential oils of the really unpleasant cockchafer.

That curious epicurean food, the edible birds’-nests, which has been
a subject of much controversy concerning its composition, is commonly
described as a delicate kind of gelatin. This does not appear to be
quite correct. It is certainly gelatinous in its mechanical properties,
but it more nearly resembles the material of the slime and organic
tissue of snails, a substance to which the name of _mucin_ has been
given. Thus the birds’-nest soup of the East and the snail soup of
the West are nearly allied, and that made from callipash and callipee
supplies an intermediate reptilian link.

The birds’-nests, when cleaned for cooking, are entirely composed of
the dried saliva of swallows, or rather swiftlets (_collocalia_), and
this saliva probably contains some amount of digestive ferment or
pepsin, which may render it more digestible than the vulgar product
from shin of beef, and consequently more acceptable to feeble epicures.
Those who have sufficient vital energy to supply their own saliva will
probably prefer the vulgar concoction to the costly secretion. The bird
saliva sells for its own weight in silver, when freed from adhering

Those who are disposed to bow too implicitly to mere authority
in scientific matters will do well to study the history and the
treatment which gelatin has received from some of the highest of these
authorities. Our grandmothers believed it to be highly nutritious,
prepared it in the form of jellies for invalids, and estimated the
nutritive value of their soups by the consistency of the jelly which
they formed on cooling, which thickness is due to the gelatin they
contain. Isinglass, which is simply the swim-bladder of the sturgeon
and similar fishes cut into shreds, was especially esteemed, and sold
at high prices. This is the purest natural form of gelatin.

Everybody believed that the callipash and callipee of the alderman’s
turtle soup contributed largely to his proverbial girth, and those
who could not afford to pay for the gelatin of the reptile, made mock
turtle from the gelatinous tissues of calves’-heads and pigs’-feet.

About fifty or sixty years ago, the French Academy of Sciences
appointed a bone-soup commission, consisting of some of the most
eminent _savants_ of the period. They worked for above ten years upon
the problem submitted to them, that of determining whether or not the
soup made by boiling bones until only their mineral matter remained
solid, is, or is not, a nutritious food for the inmates of hospitals,
&c. In the voluminous report which they ultimately submitted to the
Academy, they decided in the negative.

Baron Liebig became the popular exponent of their conclusions, and
vigorously denounced gelatin, as not merely a worthless article of
food, but as loading the system with material that demands wasteful
effort for its removal.

The Academicians fed dogs on gelatin alone, found that they speedily
lost flesh, and ultimately died of starvation. A multitude of similar
experiments showed that gelatin alone will not support animal life, and
hence the conclusion that pure gelatin is worthless as an article of
food, and that ordinary soups containing gelatin owed their nutritive
value to their other constituents. According to the above-named report,
and the statements of Liebig, the following, which I find on a wrapper
of Liebig’s ‘Extract of Meat,’ is justifiable: ‘This Extract of Meat
differs essentially from the gelatinous product obtained from tendons
and muscular fibre, inasmuch as it contains 80 per cent. of nutritive
matter, while the other contains 4 or 5 per cent.’ Here the 4 or 5 per
cent. allowed to exist in the ‘gelatinous product’ (_i.e._ ordinary
kitchen stock or glaze), is attributed to the constituents it contains
over and above the pure gelatin.

The following, from a text-book largely used by medical students,[7]
shows the estimation in which gelatin was held at that date: ‘But there
is another azotised compound, Gelatin, that is furnished by animals,
to which nothing analogous exists in Plants; and this is commonly
reputed to possess highly nutritious properties. It may be confidently
affirmed, however, as a result of experiments made upon a large scale,
that Gelatin is incapable of being converted into Albumen in the animal
body, so that it cannot be applied to the nutrition of the albuminous
tissues. And, although it might _à priori_ be thought not unlikely
that Gelatin, taken in as food, should be applied to the nutrition of
the gelatinous tissues, yet neither observation nor experiment bears
out such a probability.’ Further on, Dr. Carpenter says: ‘The use of
gelatin as food would seem to be limited to its power of furnishing a
certain amount of combustive material that may assist in maintaining
the heat of the body.’

Subsequent experiments, however, have refuted these conclusions. I
must not be tempted to describe them in detail, but only to state the
general results, which are, that while animals fed on gelatin soup,
formed into a soft paste with bread, lost flesh and strength rapidly,
they recovered their original weight when to this same food only a very
small quantity of the sapid and odorous principles of meat were added.
Thus, in the experiments of MM. Edwards and Balzac, a young dog that
had ceased growing, and had lost one-fifth of its original weight when
fed on bread and gelatin for thirty days, was next supplied with the
same food, but to which was added, twice a day, only two tablespoonfuls
of soup made from horseflesh. There was an increase of weight on the
first day, and, ‘in twenty-three days the dog had gained considerably
more than its original weight, and was in the enjoyment of vigorous
health and strength.’

All this difference was due to the savoury constituents of the four
tablespoonfuls of meat soup, which soup contained the juices of the
flesh, to which, as already stated, its flavour is due.

The inferences drawn by M. Edwards from the whole of the experiments
are the following: ‘1. That gelatin alone is insufficient for
alimentation. 2. That, although insufficient, it is not unwholesome. 3.
That gelatin contributes to alimentation, and is sufficient to sustain
it when it is mixed with a due proportion of other products which would
themselves prove insufficient if given alone. 4. That gelatin extracted
from bones, being identical with that extracted from other parts—and
bones being richer in gelatin than other tissues, and able to afford
two-thirds of their weight of it—there is an incontestable advantage in
making them serve for nutrition in the form of soup, jellies, paste,
&c., always, however, taking care to provide a proper admixture of
the other principles in which the gelatin-soup is defective. 5. That
to render gelatin-soup equal in nutritive and digestible qualities to
that prepared from meat alone, it is sufficient _to mix one-fourth of
meat-soup with three-fourths of gelatin-soup_; and that, in fact, no
difference is perceptible between soup thus prepared and that made
solely from meat. 6. That in preparing soup in this way, the great
advantage remains, that while the soup itself is equally nourishing
with meat-soup, three-fourths of the meat which would be requisite
for the latter by the common process of making soup are saved and
made useful in another way—as by roasting, &c. 7. That jellies ought
always to be associated with some other principles to render them both
nutritive and digestible.’[8]

The reader may make a very simple experiment on himself by preparing
first a pure gelatin-soup from isinglass, or the prepared gelatin
commonly sold, and trying to make a meal of this with bread alone. Its
insipidity will be evident with the first spoonful. If he perseveres,
it will become not merely insipid, but positively repulsive; and,
should he struggle through one meal and then another, without any other
food between, he will find it, in the course of time (varying with
constitution and previous alimentation), positively nauseous.

Let him now add to it some of Liebig’s ‘Extract of Meat,’ and he will
at once perceive the difference. Here the natural appetite foreshadows
the result of continuing the experiment, and points the way to
correcting the errors of the Academicians and Baron Liebig. The jellies
that we take at evening parties, or the jujubes used as sweetmeats, are
flavoured with something positive. I have tasted ‘Blue-Ribbon’ jellies
that were wretchedly insipid. This was not merely owing to the absence
of alcohol, of which very little can remain in such preparations, but
rather to the absence of the flavouring ingredients of the wine.

I venture to suggest the further, deliberate, and scientific extension
of this principle, by adding to bone-soup, or other form of insipid
gelatin, the potash, salts, phosphates, &c., which are found in the
juices of meat and vegetables. They may either be prepared in the
manufacturing laboratory, like Parrish’s ‘Chemical Food,’ or ‘Syrup
of phosphates,’ or extracted from fruits, as commercial limejuice is
extracted. I recommend those who are interested to manufacture and
offer for sale a good preparation of limejuice gelatin.

It would seem that gelatin alone, although containing the elements
required for nutrition, requires something more to render it
digestible. We shall probably be not far from the truth if we picture
it to the mind as something too smooth, too neutral, too inert, to
set the digestive organs at work, and that it therefore requires
the addition of a decidedly sapid something that shall make these
organs act. I believe that the proper function of the palate is to
determine our selection of such materials; that its activity is in
direct sympathy with that of all the digestive organs; and that if we
carefully avoid the vitiation of our natural appetites, we have in our
mouths, and the nervous apparatus connected therewith, a laboratory
that is capable of supplying us with information concerning some of the
chemical relations of food which is beyond the grasp of the analytical
machinery of the ablest of our scientific chemists.

What is the chemistry of the cookery of gelatin? What are the chemical
changes effected by cookery upon gelatin? Or, otherwise stated, what
is the chemical difference or differences between cooked and raw
gelatin? I find no satisfactory answer to these questions in any of
our text-books, and therefore will do what I can towards supplying my
own solution of the problem.

In the first place, it should be understood that raw gelatin, or animal
membrane as it exists in its organised condition, is not soluble in
cold water, and not immediately in hot water. Genuine isinglass is the
membrane of the swim-bladder of the sturgeon (that of other fishes is
said to be sometimes substituted). In its unprepared form it is not
easily dissolved, but if soaked in water, especially in warm water,
for some time, it swells. The same with other forms of membrane. This
swelling I regard as the first stage of the cookery. On examination,
I find that it is not only increased in bulk but also in weight, and
that the increase of weight is due to some water that it has taken
into itself. Here, then, we have crude gelatin plus water, or hydrated
gelatin. Proceeding further, by boiling this until it all dissolves,
and then allowing it to harden by very slow evaporation, I find that it
still contains some of its acquired water, and that I cannot drive away
this newly-acquired water without destroying some of its characteristic
properties—its solubility and gluey character. Before returning to its
original weight as crude isinglass, it becomes somewhat carbonised.

Hence, I infer that the cookery of gelatin consists in converting the
original membrane more or less completely into a hydrate of its former
self. According to this, the ‘prepared gelatin’ sold in the shops is
hydrated gelatin, completely hydrated, seeing that it is completely and
readily soluble.

The membranes of our ordinary cooked meat are, if I am right, partially
hydrated, in varying degrees, and thereby prepared for solution in
the course of digestion. The varying degrees are illustrated by the
differences in a knuckle of veal or a calf’s head, according to the
length of time during which it has been stewed, _i.e._ subjected to the
hydrating process.

The second stage of the cookery of gelatin is the solution of this
hydrate, as in soups, &c.

Carpenters’ glue is crude hydrated gelatin, made by stewing or
hydrating hoofs of horses, cattle, &c., or the waste cuttings of hides.
The carpenter knows that if he allows his solution of glue to boil
(such a solution boils at a higher temperature than pure water), it
loses its tenacity, becomes cindery, or, as I should say, dehydrated
or dissociated, without returning to the original condition of the
organised membranes.

Even a frequent reheating at the glue-pot temperature ‘weakens’ the
glue, and therefore he prefers fresh glue, and puts but a little at a
time into his glue-pot.

The applications of this theory will appear as I proceed.

A sheep or an ox, a fowl or a rabbit, is made up, like ourselves, of
organic structures and blood, the organs continually wasting as they
work, and being renewed by the blood; or, otherwise described, the
component molecules of these organs are continually dying of old age as
their work is done, and replaced by new-born successors generated by
the blood.

These molecules are, for the most part, cellular, each cell living
a little life of its own, generated with a definite individuality,
doing its own life-work, then shrivelling in decay, dying in the midst
of vital surroundings, suffering cremation, and thereby contributing
to the animal heat necessary for the life of its successors, and
even giving up a portion of its substance to supply them with
absorption-food. The cell walls are mainly composed of gelatin, or
the substance which produces gelatin, as already explained, while the
contents of the cell are albuminous matter or fat, or the special
constituents of the particular organ it composes. A description of
all these constituents would carry me too far into details. I must,
therefore, only refer to those which constitute the bulk of animal
food, and which are altered in the process of cooking.

In the lean of meat, _i.e._ the muscles of the animal, we have the
albuminous juices already described, the gelatinous membranes, sheaths,
and walls of the muscle fibre, and the fibre itself. This is composed
of _muscle-fibrin_, or _syntonin_, as Lehmann has named it. Living
blood consists of a complex liquid, in which are suspended a multitude
of minute cells, some red, others colourless. When the blood is removed
and dies, it clots or partially solidifies, and is found to contain
a network of extremely fine fibre, to which the name of _fibrin_ is
applied. A similar change takes place in the substance of the muscle
after death. It stiffens, and this stiffening, or _rigor mortis_, is
effected by the formation of a clot analogous to the coagulation of the

The chief difference between blood-fibrin and muscle-fibrin or
syntonin is, that the latter is readily soluble in water, to which
only 1/1000 of hydrochloric acid has been added, while in such a
solution blood-fibrin only becomes swollen. If the gastric juice
contains a little free hydrochloric acid, this difference is important
in reference to food. I should, however, add that the existence of
such free acid in the human gastric juice is disputed, especially by
Gruenewaldt and Schroeder.

The conflict of able chemists on this point and others concerning the
composition of this fluid leads me to suppose that the secretions
of the human stomach vary with the food habitually taken; that
flesh-eaters acquire a gastric juice similar to that of carnivorous
animals, while vegetable feeders are supplied with digestive solvents
more suitable to their food.

This idea is supported by the testimony of rigid vegetarians. They tell
me that at first the pure vegetarian diet did not appear to satisfy
them, but after a while it became as sustaining as their former food.
This is explained if, in consequence of the modification of the gastric
and other digestive juices, the vegetarian food became more completely
digested after vegetarian habits became established.

The properties of fibrin, so far as cookery is concerned, place it
between albumen and gelatin; it is coagulable like albumen, and soluble
like gelatin, but in a minor degree. Like gelatin, it is tasteless and
non-nutritious _alone_. This has been proved by feeding animals on
lean meat, which has been cut up and subjected to the action of cold
water, which dissolves out the albumen and other juices of the flesh,
and leaves only the muscular fibre and its envelopes. The experiment
has been made in laboratories, and also on a larger scale in Australia,
where the lean beef from which the ‘Extract of Meat’ had been taken out
by cold water was given to dogs, pigs, and other animals; but, after
taking a few mouthfuls, they all rejected it, and suffered starvation
when it was forced upon them without other food.

The same is the case with the spontaneously coagulated fibrin of the
blood; it is, when washed, a yellowish opaque fibrous mass, without
smell or taste, insoluble in cold water, alcohol, or ether, but
imperfectly soluble if digested for a considerable time in hot water.

The following is the chemical composition of these three constituents
of lean meat, according to Mulder:

    |    --     | Albumen | Gelatine | Fibrin |
    |Carbon     |   53·5  |   50·40  |   52·7 |
    |Hydrogen   |    7·0  |    6·64  |    6·9 |
    |Nitrogen   |   15·5  |   18·34  |   15·4 |
    |Oxygen     |   22·0  |   24·62  |   23·5 |
    |Sulphur    |    1·6  |    --    |    1·2 |
    |Phosphorus |    0·4  |    --    |    0·3 |
    |           +---------+----------+--------+
    |           |  100·0  |  100·00  |  100·0 |

There are two other constituents of lean meat which are very different
from either of these, viz. _Kreatine_ and _Kreatinine_, otherwise
spelled ‘creatine’ and ‘creatinine.’ They exist in the juice of
the flesh, and are freely soluble in cold or hot water, from which
solution they may be crystallised by evaporating the solvent, just as
we may crystallise common salt, alum, &c. They thus have a resemblance
to mineral substances, and still more so to some of the active
constituents of plants, such as the alkaloids _theine_ and _caffeine_,
upon which depend the stimulating or ‘refreshing’ properties of tea and
coffee. Like these, they are highly nitrogenous, and many theories have
been based upon this, both as regards their exceptionally nutritious
properties and their functions in the living muscle. One of these
theories is that they are the dead matter of muscle, the first and
second products of the combustion which accompanies muscular work, urea
being the final product. According to this their relation to the muscle
is exactly the opposite of that of the albuminous juice, this being
probably the material from which the muscle is built up or renewed. The
following is their composition, according to Liebig’s analyses, and
does not support this hypothesis:

    |    --    | Kreatine | Kreatinine |
    | Carbon   |   36·64  |    42·48   |
    | Hydrogen |    6·87  |     6·19   |
    | Nitrogen |   32·06  |    37·17   |
    | Oxygen   |   24·43  |    14·16   |
    |          +----------+------------+
    |          |  100·00  |   100·00   |

They appear to undergo no change in cooking unless excessively heated;
may be used uncooked, as in cold-drawn extract of meat.

The juices of lean flesh also contain a little lactic acid—the acid
of milk—but this does not appear to be an absolutely essential
constituent. Besides these there are mineral salts of considerable
nutritive importance, though small in quantity. These, with the
kreatine and kreatinine, are the chief constituents of beef-tea
properly so-called, and will be further treated when I come to that
preparation. At present it is sufficient to keep in view the fact that
these juices are essential to complete the nutritive value of animal


[6] The following, from Francatelli’s _Modern Cook_, is amusing, if
not instructive: ‘Take two dozen garden snails, add to these the hind
quarters only of two dozen stream frogs, previously skinned; bruise
them together in a mortar, after which put them into a stewpan with a
couple of turnips chopped small, a little salt, a quarter of an ounce
of hay-saffron, and three pints of spring water. Stir these on the fire
until the broth begins to boil, then skim it well and set it by the
side of the fire to simmer for half an hour; after which it should be
strained, by pressure through a tammy cloth, into a basin for use. This
broth, from its soothing qualities, often counteracts, successfully,
the straining effects of a severe cough, and alleviates, more than any
other culinary preparation, the sufferings of the consumptive.’

[7] Carpenter’s _Manual of Physiology_, 3rd edition, 1846, p. 267.

[8] Londe, _Nouveaux Éléments d’Hygiène_, 2nd edition, vol. ii. p. 73.



I MAY now venture to state my own view of a somewhat obscure
subject—viz. the difference between the roasting or grilling of meat
and the stewing of meat. It appears to me that, as regards the nature
of the operation, it consists simply in the difference between the
cooking media; that a grilled steak or chop, or a roasted joint is meat
that has been stewed in its own juices instead of stewed in water; that
in both cases the changes taking place in the _solid_ parts of the meat
are the same in kind, provided always that the roasting or grilling is
properly performed. The albumen is coagulated in all cases, and the
gelatinous and fibrous tissues are softened by being heated in a liquid
solvent. I shall presently apply this definition in distinguishing
between good and bad cookery.

In the roasted or grilled meat the juices are retained in the meat
(with the exception of those which escape as gravy on the dish), while
in stewing the juices go more or less completely into the water, and
the loosening of the fibres and solution of the gelatin and fibrin may
be carried further, inasmuch as a larger quantity of solvent is used.

Roasting and grilling may be regarded as our national methods of flesh
cookery, and stewing in water that of our continental neighbours.
The difference between the flavour of English roast beef and French
_bouilli_ or Italian _manzo_ is due to the retention or the removal
of the saline and highly-flavoured soluble materials. (Concentrated
kreatine and kreatinine are pungently sapid.) The Frenchman takes
them out of his _bouilli_, or boiled meat, and transfers them to his
_bouillon_, or soup, which, with him, is an essential element of a
meal. If he ate his meat without soup, he would be like the dogs fed
on gelatin by the bone-soup commissioners. To the Englishman, with
his roast or grilled meat, soup is merely a luxury, not an absolutely
necessary element of a complete dietary.

What we call boiled meat, as a boiled leg of mutton or round of beef,
is an intermediate preparation. The heat is here communicated by water,
and the juices partially retained.

Not only do we, in roasting and grilling our meat, keep the juices
within it, but we concentrate them considerably by evaporating away
_some_ of the water by which they are naturally diluted. This is my
explanation of the _rationale_ of the chief difference between boiled
meat and roasted or grilled meat. A further difference—that due to
browning—is discussed in the chapter on Frying. Those accustomed to
such concentration of flavour regard the milder results of boiling as
insipid, for, by this process and by stewing, where much water is used,
the juices are further diluted instead of being concentrated.

It is a fairly debatable question whether the simplicity of taste which
finds satisfaction in the milder diet is better and more desirable than
the appetite for strong meat. The difference has some analogy to that
between the thirst for light wine and that for stiff grog.

The application of the principles above expounded to the processes of
grilling and roasting is simple enough. As the meat is to be stewed
in its own juices, it is evident that these juices must be retained
as completely as possible, and that in order to succeed in this, we
have to struggle with the evaporating energy of the ‘dry heat’ which
effects the cookery, and may not only concentrate the juices by driving
off some of their solvent water, but may volatilise or decompose the
flavouring principles themselves. We must always remember that these
organic compounds are very unstable, most of them being decomposed when
raised to a temperature above the boiling-point of water. The repulsive
energy of heat drives apart or ‘dissociates’ their loosely-combined
elements, and when thus wholly or partially dissociated, all the
characteristic properties of the original compound vanish, and others
take their place.

It should be clearly understood that the so-called ‘dry heat’ may be
communicated by convection or by radiation, or both. When water is
the heating medium, there is convection only—_i.e._ heating by actual
contact with the heated body. In roasting and grilling there is also
some convection-heating due to the hot air which actually touches the
meat; but this is a very small element of efficiency, the work being
chiefly done, when well done, by the heat which is radiated from the
fire directly to the surface of the meat, and which, in the case of
roasting in front of a fire, passes through the intervening air with
very little heating effect thereon.

I am not perpetrating any far-fetched pedantry in pointing out this
difference, as will be understood at once by supposing a beefsteak
to be cooked by suspending it in a chamber filled with hot dry air.
Such air is actively thirsting for the vapour of water, and will
take into itself, from every humid substance it touches, a quantity
proportionate to its temperature. The steak receiving its heat by
convection—_i.e._ the heat conveyed by such hot air, and communicated
by contact—would be _desiccated, but not cooked_.

This distinction is so important, that I will illustrate it still
further, my chief justification for such insistence being that even
Rumford himself evidently failed to understand it, and it has been
generally misunderstood or neglected.

Let us suppose the hot air used for convection cooking to be at the
cooking-point, as the hot water in stewing should be, what will follow
its application to the meat? Evaporation of the water in the juices,
and with that evaporation a lowering of temperature at the surface of
the meat, keeping it below the cooking-point. If the air be heated
above this, the evaporation will go on with proportionate rapidity. As
nearly 1,000 degrees of heat are lost _as temperature_, and converted
into expansive force whenever and wherever evaporation of water
occurs, the film of hot, dry air touching the meat is cooled by this
evaporation, and sinks immediately, to be replaced by a rising film
of lighter, hotter, and drier air. This drinks in more vapour, cools
and sinks, to give place to another, and so on till the inner juices
gradually ooze between the fibres to the porous surface, where they are
carried away by the hot, dry air, and a hard, leathery, unmasticable
mass of desiccated gelatin, albumen, fibrin, &c., is produced.

Now, let us suppose a similar beefsteak to be cooked by radiant heat,
with the least possible co-operation of convection.

To effect this, our source of heat must be a good radiator. Glowing
solids are better radiators than ordinary flames; therefore coke, or
charcoal, or ordinary coal, after its bituminous matter has done
its flaming, should be used, and the steak or chop may be placed in
front or above a surface of such glowing carbon. In ordinary domestic
practice it is placed on a gridiron above the coal, and therefore I
will consider this case first.

The object to be attained is to raise the juices of the meat throughout
to about the temperature of 180° Fahr. as quickly as possible, in order
that the cookery may be completed before the water of these juices
shall have had time to evaporate excessively; therefore the meat should
be placed as near to the surface of the glowing carbon as possible. But
the practical housewife will say that, if placed within two or three
inches, some of the fat will be melted and burn, and then the steak
will be smoked.

Now, here we require a little more chemistry. There is smoking and
smoking; smoking that produces a detestable flavour, and smoking that
does no mischief at all beyond appearances. The flame of an ordinary
coal fire is due to the distillation and combustion of tarry vapours.
If such a flame strikes a comparatively cool surface like that of the
meat, it will condense and deposit thereon a film of crude coal tar and
coal naphtha, most nauseous and rather mischievous; but if the flame be
that which is caused by the combustion of its own fat, the deposit on
a mutton-chop will be a little mutton juice, on a beefsteak a little
beef juice, more or less blackened by mutton-carbon or beef-carbon. But
these have no other flavour than that of cooked mutton and cooked beef;
therefore they are perfectly innocent, in spite of their black, guilty

If any of my readers are sceptical, let them appeal to experiment by
putting a mutton-chop to the torture, and taking its own confession.
To do this, divide the chop in equal halves, then hold one half
over a flaming coal, immersing it in the flame, and thus cook it.
Now cut a bit of fat off the other, throw this fat on a surface of
clear, glowing, flameless coal or coke, and, when a good blaze is thus
obtained, immerse the half chop recklessly and unmercifully into _this_
flame; there let it splutter and fizz, let it drop more fat and make
more flame, but hold it there nevertheless for a few minutes, and then
taste the result.

In spite of its blackness, it will be (if just warmed through to
the above-named cooking temperature) a deliciously-cooked, juicy,
nutritious, digestible morsel, apparently raw, but actually more
completely cooked than if it had been held twice as long, at double the
distance, from the surface of the fire.

For further instruction, make a third experiment by imitating the
cautious unscientific cook, who, ignorant of the difference between
the condensation products of coal and those from beef and mutton fat,
carefully raises the gridiron directly the flame from the dropping
fat threatens the object of her solicitude. The result will be an
ordinary domestic chop or steak. I apply this adjective, because in
this particular effort of cookery, the grilling of chops and steaks,
domestic cookery is commonly at fault. The majority of our City men
find that while the joint cooked at home is better than that they
usually get at restaurants and hotels, the chops and steaks are

I believe that this inferiority is due, in the first place, to the want
of understanding of the difference between coal-flame and fat-flame;
and in the second, to the advantage afforded to the ‘grill-room’ cook
by his specially-constructed fire, with a large surface of glowing coke
surmounted by a sloping grill, whereon he can expose his chops and
steaks to a maximum of radiant heat with a minimum of convection heat;
the hot air which passes in a current over the coke surface having such
small depth that it barely touches the bars of the grill. (This may
be seen by watching the course of flame produced by the droppings of
the fat.) The same obliquity of draught prevents the serious blacking
of the meat, which, although harmless, is unsightly and calculated to
awaken prejudice.

The high temperature rapidly imparted by radiation to the surface of
the meat forms a thin superficial crust of hardened and semi-carbonised
albumen and fibre, that resists the outrush of vapour, and produces
within a certain degree of high pressure, which probably acts in
loosening the fibres. A well-grilled chop or steak is ‘puffed’
out—made thicker in the middle; an ill-cooked, desiccated specimen
is shrivelled, collapsed, and thinned by the slow departure or
dissociation of its juices.

Happy little couples, living in little houses with only one little
servant—or, happier still, with no servant at all—complain of their
little joints of meat, which, when roasted, are so dry, as compared
with the big succulent joints of larger households. A little reflection
on the principles above applied to the grilling of steaks and chops
will explain the source of this little difficulty, and show how it may
be overcome.

I will here venture upon a little of the mathematics of cookery, as
well as its chemistry. While the weight or quantity of material in a
joint increases with the cube of its through-measured dimensions, its
surface only increases with their square—or, otherwise stated, we do
not nearly double or treble the surface of a joint of given form when
we double or treble its weight; and _vice versâ_, the less the weight,
the greater the surface in proportion to the weight. This is obvious
enough when we consider that we cannot cut a single lump of anything
into halves without exposing or creating two fresh surfaces where no
surfaces were exposed before. As the evaporation of the juices is,
under given conditions, proportionate to the surface exposed, it is
evident that this process of converting the inside middle into two
outside surfaces must increase the amount of evaporation that occurs in

What, then, is the remedy for this? It is twofold. First, to seal up
the pores of these additional surfaces as completely as possible; and
secondly, to diminish to the utmost the time of exposure to the dry
air. Logically following up these principles, I arrive at a practical
formula which will probably induce certain orthodox cooks to denounce
me as a culinary paradoxer. It is this: That _the smaller the joint to
be roasted, the higher the temperature to which its surface should be
exposed_. The roasting of a small joint should, in fact, be conducted
in nearly the same manner as the grilling of a chop or steak described
in my last. The surface should be crusted or browned—burned, if you
please—as speedily as possible, in such wise that the juices within
shall be held there under high pressure, and only allowed to escape by
burst and splutters, rather than by steady evaporation.

The best way of doing this is a problem to be solved by the practical
cook. I only expound the principles, and timidly suggest the mode of
applying them. In a metallurgical laboratory, where I am most at home,
I could roast a small joint beautifully by suspending it inside a large
red-hot steel-smelter’s crucible, or, better still, in an apparatus
called a ‘muffle,’ which is a fireclay tunnel open in front, and so
arranged in a suitable furnace as to be easily made red-hot all
round. A small joint placed on a dripping-pan and run into this would
be equally heated by all-round converging radiation, and exquisitely
roasted in the course of ten to thirty minutes, according to its size.
Some such an apparatus has yet to be invented in order that we may
learn the flavour and tenderness of a perfectly-roasted small joint of
beef or mutton.

For roasting large masses of meat, a different proceeding is necessary.
Here we have to contend, not with excessive surface in proportion
to bulk—as in the grilling of chops and steaks, and the roasting of
small joints—but with the contrary, viz. excessive bulk in proportion
to surface. If a baron of beef were to be treated according to my
prescription for a steak, or for a single small wing rib, or other
joint of three to five pounds weight, it would be charred on its
surface long before the heat could reach its centre.

A considerable time is here inevitably demanded. Of course, the
higher the initial outside temperature, the more rapidly the heat
will penetrate; but we cannot apply this law to a lump of meat as we
may to a mass of iron. We may go on heating the outside of the iron
to redness, but not so the meat. So long as the surface of the meat
remains moist, we cannot raise it to a higher temperature than the
boiling-point of the liquid that moistens it. Above this, charring
commences. A little of such charring, such as occurs to the steak
or small joint during the short period of its exposure to the great
heat, does no harm; it simply ‘browns’ the surface; but if this were
continued during the roasting of a large joint, a crust of positively
black charcoal would be formed, with ruinous waste and general

As Rumford proved long ago, liquids are very bad conductors, and when
their circulation is prevented by confinement between fibres, as in
the meat, the rate at which heat will travel through the humid mass is
very slow indeed. As few of my readers are likely to fully estimate the
magnitude of this difficulty, I will state a fact that came under my
own observation, and at the time surprised me.

About five-and-twenty years ago I was visiting a friend at Warwick
during the ‘mop,’ or ‘statute fair’—the annual slave market of the
county. In accordance with the old custom, an ox was roasted whole in
the open public market-place. The spitting of the carcass and starting
the cookery was a disgusting sight. We are accustomed to see the
neatly-cut joints ordinarily brought to the kitchen; but the handling
and impaling of the whole body of a huge beast by half a dozen rough
men, while its stiffened limbs were stretching out from its trunk,
presented the carnivorous character of our ordinary feeding very
grossly indeed.

Nevertheless I watched the process, partook of some of its result, and
found it good. The fire was lighted before midnight, the rotation of
the beast on the horizontal spit began shortly after, and continued
until the following midday, all this time being necessary for the
raising of the inner parts of the flesh to the cooking temperature of
about 180° Fahr.

Compare this with the grilling of a steak, which, when well done, is
done in a few minutes, or the roasting of the small joint as above
within thirty minutes, and you will see that I am justified in dwelling
on the great differences of the two processes, and the necessity of
very varied proceeding to meet these different conditions.

The difference of time is so great that the smaller relative surface
is insufficient to compensate for the evaporation that must occur if
the grilling principle, or the pure and simple action of radiant heat,
were only made available, as in the above ideal roasting of the small

What, then, is added to this? How is the desiccating difficulty
overcome in the large-scale roasting? Simply by _basting_.

All night long and all the next morning men were continuously at work
pouring melted fat over the surface of the slowly-rotating carcass
of the Warwick ox, skilfully directing a ladleful to any part that
indicated undue dryness.

By this device the meat is more or less completely enveloped in a
varnish of hot melted fat, which assists in the communication of heat,
while it checks the evaporation of the juices. In such roasting the
heat is partially communicated by convection through the medium of a
fat-bath, as in stewing it is all supplied by a water-bath.

I have made some experiments wherein this principle is fully carried
out. In a suitably-sized saucepan I melted a sufficient quantity of
mutton-dripping to form a bath, wherein a small joint of mutton could
be completely immersed. The fat was then raised to a high temperature,
350° (as shown by Davis’ _tryometer_, presently to be described). Then
I immersed the joint in this, keeping up the high temperature for a
few minutes. Afterwards I allowed it to fall below 200°, and thus
cooked the joint. It was good and juicy, though a little of the gravy
had escaped and was found in the fat after cooling. The experiment
was repeated with variations of temperature; the best result obtained
when it was about 400° at the beginning, and kept up to above 200°
afterwards. I used loins and half-legs of mutton, exposing considerable

I find that Sir Henry Thompson, in a lecture delivered at the Fisheries
Exhibition, and now reprinted, has invaded my subject, and has done
this so well that I shall retaliate by annexing his suggestion, which
is that fish should be _roasted_. He says that this mode of cooking
fish should be general, since it is applicable to all varieties. I
fully agree with him, but go a little further in the same direction
by including, not only roasting in a Dutch or American oven _before_
the fire, but also in the side-ovens of kitcheners and in gas-ovens,
which, when used as I have explained, are roasters—_i.e._ they cook by
radiation, without any of the drying anticipated by Sir Henry.

The practical housewife will probably say this is not new, seeing that
people who know what is good have long been in the habit of enjoying
mackerel and haddocks (especially Dublin Bay haddocks) stuffed and
baked, and cods’ heads similarly treated. The Jews do something of
the kind with halibut’s head, which they prize as the greatest of all
piscine delicacies. The John Dory is commonly stuffed and cooked in an
oven by those who understand his merits.

The excellence of Sir Henry Thompson’s idea consists in its breadth as
applicable to _all fish_, on the basis of that fundamental principle
of scientific cookery on which I have so continually and variously
insisted, viz. the retention and concentration of the natural juices of
the viands.

He recommends the placing of the fish entire, if of moderate size, in
a tin or plated copper dish adapted to the form and size of the fish,
but a little deeper than its thickness, so as to retain all the juices,
which on exposure to the heat will flow out; the surface to be lightly
spread with butter with a morsel or two added, and the dish placed
before the fire in a Dutch or American oven, or the special apparatus
made by Burton of Oxford Street, which was exhibited at the lecture.

To this I may add, that if a closed oven be used, Rumford’s device
of a false bottom, shown in Fig. 3, p. 72 (see next chapter),
should be adopted, which may be easily done by simply standing the
above-described fish-dish, on any kind of support to raise it a
little, in a larger tin tray or baking-dish, containing some water.
The evaporation of the water will prevent the drying up of the fish
or of its natural gravy; and if the oven ventilation is treated with
the contempt I shall presently recommend, the fish, if thick, will be
better cooked and more juicy than in an open-faced oven in front of the

This reminds me of a method of cooking fish which, in the course of my
pedestrian travels in Italy, I have seen practised in the rudest of
osterias, where my fellow-guests were carbonari (charcoal burners),
waggoners, road-making navvies, &c. Their staple ‘_magro_,’ or fast-day
material, is split and dried codfish imported from Norway, which in
appearance resembles the hides that are imported to the Bermondsey
tanneries. A piece is hacked out from one of these, soaked for awhile
in water, and carefully rolled in a piece of paper saturated with olive
oil. A hole is then made in the white embers of the charcoal fire,
the paper parcel of fish inserted and carefully buried in ashes of
selected temperature. It comes out wonderfully well cooked considering
the nature of the raw material. Luxurious cookery _en papillote_ is
conducted on the same principle and especially applied to red mullets,
the paper being buttered and the sauce enveloped with the fish. In all
these cases the retention of the natural juices is the primary object.

I should add that Sir Henry Thompson directs, as a matter of course,
that the roasted fish should be served in the dish wherein it was
cooked. He suggests that ‘portions of fish, such as fillets, may be
treated as well as entire fish; garnishes of all kinds, as shell-fish,
&c., may be added, flavouring also with fine herbs and condiments
according to taste.’ ‘Fillets of plaice or skate with a slice or two of
bacon; the dish to be filled or garnished with some previously-boiled
haricots,’ is wisely recommended as a savoury meal for a poor man, and
one that is highly nutritious. A chemical analysis of six-pennyworth of
such a combination would prove its nutritive value to be equal to fully
eighteen-pennyworth of beefsteak.

Some people may be inclined to smile at what I am about to say, viz.
that such savoury dishes, serving to vary the monotony of the poor
hard-working man’s ordinary fare, afford considerable moral, as well as
physical, advantage.

An instructive experience of my own will illustrate this. When
wandering alone through Norway in 1856, I lost the track in crossing
the Kjolen fjeld, struggled on for twenty-three hours without food or
rest, and arrived in sorry plight at Lom, a very wild region. After
a few hours’ rest I pushed on to a still wilder region and still
rougher quarters, and continued thus to the great Jostedal table-land,
an unbroken glacier of 500 square miles; then descended the Jostedal
itself to its opening on the Sogne fjord—five days of extreme hardship
with no other food than flatbrod (very coarse oatcake), and bilberries
gathered on the way, varied on one occasion with the luxury of two raw
turnips. Then I reached a comparatively luxurious station (Ronnei),
where ham and eggs and claret were obtainable. The first glass of
claret produced an effect that alarmed me—a craving for more and for
stronger drink, that was almost irresistible. I finished a bottle of
St. Julien, and nothing but a violent effort of will prevented me from
then ordering brandy.

I attribute this to the exhaustion consequent upon the excessive work
and insufficient unsavoury food of the previous five days; have made
many subsequent observations on the victims of alcohol, and have no
doubt that overwork and scanty, tasteless food is the primary source
of the craving for strong drink that so largely prevails with such
deplorable results among the class that is the most exposed to such
privation. I do not say that this is the only source of such depraved
appetite. It may also be engendered by the opposite extreme of
excessive luxurious pandering to general sensuality.

The practical inference suggested by this experience and these
observations is, that speech-making, pledge-signing, and blue-ribbon
missions can only effect temporary results unless supplemented by
satisfying the natural appetite of hungry people by supplies of food
that are not only nutritious, but savoury and _varied_. Such food need
be no more expensive than that which is commonly eaten by the poorest
of Englishmen, but it must be far better cooked.

Comparing the domestic economy of the poorer classes of our countrymen
with that of the corresponding classes in France and Italy (with
both of which I am well acquainted), I find that the raw material of
the dietary of the French and Italians is inferior to that of the
English, but a far better result is obtained by better cookery.
The Italian peasantry are better fed than the French. In the poor
osterias above referred to, not only the Friday salt fish, but all the
other viands, were incomparably better cooked than in corresponding
places in England, and the variety was greater than is common in many
middle-class houses. The ordinary supper of the ‘roughs’ above-named
was of three courses: first, a ‘_minestra_,’ _i.e._ a soup of some
kind, continually varied, or a savoury dish of macaroni; then a ragoût
or savoury stew of vegetables and meat, followed by an excellent salad;
the beverage, a flask of thin but genuine wine. When I come to the
subject of cheese, I will describe their mode of cooking and using it.

My first walk through Italy extended from the Alps to Naples, and from
Messina to Syracuse. I thus spent nearly a year in Italy during a
season of great abundance, and never saw a drunken Italian. A few years
after this I walked through a part of Lombardy, and found the little
osterias as bad as English beershops or low public-houses. It was a
period of scarcity and trouble, ‘the three plagues,’ as they called
them—the potato disease, the silkworm fungus, and the grape disease—had
brought about general privation. There was no wine at all; potato
spirit and coarse beer had taken its place. Monotonous ‘polenta,’ a
sort of paste or porridge made from Indian corn meal, to which they
give the contemptuous name of ‘miserabile,’ was then the general food,
and much drunkenness was the natural consequence.



IN the third volume of his ‘Essays, Political, Economical, and
Philosophical,’ page 129, Count Rumford introduces this subject, with
the following apology, which I repeat and adopt. He says: ‘I shall, no
doubt, be criticised by many for dwelling so long on a subject which to
them will appear low, vulgar, and trifling; but I must not be deterred
by fastidious criticisms from doing all I can do to succeed in what I
have undertaken. Were I to treat my subject superficially, my writing
would be of no use to anybody, and my labour would be lost; but by
investigating it thoroughly, I may, perhaps, engage others to pay that
attention to it which, from its importance, it deserves.’

This subject of roasting occupied a large amount of Count Rumford’s
attention while he was in England residing in Brompton Road, and
founding the Royal Institution. His efforts were directed not merely to
cooking the meat effectively, but to doing so economically. Like all
others who have contemplated thoughtfully the habits of Englishmen, he
was shocked at the barbaric waste of fuel that everywhere prevailed in
this country, even to a greater extent then than now.

The first fact that necessarily presented itself to his mind was the
great amount of heat that is wasted, when an ordinary joint of meat is
suspended in front of an ordinary coal fire to intercept and utilise
only a small fraction of its total radiation.

As far as I am aware, there is no other country in Europe where such
a process is indigenous. I say ‘indigenous,’ because there certainly
are hotels where this or any other English extravagance is perpetrated
to please Englishmen who choose to pay for it. What is usually called
roast meat in countries not inhabited by English-speaking people, is
what we should call ‘baked meat,’ the very name of which sets all
the gastronomic bristles of an orthodox Englishman in a position of

I have a theory of my own respecting the origin of this prejudice.
Within the recollection of many still living, the great middle class of
Englishmen lived in town; their sitting-rooms were back parlours behind
their shops, or factories, or warehouses; their drawing-rooms were on
the first-floor, and kitchens in the basement.

They kept one general servant of the ‘Marchioness’ type. The
corresponding class now live in suburban villas, keep cook, housemaid,
and parlour-maid, besides the gardener and his boy, and they dine at

In the days of the one marchioness and the basement kitchen, these
citizens ‘of credit and renown’ dined at dinner-time, and were in
the habit of placing a three-legged open iron triangle in a brown
earthenware dish, then spreading a stratum of peeled potatoes on said
dish, and a joint of meat above, on the open triangular support. This
edifice was carried by the marchioness to the bakehouse round the
corner at about 11 A.M., and brought back steaming and savoury at 1 P.M.

This was especially the case on Sundays; but there were exceptions, as
when, for example, the condition of the mistress’s wardrobe offered
no particular motive for going to church, and she stayed at home and
roasted the Sunday dinner. The experience thus obtained demonstrated a
material difference between the flavour of the roasted and the baked
meat very decidedly in favour of the home roasted. Why?

The principal reason was, I believe, that the baker’s large bread-oven
contained at dinner-time a curious medley of meats—mutton, beef, pork,
geese, veal, &c., including stuffing with sage and onions, besides
the possibility of a joint or two that had been hung longer than was
necessary for procuring tenderness. The vapours of these would induce
a confusion of flavours in the milder meats, fully accounting for the
observed superiority of the home-roasted joints.

A little reflection on the principles already expounded will show that,
theoretically regarded, a given piece of meat would be better roasted
in a closed chamber radiating heat _from all sides_ towards the meat
than it could be when suspended in front of a fire and heated only on
one side, while the other side was turned away to cool more or less,
according to the rate of rotation.

If I agreed with the popular belief in the advantage of open-air
exposure to direct radiation from glowing coal, I should suggest that
for large joints a special roasting fire be constructed, by building
an upright cylinder of fire-brick, and erecting within this a smaller
cylinder or grating of iron bars, so that the fuel should be placed
between these, and thus form an upright cylindrical ring or shirt of
fire, enclosed outside by the bricks, but open and glowing towards the
inside of the hollow cylinder, in the midst of which the meat should be
suspended to receive the radiation from all sides.

The whole apparatus might stand under a dome, terminating in an
ordinary chimney, like a glass-house or a steel-maker’s cementing
furnace; or, in this respect, like those wondrous kitchens of the old
seraglio at Constantinople, where each apartment is a huge chimney,
outspreading downwards, so that the cooks, and their materials and
apparatus, as well as the huge fires themselves, are all under the
great central chimney shaft.

I do not, however, recommend such an apparatus, even to the most
wealthy and luxurious epicure, because I am convinced, not merely from
theoretical considerations, but also from practical experiments, that
all kinds of meat may be not merely as well roasted in a close oven
as before an open fire, but that the close chamber, properly managed,
produces _better results in every respect_ than can possibly be
obtained by roasting in the open air.

To obtain such results there must be no compromise, no concession
to any false theory respecting a necessity for special ventilation,
excepting in the case of semi-putrid game or venison, which require to
be carbonised and disinfected as well as cooked, and, of course, also
demand the speedy removal of their noxious vapours.

Not so with fresh meats. There is nothing in the vapour of beef that
can injure the flavour of beef, nor in the vapour of mutton that is
damaging to mutton, and so on with the rest. But there is much that
can, and does actually improve them; or, more strictly speaking,
prevents the deterioration to which they are liable when roasted before
an open fire. I will endeavour to explain this.

Carefully-conducted experiments have demonstrated the general law
that atmospheric air is a vacuum to the vapour of water and other
similar vapours, while each particular vapour is a plenum to itself,
though not to other vapours; or, otherwise stated, if a given space,
at a given temperature, be filled with air, the quantity of aqueous
vapour that it is capable of holding is the same as though this space
contained no air at all, nor anything else. But this same space
may contain a much smaller quantity of aqueous vapour, and yet be
absolutely impenetrable to aqueous vapour, provided its temperature is

Thus, if a bell-glass, filled with air, under ordinary pressure, at the
temperature of 100° Fahr., be placed over a dish of water at the same
temperature, a quantity of vapour, equal to 1/30th (in round numbers)
of the weight of the air, will rise into the bell-glass, and there
remain diffused throughout. If there were less air, or no air at all
(temperature remaining the same), the bell-glass would obtain and hold
the same quantity of vapour.

If, instead of being filled with air, it contained at the outset only
this 1/30th of aqueous vapour, it would now be an impenetrable plenum,
behaving like a solid to aqueous vapour—no more could be forced into it
while its temperature remained the same.

But while thus charged with aqueous vapour, there would still be room
for vapour of alcohol, or turpentine, or ether, or chloroform, &c. It
would be a vacuum to these, though a plenum to itself. On the other
hand, if the alcohol, turpentine, ether, or chloroform were allowed to
evaporate into the bell-glass, a certain quantity of either of these
vapours would presently enter it, and then this vapour would act like
a solid mass in resisting the entry of any more of its own kind, while
it would be freely pervious to the vapour of water or that of the other

A practical example will further illustrate this. Some years ago I was
engaged in the distillation of paraffin oil, and had a few thousand
gallons of the crude liquid in a still with a tall head and a rising
condenser. In spite of severe firing, the distillation proceeded very
slowly. Then I threw into the still, just above the surface of the oil,
a jet of steam. The rate of distillation immediately increased with
the same firing, although the steam was of much lower temperature than
the boiling oil, and, therefore, wasted much heat. The _rationale_ of
this was, that at first an atmosphere of oil vapour stood over the
oil, and this was impervious to more oil vapour, but on sweeping this
out and replacing it by steam, the atmosphere above the liquid oil was
permeable by oil vapour. This principle is largely applied in similar

Always keeping in view that the primary problem in roasting is to raise
the temperature throughout to the cooking heat without desiccation
of the natural juices of the meat, and applying to this problem the
laws of vapour diffusion expounded in my last, it is easy enough to
understand the theoretical advantages of roasting in a closed oven, the
space within which speedily becomes saturated with those particular
vapours that resist further vaporisation of these juices.

In all open-air roasting, whether by the one-sided fire of ordinary
construction or the surrounding fire that I have suggested, convection
currents are necessarily at work desiccating and toughening the meat in
spite of the basting, though tempered thereby.

I say ‘theoretical,’ because I despair of practically convincing any
thoroughbred Englishman that baked meat is better than roasted meat by
any reasoning whatever. If, however, he is sufficiently ‘un-English’ to
test the question experimentally, he may possibly convince himself.
To do this fairly, a large joint of meat should be equally divided,
one half roasted in front of the fire, the other in a non-ventilated
oven over a little water by a cook who knows how to heat the oven. This
condition is essential, as some intelligence is demanded in regulating
the temperature of an oven, while any barbarian can carry out the
modern modification of the ordinary device of the savage, who skewers a
bit of meat, and holds this near enough to a fire to make it frizzle.

Having settled this question to my own satisfaction more than twenty
years ago, I now amuse myself occasionally by experimenting upon
others, and continually find that the most uncompromising theoretical
haters of baked meat practically prefer it to orthodox roasted meat,
provided always that they eat it in ignorance.

Part II. of Count Rumford’s ‘Tenth Essay’ is devoted to his roaster
and roasting generally, and occupies ninety-four pages, including
the special preface. This preface is curious now, as it contains the
following apology for delay of publication: ‘During several months,
almost the whole of my time was taken up with the business of the
Royal Institution; and those who are acquainted with the objects of
that noble establishment will, no doubt, think that I judged wisely in
preferring its interest to every other concern.’

To those who attend the fashionable gatherings held on Friday evenings
in ‘that noble establishment’ during the London season, it is almost
comical to read what its founder says concerning the object for which
it was instituted—viz. the noble purpose of DIFFUSING THE KNOWLEDGE
AND IMPROVEMENTS.’ The capitals are Rumford’s, and he illustrates their
meaning by reference to ‘the repository of this new establishment,’
where specimens of pots and kettles, ovens, roasters, fireplaces,
gridirons, tea-kettles, kitchen-boilers, &c., might be inspected.

Some years ago, when I was sufficiently imprudent to accept an
invitation to describe Rumford’s scientific researches in _one_
Friday evening lecture, rigidly limited to fifty-seven minutes (and
consequently muddled my subject in the vain struggle to condense it),
I tried to find the original roaster, but failed; all that remained
of the original ‘repository’ being a few models put out of the way as
though they were empty wine-bottles. I am not finding fault, as the
noble work that has been done there by Davy, Faraday, and Tyndall must
have profoundly gladdened the supervising soul of Rumford (supposing
that it does such spiritual supervision), in spite of his neglected
roaster, which I must now describe without further digression.

It is shown open and out of its setting in Fig. 1, and there seen
as a hollow cylinder of sheet-iron, which, for ordinary use, may be
about 18 inches in diameter and 24 inches long, closed permanently
at one end, and by a hinged double door of sheet-iron (_dd_) at the
other. The doubling of the door is for the purpose of retaining the
heat by means of an intervening lining of ill-conducting material.
Or a single door of sheet-iron, with a panel of wood outside, may be
used. The whole to be set horizontally in brickwork, as shown in Fig.
4, the door-front being flush with the front of the brickwork. The
flame of the small fire below plays freely all round it by filling the
enveloping flue-space indicated by the dotted lines on Fig. 4. Inside
the cylinder is a shelf to support the dripping-pan (_d_) Fig. 1,
which is separately shown in Figs. 2 and 3.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

This dripping-pan is an important element of the apparatus. Fig.
3 shows it in cross section, made up of two tin-plate dishes, one
above the other, arranged to leave a space (_w_) between. This space
contains water, half to three-quarters of an inch in depth. Above is
a gridiron, shown in plan, Fig. 2, on which the meat rests; the bars
of this are shown in section in Fig. 3. The object of this arrangement
is to prevent the fat which drips from the meat from being overheated
and filling the roaster with the fumes of burnt—_i.e._ partially
decomposed, fat and gravy, to the tainting influence of which Rumford
attributed the English prejudice against baked meat. So long as any
water remains the dripping cannot be raised more than two or three
degrees above 212°.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.]

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

The tube _v_, Fig. 1, is for carrying away vapour, if necessary. This
tube may be opened or closed by means of a damper moved by the little
handle shown on the right. The _heat_ of the roaster is regulated
by means of the register _c_, Fig. 4, in the ash-pit door of the
fire-place, its _dryness_ by the above-named damper of the steam tube
_v_, and also by the blowpipes, _b p_.

These are iron tubes, about 2½ in. in diameter, placed underneath, so
as to be in the midst of the flame as it ascends from the fire into
the enveloping flue, shown by the dotted lines, Fig. 4, where their
external openings are shown at _b p_, _b p_, and the plugs by which
they may be opened or closed in Fig. 1. It is evident that by removing
these plugs, and opening the damper of the steam pipe, a blast of hot
dry air will be delivered into the roaster at its back part, and it
must pass forward to escape by the steam pipe. As these blowpipes are
raised to a red heat when the fire is burning briskly, the temperature
of this blast of air may be very high; with even a very moderate fire,
sufficiently high to desiccate and spoil the meat if they were kept
open during all the time of cooking. They are accordingly to be kept
closed until the last stage of the roasting is reached; then the fire
is urged by opening the ash-pit register, and when the blowpipes are
about red-hot, their plugs are removed, and the steam-pipe damper is
opened for a few minutes to brown the meat by means of the hot wind
thus generated.

It will be observed that a special fire directly under the roaster is
here designed, and that this fire is enclosed in brickwork. This is a
general feature of Rumford’s arrangements. The economy of the whole
device will be understood by the fact that in a test experiment at the
Foundling Institution of London, he roasted 112 lbs. of beef with a
consumption of only 22 lbs. of coal (three pennyworth, at 25_s._ per

Rumford tells us that ‘when these roasters were first proposed, and
before their merit was established, many doubts were entertained
respecting the taste of the food prepared in them,’ but that, after
many practical trials, it was proved that ‘meat of every kind, without
any exception, roasted in a roaster, is _better tasted, higher
flavoured, and much more juicy and delicate_ than when roasted on a
spit before an open fire.’ These italics are in the original, and the
testimony of competent judges is quoted.

I must describe one experiment in detail. Two legs of mutton from the
same carcass made equal in weight before cooking were roasted, one
before the fire and the other in a roaster. When cooked, both were
weighed, and the joint roasted in the roaster proved to be heavier than
the other by 6 per cent. They were brought upon table at the same time,
‘and a large and perfectly unprejudiced company was assembled to eat
them.’ Both were found good, but a decided preference given to that
cooked in the roaster; ‘it was much more juicy, and was thought better
tasted.’ Both were fairly eaten up, nothing remaining of either that
was eatable, and the fragments collected. ‘Of the leg of mutton which
had been roasted in the roaster, hardly anything visible remained,
excepting the bare bone, while a considerable heap was formed of scraps
not eatable which remained of that roasted on a spit.’

This was an eloquent experiment; the gain of 6 per cent. tells of
juices retained with consequent gain of flavour, tenderness, and
digestibility, and the subsequent testimony of the scraps describes the
difference in the condition of the tendonous, integumentary portions of
the joints, which are just those that present the toughest practical
problems to the cook, especially in roasting.

But why are these roasters not in general use? Why did they die with
their inventor, notwithstanding the fact, mentioned in his essay, that
Mr. Hopkins, of Greek Street, Soho, had sold above 200, and others were
making them?

Those of my readers who have had practical experience in using hot
air or in superheating steam, will doubtless have already detected a
weak point in the ‘blowpipes.’ When iron pipes are heated to redness,
or thereabouts, and a blast of air or steam passes through them, they
work admirably for a while, but presently the pipe gives way, for iron
is a combustible substance, and burns slowly when heated and supplied
with abundant oxygen, either by means of air or water; the latter being
decomposed, its hydrogen set free, while its oxygen combines with the
iron, and reduces it to friable oxide. Rumford does not appear to have
understood this, or he would have made his blowpipes of fire-clay or
other refractory non-oxidisable material.

The records of the Great Seal Office contain specifications of hundreds
of ingenious inventions that have failed most vexatiously from this
defect; and I could tell of joint-stock companies that have been
‘floated’ to carry out inventions involving the use of heated air or
super-heated steam that have worked beautifully and with apparent
economy while the shares were in the market, and then collapsed just
when the calls were paid up, the cost of renewal of superheaters and
hot-air chambers having worse than annulled the economy of working
fuel described in the prospectus. Thus a vessel driven by heated air,
as a substitute for steam, was fitted up with its caloric engine, and
crossed the Atlantic with passengers on board. The voyage practically
demonstrated a great saving of coal; the patent rights were purchased
accordingly for a very large amount, and shares went up buoyantly until
the oxidation of the great air chamber proved that the engine burned
iron as well as coal at a ruinous cost.

Although no mention is made by Rumford of such destruction of the
blowpipes, he was evidently conscious of the costliness of his original
roaster, as he describes another which may be economically substituted
for it. This has an air chamber formed by bringing down the body of
the oven so as to enclose the space occupied by the blowpipes shown in
Fig. 1, and placing the dripping-pan on a false bottom joined to the
front face of the roaster just below the door, but not extending quite
to the back. An adjustable register door opens at the front into this
air chamber, and when this is opened the air passes along from front to
back under the false bottom, and rises behind to an outlet pipe like
that shown at _v_, Fig. 1. In thus passing along the hot bottom of the
oven the air is heated, but not so greatly as by the blowpipes, which
being surrounded by the flame on all sides, are heated above as well as
below, and the air in passing through them is much more exposed to heat
than in passing through the air-chamber.

To increase the heat transmitted in the latter, Rumford proposes that
‘a certain quantity of iron wire, in loose coils, or of iron turnings,
be put into the air chamber.’

This modification he called a ‘roasting-oven,’ to distinguish it from
the first described, the ‘roaster.’ He states that the roasting-oven
is not quite so effective as the roaster, but from its greater
cheapness may be largely used. This anticipation has been realised. The
modern ‘kitchener,’ which in so many forms is gradually and steadily
supplanting the ancient open range, is an apparatus in which roasting
in the open air before a fire is superseded by roasting in a closed
chamber or roasting-oven. Having made three removals within the last
twelve years, each preceded by a tedious amount of house-hunting, I
have seen a great many kitchens of newly-built houses, and find that
about 90 per cent. of these have closed kitcheners, and only about 10
per cent. are fitted with open ranges of the old pattern. Bottle-jacks,
like smoke-jacks and spits, are gradually falling into disuse.

When these kitcheners were first introduced, a great point was made
by the manufacturer of the distinction between the roasting and the
baking-oven; the first being provided with a special apparatus for
effecting ventilation by devices more or less resembling that in
Rumford’s roasting-oven. Gradually these degenerated into mere shams,
and now in the best kitcheners even a pretence to ventilation is
abandoned. Having reasoned out my own theory of the conditions demanded
for perfect roasting some time ago (about 1860, when I lectured on
‘Household Philosophy,’ to a class of ladies at the Birmingham and
Midland Institute), I have watched the gradual disappearance of
these concessions to popular prejudice with some interest, as they
show how practical experience has confirmed my theory, which, as
already expounded, is that _fresh meat should be cooked by the action
of radiant heat, projected towards it from all sides, while it is
immersed in an atmosphere nearly saturated with its own vapours_.

Let it be clearly understood that I refer to the vapours as they rise
from the meat, and not to the vapour of burnt dripping, which Rumford
describes. The acrid properties of the products of such partial
dissociation are far better understood by modern chemists than they
were in Rumford’s time.

His water dripping-pan effectually prevents their formation. It is
still manufactured of the precise pattern shown in the drawing, copied
from Rumford’s, and cooks who understand their business at all use it
as a matter of course.

The few domestic fireplace-ovens that existed in Rumford’s time were
clumsily heated by raking some of the fire from the grate into a space
left below the oven. Those of the best modern kitcheners are heated by
flues going round them, generally starting from the top, which thus
attains the highest temperature. The radiation from this does the
‘browning’ for which Rumford’s blowpipes were designed.

Here I differ from my teacher, as, according to my view of the
philosophy of roasting, the browning, or the application of the
highest temperature, should take place at the beginning rather than
the end of the process, in order that a crust of firmly coagulated
albumen may surround the joint and retain the juices of the meat.
All that is necessary to obtain this effect in a sufficient degree
is to raise the roasting-oven to an excessive temperature before the
meat is put in. Supposing an equal fire is maintained all the while,
this excessive initial temperature will presently decline, because,
when the meat is in the oven, the radiant heat from its sides is
intercepted by the joint and doing work upon it; heat cannot do work
without a corresponding fall of temperature. While the oven is empty
the radiations from each side cross the open space to reinforce the
temperature of the other sides.

When I first decided to write on this subject I made some designs for
kitchen thermometers intending to have them made, and to recommend
their use; but was not successful. When a man condemns his own
inventions, his verdict may be safely accepted without further inquiry.

I afterwards learned that Messrs. Davis & Co. had already constructed
special oven thermometers, to be so attached to the oven-door that the
bulb should be inside and the tube having the expansion of the mercury
outside, and therefore readable without opening the door, as shown in
Fig. 5, and another for standing inside the oven, Fig. 6.

I learned by these thermometers the cause of my own failure. I tried
to do too much—to construct one form of thermometer to do all kinds of
kitchen work. A thermometer suitable for the oven is not applicable
to trying the temperature of a fat-bath used in frying. I accordingly
wrote to Messrs. Davis asking them to devise a thermometer for this
purpose. They have done so. It is described in the next chapter.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.]

[Illustration: FIG. 6.]

Is there, then, any difference at all between roasting and baking?
There is. In roasting, the temperature, after the first start, is
maintained about uniformly throughout; while in baking bread by the
old-fashioned method, the temperature continually declines from the
beginning to the end of the process; but in order that a dweller in
cities, or the cook of an ordinary town household, may understand this
difference, some explanation is necessary. The old-fashioned oven, such
as was generally used in Rumford’s time, and is still used in country
houses and by old-fashioned bakers, is an arched cavity of brick with
a flat brick floor. This cavity is closed by a suitable door, which
in its primitive, and perhaps its best form, was a flat tile pressed
against the opening and luted round with clay. Such ovens were, and
still are, heated by simply spreading on the brick floor a sufficient
quantity of wood—preferably well-dried twigs; these, being lighted,
raise the temperature of the arched roof to a glowing heat, and that
of the floor in a somewhat lower degree. When this heating is completed
(the judgement of which constitutes the chief element of skill in
thus baking) the embers are carefully brushed out from the floor, the
loaves, &c., inserted by means of a flat battledore with a long handle,
called a ‘peel,’ and the door closed and firmly luted round, not to
be opened until the operation is complete. Baked clay is an excellent
radiator, and therefore the surface of bricks forming the arched roof
of the oven radiates vigorously upon its contents below, which are
thus heated at top by radiation from the roof, and at bottom by direct
contact with the floor of the oven. The difference between the compact
bottom crust, and the darker bubble-bearing top crust of an ordinary
loaf is thus explained.

As the baking of a large joint of meat is a longer operation than the
baking of bread, there is another reason besides that already given for
the inferiority of meat when baked in a baker’s oven constructed on
this principle. The slow cooling-down must tend to produce a flabbiness
and insipidity similar to that of the roast meat which is served at
restaurants where a joint remains ‘in cut’ for two or three hours. Of
this I speak theoretically, not having had an opportunity of tasting a
joint that has been cooked in a brick oven of the construction above
described; but I have observed the advantage of maintaining a steady
heat throughout the process of roasting (after the first higher heating
above described), in the iron oven of a kitchener, or American stove,
or gas oven.

Another and somewhat original method of roasting is that which is
carried out in ‘Captain Warren’s Cooking Pot,’ concerning the practical
result of which I hear conflicting opinions. It is a large pot
containing water, inside which is suspended—like the glue chamber of a
glue-pot—an inner vessel. The meat to be cooked is placed without water
in this inner closed vessel, which dips into the water of the outer
vessel, the steam from which is led away by a side opening or pipe.
This outer water being kept boiling, the meat is surrounded only by its
own vapour, in the midst of which it is cooked at a low temperature.

The result is similar to boiled meat, with the advantage of retaining
those juices that pass away into the water in ordinary boiling. This
advantage is unquestionable, and so far the apparatus may be safely
recommended. But some of the claims made in the prospectuses that are
freely distributed are questionable.

The method of roasting with Warren’s pot is to cook the meat as above
described in its own vapour, then dredge with flour, and hang before
the fire twenty minutes. The result is a tender imitation of roast
meat, but more like boiled than roasted meat in flavour. This is much
approved by many, but I am told that meat thus cooked and eaten daily
palls upon the appetite. I know one, a youth (not one of our fastidious
fops of the period), who, fed upon this at school during a few years,
has thereby acquired a fixed aversion to boiled meat of all kinds.

Regarding the subject theoretically, it appears to me that the method
recommended by Captain Warren, and followed by those who use his
cooker, should be reversed for roasting; that the meat should have
the twenty minutes before the fire—or in a hot oven—before, instead
of after, its stewing in its own vapour. Some experiments I have made
confirm this view so far as they go, but are not sufficiently numerous
to settle the question.

For stewing of all kinds, and for such concoctions as Rumford’s
soup (_see_ Chapter XIV.), it is an admirable apparatus, and the
contrivances for carrying the steam from the outer vessel to a
vegetable steamer above the cooking chamber, before described, is very
ingenious and effective.

The statement in the prospectus, that the ‘nourishing juices’ otherwise
wasted ‘are by that mode condensed, and form at the bottom of the
vessel a rich gelatinous body,’ is misleading.

Gelatin is not volatile; the gelatinous body at the bottom of the
vessel is not composed of condensed vapours, though condensed vapour
of water is concerned in its formation. It is simply some of the
gelatin of the joint dissolved by the water which condenses upon it,
and finally drips down from the joint, carrying with it the dissolved



THE process of frying follows next in natural order to those of
roasting and grilling. A little reflection will show that in frying the
heat is not communicated to the food by radiation from a heated surface
at some distance, but by direct contact with the heating medium, which
is the hot fat commonly, but erroneously, described as ‘boiling fat.’

As I am writing for intelligent readers who desire to understand the
philosophy of the common processes of cookery, so far as they are
understandable, this fallacy concerning boiling fat should be pushed
aside at once.

Generally speaking, ordinary animal fats are not boilable under the
pressure of our atmosphere (one of the constituent fatty acids of
butter, butyric acid, is an exception; it boils at 314° Fahr.). Before
reaching their boiling-point, _i.e._ the temperature at which they
pass completely into the state of vapour, their constituents are more
or less dissociated or separated by the repulsive agency of the heat,
new compounds being in many cases formed by recombinations of their

When water is heated to 212° it is converted completely into a gas,
which gas, on cooling below 212°, returns to the fluid state without
any loss. In like manner if we raise an essential oil, such as
turpentine, to 320°, or oil of peppermint to 340°, or orange-peel oil
to 345°, or patchouli to 489°, and other such oils to certain other
temperatures, they pass into a state of vapour, and these vapours,
when cooled, recondense into their original form of liquid oil without
alteration. Hence they are called ‘volatile oils,’ while the greasy
oils which cannot thus be distilled (in which class animal fats are
included) are called ‘fixed oils.’

A very simple practical means of distinguishing these is the following:
make a spot of the oil to be tested on clean blotting-paper. Heat this
by holding it above a spirit-lamp flame, or by toasting before a fire.
If the oil is volatile the spot disappears; if fixed, it remains as a
spot of grease until the heat is raised high enough to char the paper,
of which charring (a result of the dissociation above-named) the oil

But the practical cook may say, ‘This is wrong, for the fat in my
frying-pan does boil. I see it boil, and I hear it boil.’ The reply to
this is, that the lard, or dripping, or butter that you put into your
frying-pan is oil mixed with water, and that it is not the oil but the
water that you see boiling. To prove this, take some fresh lard, as
usually supplied, and heat it in any convenient vessel, raising the
temperature gradually. Presently it will begin to splutter. If you
try it with a thermometer you will find that this spluttering-point
agrees with the boiling-point of water, and if you use a retort you may
condense and collect the splutter-matter, and prove it to be water.
So long as the spluttering continues the temperature of the melted
fat, _i.e._ the oil, remains about the same, the water vapour carrying
away the heat. When all the water is driven off the liquid becomes
quiescent, in spite of its temperature rising from 212° to above 400°,
when a pungent smoky vapour comes off and the oil grows darker; this
vapour is not vapour of lard, but vapour of separated and recombined
constituents of the lard, which is now suffering dissociation, the
volatile products passing off while the non-volatile carbon (_i.e._
lard-charcoal) remains behind, colouring the liquid. If the heating
be continued, a residuum of this carbon, in the form of soft coke or
charcoal, will be all that remains in the heated vessel.

We may now understand what happens when something humid—say a sole—is
put into a frying-pan which contains fat heated above 212°. Water, when
suddenly heated above its boiling-point, is a powerful explosive, and
may be very dangerous, simply because it expands to 1,728 times its
original bulk when converted into steam. Steam-engine boilers and the
boilers of kitchen stoves sometimes explode by becoming red-hot while
dry, and then receiving a little water which suddenly expands to steam.

The noise and spluttering that is started immediately the sole is
immersed in the hot fat is due to the explosion of a multitude of small
bubbles formed by the confinement of the suddenly expanding steam in
the viscous fat, from which it releases itself with a certain degree
of violence. It is evident that to effect this amount of eruptive
violence, the temperature must be considerably above the boiling-point
of the exploding water. If it were only just at the boiling-point, the
water would boil quietly.

As we all know, the flavour and appearance of a boiled sole or mackerel
are decidedly different from those of a fried sole or mackerel, and
it is easy to understand that the different results of these cooking
processes are to some extent due to the difference of temperature to
which the fish is subjected. It will be at once understood that my
theory of the chief difference between roasted or grilled meat and
boiled meat applies to fried fish; that the flavouring juices are
retained when the fish is fried, while more or less of them escape into
the water when boiled.

Besides this, the surface of the fried fish, like that of the roasted
or grilled meat, is ‘browned.’ What is the nature, the chemistry of
this browning?

I have endeavoured to find some answer to this question, that I might
quote with authority, but no technological or purely chemical work
within my reach supplies such answer. Rumford refers to it as essential
to roasting, and provides for it in the manner already described,
but he goes no farther into the philosophy of it than admitting its
flavouring effect.

I must therefore struggle with the problem in my own way as I best can.
Has the gentle reader ever attempted the manufacture of ‘hard-bake,’
or ‘toffy,’ or ‘butter-scotch,’ by mixing sugar with butter, fusing
the mixture, and heating further until the well-known hard, brown
confection is produced? I venture to call this fried sugar. If heated
simply without the butter it may be called baked sugar. The scientific
name for this baked sugar is _caramel_.

The chemical changes that take place in the browning of sugar have been
more systematically studied than those which occur in the constituents
of flesh when browned in the course of ordinary cookery. Believing
them to be nearly analogous, I will state, as briefly as possible, the
leading facts concerning the sugar.

Ordinary sugar is crystalline, _i.e._ when it passes from the liquid
to the solid state it assumes regular geometrical forms. If the
solidification takes place undisturbed and slowly, the geometric
crystals are large, as in sugar-candy; if the water is rapidly
evaporated with agitation, the crystals are small, and the whole
mass is a granular aggregation of crystals, such as we see in loaf
sugar. If this crystalline sugar be heated to about 320° Fahr. it
fuses, and without any change of chemical composition undergoes
some sort of internal physical alteration that makes it cohere in a
different fashion. (The learned name for this action is _allotropism_,
and the substance is said to be _allotropic_, other conditioned; or
_dimorphic_, two-shaped). Instead of being crystalline the sugar
now becomes vitreous, it solidifies as a transparent amber-coloured
glass-like substance, the well-known barley-sugar, which differs from
crystalline sugar not only in this respect, but has a much lower
melting-point; it liquefies between 190° and 212°, while loaf-sugar
does not fuse below 320°. Left to itself, vitreous sugar returns
gradually to its original condition, loses transparency, and breaks up
into small crystals. In doing this it gives out the heat which during
its vitreous condition had been doing the work of breaking up its
crystalline structure, and therefore was not manifested as temperature.

This return to the crystalline condition is retarded by adding vinegar
or mucilaginous matter to the heated sugar; hence the confectioners’
name of ‘barley-sugar,’ which, in one of its old-fashioned forms, was
prepared by boiling down ordinary sugar in a decoction of pearl barley.

The French cooks and confectioners carry on the heating of sugar
through various stages bearing different technical names, one of the
most remarkable of which is a splendid crimson variety, largely used
in fancy sweetmeats, and containing no foreign colouring matter, as
commonly supposed. Though nothing is added, something is taken away,
and this is some of the chemically-combined water of the original
sugar, in the parting with which not only a change of colour occurs,
but also a modification of flavour, as anybody may prove by experiment.

When the temperature is gradually raised to 420°, the sugar loses two
equivalents of water, and becomes _caramel_—a dark-brown substance, no
longer sweet, but having a new flavour of its own. It further differs
from sugar by being incapable of fermentation.

The first stage of this cookery of sugar has now an archæological
interest in connection with one of the lost arts of the kitchen, viz.
the ‘spinning’ of sugar. Within the reach of my own recollection no
evening party could pretend to be stylish unless the supper-table was
decorated with a specimen of this art—a temple, a pagoda, or something
of the sort done in barley-sugar. These were made by raising the sugar
to 320°, when it fused and became amorphous, or vitreous, as already
described. The cook then dipped a skewer into it; the melted vitreous
sugar adhered to this, and was drawn out as a thread, which speedily
solidified by cooling. While in the act of solidification it was woven
into the desired form, and the skilful artist did this with wonderful
rapidity. I once witnessed with childish delight the spinning of a
great work of art by the Duke of Cumberland’s French cook in St.
James’s Palace. It was a ship in full sail, the sails of edible wafer,
the hull a basketwork of spun sugar, the masts of massive sugar-sticks,
and the rigging of delicate threads of the same. As nearly as I can
remember, the whole was completed in about an hour.

But to return from high art below stairs to chemical science. The
conversion of sugar into caramel is, as already stated, attended with
a change of flavour; a kind of bitterness replaces the sweetness.
This peculiar flavour, judiciously used, is a powerful adjunct to
cookery, and one which is shamefully neglected in our ordinary English
domestic kitchens. To test this, go to one of those Swiss restaurants
originally instituted in this country by that enterprising Ticinese,
the late Carlo Gatti, and which are now so numerous in London and our
other large towns; call for _maccheroni al sugo_; notice the rich brown
gravy, the ‘sugo.’ Many an English cook would use half a pound of gravy
beef to produce the like; but the basis of this is a halfpennyworth or
less of what I call a caramel compound, as an example of which I copy
the following recipe from the Household Edition of Gouffé’s ‘Royal
Cookery Book:’ ‘Melt half a pound of butter; add one pound of flour;
mix well, and leave on a slow fire, stirring occasionally until it
becomes of a light mahogany colour. When cool it may be kept in the
larder ready for use.’ Gouffé calls this ‘Liaison au Roux;’ the English
for _liaison_ is a thickening. It is really fried flour. Burnt onion is
another form of caramel, with a special flavour superadded. Plain sugar
caramel is improved by the use of a little butter, as in making toffee.
Thus prepared it is really a fried sugar rather than a baked sugar.
_Beurre noir_ (black butter) is another of the caramelised preparations
used by continental cooks.

While engaged upon your macaroni, look around at the other dishes
served to other customers. Instead of the pale slices of meat spread
out in a little puddle of pale watery liquid, that are served in
English restaurants of corresponding class, you will see dainty
morsels, covered with rich brown gravy, or surrounded by vegetables
immersed in the same. This ‘sugo’ is greatly varied according to the
requirements, by additions of stock-broth, tarragon vinegar, ketchup,
&c., but burnt flour, burnt sugar, or burnt onions, or burnt something
is the basis of it all.

To further test the flavouring properties of browning, take some
eels cut up as usual for stewing; divide into two portions; stew one
brutally—by this I mean simply in a little water—serving them with this
water as a pale gravy or juice. Let the second portion be well fried,
fully caramelised or browned, then stewed, and served with brown gravy.
Compare the result. Make a corresponding experiment with a beefsteak.
Cut it in two portions; stew one brutally in plain water; fry the
other, then stew it and serve brown.

Take a highly-baked loaf—better one that is black outside; scrape off
the film of crust that is quite black, _i.e._ completely carbonised,
and you will come to a rich brown layer, especially if you operate
upon the bottom crust. Slice off a thin shaving of this and eat it
critically. Mark its high flavour as compared with the comparatively
insipid crumb of the same loaf, and note especially the resemblance
between this flavour and that of the caramel from sugar, and that of
the browned eels and browned steak. A delicate way of detecting the
flavour due to the browning of bread is to make two bowls of bread and
milk in the same manner, one with the crust the other with the crumb of
the same loaf. I am not suggesting these as examples of better or worse
flavour, but as evidence of the fact that much flavour of some sort is
generated. It may be out of place, as I think it is, in the bread and
milk, or it may be added with much advantage to other things, as it is
by the cook who manipulates caramel and its analogues skilfully.

The largest constituent of bread is starch. Excluding water, it
constitutes about three-fourths of the weight of good wheaten flour.
Starch differs but little from sugar in composition. It is easily
converted into sugar by simply heating it with a little sulphuric
acid, and by other means, of which I shall have to speak more fully
hereafter, when I come to the cookery of vegetables. When simply
heated, it is converted into dextrin or ‘British gum,’ largely used
as a substitute for gum arabic. If the heat is continued a change of
colour takes place; it grows darker and darker, until it blackens just
as sugar does, the final result being nearly the same. Water is driven
off in both cases, but in carbonising sugar we start with more water,
sugar being starch plus water or the elements of water. Thus the brown
material of bread-crust or toast is nearly identical with sugar caramel.

I have often amused myself by watching what occurs when toast and water
is prepared, and I recommend my readers to repeat the observation.
Toast a small piece of bread to blackness, and then float it on water
in a glass vessel. Leave the water at rest, and direct your attention
to the under side of the floating toast. Little threadlike streams of
brown liquid will be seen descending in the water. This is a solution
of the substance which, if I mistake not, is a sort of caramel, and
which ultimately tinges all the water.

Some years ago I commenced a course of experiments with this substance,
but did not complete them. In case I should never do so, I will here
communicate the results attained. I found that this starch caramel
is a disinfectant, and that sugar caramel also has some disinfecting
properties. I am not prepared to say that it is powerful enough to
disinfect sewage, though at the time I had a narrow escape from the
Great Seal Office, where I thought of patenting it for this purpose as
a non-poisonous disinfectant that may be poured into rivers in any
quantity without danger. Though it may not be powerful enough for this,
it has an appreciable effect on water slightly tainted with decomposing
organic matter.

This is a very curious fact. We do not know who invented toast and
water, nor, so far as I can learn, has any theory of its use been
expounded, yet there is extant a vague popular impression that the
toast has some sort of wholesome effect on the water. I suspect that
this must have been originally based on experience, probably on the
experience of our forefathers or foremothers, living in country places
where stagnant water was a common beverage, and various devices were
adopted to render it potable.

Gelatin, fibrin, albumen, &c.—_i.e._ all the materials of animal
food—as already shown, are composed, like starch and sugar, of carbon,
hydrogen and oxygen, with, in the case of these animal substances,
the addition of nitrogen; but this does not prevent their partial
carbonisation (or ‘caramelising,’ if I may invent a name to express the
action which stops short of blackening). Animal fat is a hydrocarbon
which may be similarly browned, and, if I am right in my generalisation
of all these browning processes, an important practical conclusion
follows, viz. that cheap soluble caramel made by skilfully heating
common sugar or flour is really, as well as apparently, as valuable an
element in gravies, &c., as the far more expensive colouring matter of
brown meat gravies, and that our English cooks should use it far more
liberally than they usually do.

The preparation of sugar caramel is easy enough; the sugar should be
gradually heated till it assumes a rich brown colour and has lost its
original sweetness. If carried just far enough, the result is easily
soluble in hot water, and the solution may be kept for a long time,
as it is by cooks who understand its merits. In connection with the
idea of its disinfecting action, I may refer to the cookery of tainted
meat or ‘high’ game. A hare that is repulsively advanced when raw may,
by much roasting and browning, become quite wholesome; and such is
commonly the case in the ordinary cooking of hares. If it were boiled
or merely stewed (without preliminary browning) in this condition, it
would be quite disgusting to ordinary palates.

A leg of mutton for roasting should be hung until it begins to become
odorous; for boiling it should be as fresh as possible. This should be
especially remembered now that we have so much frozen meat imported
from the antipodes. When duly thawed it is in splendid condition for
roasting, but is not usually so satisfactory when boiled. I may here
mention incidentally that such meat is sometimes unjustly condemned on
account of its displaying a raw centre when cooked. This arises from
imperfect thawing. The heat required to thaw a given weight of ice and
bring it up to 60° is about the same as is demanded for the cookery of
an equal quantity of meat, and therefore, while the thawed portion of
the meat is being cooked, the frozen portion is but just thawed, and
remains quite raw.

A much longer time is demanded for thawing—_i.e._ supplying 142° of
latent heat—than might be supposed. To ascertain whether the thawing is
completed, drive an iron skewer through the thickest part of the joint.
If there is a core of ice within it will be distinctly felt by its

A correspondent asks me which is the most nutritious—a slice of English
beef in its own gravy or the browned morsel as served in an Italian
restaurant with the caramel addition to the gravy?

This is a very fair question, and not difficult to answer. If both are
equally cooked, neither overdone nor underdone, they must contain,
weight for weight, exactly the same constituents in equally digestible
form, so far as chemical composition is concerned. Whether they will
actually be digested with equal facility and assimilated with equal
completeness depends upon something else not measurable by chemical
analysis, viz. the relish with which they are respectively eaten.
To some persons the undisguised fleshiness of the English slice,
especially if underdone, is very repugnant. To these the corresponding
morsel, cooked according to Gouffé rather than Mrs. Beeton, would be
more nutritious. To the carnivorous John Bull, who regards such dishes
as ‘nasty French messes’ of questionable composition, the slice of
unmistakable ox-flesh, from a visible joint, would obtain all the
advantages of appreciative mastication, and that sympathy between the
brain and the stomach which is so powerful that, when discordantly
exerted, it may produce the effects that are recorded in the case of
the sporting traveller who was invited by a Red Indian chief to a
‘dog-fight,’ and ate with relish the savoury dishes at what he supposed
to be a preliminary banquet. Digestion was tranquilly and healthfully
proceeding, under the soothing influence of the calumet, when he asked
the chief when the fight would commence. On being told that it was
over, and that, in the final ragoût he had praised so highly, the
last puppy-dog possessed by the tribe had been cooked in his honour,
the normal course of digestion of the honoured guest was completely

Before leaving the subject of caramel, I should say a few words
about French coffee, or ‘Coffee as in France,’ of which we hear so
much. There are two secrets upon which depend the excellence of our
neighbours in the production of this beverage. First, economy in using
the water; second, flavouring with caramel. As regards the first, it
appears that English housewives have been demoralised by the habitual
use of tea, and apply to the infusion of coffee the popular formula for
that of tea, ‘a spoonful for each person and one for the pot.’

The French after-dinner coffee-cup has about one-third of the liquid
capacity of a full-sized English breakfast-cup, but the quantity
of solid coffee supplied to each cupful is more than equal to that
ordinarily allowed for the larger English measure of water.

Besides this, the coffee is commonly, though not universally, flavoured
with a specially and skilfully-prepared caramel, instead of the chicory
so largely used in England. Much of the so-called ‘French coffee’ now
sold by our grocers in tins is caramel flavoured with coffee rather
than coffee flavoured with caramel, and many shrewd English housewives
have discovered that by mixing the cheapest of these French coffees
with an equal quantity of pure coffee they obtain a better result than
with the common domestic mixture of three parts coffee and one of

A few months ago a sample of ‘coffee-finings’ was sent to me for
chemical examination, that I might certify to its composition and
wholesomeness. I described it in my report as ‘a caramel, with a
peculiarly rich aroma and flavour, evidently due to the vegetable
juices or extractive matter naturally united with the saccharine
substance from which it is prepared.’ I had no definite information of
the exact nature of this saccharine substance, but have since learned
that it was a bye-product of sugar refining.

Neither the juice of the beetroot nor the sap of the sugar-cane
consists entirely of pure sugar dissolved in pure water. They both
contain other constituents common to vegetable juices, and some
peculiar to themselves. These mucilaginous matters, when roughly
separated, carry down with them some sugar, and form a sort of coarse
sweetwort, capable by skilful treatment of producing a rich caramel
well suited for mixing with coffee.

Returning to the subject of frying, we encounter a good illustration
of the practical importance of sound theory. A great deal of fish and
other kinds of food is badly and wastefully cooked in consequence of
the prevalence of a false theory of frying. It is evident that many
domestic cooks (not hotel or restaurant cooks) have a vague idea that
the metal plate forming the bottom of the frying-pan should directly
convey the heat of the fire to the fried substance, and that the bit of
butter or lard or dripping put into the pan is used to prevent the fish
from sticking to it or to add to the richness of the fish by smearing
its surface.

The theory which I have propounded above is that the melted fat cooks
by convection of heat, just as water does in the so-called boiling of
meat. If this is correct, it is evident that the fish, &c., should
be completely immersed in a bath of melted fat or oil, and that the
turning over demanded by the greased-plate theory is unnecessary.
Well educated cooks understand this distinctly, and use a deeper
vessel than our common frying-pan, charge this with a quantity of
fat sufficient to cover the fish, which is simply laid upon a wire
support, or frying-basket and left in the hot fat until the browning
of its surface, or of the flour or bread-crumbs with which it is
coated indicates the sufficiency of the cookery. The illustration
is from Gouffé’s excellent cookery-book already quoted, and is
introduced because I have found it so little understood by English
housewives. Frying-kettles may now be purchased at all our best English
ironmongers, though until recently they were difficult to obtain. My
lectures and papers have largely extended the demand and consequent

[Illustration: FIG. 7.]

At first sight the deep fat bath appears extravagant, as compared
with the practice of greasing the bottom of the pan with a little
dab of fat, but any housewife who will apply to the frying of
sprats, herrings, &c., the method of quantitative inductive
research, described and advocated by Lord Bacon in his ‘Novum Organum
Scientiarum,’ may prove the contrary.

‘Must I read the “Novum Organum,” and buy another dictionary, in
order to translate all this?’ she may exclaim in despair. ‘No!’ is
my reply. This Baconian inductive method, to which we are indebted
for all the triumphs of modern science, is nothing more nor less than
the systematic and orderly application of common sense and definite
measurement to practical questions. In this case it may be applied
simply by frying a weighed quantity of any kind of fish or cutlet, &c.,
in a weighed quantity of fat used as a bath; then weighing the fat that
remains and subtracting the latter weight from the first, to determine
the quantity consumed. If the frying be properly performed, and this
quantity compared with that which is consumed by the method of merely
greasing the pan-bottom, the bath frying will be proved to be the more
economical as well as the more efficient method.

The reason of this is simply that much or all of the fat is burnt
and wasted when only a thin film is spread on the bottom of the pan,
while no such waste occurs when the bath of fat is properly used. The
temperature at which the dissociation of fat _commences_ is below that
required for delicately browning the surface of the fish itself, or
of the flour or bread-crumbs, and therefore no fat is burnt away from
the bath, as it is by the over-heated portions of a merely greased
frying-pan; and as regards the quantity adhering to the fish itself,
this may be reduced to a minimum by withdrawing it from the bath when
_the whole_ is uniformly at the maximum cooking temperature, and
allowing the fluid fat to drain off at once. It may be supposed that
by complete immersion of the fish in the fat-bath, more fat will soak
into it, but such is not the case; the water amidst the fibres of the
fish is boiling and driving out steam so rapidly that no fat can enter
if the heat is well maintained to the last moment, and the frying not
continued too long. When cooked on the greased plate, one side is
necessarily cooling, and the fat settling down into the fish to occupy
the pores left vacuous by the condensing steam, while the other is
being heated from below.

The temperature of the fat-bath may be tested by the ordinary cook’s
method—that of throwing into it a small piece of bread-crumb about the
size of a nut. If it frizzles and produces large bubbles of steam, the
full temperature of frying in the hottest of fat is reached; if it
frizzles slightly, and only gives out small steam-bubbles, you have the
temperature demanded for slow frying.

The bath-frying demands separate supplies of fat[9]—one for fish,
another for cutlets and other similar kinds of meat, a third for such
goody-goodies as apple-fritters—a most wholesome and delicious dish,
too rarely seen on English tables. I suspect that the prevalence of the
greased frying-pan is the reason of its rarity. Cooked by this barbaric
device, apples are scarcely eatable, but when thin slices are immersed
in a bath of melted fat at a temperature of about 300° Fahr., the water
of their juice is suddenly boiled, and as this water is contained in
a multitude of little bladderlike cells, they burst, and the whole
structure is puffed out to a most delicate lightness, far more suitable
for following solid meats than soddened fruit enveloped in heavy
indigestible pudding-paste. Another advantage is that with proper
apparatus (wire basket, kettle, and store of special fat) the fritters
can be prepared and cooked in about one-tenth of the time demanded for
the preparation and cookery of an apple pudding or pie. A few seconds
of immersion in the fat-bath is sufficient.

The fat used in frying requires occasional purification. I may
illustrate the principle on which it should be conducted by describing
the method adopted in the refining of mineral oils, such as petroleum
or the paraffin distillates of bituminous shales. These are dark, tarry
liquids of treacle-like consistency, with a strong and offensive odour.
Nevertheless they are, at but little cost, converted into the ‘crystal
oil’ used for lamps, and that beautiful pearly substance, the solid,
translucent paraffin now so largely used in the manufacture of candles.
Besides these, we obtain from the same dirty source an intermediate
substance, the well-known ‘Vaseline,’ now becoming the basis of most
of the ointments of the pharmacopœia. This purification is effected
by agitation with sulphuric acid, which partly carbonises and partly
combines with the impurities, and separates them in the form of a foul
and acrid black mess, known technically as ‘acid tar.’ When I was
engaged in the distillation of cannel and shale in Flintshire, this
acid tar was a terrible bugbear. It found its way mysteriously into the
Alyn river and poisoned the trout; but now, if I am correctly informed,
the Scotch manufacturers have turned it to profitable account.

Animal fat and vegetable oils are similarly purified. Very
objectionable refuse fat of various kinds is thus made into tallow,
or material for the soap-maker, and grease for lubricating machinery.
Unsavoury stories have been told about the manufacture of butter from
Thames mud or the nodules of fat that are gathered therefrom by the
mudlarks, but they are all false (see paper on ‘The Oleaginous Product
of Thames Mud’ in ‘Science in Short Chapters’). It may be possible
to purify fatty matter from the foulest of admixtures, and do this
so completely as to produce a soft, tasteless fat, _i.e._ a butter
substitute, but such a curiosity would cost more than half a crown per
pound, and therefore the market is safe, especially as the degree of
purification required for soap-making and machinery grease costs but
little and the demand for such fat is very great.

These methods of purification are not available in the kitchen, as oil
of vitriol is a vicious compound. During the siege of Paris some of the
Academicians devoted themselves very earnestly to the subject of the
purification of fat in order to produce what they termed ‘siege butter’
from the refuse of slaughter-houses, &c., and edible salad oils from
crude colza oil, from the rancid fish oils used by the leather-dresser,
&c. Those who are specially interested in the subject may find some
curious papers in the ‘Comptes Rendus’ of that period. In vol. lxxi.,
page 36, M. Boillot describes his method of mixing kitchen-stuff and
other refuse fat with lime-water, agitating the mixture when heated,
and then neutralising with an acid. The product thus obtained is
described as admirably adapted for culinary operations, and the method
is applicable to the purpose here under consideration.

Further on in the same volume is a ‘Note on Suets and Alimentary Fats’
by M. Dubrunfaut, who tells us that the most tainted of alimentary fats
and rancid oils may be deprived of their bad odours by ‘appropriate
frying.’ His method is to raise the temperature of the fat to 140°
to 150° Cent. (284° to 302° Fahr.) in a frying-pan; then cautiously
sprinkle upon it small quantities of water. The steam carries off
the volatile fatty acids which produce the rancidity in such as fish
oils, and also removes the neutral offensive fatty matters that are
decomposable by heat. In another paper by M. Fua this method is applied
to the removal of cellular tissue of crude fats from slaughter-houses.
It is really nothing more than the old farmhouse proceeding of
‘rendering’ lard, by frying the membranous fat until the membranous
matter is browned and aggregated into small nodules, which constitute
the ‘scratchings’—a delicacy greatly relished by our British ploughboys
at pig-killing time, but rather too rich in pork-fat to supply a
suitable meal for people of sedentary vocations.

The action of heat thus applied and long-continued is similar to that
of the strong sulphuric acid. The impurities of the fat are organic
matters more easily decomposable than the fat itself, or otherwise
stated, they are dissociated into carbon and water at about 300° Fahr.,
which is a lower temperature than that required for the dissociation of
the pure oil or fat. By maintaining this temperature, these compounds
become first caramelised, then carbonised nearly to blackness, when all
their powers of offensiveness vanish.

In the more violent factory process of purification by sulphuric acid
the similar action which occurs is due to the powerful affinity of
this acid for water: this may be strikingly shown by adding to thick
syrup or pounded sugar about its own bulk of oil of vitriol, when a
marvellous commotion occurs, and a magnified black cinder is produced
by the separation of the water from the sugar.

The following simple practical formula may be reduced from these data.
When a considerable quantity of much-used frying-fat is accumulated,
heat it to about 300° Fahr., as indicated by the crackling of water
when sprinkled on it, or, better still, by a properly-constructed
thermometer. Then pour the melted fat on hot water. This must be
done carefully, as a large quantity of fat at 300° poured upon a
small quantity of boiling water will illustrate the fact that water
when suddenly heated is an explosive compound. The quantity of water
should exceed that of the fat, and the pouring be done gradually.
Then agitate the fat and water together, and, if the operator is
sufficiently skilful and intelligent, the purification may be carried
further by carefully boiling the water under the fat and allowing its
steam to pass through; but this is a little dangerous, on account of
the possibility of what the practical chemist calls ‘bumping,’ or the
sudden formation of a big bubble of steam that would kick a good deal
of the superabundant fat into the fire.

Whether this supplementary boiling is carried out or not, the fat and
the water should be left together to cool gradually, when a dark layer
of carbonised impurities will be found resting on the surface of the
water, and adhering to the bottom of the cake of fat. This may be
peeled off and put into the waste grease-pot to be further refined with
the next operation. Ultimately the worst of it will sink to the bottom
of the water.

A careful cook may keep the supply of frying fat continually good, by
simply pouring it into a basin (a deep pudding-basin with small area
at bottom is best), letting it solidify there, and then paring away
the bottom sediment. Even this dirty-looking sediment need not be
altogether wasted. When a considerable quantity has accumulated it may
be purified by the method of Dubrunfaut and Fua above described.

As ordinary thermometers register but little above 212°, and laboratory
thermometers are too delicately constructed for kitchen use, I
requested Messrs. Davis & Co. to construct a special thermometer for
testing the temperature of heated fat. They have accordingly made an
instrument that answers the purpose very well. It is like a laboratory
thermometer, _i.e._ a glass tube with long bulb and the degrees
engraved on the glass itself, but the bulb is turned at right angles to
the tube, so that it is horizontal when the tube stands perpendicular,
and lies under a stand just above the level of the bottom of the
kettle. The instrument thus stands alone firmly, with its bulb fully
immersed even in a very shallow bath of fat.

Gouffé says: ‘Fat is the best for frying; the light-coloured dripping
of roast meat, and the fat taken off broth are to be preferred. These
failing, beef suet, chopped fine and melted down on a slow fire,
without browning, will do very well; when the bottom of the stewpan can
be seen through the suet, it is sufficiently melted.’ He is no advocate
for lard, ‘as it always leaves an unpleasant coating of fat on whatever
is fried in it.’ Olive oil of the best quality is almost absolutely
tasteless, and having as high a boiling point as animal fats it is
the best of all frying media. In this country there is a prejudice
against the use of such oil. I have noticed at some of those humble but
most useful establishments where poor people are supplied with penny
or twopenny portions of well-cooked, good fish, that in the front is
an inscription stating ‘only the best beef-dripping is used in this
establishment.’ This means a repudiation of oil.

On my first visit to Arctic Norway I arrived before the garnering
and exportation of the spring cod harvest was completed. The packet
stopped at a score or so of stations on the Lofodens and the mainland.
Foggy weather was no impediment, as an experienced pilot free from
catarrh could steer direct to the harbour by ‘following his nose.’ Huge
cauldrons stood by the shore in which were stewing the last batches of
the livers of codfish caught a month before and exposed in the meantime
to the continuous Arctic sunshine. Their condition must be imagined,
as I abstain from description of details. The business then proceeding
was the extraction of the oil from these livers. It is, of course,
‘cod-liver oil,’ but is known commercially as ‘fish oil,’ or ‘cod oil.’
That which is sold by our druggists as cod-liver oil is described
in Norway as ‘medicine oil,’ and though prepared from the same raw
material, is extracted in a different manner. Only fresh livers are
used for this, and the best quality, the ‘cold-drawn’ oil, is obtained
by pressing the livers without stewing. Those who are unfortunately
familiar with this carefully-prepared, highly-refined product, know
that the fishy flavour clings to it so pertinaciously that all attempts
to completely remove it without decomposing the oil have failed. This
being the case, it is easily understood that the fish oil stewed so
crudely out of the putrid or semi-putrid livers must be nauseous
indeed. It is nevertheless used by some of the fish-fryers, and refuse
‘Gallipoli’ (olive oil of the worst quality) is sold for this purpose.
The oil obtained in the course of salting sardines, herrings, &c., is
also used.

Such being the case, it is not surprising that the use of oil for
frying should, like the oil itself, be in bad odour.

I dwell upon this because we are probably on what, if a fine writer, I
should call the ‘eve of a great revolution’ in respect to frying media.

Two new materials, pure, tasteless, and so cheap as to be capable
of pushing pig-fat (lard) out of the market, have recently been
introduced. These are cotton-seed oil and poppy-seed oil. The first
has been for some time in the market offered for sale under various
fictitious names, which I will not reveal, as I refuse to become a
medium for the advertisement of anything—however good in itself—that is
sold under false pretences.

As every bale of cotton yields half a ton of seed, and every ton
of seed may be made to yield 28 lbs. to 32 lbs. of crude oil, the
available quantity is very great. At present only a small quantity
is made, the surplus seed being used as manure. Its fertilising
value would not be diminished by removing the oil, which is only a
hydro-carbon, _i.e._ material supplied by air and water. All the
fertilising constituents of the seed are left behind in the oil-cake
from which the oil has been pressed.

Hitherto cotton-seed oil has fallen among thieves. It is used as an
adulterant of olive oil; sardines and pilchards are packed in it. The
sardine trade has declined lately, some say from deficient supplies of
the fish. I suspect that there has been a decline in the demand due to
the substitution of this oil for that of the olive. Many people who
formerly enjoyed sardines no longer care for them, and they do not know
why. The substitution of cotton-seed oil explains this in most cases.
It is not rancid, has no decided flavour, but still is unpleasant when
eaten raw, as with salads or sardines. It has a flat, cold character,
and an after taste that is faintly suggestive of castor oil; but faint
as it is, it interferes with the demand for a purely luxurious article
of food. This delicate defect is quite inappreciable in the results
of its use as a frying medium. The very best lard or ordinary kitchen
butter, eaten cold, has more of objectionable flavour than refined
cotton-seed oil.

I have not tasted poppy-seed oil, but am told that it is similar
to that from the cotton-seed. As regards the quantities available,
some idea may be formed by plucking a ripe head from a garden poppy
and shaking out the little round seeds through the windows on the
top. Those who have not tried this will be astonished at the numbers
produced by each flower. As poppies are largely cultivated for the
production of opium, and the yield of the drug itself by each plant is
very small, the supplies of oil may be considerable; 571,542 cwt. of
seeds were exported from India last year, of which 346,031 cwt. went to

Palm oil, though at present practically unknown in the kitchen, may
easily become an esteemed material for the frying-kettle. At present,
the familiar uses of palm oil in candle-making and for railway grease
will cause my suggestion to shock the nerves of many delicate people,
but these should remember that before palm oil was imported at all,
the material from which candles and soap were made, and by which
cart wheels and heavy machinery were greased, was tallow—_i.e._ the
fat of mutton and beef. The reason why our grandmothers did not use
candles for frying when short of dripping or suet was that the mutton
fat constituting the candle was impure, so are the yellow candles
and yellow grease in the axle-boxes of the railway carriages. This
vegetable fat is quite as inoffensive in itself, quite as wholesome,
and—sentimentally regarded—less objectionable, than the fat obtained
from the carcass of a slaughtered animal.

When common sense and true sentiment supplant mere unreasoning
prejudice, vegetable oils and vegetable fats will largely supplant
those of animal origin in every element of our dietary. We are but just
beginning to understand them. Chevreul, who was the first to teach us
the chemistry of fats, is still living, and we are only learning how to
make butter (not ‘inferior Dorset,’ but ‘choice Normandy’) without the
aid of dairy produce. There is, therefore, good reason for anticipating
that the inexhaustible supplies of oil obtainable from the vegetable
world—especially from tropical vegetation—will ere long be freely
available for kitchen uses, and the now popular product of the Chicago
hog factories will be altogether banished therefrom, and used only for
greasing cart-wheels and other machinery.

As a practical conclusion of this part of my subject, I will quote
from the ‘Oil Trade Review’ of this month, December 1884, the current
wholesale prices of some of the oils possibly available for frying
purposes: olive oil, from 43_l._ to 90_l._ per tun of 252 gallons;
cod oil, 36_l._ per tun; sardine or train (_i.e._ the oil that drains
from pilchards, herrings, sardines, &c., when salted), 27_l._ 10_s._
to 28_l._ per tun; cocoanut, from 35_l._ to 38_l._ per ton of 20 cwt.
(This, in the case of oil, is nearly the same as the measured tun.)
Palm, from 38_l._ to 40_l._ 10_s._ per ton; palm-nut or copra, 31_l._
10_s._ per ton; refined cotton-seed, 30_l._ 10_s._ to 31_l._ per ton;
lard, 53_l._ to 55_l._ per ton. The above are the extreme ranges of
each class. I have not copied the technical names and prices of the
intermediate varieties. One penny per lb. is = 9_l._ 6_s._ 8_d._ per
ton, or, in round numbers, 1_l._ per ton may be reckoned as 1/9th of a
penny per lb. Thus the present price of best refined cotton-seed oil
is 3½_d._ per lb.; of cocoanut oil, 3¾_d._; palm oil, from 3½_d._ to
4½_d._, while lard costs 6_d._ per lb. wholesale.

I should add, in reference to the seed-oils, that there is a possible
objection to their use as frying media. Oils extracted from seeds
contain more or less of _linoleine_ (so named from its abundance in
linseed oil), which, when exposed to the air, combines with oxygen,
swells and dries. If the oil from cotton-seed or poppy-seed contains
too much of this, it will thicken inconveniently when kept for a length
of time exposed to the air. Palm oil is practically free from it, but
I am doubtful respecting palm-nut oil, as most of the nut oils are

Extravagant cooks delude confiding mistresses by demanding butter for
ordinary frying. A veneration for costliness is one of the vulgar
vices, especially dominant below stairs. In many cases a worse motive
induces the denunciation of the dripping and skimmed fat recommended by
Gouffé as above, and the substitution of lard or butter for it. This is
the practice of selling the dripping as ‘kitchen stuff.’


[9] The necessity for this is not so great as may appear theoretically.
I have tried the experiment of having veal cutlets fried in a bath
previously used for fish, and was not able to detect any fishy flavour
as I expected I should. This was the case even when I knew that the
fish fat had been used, and I was consequently far more critical than
under ordinary circumstances. Even apple-fritters may be cooked in fat
that has been used for fish. I have tried this since the above was
written and am surprised at the result.



SOME of my readers may think that I ought to have treated this in
connection with the boiling of meat, as boiling and stewing are
commonly regarded as mere modifications of the same process. According
to my mode of regarding the subject, _i.e._ with reference to the
object to be attained, they are opposite processes.

The object in the so-called ‘boiling’ of, say, a leg of mutton, is to
raise the temperature of the meat throughout just up to the cooking
temperature in such a manner that it shall as nearly as possible retain
all its juices; the hot water merely operating as a vehicle or medium
for conveying the heat.

In stewing nearly all this is reversed. The juices are to be extracted
more or less completely, and the water is required to act as a solvent
as well as a heat-conveyor. Instead of the meat itself surrounding and
enveloping the juices as it should when boiled, roasted, grilled, or
fried, we demand in a stew that the juices shall surround or envelop
the meat. In some cases the separation of the juices is the sole
object, as in the preparation of certain soups and gravies, of which
‘beef-tea’ may be taken as a typical example. _Extractum carnis_, or
Liebig’s ‘Extract of Meat’ is beef-tea (or mutton-tea) concentrated by

The juices of lean meat may be extracted very completely without
cooking the meat at all, merely by mincing it and then placing it in
cold water. _Maceration_ is the proper name for this treatment. The
philosophy of this is interesting, and so little understood in the
kitchen that I must explain its rudiments.

If two liquids capable of mixing together, but of different densities,
be placed in the same vessel, the denser at the bottom, they will
mix together in defiance of gravitation, the heavy liquid rising and
spreading itself throughout the lighter, and the lighter descending and
diffusing itself through the heavier.

Thus, concentrated sulphuric acid (oil of vitriol) which has nearly
double the density of water, may be placed under water by pouring water
in a tall glass jar, and then carefully pouring the acid down a funnel
with a long tube, the bottom end of which touches the bottom of the
jar. At first the heavy liquid pushes up the lighter, and its upper
surface may be distinctly seen with that of the lighter resting upon
it. This is better shown if the water be coloured by a blue tincture
of litmus, which is reddened by the acid. A red stratum indicates the
boundaries of the two liquids. Gradually the reddening proceeds upwards
and downwards, the whole of the water changes from blue to red, and the
acid becomes tinged.

Graham worked for many years upon the determination of the laws of this
diffusion, and the rates at which different liquids diffused into each
other. His method was to fill small jars of uniform size and shape
(about 4 oz. capacity) with the saline or other dense solution, place
upon the ground mouth of the jar a plate-glass cover, then immerse it,
when filled, in a cylindrical glass vessel containing about 20 oz. of
distilled water. The cover being very carefully removed, diffusion was
allowed to proceed for a given time, and then by analysis the amount of
transfer into the distilled water was determined.

I must resist the temptation to expound the very interesting results
of these researches, merely stating that they prove this diffusion
to be no mere accidental mixing, but an action that proceeds with a
regularity reducible to simple mathematical laws. One curious fact
I may mention—viz. that on comparing the solutions of a number of
different salts, those which crystallise in the same forms have similar
rates of diffusion. The law that bears the most directly upon cookery
is that ‘the quantity of any substance diffused from a solution of
uniform strength increases as the temperature rises.’ The application
of this will be seen presently.

It may be supposed that if the jar used in Graham’s diffusion
experiments were tied over with a mechanically air-tight and
water-tight membrane, the brine or other saline solution thus confined
in the jar could not diffuse itself into the pure water above and
around it; people who are satisfied with anything that ‘stands to
reason’ would be quite sure that a bladder which resists the passage of
water, even when the water is pressed up to the bursting-point, cannot
be permeable to a most gentle and spontaneous flow of the same water.
The true philosopher, however, never trusts to any reasoning, not even
mathematical demonstration, until its conclusions are verified by
observations and experiment. In this case all rational preconceptions
or mathematical calculations based upon the amount of attractive force
exerted between the particles of the different liquids are outraged by
the facts.

If a stout, well-tied bladder that would burst rather than allow a
drop of water to be squeezed mechanically through it be partially
filled with a solution of common washing soda, and then immersed in
distilled water, the soda will make its way out of the bladder by
passing through its walls, and the pure water will go in at the same
time; for if, after some time is allowed, the outer water be tested by
dipping into it a strip of red litmus paper, it will be turned blue,
showing the presence of the alkali therein, and if the contents of the
bladder be weighed or measured, they will be found to have increased by
the inflow of fresh water. This inflow is called _endosmosis_, and the
outflow of the solution is called _exosmosis_. If an indiarubber bottle
be filled with water and immersed in alcohol or ether, the endosmosis
of the spirit will be so powerfully exerted as to distend the bottle
considerably. If the bottle be filled with alcohol or ether, and
surrounded by water, it will nearly empty itself.

The force exerted by this action is displayed by the rising of the sap
from the rootlets of a forest giant to the cells of its topmost leaves.
Not only plants, but animals also, are complex osmotic machines. There
is scarcely any vital function—if any at all—in which this osmosis does
not play an important part. I have no doubt that the mental effort I am
at this moment exerting is largely dependent upon the endosmosis and
exosmosis that is proceeding through the delicate membranes of some of
the many miles of blood-vessels that ramify throughout the grey matter
of my brain.

But I must wander no farther beyond the kitchen, having already said
enough to indicate that _diosmosis_ (which is the general term used
for expressing the actions of endosmosis and exosmosis as they occur
simultaneously) does the work of extracting the permanent juices of
meat when it is immersed in either hot or cold water.

I say _permanent_ juices with intent, in order to exclude the albumen,
which being coagulable at the lowest cooking temperature is not
permanent. It is one of that class of bodies to which Graham gave the
name of colloids (glue-like), such as starch, dextrin, gum, &c., to
distinguish them from another class, the crystalloids, or bodies that
crystallise on solidification. The latter diffuse and pass through
membranes by diosmosis readily, the colloids very sluggishly. Thus a
solution of Epsom salts diffuses seven times as rapidly as albumen, and
fourteen times as rapidly as caramel.

The difference is strikingly illustrated by the different diffusibility
of a solution of ordinary crystalline sugar and that of barley-sugar
and caramel, the latter being amorphous or formless colloids that dry
into a gummy mass when their solutions are evaporated, instead of
forming crystals as the original sugar did.

Some of the juices of meat, as already explained, exist between its
fibres, others are within those fibres or cells, enveloped in the
sheath or cell membrane. It is evident that the loose or free juices
will be extracted by simple diffusion, those enveloped in membranes by
exosmosis through the membrane. The result must be the same in both
cases; the meat will be permeated by the water, and the surrounding
water will be permeated by the juices that originally existed within
the meat. As the rate of diffusion—other conditions being equal—is
proportionate to the extent of the surfaces of the diverse liquids that
are exposed to each other, and as the rate of diosmosis is similarly
proportioned to the exposure of membrane, it is evident that the
cutting-up of the meat will assist the extraction of its juices by the
creation of fresh surfaces; hence the well-known advantage of mincing
in the making of beef-tea.

It is interesting to observe the condition of lean meat that has thus
been minced and exposed for a few hours to these actions by immersion
in cold water. On removing and straining such minced meat it will be
found to have lost its colour, and if it is now cooked it is insipid,
and even nauseous if eaten in any quantity. It has been given to dogs
and cats and pigs; these, after eating a little, refuse to take more,
and when supplied with this juiceless meat alone, they languish, become
emaciated, and die of starvation if the experiment is continued.
Experiments of this kind contributed to the fallacious conclusions of
the French Academicians. Although the meat from which the juices are
thus completely extracted is quite worthless _alone_, and meat from
which they are partially extracted is nearly worthless _alone_, either
of them becomes valuable when eaten with the juices. The stewed beef
of the Frenchman would deserve the contempt bestowed upon it by the
prejudiced Englishman if it were eaten as the Englishman eats his roast
beef; but when preceded by a _potage_ containing the juices of the beef
it is quite as nutritious as if roasted, and more easily digested.

Graham found that increase of temperature increases the rate of
diffusion of liquids, and in accordance with this the extraction of the
juices of meat is effected more rapidly by warm than by cold water;
but there is a limit to this advantage, as will be easily understood
from what has already been explained in Chapter III. concerning the
coagulation of albumen, which at the temperature of 134° Fahr. begins
to show signs of losing its fluidity; at 160° becomes a semi-opaque
jelly; at the boiling point of water is a rather tough solid; and if
kept at this temperature, shrinks, and becomes harder and harder,
tougher and tougher, till it attains a consistence comparable to that
of horn tempered with gutta-percha.

I have spoken of beef-tea, or _Extractum carnis_ (Liebig’s ‘Extract of
Meat’), as an extreme case of extracting the juices of meat, and must
now explain the difference between this and the juices of an ordinary
stew. Supposing the juices of the meat to be extracted by maceration in
cold water, and the broth thus obtained to be heated in order to alter
its raw flavour, a scum will be seen to rise upon the surface; this is
carefully removed in the manufacture of Liebig’s ‘Extract,’ or in the
preparation of beef-tea for an invalid, but in thus skimming we remove
a highly-nutritious constituent—viz. the albumen, which has coagulated
during the heating. The pure beef-tea, or _Extractum carnis_, contains
only the kreatine, kreatinine, the soluble phosphates, the lactic
acid, and other non-coagulable saline constituents, that are rather
stimulating than nutritious, and which, properly speaking, are not
digested at all—_i.e._ they are not converted into chyme in the
stomach, do not pass through the pylorus into the duodenum, &c., but,
instead of this, their dilute solution passes, like the water we drink,
directly into the blood by endosmosis through the delicate membrane of
that marvellous network of microscopic blood-vessels which is spread
over the surface of every one of the myriads of little upstanding
filaments which, by their aggregation, constitute the villous or velvet
coat of the stomach. In some states of prostration, where the blood
is insufficiently supplied with these juices, this endosmosis is like
pouring new life into the body, but it is not what is required for the
normal sustenance of the healthy body.

For ordinary food, all the nutritious constituents should be retained,
either in the meat itself or in its liquid surrounding. Regarding it
theoretically, I should demand the retention of the albumen in the
meat, and insist upon its remaining there in the condition of tender
semi-solidity, corresponding to the white of an egg when perfectly
cooked, as described in page 22. Also that the gelatin and fibrin be
softened by sufficient digestion in hot water, and that the saline
juices (those constituting beef-tea) be _partially_ extracted. I say
‘partially,’ because their complete extraction, as in the case of
the macerated minced-meat, would too completely rob the meat of its
sapidity. How, then, may these theoretical desiderata be attained?

It is evident from the principles already expounded that cold
extraction takes out the albumen, therefore this must be avoided; also
that boiling water will harden the albumen to leathery consistence.
This may be shown experimentally by subjecting an ordinary beefsteak to
the action of boiling water for about half an hour. It will come out in
the abominable condition too often obtained by English cooks when they
make an attempt at stewing—an unknown art to the majority of them. Such
an ill-used morsel defies the efforts of ordinary human jaws, and is
curiously curled and distorted. This toughening and curling is a result
of the coagulation, hardening, and shrinkage of the albumen as already

It is evident, therefore, that neither cold water nor boiling water
should be used in stewing, but water at the temperature at which
albumen just begins to coagulate—_i.e._ about 134°, or between this and
160° as the extreme. My definition of stewing demands a qualification
as regards the albumen. Although this is one of the juices of the
meat when cold, it should not be extracted in ordinary stewing, as it
is in the maceration for beef-tea, and thereby appear as a scum to be
rejected. It should be barely coagulated, and thus retained in the meat
in as tender a condition as possible. Being a colloid (see _ante_,
page 115) its liability to diffusion is small. But here we encounter
a serious difficulty. How is the unscientific cook to determine and
maintain this temperature? If you tell her that the water must not
boil, she shifts her stewpan to the side of the fire, where it shall
only simmer, and she firmly believes that such simmering water has a
lower temperature than water that is boiling violently over the fire.
‘It stands to reason’ that it must be so, and if the experimental
philosopher appeals to fact and the evidence of the thermometer, he is
a ‘theorist.’

The French cook escapes this simmering delusion by her common use of
the _bain-marie_ or ‘water-bath,’ as we call it in the laboratory,
where it is also largely used for ‘digesting’ at temperatures below
212°. This is simply a vessel immersed in an outer vessel of water.
The water in the outer vessel may boil, but that in the inner vessel
cannot, as its evaporation keeps it below the temperature of the water
from which its heat is derived. A carpenter’s glue-pot is a very good
and compact form of water-bath. Some ironmongers keep in stock a form
of water-bath which they call a ‘milk-scalder.’ This resembles the
glue-pot, but has an inner vessel of earthenware which is, of course, a
great improvement upon the carpenter’s device, as it may be so easily
cleaned. Captain Warren’s, and other similar ‘cooking-pots,’ may be
used as water-baths by removing the cover of the inner vessel.

One of the incidental advantages of the _bain-marie_ is that the
stewing may be performed in earthenware or even glass vessels, seeing
that they are not directly exposed to the fire. Other forms of such
double vessels are obtainable at the best ironmongers. I have lately
seen a very neat apparatus of this kind, called ‘Dolby’s Extractor,’
made by Messrs. Griffiths & Browett of Birmingham. This consists of
an earthenware vessel that rests on a ledge, and thus hangs in an
outer tin-plate vessel; but, instead of water, there is an air space
surrounding the earthenware pot. A top screws over this, and the whole
stands in an ordinary saucepan of water. The heat is thus very slowly
and steadily communicated through an air-bath, and it makes excellent

At temperatures _below the boiling point_ evaporation proceeds
superficially, and the rate of evaporation at a given temperature
is proportionate to the surface exposed, irrespective of the total
quantity of water; therefore, the shallower the inner vessel of the
_bain-marie_, and the greater its upper outspread, the lower will be
the temperature of its liquid contents when its sides and bottom are
heated by boiling water. The water in a basin-shaped inner vessel will
have a lower temperature than that in a vessel of similar depth, with
upright sides, and exposing an equal water surface. A good water-bath
for stewing may be extemporised by using a common pudding-basin (I mean
one with projecting rim, as used for tying down the pudding-cloth), and
selecting a saucepan just big enough for this to drop into, and rest
upon its rim. Put the meat, &c., to be stewed into the basin, pour hot
water over them, and hot water into the saucepan, so that the basin
shall be in a water-bath; then let this outer water simmer—very gently,
so as not to jump the basin with its steam. Stew thus for about double
the time usually prescribed in English cookery-books, and compare the
result with similar materials stewed in boiling or ‘simmering’ water.

I have already (page 91) referred to the frying that, in most cases,
should precede stewing. It not only supplies the caramel browning there
described, but moderates the extraction of the juices which, as I have
said above, is desirable on the part of the meat itself when gravy is
not the primary object.

Some further explanation is here necessary, as it is quite possible to
obtain what commonly passes for tenderness by a very flagrant violation
of the principles above expounded. This is done on a large scale and
in extreme degree in the preparation of ordinary Australian tinned
meat. A number of tins are filled with the meat, and soldered down
close, all but a small pin-hole. They are then placed in a bath charged
with a saline substance, such as chloride of zinc, which has a higher
boiling point than water. This is heated up to its boiling point,
and consequently the water which is in the tins with the meat boils
vigorously, and a jet of steam mixed with air blows from the pin-hole.
When all the air is expelled, and the jet is of pure steam only (a
difference detected at once by the trained expert), the tin is removed,
and a little melted solder skilfully dropped on the hole to seal the
tin hermetically. An examination of one of these tins will show this
final soldering with, in some, a flap below to prevent any solder from
falling in amongst the meat. The object of this is to exclude all air,
for if only a very small quantity remains, oxidation and putrefaction
speedily ensues, as shown by a bulging of the tins instead of the
partial collapse that should occur when the steam condenses, the
display of which collapse is an indication of the good quality of the

By ‘good quality’ I mean good of its kind; but, as everybody knows who
has tried beef and mutton thus prepared, it is not satisfactory. The
preservation from putrefactive decomposition is perfectly successful,
and all the original constituents of the meat are there. It is
_apparently_ tender, but _practically_ tough—_i.e._ it falls to pieces
at a mere touch of the knife, but these fragments offer to the teeth
a peculiar resistance to proper mastication. I may describe their
condition as one of pertinacious fibrosity. The fibres separate, but
they are stubborn fibres still.

This is a very serious matter, for, were it otherwise, the great
problem of supplying our dense population with an abundance of cheap
animal food would have been solved about twenty years ago. As it is,
the plain tinned-meat enterprise has not developed to any important
extent beyond affording a variation with salt junk on board ship.

What is the _rationale_ of this defect? Beyond the general statement
that the meat is ‘overdone,’ I have met with no attempt at explanation,
but am not, therefore, disposed to give up the riddle without
attempting a solution.

Reverting to what I have already said concerning the action of heat on
the constituents of flesh, it is evident that in the first place the
long exposure to the boiling point must harden the albumen. _Syntonin_,
or _muscle-fibrin_, the material of the ultimate contractile fibres
of the muscle, is coagulated by boiling water, and further hardened
by continuous boiling, in the same manner as albumen. Thus the
muscle-fibres themselves, and the lubricating liquor[10] in which they
are imbedded, must be simultaneously toughened by the method above
described, and this explains the pertinacious fibrosity of the result.

But how is the apparent tenderness, the facile separation of the
fibres of the same meat produced? A little further examination of the
anatomy and chemistry of muscle will, I think, explain this quite
satisfactorily. The ultimate fibres of the muscles are enveloped in
a very delicate membrane; a bundle of these is again enveloped in a
somewhat stronger membrane (_areolar tissue_); and a number of these
bundles of _fasciculi_ are further enveloped in a proportionally
stronger sheath of similar membrane. All these binding membranes are
mainly composed of gelatin, or the substance which produces gelatin
when boiled. The boiling that is necessary to drive out all the air
from the tins is sufficient to dissolve this, and effect that easy
separability of the muscular fibres, or fasciculi of fibres, that gives
to such overcooked meat its fictitious tenderness.

I am, however, doubtful whether _all_ the gelatin of these membranes
is thus dissolved. The jelly existing in the tins shows that some
is dissolved and hydrated, if my theory of the cookery is right;
but there does not appear to be as much of this jelly as would be
formed by the stewing of a corresponding quantity of meat at a lower
temperature. Some of the membranous gelatin is, I suspect, dehydrated
when the highest temperature of the process is attained—_i.e._ when
the concentration of the juices raises the boiling point of their
solution considerably above that of pure water. This, if I am right,
would check further solution of the membrane, would hydrate and harden
the remainder, and thus contribute to the hardening of the fibre above

I have entered into these anatomical and chemical details because it is
only by understanding them that the difference between true tenderness
and spurious tenderness of stewed meat can be soundly understood,
especially in this country, where stewed meats are despised because
scientific stewing is practically and generally an unknown art. Ask an
English cook the difference between boiled beef or mutton and stewed
beef or mutton, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred her reply
will be to the effect that stewed meat is that which has been boiled or
simmered for a longer time than the boiled meat.

She proceeds, in accordance with this definition, when making an Irish
stew or similar dish, by ‘simmering’ at 212° until, by the coagulation
and hardening of the albumen and syntonin, a leathery mass is obtained;
then she continues the simmering until the gelatin of the areolar
tissue is partially dissolved, and the toughened fibres separate
or become readily separable. Having achieved this disintegration,
she supposes the meat to be tender, the fact being that the fibres
individually are tougher than they were at the leathery stage. The
mischief is not limited to the destruction of the flavour of the meat,
but includes the destruction of the nutritive value of its solid
portion by rendering it all indigestible, with the exception of the
gelatin, which is dissolved in the gravy.

This exception should be duly noted, inasmuch as it is the one
redeeming feature of such proceeding that renders it fairly well
adapted for the cookery of such meat as cow-heels, sheeps’-trotters,
calves’-heads, shins of beef, knuckles of veal, and other viands which
consist mainly of membranous, tendinous, or integumentary matter
composed of gelatin. To treat the prime parts of good beef or mutton in
this manner is to perpetrate a domestic atrocity.

I may here mention an experiment that I have made lately. I killed a
superannuated hen—more than six years old, but otherwise in very good
condition. Cooked in the ordinary way she would have been uneatably
tough. Instead of being thus cooked, she was gently stewed about
four hours. I cannot guarantee to the maintenance of the theoretical
temperature, having suspicion of _some_ simmering. After this she
was left in the water until it cooled, and on the following day was
roasted in the usual manner—_i.e._ in a roasting oven. The result was
excellent; as tender as a full-grown chicken roasted in the ordinary
way, and of quite equal flavour, in spite of the very good broth
obtained by the preliminary stewing. This surprised me. I anticipated
the softening of the tendons and ligaments, but supposed that the
extraction of the juices would have spoiled the flavour. It must have
diluted it, and that so much remained was probably due to the fact that
an old fowl is more fully flavoured than a young chicken. The usual
farmhouse method of cooking old hens is to stew them simply, the rule
in the Midlands being one hour in the pot for every year of age. The
feature of the above experiment was the supplementary roasting. As the
laying season comes to an end, old hens become a drug in the market;
and those among my readers who have not a hen-roost of their own will
much oblige their poulterers by ordering a hen that is warranted to
be four years old or upwards. If he deals fairly he will supply a
specimen upon which they may repeat my experiment very cheaply. It
offers the double economy of utilising a nearly waste product, and
obtaining chicken-broth and roast fowl simultaneously.

Another experiment on the cooking of old hens was recently made by a
neighbour at my suggestion, and proved very successful. The bird was
cut up and gently stewed in fat like the small joints of my experiments
described in p. 57.

I have not yet repeated this experiment, but when I do shall use bacon
liquor (the surplus fat from grilled bacon) for the bath, and hope
thereby to obtain an approach to the effect of ‘larding,’ as practised
in luxurious cookery.

One of the great advantages of stewing is that it affords a means of
obtaining a savoury and very wholesome dish at a minimum of cost. A
small piece of meat may be stewed with a large quantity of vegetables,
the juice of the meat savouring the whole. Besides this, it costs far
less fuel than roasting.

The wife of the French or Swiss landed proprietor—_i.e._ a working
peasant—cooks the family dinner with less than a tenth of the
expenditure of fuel used in England for the preparation of an inferior
meal. A little charcoal under her _bain-marie_ does it all. The economy
of time corresponds to the economy of fuel, for the mixture of viands
required for the stew once put into the pot is left to itself until
dinner-time, or at most an occasional stirring of fresh charcoal into
the embers is all that is demanded.


[10] I have ventured to ascribe this lubricating function to the
albumen which envelopes the fibres, though doubtful whether it is quite
orthodox to do so. Its identity in composition with the synovial liquor
of the joints, and the necessity for such lubricant, justify this
supposition. It may act as a nutrient fluid at the same time.



I NOW come to a very important constituent of animal food, although
it is not contained in beef, mutton, pork, poultry, game, fish, or
any other organised animal substance, unless in egg yolk, as Lehmann
states (see page 23). It is not even proved satisfactorily to exist in
the blood, although it is somehow obtained from the blood by special
glands at certain periods. I refer to _casein_, the substantial basis
of cheese, which, as everybody knows, is the consolidated curd of milk.

It is evident at once that casein must exist in two forms, the soluble
and insoluble, so far as the common solvent, water, is concerned. It
exists in the soluble form, and completely dissolved in milk, and
insoluble in cheese. When precipitated in its insoluble or coagulated
form as the curd of new milk it carries with it the fatty matter or
cream, and therefore, in order to study its properties in a state of
purity, we must obtain it otherwise. This may be done by allowing the
fat globules of the milk to float to the surface, and then removing
them by separating the cream as by the ordinary dairy method. We thus
obtain in the skimmed milk a solution of casein, but there still
remains some of the fat. This may be removed by evaporating the
solution down to solidity, and then dissolving out the fat by means
of ether, which leaves the soluble casein behind. The adhering ether
being evaporated, we have a fairly pure specimen of casein in its
original or soluble form.

This, when dry, is an amber-coloured translucent substance, devoid of
odour, and insipid. The insipidity and absence of odour of the pure
and separated casein are noteworthy, as showing that the condition in
which it exists in milk is very different from that of the casein of
cheese. My object in pointing this out is to show that in the course
of the manufacture of cheese new properties are developed. Skim-milk—a
solution of casein—is tasteless and inodorous, while fresh cheese,
whether made from skimmed or whole milk, has a very decided flavour and

If we now add some of our dry casein to water, it dissolves, forming a
yellowish viscid fluid, which, on evaporation, becomes covered with a
slight film of insoluble casein, which may be readily drawn off. Some
of my readers will recognise in this description the resemblance of a
now well-known domestic preparation of soluble casein, condensed milk,
where it is mixed with much cream, and in the ordinary preparation also
much sugar. The cream dilutes the yellowness, but does not quite mask
it, and the viscidity is shown by the strings which follow the spoon
when a spoonful is lifted. If a concentrated solution of pure casein is
exposed to the air it rapidly putrefies, and passes through a series of
changes that I must not tarry to describe, beyond stating that ammonia
is given off, and some crystalline substances, such as _leucine_,
_tyrosine_, &c., very interesting to the physiological chemist, but not
important in the kitchen, are formed.

A solution of casein in water is not coagulated by boiling; it may be
repeatedly evaporated to dryness and redissolved. Upon this depends
the practicability of preserving milk by evaporating it down, or

This condensed milk, however, loses a little; its albumen is
sacrificed, as everybody will understand who has dipped a spoon in
freshly-boiled milk and observed the skin which the spoon removes from
the surface. This is coagulated albumen.

If alcohol is added to a concentrated solution of casein in water,
a pseudo-coagulation occurs; the casein is precipitated as a white
substance like coagulated albumen, but if only a little alcohol is
used, the solid may be redissolved in water; if, however, it is thus
treated with strong alcohol, the casein becomes difficult of solution,
or even quite insoluble. Alcohol added to solid soluble casein renders
it opaque, and gives it the appearance of coagulated albumen. The
alcohol itself dissolves a little of this.

The characteristic coagulation of casein, or its conversion from the
soluble to the insoluble form, is produced rather mysteriously by
rennet. Acids generally precipitate it either from aqueous solution
or from milk. The coagulation effected by mineral acids from aqueous
solutions is not so complete as that produced by lactic acid from milk,
or vinegar, the former coagulum being more readily redissolved by
alkalies or weaker basic substances than the latter.

A calf has four stomachs, the fourth being that which corresponds to
ours, both in structure and functions. It is lined with a membrane
from which is secreted the gastric juice and other fluids concerned in
effecting the conversion of food into chyme. A weak infusion made from
a small piece of this ‘mucous membrane’ will coagulate the casein of
three thousand times its own quantity of milk, or the coagulation may
be effected by placing a small piece of the stomach (usually salted
and dried for the purpose) in the milk, and warming it for a few hours.

Many theoretical attempts have been made to explain this action of the
rennet. Simon and Liebig suppose that it acts primarily as a ferment,
converting the sugar of milk into lactic acid, and that this lactic
acid coagulates the casein. This theory has been controverted by Selmi
and others, but the balance of evidence is decidedly in its favour. The
coagulation which occurs in the living stomach when milk is taken as
food appears to be due to the lactic acid of the gastric juice.

Casein, when thoroughly coagulated by rennet, then purified and dried,
is a hard and yellowish hornlike substance. It softens and swells in
water, but does not dissolve therein, nor in alcohol nor weak acids.
Strong mineral acids decompose it. Alkalies dissolve it readily, and if
concentrated, decompose it on the application of heat. When moderately
heated, it softens and may be drawn into threads, and becomes elastic;
at a higher temperature it fuses, swells up, carbonises, and develops
nearly the same products of distillation as the other protein compounds.

Note the differences between this and the soluble casein above
described, viz. that obtained by simply removing the fat from the milk,
then evaporating away the water, but using no rennet.

I have good and sufficient reasons for thus specifying the properties
of this constituent of food. I regard it as the most important of all
that I have to describe in connection with my subject—the science
of cookery. It contains (as I shall presently show) more nutritious
material than any other food that is ordinarily obtainable, and its
cookery is singularly neglected, is practically an unknown art,
especially in this country. We commonly eat it raw, although in its
raw state it is peculiarly indigestible, and in the only cooked form
familiarly known among us here, that of a Welsh rabbit, or rarebit, it
is too often rendered still more indigestible, though this need not be
the case.

Here, in this densely-populated country, where we import so much of
our food, cheese demands our most profound attention. The difficulties
and cost of importing all kinds of meat, fish, and poultry are great,
while cheese may be cheaply and deliberately brought to us from any
part of the world where cows or goats can be fed, and it can be stored
more readily and kept longer than other kinds of animal food. All that
is required to render it, next to bread, the staple food of Britons is
scientific cookery.

If I shall be able, in what is to follow, to impart to my
fellow-countrymen, and more especially countrywomen, my own convictions
concerning the cookability, and consequent improved digestibility, of
cheese, I shall have ‘done the State some service!’

Taking muscular fibre without bone—_i.e._ selected best part of the
meat—beef contains on an average 72½ per cent. of water; mutton, 73½;
veal, 74½; pork, 69¾; fowl, 73¾; while Cheshire cheese contains only
30⅓, and other cheeses about the same. Thus, at starting, we have in
every pound of cheese rather more than twice as much solid food as in
a pound of the best meat, or comparing with the average of the whole
carcass, including bone, tendons, &c., the cheese has an advantage of
three to one.

The following results of Mulder’s analysis of casein, when compared
with those by the same chemist of albumen, gelatin and fibrin,
show that there is but little difference in the ultimate chemical
composition of these, so far as the constituents there named are


    Carbon         53·83
    Hydrogen        7·15
    Nitrogen       15·65
    Oxygen       }
    Sulphur      } 23·37

                 Albumen  Gelatin  Fibrin

    Carbon         53·5    50·40    52·7
    Hydrogen        7·0     6·64     6·9
    Nitrogen       15·5    18·34    15·4
    Oxygen         22·0    24·62    23·5
    Sulphur         1·6      ”       1·2
    Phosphorus      0·4      ”       0·3

We may therefore conclude that, regarding these from the point of
view of nitrogenous or flesh-forming, and carbonaceous or heat-giving
constituents, these chief materials of flesh and of cheese are about

The same is the case as regards the fat. The quantity in the carcass
of oxen, calves, sheep, lambs, and pigs varies, according to Dr.
Edward Smith, from 16 per cent. to 31·3 per cent. in moderately fatted
animals; while in whole-milk cheeses it varies from 21·68 per cent. to
32·31 per cent., coming down in skim-milk cheeses as low as 6·3. Dr.
Smith includes Neufchâtel cheese, containing 18·74 per cent., among the
whole-milk cheeses. He does not seem to be aware that the cheese made
up between straws and sold under that name is a _ricotta_, or crude
curd of skim-milk cheese. Its just value is about threepence per pound.
In Italy, where it forms the basis of some delicious dishes (such as
_budino di ricotta_[11]), it is sold for about twopence per pound, or

There is a discrepancy in the published analyses of casein which
demands explanation here, as it is of great practical importance. They
generally correspond to the above of Mulder within small fractions, as
shown below in those of Scherer and Dumas:

                      Scherer   Dumas

    Carbon            54·665    53·7
    Hydrogen           7·465     7·2
    Nitrogen          15·724    16·6
    Oxygen, sulphur   22·146    22·5
                     -------   -----
                     100·000   100·0

In these the 100 parts are made up without any phosphate of lime,
while, according to Lehmann (‘Physiological Chemistry,’ vol. i. p.
379, Cavendish Edition), ‘casein that has not been treated with acids
contains about 6 per cent. of phosphate of lime; more, consequently,
than is contained in any of the protein compounds we have hitherto

From this it appears that we may have casein with, and casein without,
this necessary constituent of food. In precipitating casein for
laboratory analysis, acids are commonly used, and thus the phosphate
of lime is dissolved out; but I am unable at present to tell my
readers the precise extent to which this actually occurs in practical
cheese-making where rennet is used. What I have at present learned
only indicates generally that this constituent of cheese is very
variable; and I hereby suggest to those chemists who are professionally
concerned in the analysis of food, that they may supply a valuable
contribution to our knowledge of this subject by simply determining
the phosphate of lime contained in the ash of different kinds of
cheese. I would do this myself, but, having during some ten years past
nearly forsaken the laboratory for the writing-table, I have not the
leisure for such work; and, worse still, have not that prime essential
to practical research (especially of endowed research), a staff of
obedient assistants to do the drudgery.

The comparison specially demanded is between cheeses made with rennet,
and those Dutch and factory cheeses the curd of which has been
precipitated by hydrochloric acid. Theoretical considerations point to
the conclusion that in the latter much or even all of the phosphate of
lime may be left in solution in the whey, and thus the food-value of
the cheese seriously lowered. We must, however, suspend judgment in the

In comparing the nutritive value of cheese with that of flesh, the
retention of this phosphate of lime corresponds with the retention of
some of the juices of the meat, among which are the phosphates of the

These phosphates of lime are the bone-making material of food, and have
something to do in building up the brain and nervous matter, though not
to the extent that is supposed by those who imagine that there is a
special connection between phosphorus and the brain, or phosphorescence
and spirituality. Bone contains about eleven per cent. of phosphorus,
brain less than one per cent.

The value of food in reference to its phosphate of lime is not merely
a matter of percentage, as this salt may exist in a state of solution,
as in milk, or as a solid very difficult of assimilation, as in bones.
That retained in cheese is probably in an intermediate condition—not
actually in solution, but so finely divided as to be readily dissolved
by the acid of the gastric juice.

I may mention, in reference to this, that when a child or other
young animal takes its natural food in the form of milk, the milk is
converted into unpressed cheese, or curd, prior to its digestion.

Supposing that, on an average, cheese contains only one-half of the
6 per cent. of phosphate of lime found, as above, in the casein, and
taking into consideration the water contained in flesh, the bone, &c.,
we may conclude generally that one pound of average cheese contains as
much nutriment as three pounds of the average material of the carcass
of an ox or sheep as prepared for sale by the butcher; or otherwise
stated, a cheese of 20 lbs. weight contains as much food as a sheep
weighing 60 lbs. as it hangs in the butcher’s shop.

Now comes the practical question. Can we assimilate or convert into our
own substance the cheese-food as easily as we may the flesh-food?

I reply that we certainly cannot, if the cheese is eaten raw; but have
no doubt that we may, if it be suitably cooked. Hence the paramount
importance of this part of my subject. A Swiss or Scandinavian
mountaineer can and does digest and assimilate raw cheese as a staple
article of food, and proves its nutritive value by the result; but
feebler bipeds of the plains and towns cannot do the like.

I may here mention that I have recently made some experiments on
the dissolving of cheese by adding sufficient alkali (carbonate of
potash) to neutralise the acid it contains, in order to convert the
casein into its original soluble form as it existed in the milk, and
have partially succeeded both with water and milk as solvents; but
before reporting these results in detail I will describe some of the
practically-established methods of cooking cheese that are so curiously
unknown or little known in this country.

In the fatherland of my grandfather, Louis Gabriel Mattieu, one of the
commonest dishes of the peasant who tills his own freehold and grows
his own food is a _fondu_. This is a mixture of cheese and eggs, the
cheese grated and beaten into the egg as in making omelettes, with a
small addition of new milk or butter. It is placed in a little pan like
a flower-pot saucer, cooked gently, served as it comes off the fire,
and eaten from the vessel in which it is cooked. I have made many a
hearty dinner on one of these, _plus_ a lump of black bread and a small
bottle of genuine but thin wine; the cost of the whole banquet at a
little _auberge_ being usually less than sixpence. The cheese is in a
pasty condition, and partly dissolved in the milk or butter. I have
tested the sustaining power of such a meal by doing some very stiff
mountain climbing and long fasting after it. It is rather too good—over
nutritious—for a man only doing sedentary work.

A diluted and delicate modification of this may be made by taking
slices of bread, or bread and butter, soaking them in a batter made
of eggs and milk—without flour—then placing the slices of soaked
bread in a pie-dish, covering each with a thick coating of grated
cheese, and thus building up a stratified deposit to fill the dish.
The surplus batter may be poured over the top; or if time is allowed
for saturation, the trouble of preliminary soaking may be saved by
simply pouring all the batter thus. This, when gently baked, supplies
a delicious and highly nutritious dish. We call it ‘cheese pudding’
at home, but my own experience convinces me that we make a mistake in
using it to supplement the joint. It is far too nutritious for this;
its savoury character tempts one to eat it so freely that it would be
far wiser to use it as the Swiss peasant uses his _fondu_—_i.e._ as the
substantial dish of a wholesome dinner.

I have tested its digestibility by eating it heartily for supper. No
nightmare has followed. If I sup on a corresponding quantity of raw
cheese my sleep is miserably eventful.

A correspondent writes as follows from the Charlotte Square Young
Ladies’ Institution: ‘I have been trying the various ways of cooking
cheese mentioned in your articles in “Knowledge,” and have one or two
improvements to suggest in the making of cheese pudding. I find the
result is much better when the bread is grated like the cheese, and
thoroughly mixed with it; then the batter poured over both. I think you
will also find it better when baked in a shallow tin, such as is used
for Yorkshire pudding. This gives more of the browned surface, which
is the best of it. Another improvement is to put some of the crumbled
bread (on paper) in the oven till brown, and eat with it (as for game).
I have not succeeded in making any improvement in the _fondu_ (see page
139), which is delightful.’

My recollections of the _fondu_ of the Swiss peasant being so
eminently satisfactory on all points—nutritive or sustaining value,
appetising flavour and economy—I have sought for a recipe in several
cookery-books, and find at last a near approach to it in an old edition
of Mrs. Rundell’s ‘Domestic Cookery.’ A similar dish is described in
that useful book ‘Cre-Fydd’s Family Fare,’ under the name of ‘_Cheese
Soufflé_ or _Fondu_.’[12] I had looked for it in more pretentious
works, especially in the most pretentious and the most disappointing
one I have yet been tempted to purchase, viz. the 27th edition of
Francatelli’s ‘Modern Cook,’ a work which I cannot recommend to anybody
who has less than 20,000_l._ a year and a corresponding luxury of liver.

Amidst all the culinary monstrosities of these ‘high-class’ manuals, I
fail to find anything concerning the cookery of cheese that is worth
the attention of my readers. Francatelli has, under the name of ‘Eggs
à la Suisse,’ a sort of _fondu_, but decidedly inferior to the common
_fondu_ of the humble Swiss osteria, as Francatelli lays the eggs upon
slices of cheese, and prescribes especially that the yolks shall not be
broken; omits the milk, but substitutes (for high-class extravagance’
sake, I suppose) ‘a gill of double cream,’ to be poured over the top.
Thus the cheese is not intermingled with the egg, lest it should spoil
the appearance of the unbroken yolks, its casein is made leathery
instead of being dissolved, and the substitution of sixpenny worth of
double cream for a halfpenny worth of milk supplies the high-class
victim with fivepence halfpenny worth of biliary derangement.

In Gouffé’s ‘Royal Cookery Book’ (the Household Edition of which
contains a great deal that is really useful to an English housewife) I
find a better recipe under the name of ‘_Cheese Soufflés_.’ He says:
‘Put two ounces and a quarter of flour in a stewpan, with one pint and
a half of milk; season with salt and pepper; stew over the fire till
boiling, and should there be any lumps, strain the _soufflé_ paste
through a tammy cloth; add seven ounces of grated Parmesan cheese, and
seven yolks of eggs; whip the whites till they are firm, and add them
to the mixture; fill some paper cases with it, and bake in the oven for
fifteen minutes.’

Cre-Fydd says: ‘Grate six ounces of rich cheese (Parmesan is the best);
put it into an enamelled saucepan, with a teaspoonful of flour of
mustard, a saltspoonful of white pepper, a grain of cayenne, the sixth
part of a nutmeg, grated, two ounces of butter, two tablespoonfuls of
baked flour, and a gill of new milk; stir it over a slow fire till
it becomes like smooth, thick cream (but it must not boil); add the
well-beaten yolks of six eggs, beat for ten minutes, then add the
whites of the eggs beaten to a stiff froth; put the mixture into a tin
or a cardboard mould, and bake in a quick oven for twenty minutes.
Serve immediately.’

Here is a true cookery of cheese by solution, and the result is an
excellent dish. But there is some unnecessary complication and kitchen
pedantry involved. The _soufflé_ part of the business is a mere puffing
up of the mixture for the purpose of displaying the cleverness of the
cook, being quite useless to the consumer, as it subsides before it
can be eaten. It further involves practical mischief, as it cannot be
obtained without toasting the surface of the cheese into an air-tight
leathery skin that is abnormally indigestible. The following is my own
simplified recipe:

Take a quarter of a pound of grated cheese; add it to a gill of
milk in which is dissolved as much powdered _bicarbonate of potash_
as will stand upon a threepenny-piece; mustard, pepper, &c., as
prescribed above by Cre-Fydd.[13] Heat this carefully until the cheese
is completely dissolved. Then beat up three eggs, yolks and whites
together, and add them to this solution of cheese, stirring the whole.
Now take a shallow metal or earthenware dish or tray that will bear
heating; put a little butter on this, and heat the butter till it
frizzles. Then pour the mixture into the tray, and bake or fry it until
it is nearly solidified.

A cheaper dish may be made by increasing the proportion of cheese—say,
six to eight ounces to three eggs, or only one egg to a quarter of a
pound of cheese for a hard-working man with powerful digestion.

Mr. E. D. Girdlestone writes as follows (I quote with permission): ‘As
regards the “cheese _fondu_,” your recipe for which has enabled me to
turn cheese to practical account as _food_, you may be glad to hear
that it has become a common dish in our microscopic _ménage_. Indeed
cheese, which formerly was poison to me, is now alike pleasant and
digestible. But some of your readers may like to know that the addition
of _bread-crumbs_ is, in my judgment at least, a great improvement,
giving greater lightness to the compost, and removing the harshness
of flavour otherwise incidental to a mixture which comprises so large
a proportion of cheese. We (my wife and I) think this a _great_

I have received two other letters making, quite independently, the same
suggestion concerning the bread-crumbs. I have tried the addition,
and agree with Mr. Girdlestone that it is a great improvement as food
for such as ourselves, who are brain-workers, and for all others
whose occupations are at all sedentary. The undiluted _fondu_ is too
nutritious for us, though suitable for the mountaineer.

The chief difficulty in preparing this dish conveniently is that of
obtaining suitable vessels for the final frying or baking, as each
portion should be poured into, and fried or baked in, a separate dish,
so that each may, as in Switzerland, have his own _fondu_ complete,
and eat it from the dish as it comes from the fire. As demand creates
supply, our ironmongers, &c., will soon learn to meet this demand if it
arises. I have written to Messrs. Griffiths & Browett, of Birmingham,
large manufacturers of what is technically called ‘hollow ware’—_i.e._
vessels of all kinds knocked up from a single piece of metal without
any soldering—and they have made suitable _fondu_ dishes according to
my specification, and supply them to the shopkeepers.

The bicarbonate of potash is an original novelty that will possibly
alarm some of my non-chemical readers. I advocate its use for two
reasons: first, it effects a better solution of the casein by
neutralising the free lactic acid that inevitably exists in milk
supplied to towns, and any free acid that may remain in the cheese.
At a farmhouse, where the milk is just drawn from the cow, it is
unnecessary for this purpose, as such new milk is itself slightly

My second reason is physiological, and of greater weight. Salts of
potash are necessary constituents of human food. They exist in all
kinds of wholesome vegetables and fruits, and in the juices of _fresh_
meat, but _they are wanting in cheese_, having, on account of their
great solubility, been left behind in the whey.

This absence of potash appears to me to be the one serious objection to
the free use of cheese diet. The Swiss peasant escapes the mischief by
his abundant salads, which eaten raw contain all their potash salts,
instead of leaving the greater part in the saucepan, as do cabbages,
&c., when cooked in boiling water. In Norway, where salads are scarce,
the bonder and his housemen have at times suffered greatly from scurvy,
especially in the far north, and would be severely victimised but for
special remedies that they use (the mottebeer, cranberry, &c., grown
and preserved especially for the purpose). The Laplanders make a broth
of scurvy-grass and similar herbs; I have watched them gathering these,
and observed that the wild celery was a leading ingredient.

Scurvy on board ship results from eating salt meat, the potash of which
has escaped by exosmosis into the brine or pickle. The sailor now
escapes it by drinking citrate of potash in the form of lime-juice, and
by alternating salt junk with rations of tinned meats.

I once lived for six days on bread and cheese only, tasting no other
food. I had, in company with C. M. Clayton (son of the Senator of
Delaware, who negotiated the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty), taken a passage
from Malta to Athens in a little schooner, and expecting a three days’
journey we took no other rations than a lump of Cheshire cheese and a
supply of bread. Bad weather doubled the expected length of our journey.

We were both young, and proud of our hardihood in bearing privations,
were staunch disciples of Diogenes; but on the last day we succumbed,
and bartered the remainder of our bread and cheese for some of the
boiled horse-beans and cabbage-broth of the forecastle. The cheese,
highly relished at first, had become positively nauseous, and our
craving for the forecastle vegetable broth was absurd, considering the
full view we had of its constituents and of the dirtiness of its cooks.

I attribute this to the lack of potash salts in the cheese and bread.
It was similar to the craving for common salt by cattle that lack
necessary chlorides in their food. I am satisfied that cheese can never
take the place in an economic dietary, otherwise justified by its
nutritious composition, unless this deficiency of potash is somehow
supplied. My device of using it with milk as a solvent supplies it in a
simple and natural manner.

The milk is not necessary, though preferable. I find that a solution
of cheese may be made in water by simply grating or thinly slicing
the cheese, and adding it to about its own bulk of water in which the
bicarbonate of potash is dissolved.

The proportion of bicarbonate, which I theoretically estimate as
demanded for supplying the deficiency of potash, is at the rate of
about a quarter of an ounce to the pound of cheese; and I find that
it will bear this quantity without the flavour of the potash being
detected. The proportion of potash in cows’ milk is more than double
the quantity thus supplied, but I assume that the cheese loses about
half of its original supply, and base this assumption on the fact that
ordinary cheese contains an average of about 4 per cent. of saline
matter, while the proportion of saline matter to the casein and fat of
the milk amounts to 5 per cent. This is a rough practical estimate,
kept rather below the actual quantity demanded; therefore more than the
quarter ounce may be used with impunity. I have doubled it in some of
my experiments, and thus have just detected the bitter flavour of the

As regards the solubility of the cheese, I should add that there are
great differences in different samples. Generally speaking, the newer
and milder the cheese the more soluble. Some that I have tried leave a
stubbornly insoluble residuum, which is detestably tough. I found the
same cheese to be unusually indigestible when eaten with bread in the
ordinary raw state, and have reason to believe that it is what I have
called ‘bosch cheese,’ to be described presently.

The successful solution, in either alkalised milk or alkalised water,
cools into a custard-like mass, the thickness or viscosity varying, of
course, with the quantity of solvent. It may be kept for use a short
time (from two or three days to two or three weeks, according to the
weather), after which it becomes putrescent.

As now well known to all concerned, a great deal of ‘butterine,’ or
‘oleomargarine,’ or ‘margarine,’ or ‘bosch,’ is made by extracting from
the waste fat of oxen and sheep some of its harder constituents, the
palmitic and stearic acids, then working up the softer remainder with
a little milk, or even without the milk, into a resemblance to butter.
When properly prepared and honestly sold for what it is, no fair
grounds for objection exist; but it is too commonly sold for what it is
not—_i.e._ as butter. For cookery purposes a fair sample of ‘bosch’ is
quite as good as ‘inferior dosset.’ I have tasted some that is scarcely
distinguishable from best Devonshire fresh.

More recently this enterprise has been further developed. Genuine
butter is made from cream skimmed from the milk. The skimmed milk is
then curdled, and to the whey thus precipitated a sufficient quantity
of bosch is added to replace the butter that has been sent to market.
A still more objectionable compound is made by using hogs’ lard as
a substitute for the natural cream. These extraneous fats render
the cheese more indigestible. The curd precipitated from skim-milk
is harder and tougher than that thrown down from whole milk, and
these added fats merely envelop the broken fragments of this. Hence
my suspicion that the cheese leaving the above-described insoluble
residuum was a sample of ‘bosch’ cheese.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the above was written I have met with the following in the
_Times_, bringing the subject up to latest date, and I take the liberty
of reprinting the larger part of this interesting and clearly-written


    ‘The profitable utilisation of refuse products has
    always been one of the most difficult problems which
    have confronted manufacturers. Until recently the
    disposal of skim-milk was one of the difficulties of
    the managers of butter factories, or “creameries” as
    they are termed in the United States. Similarly, the
    sale of the internal fat of animals slaughtered for
    food, with the exception of lard, was practically
    restricted to the manufacturers of soap and candles.
    It was reserved to a Frenchman, M. Mège-Mauries, to
    discover the first step towards a more profitable use
    of these substances. He showed that by a judicious
    combination of milk and the clarified fat of animals
    a substance could be produced which closely resembled
    butter. So close, indeed, is the resemblance of
    imitation butter to the real article that the skill
    of the chemist must be invoked to render detection
    positive, if the artificial butter is good of its kind.
    So recondite, indeed, is the test of the chemist that
    it depends upon the percentage of volatile oils in
    butter-fat and in caul-fat respectively.

    ‘Artificial butter is the result of several processes.
    The internal fat of cattle is first chopped into small
    pieces, and then passed through a huge and somewhat
    modified sausage-machine. The finely-divided suet is
    afterwards placed in suitable vessels, and heated
    up to 122° Fahr., but a higher temperature must be
    avoided, otherwise a portion of the stearine, or true
    tallow of the suet, becomes inextricably mixed with
    the oleomargarine. It need scarcely be added that the
    tallow taste would be fatal to the manufacture of a
    first-class article. The melted fat is transferred to
    casks and left to cool; afterwards it is put in small
    quantities into coarse bags, several of which are made
    into a pile with iron plates between them, and placed
    in a hydraulic press. The result is the expression of
    the pure oleomargarine as a clear yellow oil, the solid
    stearine remaining in the bags.

    ‘The next step is the manufacture of this oleomargarine
    into the substance which has been designated
    “butterine,” and which is quoted on the London market
    as “bosch.” The “oleo” is remelted at the lowest
    possible temperature, mixed with a certain proportion
    of milk and of butter, and then churned. The result is
    the production of a material closely resembling butter,
    in fact practically identical so far as appearance is
    concerned. It is washed, worked, and otherwise treated
    like real butter, and packed to simulate the kinds of
    butter which are most in demand on the market to which
    it is sent. In London all kinds of butter are sold, and
    we believe that they are all more or less imitated.

    ‘Unfortunately for the consumer of butterine, not
    all that is sold, even as butter, is made with so
    much regard to care and cleanliness, or with such
    comparatively unobjectionable materials. The demand for
    oleomargarine, which constitutes about 60 per cent.
    of the mass that is churned, has naturally raised its
    price, and various substitutes have been tried with
    more or less success. Lard has been extensively used,
    and is said to answer fairly well. Oils of various
    kinds have also had their trial, but used alone their
    melting point is too low. Earth-nut oil is used in
    small quantities by some makers in order to impart
    an agreeable flavour, especially in cases where the
    artificial butter has been “weighted” by the addition
    of water to the milk, or meal to an inferior oil.

    ‘The adaptation of M. Mège’s process to the imitation
    of other dairy products is a natural sequence to the
    success, in a commercial sense, which has attended
    the manufacture of artificial butter. The skim-milk
    difficulty in the American butter factories has set
    their managers to work at the problem of its conversion
    into something saleable for some time past. This
    difficulty has been increased of late years by the
    invention of the cream separator, which deprives the
    milk of practically all its cream; but on the large
    dairy farms of Denmark, where from 100 to 300 cows are
    kept and these separators are used, the skim-milk is
    made into skim-cheese, and the working classes in that
    country do not object to eat a nutritious article of
    diet which they can buy at about fourpence per pound.
    But neither the American nor the English labourer, as a
    general rule, likes a cheese that is at the same time
    exceedingly poor in fat and excessively hard to bite.

    ‘Obviously the first step was to add fat to the
    skim-milk so as to replace the cream which had been
    taken off. This, however, was no easy matter, for
    neither oleomargarine nor lard would mix with the
    skim-milk when directly applied. The imitation cheese
    attempted to be made in this way was wretchedly bad;
    and, when cut, the added fatty matter was found in
    streaks, and to a great extent oozed out in its
    original condition. “Lard-cheese,” in fact, soon
    became a by-word and a reproach, and it is stated that
    last year a large quantity of poor, unsophisticated
    cheese was sold under that name, and thus increased its
    evil reputation.

    ‘But the utilisation of the skim-milk still remained a
    necessity to the managers of the “creameries,” if they
    were to be commercially successful. The question was,
    therefore, considered whether it would not be possible
    to make an artificial cream which should replace the
    natural cream which had been taken off the milk. This
    idea was soon put to a practical test, and with most
    remarkable results.

    ‘The process now adopted begins with the manufacture
    of artificial cream as follows: A certain quantity of
    skim-milk is heated to about 85° Fahr., and one-half
    the quantity of either lard, oleomargarine, or olive
    oil, as the case may be. These substances are conveyed
    through separate pipes into an “emulsion” machine,
    which subdivides both materials to a surprising degree,
    while it mixes them thoroughly together—the arrangement
    insuring that the machine is regularly fed with the due
    proportions of the substances which are being used. It
    is stated that the artificial cream made with olive oil
    in this way is not objected to in the United States for
    use in tea and coffee.

    ‘For the manufacture of imitation cheese, about 4½
    per cent. of this imitation cream is added to the
    skim-milk. The latter being raised to 85° Fahr., and
    the former to 135° Fahr. or upwards, the mixture
    attains a temperature of about 90° Fahr. The remainder
    of the process is identical with that used in the
    manufacture of American Cheddar cheese, except that
    a special mechanical agitator is used to insure that
    the curd shall be evenly stirred and cooked, so as
    to avoid any loss of fat in the whey. Success or
    failure in the manufacture of imitation cheese seems
    to depend chiefly upon the perfect emulsion of the
    skim-milk with the fat in the preliminary process of
    making artificial cream. That having been accomplished,
    the remaining processes are said to be perfectly easy
    and satisfactory. It has been asserted by competent
    judges that the best descriptions of oleomargarine
    cheese can with difficulty, if at all, be detected from
    the ordinary American Cheddar of commerce; but the
    imitation product has nevertheless a tendency to become
    rapidly mouldy after having been cut.

    ‘The trade in imitation butter is now something
    enormous and increases every year; in the Netherlands
    alone there are sixty or seventy factories. Imitation
    cheese is only just beginning to appear on the London
    market, but there can be little doubt that before long
    it will compete successfully with all but the best and
    most delicate descriptions of the real article, unless
    it is branded so as to show its true character. One
    firm alone, in New York State, made 200,000 lbs. of
    imitation cheese last year, and their factories are in
    full work again this year.’

My first acquaintance with the rational cookery of cheese was in the
autumn of 1842, when I dined with the monks of St. Bernard. Being the
only guest, I was the first to be supplied with soup, and then came
a dish of grated cheese. Being young and bashful, I was ashamed to
display my ignorance by asking what I was to do with the cheese, but
made a bold dash, nevertheless, and sprinkled some of it into my soup.
I then learned that my guess was quite correct; the prior and the monks
did the same.

On walking on to Italy I learned that there such use of cheese is
universal. Minestra without Parmesan would in Italy be regarded as we
in England should regard muffins and crumpets without butter. During
the forty years that have elapsed since my first sojourn in Italy, my
sympathies are continually lacerated when I contemplate the melancholy
spectacle of human beings eating thin soup without any grated cheese.

Not only in soups, but in many other dishes, it is similarly used.
As an example, I may name ‘_Risotto à la Milanese_,’ a delicious,
wholesome, and economical dish—a sort of stew composed of rice and the
giblets of fowls, usually charged about twopence to threepence per
portion at Italian restaurants. This, I suppose, is the reason why I
find no recipe for it in the ‘high-class’ cookery-books. It is always
served with grated Parmesan. The same with the many varieties of paste,
of which macaroni and vermicelli are the best known in this country.

In all these the cheese is sprinkled over, and then stirred into the
soup, &c., while it is hot. The cheese being finely divided is fused
at once, and thus delicately cooked. This is quite different from the
‘macaroni cheese’ commonly prepared in England by depositing macaroni
in a pie-dish, then covering it with a stratum of grated cheese,
and placing this in an oven or before a fire until the cheese is
desiccated, browned, and converted into a horny, caseous form of carbon
that would induce chronic dyspepsia in the stomach of a wild boar if he
fed upon it for a week.

In all preparations of Italian pastes, risottos, purées, &c., the
cheese is intimately mixed throughout, and softened and diffused
thereby in the manner above described.

The Italians themselves imagine that only their own Parmesan cheese
is fit for this purpose, and have infected many Englishmen with the
same idea. Thus it happens that fancy prices are paid in this country
for that particular cheese, which nearly resembles the cheese known in
our midland counties as ‘skim dick’—sold there at about fourpence per
pound, or given by the farmers to their labourers. It is cheese ‘that
has sent its butter to market,’ being made from the skim-milk which
remains in the dairy after the pigs have been fully supplied.

I have used this kind of cheese as a substitute for Parmesan, and I
find it answers the purpose, though it has not the fine flavour of the
best qualities of Parmesan. The only fault of our ordinary whole-milk
English and American cheeses is that they are too rich, and cannot be
so finely grated on account of their more unctuous structure, due to
the cream they contain.

I note that in the recipes of high-class cookery-books, where Parmesan
is prescribed, cream is commonly added. Sensible English cooks, who use
Cheshire, Cheddar, or good American cheese, are practically including
the Parmesan and the cream in natural combination. By allowing these
cheeses to dry, or by setting aside the outer part of the cheese for
the purpose, the difficulty of grating is overcome.

I have now to communicate another result of my cheese-cooking
researches, viz. a new dish—_cheese-porridge_—or, I may say, a new
class of dishes—cheese-porridges. They are not intended for epicures,
who only live to eat, but for men and women who eat in order to live
and work. These combinations of cheese are more especially fitted
for those whose work is muscular, and who work in the open air.
Sedentary brain-workers should use them carefully, lest they suffer
from over-nutrition, which is but a few degrees worse than partial

My typical cheese-porridge is ordinary oatmeal-porridge made in the
usual manner, but to which grated cheese, or some of the cheese
solution above described, is added, either while in the cookery-pot
or after it is taken out, and yet as hot as possible. It should be
sprinkled gradually and well stirred in.

Another kind of cheese-porridge or cheese-pudding is made by adding
cheese to _baked_ potatoes—the potatoes to be taken out of their skins
and well mashed while the grated cheese is sprinkled and intermingled.
A little milk may or may not be added, according to taste and
convenience. This is better suited for those whose occupations are
sedentary, potatoes being less nutritious and more easily digested than
oatmeal. They are chiefly composed of starch, which is a heat-giver
or fattener, while the cheese is highly nitrogenous, and supplies the
elements in which the potato is deficient, the two together forming a
fair approach to the theoretically demanded balance of constituents.

I say _baked_ potatoes rather than boiled, and perhaps should explain
my reasons, though in doing so I anticipate what I shall explain more
fully when on the subject of vegetable food.

Raw potatoes contain potash salts which are easily soluble in water.
I find that when the potato is boiled some of the potash comes out
into the water, and thus the vegetable is robbed of a very valuable
constituent. The baked potato contains all its original saline
constituents which, as I have already stated, are specially demanded as
an addition to cheese-food.

Hasty pudding made, as usual, of wheat flour, may be converted from an
insipid to a savoury and highly nutritious porridge by the addition of
cheese in like manner.

The same with boiled rice, whether whole or ground, also sago, tapioca,
and other forms of edible starch. Supposing whole rice is used—and I
think this is the best—the cheese may be sprinkled among the grains of
rice and well stirred or mashed up with them. The addition of a little
brown gravy to this, with or without chicken giblets, gives us an
Italian _risotto_. The Indian-corn stirabout of the poor Irish cottier
would be much improved both in flavour and nutritive value by the
addition of a little grated cheese.

Pease pudding is not improved by cheese. The chemistry of this will
come out when I explain the composition of peas, beans, &c. The same
applies to pea soup.

I might enumerate other methods of cooking cheese by thus adding it in
a finely-divided state to other kinds of food, but if I were to express
my own convictions on the subject I should stir up prejudice by naming
some mixtures which many people would denounce. As an example I may
refer to a dish which I invented more than twenty years ago—viz. fish
and cheese pudding, made by taking the remains from a dish of boiled
codfish, haddock, or other _white_ fish, mashing it with bread-crumbs,
grated cheese, and ketchup, then warming in an oven and serving after
the usual manner of scalloped fish. Any remains of oyster sauce may be
advantageously included.

I find this delicious, but others may not. I frequently add grated
cheese to boiled fish as ordinarily served, and have lately made a fish
sauce by dissolving grated cheese in milk with the aid of a little
bicarbonate of potash, and adding this to ordinary melted butter.
I suggest these cheese mixtures to others with some misgivings as
regards palatability, after learning the revelations of Darwin on the
persistence of heredity. It is quite possible that, being a compound of
the Swiss Mattieu with the Welsh Williams (cheese on both sides), I may
inherit an abnormal fondness for this staple food of the mountaineers.

Be this as it may, so far as the mere palate is concerned; but in the
chemistry of all my advocacy of cheese and its cookery I have full
confidence. Rendered digestible by simple and suitable cookery, and
added with a little potash salt to farinaceous food of all kinds, it
affords exactly what is required to supply a theoretically complete and
a most economical dietary, without the aid of any other kind of animal
food. The potash salts may be advantageously supplied by a liberal
second course of fruit or salad.

One more of my heretical applications of grated cheese must be
specified. It is that of sprinkling it freely over ordinary stewed
tripe, which thus becomes _extraordinary_ stewed tripe. Or a solution
of cheese may be mixed with liquor of the stew. It may not be generally
known that stewed tripe is the most easily digestible of all solid
animal food. This was shown by the experiments of Dr. Beaumont on his
patient, Alexis St. Martin, who was so obliging (from a scientific
point of view) as to discharge a gun in such a manner that it shot away
the front of his own stomach and left there, after the healing of the
wound, a valved window through which, with the aid of a simple optical
contrivance, the work of digestion could be watched. Dr. Beaumont found
that while beef and mutton required three hours for digestion, tripe
was digested in one hour.[14]

I add by way of postscript a recipe for a dish lately invented by my
wife. It is vegetable marrow _au gratin_, prepared by simply boiling
the vegetable as usual, slicing it, placing the slices in a dish,
covering them with grated cheese, and then browning slightly in an oven
or before the fire, as in preparing the well-known ‘cauliflower _au
gratin_.’ I have modified this (with improvement, I believe) by mashing
the boiled marrow and stirring the grated cheese into the midst of it
whilst as hot as possible; or, better still, by adding a little of the
solution of cheese above described to the purée of mashed marrow and
stirring it well in while hot. To please the ladies, and make it look
pretty on the table, a little more grated cheese may be sprinkled on
the top of this and browned in the oven or with a salamander. People
with weak digestive powers should set aside the pretty.

Turnips may be similarly treated as ‘mashed turnips _au gratin_.’
I recommend this especially to my vegetarian friends, who have no
objection to cheese, but do not properly appreciate it.

Taking as I do great interest in their efforts, regarding them as
pioneers of a great and certainly approaching reform, I have frequently
dined at their restaurants (always do so when within reach, as I am
only a flesh-eater for convenience’ sake), and by the experience thus
afforded of their cookery, am convinced that they are losing many
converts by the lack of cheese in many of their most important dishes.


[11] I am greatly disgusted with the cookery-books, especially the
pretentious volume of Francatelli’s, on being unable to find any recipe
for this delicious Italian dish, and a similar absence of a dozen or
two of equally common and excellent preparations familiar to all who
have dined at the Lepre (Rome), or other good Italian restaurants.

[12] Forty or fifty years ago these cheese _fondus_ were one of the
usual courses at many-course banquets, but now they are rarely found in
the _menu_ of such dinners. There is good reason for this. They are far
too nutritious to be eaten with a dozen other things. Their proper use
is to substitute the joint in an ordinary respectable meal of meat and

[13] Before the Adulteration Act was passed, mustard flour was usually
mixed with well-dried wheaten flour, whereby the redundant oil was
absorbed, and the mixture was a dry powder. Now it is different, being
pure powdered mustard seed, and usually rather damp. It not only lies
closer, but is much stronger. Therefore, in following any recipe of old
cookery-books, only about half the stated quantity should be used.

[14] The reader who desires further information on this and kindred
subjects will find it clearly and soundly treated (without any of the
noxious pedantry that too commonly prevails in such treatises) in Dr.
Andrew Combe’s _Physiology of Digestion_, which, although written
by a dying man nearly half a century ago, still remains, like his
_Principles of Physiology_, the best popular work on the subject.
Subsequent editions have been edited and brought up to date by his
nephew, Sir James Coxe.



WE all know that there is a considerable difference between raw fat
and cooked fat; but what is the _rationale_ of this difference? Is it
anything beyond the obvious fusion or semi-fusion of the solid?

These are very natural and simple questions, but in no work on
chemistry or technology can I find any answer to them, or even any
attempt at an answer. I will therefore do the best I can towards
solving the problem in my own way.

All the cookable and eatable fats fall into the class of ‘fixed oils,’
so named by chemists to distinguish them from the ‘volatile oils,’
otherwise described as ‘essential oils.’ The distinction between these
two classes is simple enough. The volatile oils (mostly of vegetable
origin) may be distilled or simply evaporated away like water or
alcohol, and leave no residue. The fixed oils similarly treated are
dissociated more or less completely. This has been already explained in
Chapter VII.

Otherwise expressed, the boiling point of the volatile oils is
below their dissociation point. The fixed oils are those which are
dissociated at a temperature below their boiling point.

My object in thus expressing this difference will be understood upon
a little reflection. The volatile oils, when heated, being distilled
without change are uncookable; while the fixed oils if similarly
heated suffer various degrees of change as their temperature is raised,
and may be completely decomposed by steady application of heat in a
closed vessel without the aid of any other chemical agent than the heat
itself. This ‘destructive distillation’ converts them into solid carbon
and hydro-carbon gases, somewhat similar to those we obtain by the
destructive distillation of coal.

If we watch the changes occurring as the heat advances to this complete
dissociation point we may observe a minor or partial dissociation
proceeding gradually onward, resembling that which I have already
described as occurring when sugar is similarly treated (Chapter VII.
page 87).

But in ordinary cooking we do not go so far as to carbonise the fat
itself, though we do brown or partially carbonise the membrane which
envelopes the fat. What then is the nature of this minor dissociation,
if such occurs?

Before giving my answer to this question I must explain the chemical
constitution of fat. It is a compound of a very weak base with very
weak acids. The basic substance is glycerine, the acids (not sour at
all, but so named because they combine with bases as the actually sour
acids do) are stearic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, &c., and bear
the general name of ‘fatty acids.’ They are solid or liquid, according
to temperature. When solid they are pearly crystalline substances, when
fused they are oily liquids.

To simplify, I will take one of these as a type, and that the one which
is the chief constituent of animal fats, viz. stearic acid. I have a
lump of it before me. Newly broken through, it might at a distance
be mistaken for a piece of Carrara marble. It is granular, like the
marble, but not so hard, and, when rubbed with the hand, differs from
the marble in betraying its origin by a small degree of unctuousness,
but it can scarcely be described as greasy.

I find by experiment that this may be mixed with glycerine without
combination taking place, that when heated with glycerine just to its
fusing point, and the two are agitated together, the combination is by
no means complete. Instead of obtaining a soft, smooth fat, I obtain
a granular fat small stearic crystals with glycerine amongst them. It
is a _mixture_ of stearic acid and glycerine, not a chemical compound;
it is stearic acid and glycerine, but not a stearate of glycerine or
glycerine stearate.

A similar separation is what I suppose to occur in the cooking of
animal fat. I find that mutton-fat, beef-fat, or other fat when raw
is perfectly smooth, as tested by rubbing a small quantity, free from
membrane, between the finger and thumb, or by the still more delicate
test of rubbing it between the tip of the tongue and the palate.
But dripping, whether of beef, or mutton, or poultry, is granular,
as anybody who has ever eaten bread and dripping knows well enough,
and the manufacturers of ‘butterine,’ or ‘bosch,’ know too well,
the destruction or prevention of this granulation being one of the
difficulties of their art.

My theory of the cookery of fat is simply that heat, when continued
long enough, or raised sufficiently high, effects an incipient
dissociation of the fatty acids from the glycerine, and thus assists
the digestive organs by presenting the base and the acids in a
condition better fitted (or advanced by one stage) for the new
combinations demanded by assimilation. Some physiologists have lately
asserted that the fat of our food is not assimilated at all—not laid
down again as fat, but is used directly as fuel for the maintenance of
animal heat.

If this is correct, the advantage of the preliminary dissociation is
more decided, for the combustible portion of the fat is its fatty
acids; the glycerine is an impediment to combustion, so much so that
the modern candle-maker removes it, and thereby greatly improves the
combustibility of his candles.

It may be that the glycerine of the fat we eat is assimilated like
sugar, while the fatty acids act directly as fuel. This view may
reconcile some of the conflicting facts (such as the existence of fat
in the carnivora) that stand in the way of the theory of the uses of
fat food above referred to, according to which fat is not fattening,
and those who would ‘Bant’ should eat fat freely to maintain animal
heat, while very abstemious in the consumption of sugar and farinaceous

The difference between tallow and dripping is instructive. Their
origin is the same; both are melted fats—beef or mutton fats—and both
contain the same fatty acids and glycerine, but there is a visible and
tangible difference in their molecular condition. Tallow is smooth and
homogeneous, dripping decidedly granular.

I attribute this difference to the fact that in rendering tallow, the
heat is maintained no longer than is necessary to effect the fusion;
while, in the ordinary production of dripping, the fat is exposed in
the dripping-pan to a long continuance of heat, besides being highly
heated when used in basting. Therefore the dissociation is carried
farther in the case of the dripping, and the result becomes sensible.

I have observed that home-rendered lard, that obtained in English
farmhouses, where the ‘scratchings’ (_i.e._ the membranous parts)
are frizzled, is more granular than the lard we now obtain in such
abundance from Chicago and other wholesale hog regions. I have not
witnessed the lard rendering at Chicago, but have little doubt that
economy of fuel is practised in conducting it, and therefore less
dissociation would be effected than in the domestic retail process.

Some of the early manufacturers of ‘bosch’ purified their fat by
the process recommended and practised by the French Academicians
MM. Dubrunfaut and Fua (see page 102). I wrote about it in 1871,
and consequently received some samples of artificial butter thus
made in the Midlands. It was pure fat, perfectly wholesome, but,
although coloured to imitate butter, had the granular character
of dripping. Since that time great progress has been made in this
branch of industry. I have lately tasted samples of pure ‘bosch’ or
‘oleomargarine’ undistinguishable from churned cream or good butter,
though offered for sale at 8½_d._ per lb. in wholesale packages. In
the preparation of this the high temperatures of the process of the
Academicians are carefully avoided, and the smoothness of pure butter
is obtained. I mention this now merely in confirmation of my theory of
the _rationale_ of fat cookery, but shall return to this subject of
‘bosch’ or butterine again, as it has considerable intrinsic interest
in reference to our food supplies, and should be better understood than
it is.

If this theory of fat cookery and the preceding theoretical
explanations of the cookery of gelatin and fibrin are correct, a
broad practical deduction follows, viz. that in the cookery of fat
the full temperature of 212° or even a much higher temperature does
no mischief, or may be desirable, while all the other constituents of
meat are better cooked at a temperature not exceeding 212°; the albumen
especially at a considerably lower temperature.

There is neither coagulation nor dehydration to be feared as regards
the fat, unless the heat is raised to that of the dissociation of the
fixed oils, which, as already explained, is much above 212°; the change
which then takes place in the fat (analogous to that caramelising
sugar) is not dehydration properly so called, although the _elements_
of water or hydrogen may be driven off.

Hydration is a combining of water _as water_, not with the elements of
water as elements, and the water of most hydrates becomes dissociated
at a temperature a little above the boiling point of water.

My own experiments on gelatin show that hydration occurs when crude
gelatin is exposed to the action of water at or below the boiling
point, and that dehydration takes place at and above the boiling point,
or otherwise stated, the boiling point is the critical temperature
where either hydration or dehydration may occur according to the

The original membrane _immersed in water_ at 212° becomes hydrated,
while hydrated gelatin heated to 212° and exposed to the air is
dehydrated. Fat is only dissociated as regards its glycerine, and is
cooked thereby.

The dietetic value of milk is obvious enough from the fact that the
young of the human species and all the mammalia, whether carnivorous,
graminivorous, or herbivorous, are entirely fed upon it during the
period of their most rapid growth. This, however, does not justify
the practice of describing milk as a model diet and tabulating its
composition as that which should represent the composition of food
for adults. The fallacy of this is evident from the fact that grass
is the model food of the cow, and milk that of the calf. Although the
grass contains all the constituents of the milk, their proportions are
widely different; besides this the grass contains a very great deal of
material that does not exist in milk—silica for example.

The constituents of milk are first water, constituting from 65 to
90 per cent. Nitrogenous matter, consisting of the casein above
described and a little albumen. Fat, sugar, and saline substances. The
proportions of these vary so greatly in the milk from different animals
of the same species, and in that from the same animal at different
times that tabular statements of the percentage composition of the milk
of different animals are very variable. I have five such tables before
me, assembled for the purpose of supplying material for my readers, but
they are so contradictory, though all by good chemists, that I am at a
loss in making a choice. The following is Dr. Miller’s statement of the
mean result of several analyses:

  |                        | Woman | Cow  | Goat |  Ass | Sheep | Bitch |
  | Water                  |  88·6 | 87·4 | 82·0 | 90·5 |  85·6 |  66·3 |
  | Fat                    |   2·6 |  4·0 |  4·5 |  1·4 |   4·5 |  14·8 |
  | Sugar and soluble salts|   4·9 |  5·0 |  4·5 |  6·4 |   4·2 |   2·9 |
  | Nitrogenous compounds }|       |      |      |      |       |       |
  |   and insoluble salts }|   3·9 |  3·6 |  9·0 |  1·7 |   5·7 |  16·0 |

The fat exists in the form of minute globules of oil suspended in the
water. The rising of these to the surface forms the cream. When the
milk is new it is slightly alkaline, and this assists in the admixture
of the oil with the water, forming an emulsion which may be imitated by
whipping olive or other similar oil in water. If the water is slightly
alkaline the milky-looking emulsion is more easily obtained than in
neutral water, still more so than when there is acid in the water.

As milk becomes older lactic acid is formed; at first alkalinity is
exchanged for neutrality, and afterwards the milk becomes acid. This
assists in the separation of the cream.

Butter is merely the oil globules aggregated by agitation or churning.
The condition of the casein has been already described. The sugar of
milk or ‘lactine’ is much less sweet than cane sugar.

The cookery of milk is very simple, but by no means unimportant. That
there is an appreciable difference between raw and boiled milk may be
proved by taking equal quantities of each (the boiled sample having
been allowed to cool down), adding them to equal quantities of the
same infusion of coffee, then critically tasting the mixtures. The
difference is sufficient to have long since established the practice
among all skilful cooks of scrupulously using boiled milk for making
_café au lait_. I have tried a similar experiment on tea, and find that
in this case the cold milk is preferable. Why this should be—why boiled
milk should be better for coffee and raw milk for tea—I cannot tell.
If any of my readers have not done so already, let them try similar
experiments with condensed milk, and I have no doubt that the verdict
of the majority will be that it is passable with coffee, but very
objectionable in tea. This is milk that has been very much cooked.

The chief definable alteration effected by the boiling of milk is
the coagulation of the small quantity of albumen which it contains.
This rises as it becomes solidified, carrying with it some of the
fat globules of the milk, and a little of its sugar and saline
constituents, thus forming a skin-like scum on the surface, which may
be lifted with a spoon and eaten, as it is perfectly wholesome, and
very nutritious.

If all the milk that is poured into London every morning were to flow
down a single channel, it would form a respectable little rivulet.
An interesting example of the self-adjusting operation of demand and
supply is presented by the fact that, without any special legislation
or any dictating official, the quantity required should thus flow with
so little excess that, in spite of its perishable qualities, little or
none is spoiled by souring; and yet at any moment anybody may buy a
pennyworth within two or three hundred yards of any part of the great
metropolis. There is no record of any single day on which the supply
has failed, or even been sensibly deficient.

This is effected by drawing the supplies from a great number of
independent sources, which are not likely to be simultaneously
disturbed in the same direction. Coupled with this advantage is a
serious danger. It has been demonstrated that certain microbia (minute
living abominations), which are said to disseminate malignant diseases,
may live in milk, feed upon it, increase and multiply therein, and by
it be transmitted to human beings with possibly serious and even fatal

This general germ theory of disease has been recently questioned by
some men whose conclusions demand respect. Dr. B. W. Richardson stoutly
opposes it, and in the particular instance of the ‘comma-shaped’
bacillus, so firmly described as the origin of cholera, the refutation
is apparently complete.

The alternative hypothesis is that the class of diseases in question
are caused by a _chemical_ poison, not necessarily organised as a plant
or animal, and therefore not to be found by the microscope.

I speak the more feelingly on this subject, having very recently had
painful experience of it. One of my sons went for a holiday to a
farm-house in Shropshire, where many happy and health-giving holidays
have been spent by all the members of my family. At the end of two or
three weeks he was attacked by scarlet fever, and suffered severely. He
afterwards learned that the cowboy had been ill, and further inquiry
proved that his illness was scarlet fever, though not acknowledged to
be such; that he had milked before the scaling of the skin that follows
the eruption could have been completed, and it was therefore most
probable that some of the scales from his hands fell into the milk.
My son drank freely of uncooked milk, the other inmates of the farm
drinking home-brewed beer, and only taking milk in tea or coffee hot
enough to destroy the vitality of fever germs. He alone suffered. This
infection was the more remarkable, inasmuch as a few months previously
he had been assisting a medical man in a crowded part of London where
scarlet fever was prevalent, and had come into frequent contact with
patients in different stages of the disease without suffering infection.

Had the milk from this farm been sent to London in the usual manner
in cans, and the contents of these particular cans mixed with those
of the rest received by the vendor, the whole of his stock might have
been infected. As some thousands of farms contribute to the supplying
of London with milk, the risk of such contact with infected hands
occurring occasionally in one or another of them is very great, and
fully justifies me in urgently recommending the manager of every
household to strictly enforce the boiling of every drop of milk that
enters the house. At the temperature of 212° the vitality of all
_dangerous_ germs is destroyed, and the boiling point of milk is a
little above 212°. The temperature of tea or coffee, as ordinarily
used, may do it, but is not to be relied upon. I need only refer
generally to the cases of wholesale infection that have recently been
traced to the milk of particular dairies, as the particulars are
familiar to all who read the newspapers.

The necessity for boiling remains the same, whether we accept the
germ theory or that of chemical poison, as such poison must be of
organic origin, and, like other similar organic compounds, subject to
dissociation or other alteration when heated to the boiling point of

It is an open question whether butter may or may not act as a
dangerous carrier of such germs; whether they rise with the cream,
survive the churning, and flourish among the fat. The subject is of
vital importance, and yet, in spite of the research fund of the Royal
Society, the British Association, &c., we have no data upon which to
base even an approximately sound conclusion.

We may theorise, of course; we may suppose that the bacteria, bacilli,
&c., which we see under the microscope to be continually wriggling
about or driving along are doing so in order to obtain fresh food from
the surrounding liquid, and therefore that if imprisoned in butter
they would languish and die. We may point to the analogies of ferment
germs which demand nitrogenous matter, and therefore suppose that the
pestiferous wanderers cannot live upon a mere hydro-carbon like butter.
On the other hand, we know that the germs of such things can remain
dormant under conditions that are fatal to their parents, and develop
forthwith when released and brought into new surroundings. These
speculations are interesting enough, but in such a matter of life and
death to ourselves and our children we require positive facts—direct
microscopic or chemical evidence.

In the meantime the doubt is highly favourable to ‘bosch.’ To
illustrate this, let us suppose the case of a cow grazing on a
sewage-farm, manured from a district on which enteric fever has
existed. The cow lies down, and its teats are soiled with liquid
containing the chemical poison or the germs which are so fearfully
malignant when taken internally. In the course of milking a thousandth
part of a grain of the infected matter containing a few hundred germs
enters the milk, and these germs increase and multiply. The cream that
rises carries some of them with it, and they are thus in the butter,
either dead or alive—we know not which, but have to accept the risk.

Now, take the case of ‘bosch.’ The cow is slaughtered. The waste
fat—that before the days of palm oil and vaseline was sold for
lubricating machinery—is skilfully prepared, made up into 2 lb. rolls,
delicately wrapped in special muslin, or prettily moulded and fitted
into ‘Normandy’ baskets. What is the risk in eating this?

None at all provided always the ‘bosch’ is not adulterated with
cream-butter. The special disease germs do not survive the chemistry of
digestion, do not pass through the glandular tissues of the follicles
that secrete the living fat, and therefore, even though the cow should
have fed on sewage grass, moistened with infected sewage water, its fat
would not be poisoned.

What we require in connection with this is commercial honesty: that
the thousands of tons of ‘bosch’ now annually made shall be sold as
‘bosch,’ or, if preferred, as ‘oleomargarine,’ or ‘butterine,’ or
any other name that shall tell the truth. In order to render such
commercial honesty possible to shopkeepers, more intelligence is
demanded among their customers. A dealer, on whom I can rely, told
me lately that if he offered the ‘bosch’ or ‘butterine’ to his other
customers as he was then offering it to me, at 8½_d._ per lb. in
24-lb. box, or 9_d._ retail, he could not possibly sell it, and his
reputation would be injured by admitting that he kept it; but that the
same people who would be disgusted with it at 9_d._ will buy it freely
at double the price as prime Devonshire fresh butter; and, he added,
significantly, ‘I cannot afford to lose my business and be ruined
because my customers are fools.’ To pastrycooks and others in business
it is sold honestly enough for what it is, and used instead of butter.

In the ‘Journal of the Chemical Society’ for January 1844, page 92, is
an account of experiments made by A. Mayer in order to determine the
comparative nutritive value of ‘bosch’ and cream-butter. They were made
on a man and a boy. The result was that on an average a little above 1½
per cent. less of the ‘bosch’ was absorbed into the system than of the
cream-butter. This is a very trifling difference.

Before leaving the subject of animal food I may say a few words on
the latest, and perhaps the greatest, triumph of science in reference
to food supply—_i.e._ the successful solution of the great problem of
preserving fresh meat for an almost indefinite length of time. It has
long been known that meat which is frozen remains fresh. The Aberdeen
whalers were in the habit of feasting their friends on returning home
on joints that were taken out fresh from Aberdeen, and kept frozen
during a long Arctic voyage. In Norway game is shot at the end of
autumn, and kept in a frozen state for consumption during the whole
winter and far into the spring.

The early attempts to apply the freezing process for the carriage of
fresh meat from South America and Australia by using ice, or freezing
mixtures of ice and salt, failed, but now all the difficulties are
overcome by a simple application of the great principle of the
conservation of energy, whereby the burning of coal may be made to
produce a degree of cold proportionate to the amount of heat it gives
out in burning.

Carcasses of sheep are thereby frozen to stony hardness immediately
they are slaughtered in New Zealand and Australia, then packed in close
refrigerated cars, carried to the ship, and there stowed in chambers
refrigerated by the same means, and thus brought to England in the same
state of stony hardness as that originally produced. I dined to-day
on one of the legs of a sheep that I bought a week ago, and which
was grazing at the Antipodes three months before. I prefer it to any
English mutton ordinarily obtainable.

The grounds of this preference will be understood when I explain that
English farmers, who manufacture mutton as a primary product, kill
their sheep as soon as they are full grown, when a year old or less.
They cannot afford to feed a sheep for two years longer merely to
improve its flavour without adding to its weight. Country gentlemen,
who do not care for expense, occasionally regale their friends on a
haunch or saddle of three-year-old mutton, as a rare and costly luxury.

The Antipodean graziers are wool growers. Until lately mutton was
merely used as manure, and even now it is but a secondary product. The
wool crop improves year by year until the sheep is three or four years
old; therefore it is not slaughtered until this age is attained; and
thus the sheep sent to England are similar to those of the country
squire, and such as the English farmer could not send to market under
eighteenpence per pound.

There is, however, one drawback; but I have tested it thoroughly
(having supplied my own table during the last six months with no other
mutton than that from New Zealand), and find it so trifling as to
be imperceptible unless critically looked for. It is simply that, in
thawing, a small quantity of the juice of the meat oozes out. This is
more than compensated by the superior richness and fulness of flavour
of the meat itself, which is much darker in colour than young mutton.
Legs of frozen mutton should be hung with the thick cut part upwards.
With this precaution the loss of juice is but nominal. If the frozen
sheep is not cut up until completely thawed and required for cooking
there is no loss.

Another successful method of meat-preserving has been more lately
introduced. It is based upon the remarkable antiseptic properties of
boric acid (or boracic acid as it is sometimes named); this is the
characteristic constituent of borax, and, like the fatty acids above
described, has no sour flavour.

The speciality of this process, invented by Mr. Jones, a
Gloucestershire surgeon, is the method by which a small quantity of the
antiseptic is made to permeate the whole of the carcass.

The animal is rendered insensible, either by a stunning blow or by an
anæsthetic, with the heart still beating. A vein—usually the jugular—is
opened, and a small quantity of blood let out. Then a corresponding
quantity of a solution of boric acid, raised to blood heat, is made
to flow into the vein from a vessel raised to a suitable height above
it. The action of the heart carries this through all the capillary
vessels into every part of the body of the animal. The completeness
of this diffusion may be understood by reflecting on the fact that we
cannot puncture any part of the body with the point of a needle without
drawing blood from some of these vessels.

After the completion of this circulation the animal is bled to death in
the usual manner. From three to four ounces of boric acid is sufficient
for a sheep of average weight, and much of this comes away with the
final bleeding. On April 2, 1884, I made a hearty meal on the roasted,
boiled, and stewed flesh of a sheep that was killed on February 8,
the carcass hanging in the meantime in the basement of the Society of
Arts. It was perfectly fresh, and without any perceptible flavour of
the boric acid: very tender, and full-flavoured as fresh meat. On July
19, 1884, I purchased a haunch of the prepared mutton, and hung it
in an ill-constructed larder during the excessively hot weather that
followed. On August 10, after twenty-two days of this severe ordeal,
it was still in good condition. The 11th and 12th were two of the
hottest days of the present century in England. On the 13th I examined
the haunch very carefully, and detected symptoms of giving way. It had
become softer, and was pervaded throughout with a slight malodour. On
the 14th it became worse, and then I had it roasted. It was decidedly
gamey; the fat, or rather the membranous junction between fat and
lean, and the membranous sheaths of the muscles had succumbed, but the
substance of the muscles, the firm lean parts of the meat, were quite
eatable, and eaten by myself and other members of my family. There was
no taste of boric acid, and the meat was unusually tender.

The curious element of this process is the very small quantity of the
boric acid which does the work so effectually.

For some time past most of the milk that is supplied to London has been
similarly treated by adding borax or a preparation chiefly composed of
borax, and named ‘glacialine.’ This suppresses the incipient lactic
fermentation, which, in the course of a few hours, otherwise produces
the souring of milk, and thus prepared the milk remains for a long time

The small quantity of borax that we thus imbibe with our tea, coffee,
&c., is quite harmless. M. de Cyon, who has studied this subject
experimentally, affirms that it is very beneficial.



MY readers will remember that I referred to Haller’s statement,
‘Dimidium corporis humani gluten est,’ which applies to animals
generally, viz. that half of their substance is gelatin, or that which
by cookery becomes gelatin. This abundance depends upon the fact that
the walls of the cells and the frame-work of the tissues are composed
of this material.

In the vegetable structure we encounter a close analogy to this.
Cellular structure is still more clearly defined than in the animal, as
may be easily seen with the help of a very moderate microscopic power.
Pluck one of the fibrils that you see shooting down into the water
of hyacinth glasses, or, failing one of these, any other succulent
rootlet. Crush it between two pieces of glass and examine. At the end
there is a loose spongy mass of rounded cells; these merge into oblong
rectangular cells surrounding a central axis of spiral tube or tubes
or greatly elongated cell structure. Take a thin slice of stem, or
leaf, or flower, or bark, or pith, examine in like manner, and cellular
structure of some kind will display itself, clearly demonstrating
that whatever may be the contents of these round, oval, hexagonal,
oblong, or otherwise regular or irregular cells, we cannot cook and
eat any whole vegetable, or slice of vegetable, without encountering
a large quantity of cell wall. It constitutes far more than half of
the substance of most vegetables, and therefore demands prominent

It exists in many forms with widely differing physical properties, but
with very little variation in chemical composition, so little that
in many chemical treatises cellular tissue, cellulose, lignin, and
woody fibre are treated as chemically synonymous. Thus, Miller says:
‘Cellular tissue forms the groundwork of every plant, and when obtained
in a pure state, its composition is the same, whatever may have been
the nature of the plants which furnished it, though it may vary greatly
in appearance and physical characters; thus, it is loose and spongy in
the succulent shoots of germinating seeds, and in the roots of plants,
such as the turnip and the potato; it is porous and elastic in the pith
of the rush and the elder; it is flexible and tenacious in the fibres
of hemp and flax; it is compact in the branches and wood of growing
trees; and becomes very hard and dense in the shells of the filbert,
the peach, the cocoanut, and the _Phytelephas_ or vegetable ivory.’

Its composition in all these cases is that of a _carbo-hydrate_, _i.e._
carbon united with the elements of water, which, by the way, should
not be confounded with a _hydro-carbon_, or compound of carbon with
hydrogen simply, such as petroleum, fats, essential oils, and resins.

There is, however, some little chemical difference between wooden
tissue and the pure cellulose that we have in finely carded cotton, in
linen, and pure paper pulp, such as is used in making the filtering
paper for chemical laboratories, which burns without leaving a
weighable quantity of ash. The woody forms of cellular tissue owe
their characteristic properties to an incrustration of _lignin_, which
is often described as synonymous with cellulose, but is not so. It
is composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, like cellulose, but the
hydrogen is in excess of the proportion required to form water by
combination with the oxygen.

My own view of the composition of this incrustation (lignin properly
is called) is that it consists of a carbo-hydrate united with a
hydro-carbon, the latter having a resinous character; but whether the
hydro-carbon is chemically combined with the carbo-hydrate (the resin
with the cellulose), or whether the resin only mechanically envelopes
and indurates the cellulose I will not venture to decide, though I
incline to the latter theory.

As we shall presently see, this view of the constitution of the
indurated forms of cellular tissue has an important practical bearing
upon my present subject. To indicate this in advance, I will put it
grossly as opening the question of whether a very great refinement of
scientific cookery may or may not enable us to convert nutshells, wood
shavings, and sawdust into wholesome and digestible food. I have no
doubt whatever that it may.

It could be done at once if the incrusting resinous matter were
removed; for pure cellulose in the form of cotton and linen rags
has been converted into sugar artificially in the laboratory of the
chemist; and in the ripening of fruits such conversion is effected on
a large scale in the laboratory of nature. A Jersey pear, for example,
when full grown in autumn is little better than a lump of acidulated
wood. Left hanging on the leafless tree, or gathered and carefully
stored for two or three months, it becomes by nature’s own unaided
cookery the most delicious and delicate pulp that can be tasted or

Certain animals have a remarkable power of digesting ligneous tissue.
The beaver is an example of this. The whole of its stomach, and more
especially that secondary stomach the _cæcum_, is often found crammed
or plugged with fragments of wood and bark. I have opened the crops of
several Norwegian ptarmigans, and found them filled with no other food
than the needles of pines, upon which they evidently feed during the
winter. The birds, when cooked, were scarcely eatable on account of the
strong resinous flavour of their flesh.

If my theory of the constitution of such woody tissues is correct,
these animals only require the power of secreting some solvent for
the resin, on the removal of which their food would consist of the
same material as the tissue of the succulent stems and leaves eaten by
ordinary herbivorous animals. The resinous flavour of the flesh of the
ptarmigan indicates such solution of resin.

I may here, by the way, correct the commonly accepted version of a
popular story. We are told that when Marie Antoinette was informed of a
famine in the neighbourhood of the Tyrol, and of the starving of some
of the peasants there, she replied, ‘I would rather eat pie-crust’
(some of the story-tellers say ‘pastry’) ‘than starve.’ Thereupon the
courtiers giggled at the ignorance of the pampered princess, who could
suppose that starving peasants had such an alternative food as pastry.
The ignorance, however, was all on the side of the courtiers and those
who repeat the story in its ordinary form. The princess was the only
person in the Court who really understood the habits of the peasants
of the particular district in question. They cook their meat, chiefly
young veal, by rolling it in a kind of dough made of sawdust mixed
with as little coarse flour as will hold it together; then place this
in an oven or in wood embers until the dough is hardened to a tough
crust, and the meat is raised throughout to the cooking point. Marie
Antoinette said that she would rather eat _croûtons_ than starve,
knowing that these _croûtons_, or meat pie-crusts, are given to the
pigs; that the pigs digest them, and are nourished by them in spite of
the wood sawdust.

When on the subject of cooking animal food, I had to define the cooking
temperature as determined by that at which albumen coagulates, and to
point out the mischief arising from exceeding that temperature and thus
rendering the albumen horny and indigestible.

No such precautions are demanded in the boiling of vegetables. The
work to be done in cooking a cabbage or a turnip, for example, is to
soften the cellular tissue by the action of hot water; there is nothing
to avoid in the direction of over-heating. Even if the water could be
raised above 212°, the vegetable would be rather improved than injured

The question that now naturally arises is whether modern science can
show us that anything more can be done in the preparation of vegetable
tissue than the mere softening in boiling water. I have already said
that the practice of using the digestive apparatus of sheep, oxen, &c.,
for the preparation of our food is merely a transitory barbarism, to be
ultimately superseded by scientific cookery, by preparing vegetables
in such a manner that they shall be as easily digested as the prepared
grass we call beef and mutton. I do not mean by this that the vegetable
we should use shall be grass itself, or that grass should be one of
the vegetables. We must, for our requirement, select vegetables that
contain as much nutriment in a given bulk as our present mixed diet,
but in doing so we encounter the serious difficulty of finding that the
readily soluble cell wall or main bulk of animal food—the gelatin—is
replaced in the vegetable by the cellulose, or woody fibre, which is
not only more difficult of solution, but is not nitrogenous, is only a
compound of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen.

Next to the enveloping tissue, the most abundant constituent of the
vegetables we use as food is starch. Laundry associations may render
the Latin name ‘_fecula_’, or ‘_farina_’, more agreeable when applied
to food. We feed very largely on starch, and take it in a multitude
of forms. Excluding water, it constitutes above three-fourths of our
‘staff of life,’ a still larger proportion of rice, which is the
staff of Oriental life, and nearly the whole of arrowroot, sago, and
tapioca, which may be described as composed of starch and water. Peas,
beans, and every kind of seed and grain contain it in preponderating
proportions; potatoes the same, and even those vegetables which we eat
raw, all contain within their cells considerable quantities of starch.

Take a small piece of dough, made in the usual manner by moistening
wheat flour, put it in a piece of muslin and work it with the fingers
under water. The water becomes milky, and the milkiness is seen to be
produced by minute granules that sink to the bottom when the agitation
of the water ceases. These are starch granules. They may be obtained by
similar treatment of other kinds of flour. Viewed under a microscope
they are seen to be ovoid particles with peculiar concentric markings
that I must not tarry to describe. The form and size of these granules
vary according to the plant from which they are derived, but the
chemical composition is in all cases the same, excepting, perhaps, that
the amount of water associated with the actual starch varies, producing
some small differences of density or other physical variations.

Arrowroot may be taken as an example. To the chemist arrowroot is
starch in as pure a form as can be found in nature, and he applies
this description to all kinds of arrowroot; but, looking at the ‘price
current’ in the ‘Grocer’ of the current week, November 22, 1884,
I find under the first item, which is ‘Arrowroot,’ the following:
‘Bermuda, per lb. 10_d._ to 1_s._ 5_d._;’ ‘St. Vincent and Natal,
1¼_d._ to 7¼_d._;’ and this is a fair example of the usual differences
of price of this commodity. Five farthings to 53 farthings is a wide
range, and should express a wide difference of quality. I have on
several occasions, at long intervals apart, obtained samples of the
highest-priced Bermuda, and even ‘Missionary’ arrowroot, supposed to
be perfect, brought home by immaculate missionaries themselves, and
therefore worth 3_s._ 6_d._ per lb., and have compared this with the
‘St. Vincent and Natal.’ I find that the only difference is that on
boiling in a given quantity of water the Bermuda produces a somewhat
stiffer jelly, the which additional tenacity is easily obtainable by
using a little more of the 1½_d._ (or say 3_d._ to allow a profit on
retailing) to the same quantity of water. Both are starch, and starch
is neither more nor less than starch, unless it be that the best
Bermuda, sold at 3_s._ per lb., is starch _plus_ humbug.[15]

The ultimate chemical composition of starch is the same as that
of cellulose—carbon and the elements of water, and in the same
proportions; but the difference of chemical and physical properties
indicates some difference in the arrangement of these elements. It
would be quite out of place here to discuss the theories of molecular
constitution which such differences have suggested, especially as they
are all rather cloudy. The percentage is—carbon 44·4, oxygen 49·4,
and hydrogen 6·2. The difference between starch and cellulose that
most closely affects my present subject, that of digestibility, is
considerable. The ordinary food-forms of starch, such as arrowroot,
tapioca, rice, &c., are among the most easily digestible kinds of food,
while cellulose is peculiarly difficult of digestion; in its crude and
compact forms it is quite indigestible by human digestive apparatus.

Neither of them are capable of sustaining life alone; they contain none
of the nitrogenous material required for building up muscle, nerve, and
other animal tissue. They may be converted into fat, and may supply
fuel for maintaining animal heat, and may possibly supply some of the
energies demanded for organic work.

Serious consequences have resulted from ignorance of this. The popular
notion that anything which thickens to a jelly when cooked must be
proportionally nutritious is very fallacious, and many a victim has
died of starvation by the reliance of nurses on this theory, and
consequently feeding an emaciated invalid on mere starch in the form of
arrowroot, &c. The selling of a fancy variety at ten times its proper
value has greatly aided this delusion, so many believing that whatever
is dear must be good. I remember when oysters were retailed in London
at fourpence per dozen. They were not then supposed to be exceptionally
nutritious, were not prescribed by fashionable physicians to invalids,
as they have been lately, since their price has risen to threepence

More than half a century has elapsed since Dr. Beaumont published the
results of his experiments on Alexis St. Martin. These showed that
fresh raw oysters required 2 hours 55 minutes, and stewed fresh oysters
3½ hours for digestion, against 1 hour for boiled tripe and 3 hours for
roast or boiled beef or mutton. Oysters contain more than 80 per cent.
of water, and are, weight for weight, far less nutritious than beef or
mutton; less than the easily digestible tripe. But tripe is cheap and
vulgar, therefore kitchenmaids, footmen, and fashionable physicians
despise it.

The change which takes place in the cookery of starch may, I think, be
described as simple hydration, or union with water; not that definite
chemical combination which may be expressed in terms of chemical
equivalents, but a sort of hydration of which we have so many other
examples, where something unites with water in any quantity, the union
being accompanied with an evolution of some amount of heat. Striking
illustrations of this are presented on placing a piece of hydrated
soda or potash in water, or mixing sulphuric acid, already combined
chemically with an equivalent of water, with more water. Here we
have aqueous adhesion and considerable evolution of heat, without
the definitive quantitative chemical combination demanded by atomic

In the experiment above described for separating the starch from wheat
flour, the starch thus liberated sinks to the bottom of the water and
remains there undissolved. The same occurs if arrowroot be thrown into
water. This insolubility is not entirely due to the intervention of the
envelope of the granules, as may be shown by crushing the granules,
_while dry_, and then dropping them into water. Such a mixture of
starch and cold water remains unchanged for a long time—Miller says ‘an
indefinite time.’

When heated to a little above 140° Fahr., an absorption of water takes
place through the enveloping membrane of the granules, they swell
considerably, and the mixture becomes pasty or viscous. If this paste
be largely diluted with water, the swollen granules still remain as
separate bodies and slowly sink, though a considerable exosmosis of the
true starch has occurred, as shown by the thickening of the water. I
suppose that in their original state the enveloping membrane is much
folded, and that these folds form the curious marking of concentric
rings which constitutes the characteristic microscopic structure of
starch granules, and that when cooked, at the temperature named, the
very delicate membrane becomes fully distended by the increased bulk of
the hydrated and diluted starch, and thus the rings disappear.

A very little mechanical violence, mere stirring, now breaks up these
distended granules, and we obtain the starch paste so well known to the
laundress, and to all who have seen cooked arrowroot. If this paste be
dried by evaporation it does not regain its former insolubility, but
readily dissolves in hot or cold water. This is what I should describe
as cooked starch.

If the heat is now raised from 140° to the boiling point, and the
boiling continued, the gelatinous mass becomes thicker and thicker;
and if there are more than fifty parts of water to one of starch a
separation takes place, the starch settling down with its fifty parts
of water, the excess of water standing above it. Carefully dried starch
may be heated to above 300° without becoming soluble, but at 400° a
remarkable change commences. The same occurs to ordinary commercial
starch at 320°, the difference evidently depending on the water
retained by it. If the heat is continued a little beyond this it is
converted into _dextrin_, otherwise named ‘British gum,’ ‘gommeline,’
‘starch gum,’ and ‘Alsace gum,’ from its resemblance to gum-arabic,
for which it is now very extensively substituted. Solutions of this in
bottles are sold in the stationers’ shops under various names for desk

The remarkable feature of this conversion of starch into dextrin is,
that it is accompanied by no change of chemical composition. Starch
is composed of six equivalents of carbon, ten of hydrogen, and five
of oxygen—C_{6}H_{10}O_{5}, _i.e._ six of carbon and five of water or
its elements. Dextrin has exactly the same composition; so also has
gum-arabic when purified. But their properties differ considerably.
Starch, as everybody knows, when dried is white and opaque and
pulverent; dextrin, similarly dried, is transparent and brittle;
gum-arabic the same. If a piece of starch, or a solution of starch, is
touched by a solution of iodine, it becomes blue almost to blackness,
if the solution is strong; no such change occurs when the iodine
solution is added to dextrin or gum. A solution of dextrin when mixed
with potash changes to a rich blue colour when a little sulphate of
copper is added; no such effect is produced by gum-arabic, and thus
we have an easy test for distinguishing between true and fictitious

The technical name for describing this persistence of composition with
changes of properties is _isomerism_, and bodies thus related are said
to be _isomeric_ with each other. Another distinguishing characteristic
of dextrin is that it produces a right-handed rotation on a ray of
polarised light, hence its name, from _dexter_, the right.

The conversion of starch into dextrin is a very important element of
the subject of vegetable cooking, inasmuch as starch food cannot be
assimilated until this conversion has taken place, either before or
after we eat it. I will therefore describe other methods by which this
change may be effected.

If starch be boiled in a dilute solution of almost any acid, it is
converted into dextrin. A solution containing less than one per cent.
of sulphuric or nitric acid is sufficiently strong for this purpose.
One method of commercial manufacture (Payen’s) is to moisten 10 parts
of starch with 3 of water, containing 1/150th of its weight of nitric
acid, spreading the paste upon shelves, allowing it to dry in the air,
and then heating it for an hour-and-a-half at about 240° Fahr.

But the most remarkable and interesting agent in effecting this
conversion is _diastase_. It is one of those mysterious compounds which
have received the general name of ‘ferments.’ They are disturbers of
chemical peace, molecular agitators that initiate chemical revolutions,
which may be beneficent or very mischievous. The morbific matter of
contagious diseases, the venom of snake-bite, and a multitude of other
poisons, are ferments. Yeast is a familiar example of a ferment, and
one that is the best understood.

I must not be tempted into a dissertation on this subject, but may
merely remark that modern research indicates that many of these
ferments are microscopic creatures, linking the vegetable with the
animal world; they may be described as living things, seeing that they
grow from germs and generate other germs that produce their like. Where
this is proven, we can understand how a minute germ may, by falling
upon suitable nourishment, increase and multiply, and thus effect upon
large quantities of matter the chemical revolution above named.

I have already described the action of rennet upon milk, and the very
small quantity which produces coagulation. There appears to be no
intercession of living microbia in this case, nor have any been yet
demonstrated to constitute the ferment of diastase, though they may be
suspected. Be this as it may, diastase is a most beneficent ferment. It
communicates to the infant plant its first breath of active life, and
operates in the very first stage of animal digestion.

In a grain of wheat, for example, the embryo is surrounded with its
first food. While the seed remains dry above ground there is no
assimilation of the insoluble starch or gluten, no growth, nor other
sign of life. But when the seed is moistened and warmed, the starch
is changed to dextrin by the action of diastase, and the dextrin is
further converted into sugar. The food of the germ thus gradually
rendered soluble penetrates its tissues; it is thereby fed and grows,
unfolds its first leaf upwards, throws downward its first rootlet,
still feeding on the converted starch until it has developed the organs
by which it can feed on the carbonic acid of the air and the soluble
minerals of the soil. But for the original insolubility of the starch
it would be washed away into the soil, and wasted ere the germ could
absorb it.

The maltster, by artificial heat and moisture, hastens this formation
of dextrin and sugar; then by a roasting heat kills the baby plant just
as it is breaking through the seed-sheath. Blue Ribbon orators miss a
point in failing to notice this. It would be quite in their line to
denounce with scathing eloquence such heartless infanticide.

Diastase may be obtained by simply grinding freshly germinated barley
or malt, moistening it with half its weight of warm water, allowing it
to stand, and then pressing out the liquid. One part of diastase is
sufficient to convert 2,000 parts of starch into dextrin, and from
dextrin to sugar, if the action is continued. The most favourable
temperature for this is 140° Fahr. The action ceases if the temperature
be raised to the boiling point.

The starch which we take so abundantly as food appears to have no
more food-value to us than to the vegetable germ until the conversion
into dextrin or sugar is effected. From what I have already stated
concerning the action of heat upon starch, it is evident that this
conversion is more or less effected in some processes of cookery. In
the baking of bread an incipient conversion probably occurs throughout
the loaf, while in the crust it is carried so far as to completely
change most of the starch into dextrin, and some into sugar. Those
of us who can remember our bread-and-milk may not have forgotten the
gummy character of the crust when soaked. This may be felt by simply
moistening a piece of crust in hot water and rubbing it between the
fingers. A certain degree of sweetness may also be detected, though
disguised by the bitterness of the caramel, which is also there.

The final conversion of starch food into dextrin and sugar is effected
in the course of digestion, especially, as already stated, in the first
stage—that of insalivation. Saliva contains a kind of diastase, which
has received the name of _salivary diastase_ and _mucin_. It does not
appear to be exactly the same substance as vegetable diastase, though
its action is similar. It is most abundantly secreted by herbivorous
animals, especially by ruminating animals. Its comparative deficiency
in carnivorous animals is shown by the fact that if vegetable matter is
mixed with their food, starch passes through them unaltered.

Some time is required for the conversion of the starch by this animal
diastase, and in some animals there is a special laboratory or kitchen
for effecting this preliminary cookery of vegetable food. Ruminating
animals have a special stomach cavity for this purpose in which the
food, after mastication, is held for some time and kept warm before
passing into the cavity which secretes the gastric juice. The crop of
grain-eating birds appears to perform a similar function. It is there
mixed with a secretion corresponding to saliva, and is thus partially
malted—in this case _before_ mastication in the gizzard.

At a later stage of digestion, the starch that has escaped conversion
by the saliva is again subjected to the action of animal diastase
contained in the pancreatic juice, which is very similar to saliva.

It is a fair inference from these facts that creatures like ourselves,
who are not provided with a crop or compound stomach, and manifestly
secrete less saliva than horses or other grain-munching animals,
require some preliminary assistance when we adopt graminivorous habits;
and one part of the business of cookery is to supply such preliminary
treatment to the oats, barley, wheat, maize, peas, beans, &c., which we
cultivate and use for food.

I may add that the stomach itself appears to do very little, possibly
nothing, towards the digestion of starch. The primary conversion into
dextrin is effected by the saliva, and the subsequent digestion of this
takes place in the duodenum and following portions of the intestinal
canal. This applies equally to the less easily digested material of the
vegetable tissue described in the preceding chapter. Hence the greater
length of the intestinal canal in herbivorous animals as compared with
the carnivora.

Having described the changes effected by heat upon starch, and referred
to its further conversion into dextrin and sugar, I will now take some
practical examples of the cookery of starch foods, beginning with those
which are composed of pure, or nearly pure, starch.

When arrowroot is merely stirred in cold water, it sinks to the bottom
undissolved and unaltered. When cooked in the usual manner to form the
well-known mucilaginous or jelly-like food, the change is a simple case
of the swelling and breaking up of the granules already described as
occurring in water at the temperature of 140° Fahr. There appears to be
no reason for limiting the temperature, as the same action takes place
from 140° upwards to the boiling point of water.

I may here mention a peculiarity of another form of nearly pure starch
food, viz. tapioca, which is obtained by pulping and washing out
the starch granules of the root of the _Manihot_, then heating the
washed starch in pans, and stirring it while hot with iron or wooden
paddles. This cooks and breaks up the granules, and agglutinates the
starch into nodules which, as Mr. James Collins explains (‘Journal of
Society of Arts,’ March 14, 1884), are thereby coated with dextrin, to
which gummy coating some of the peculiarities of tapioca pudding are
attributable. It is a curious fact that this _Manihot_ root, from which
our harmless tapioca is obtained, is terribly poisonous. The plant is
one of the large family of nauseous spurgeworts (_Euphorbiaceæ_). The
poison resides in the milky juice surrounding the starch granules, but
being both soluble in water and volatile, most of it is washed away
in separating the starch granules, and any that remains after washing
is driven off by the heating and stirring, which has to reach 240° in
order to effect the changes above described.

I suspect that the difference between the forms of tapioca and
arrowroot has arisen from the necessity of thus driving off the last
traces of the poison, with which the aboriginal manufacturers are
so well acquainted as to combine the industry of poisoning their
arrows with that of extracting the starch-food from the same root.
No certificate from the public analyst is demanded to establish the
absence of the poison from any given sample of tapioca, as the juice of
the Manihot root, like that of other spurges, is unmistakably acrid and

Sago, which is a starch obtained from the pith of the stem of the
sago-palm and other plants, is prepared in grains like tapioca, with
similar results. Both sago and tapioca contain a little gluten, and
therefore have more food-value than arrowroot.

The most familiar of our starch foods is the potato. I place it
among the starch foods as next to water; starch is its prevailing
constituent, as the following statement of average compositions will
show: Water, 75 per cent.; starch, 18·8; nitrogenous materials, 2;
sugar, 3; fat, 0·2; salts, 1. The salts vary considerably with the kind
and age of the potato, from 0·8 to 1·3 in full-grown. Young potatoes
contain more. In boiling potatoes, the change effected appears to
be simply a breaking up or bursting of the starch granules, and a
conversion of the nitrogenous gluten into a more soluble form, probably
by a certain degree of hydration. As we all know, there are great
differences among potatoes; some are waxy, others floury; and these,
again, vary according to the manner and degree of cooking. I cannot
find any published account of the chemistry of these differences, and
must, therefore, endeavour to explain them in my own way.

As an experiment, take two potatoes of the floury kind; boil or steam
them together until they are just softened throughout, or, as we say,
‘well done.’ Now leave one of them in the saucepan or steamer, and
very much over-cook it. Its floury character will have disappeared,
it will have become soft and gummy. The reader can explain this by
simply remembering what has already been explained concerning the
formation of dextrin. It is due to the conversion of some of the
starch into dextrin. My explanation of the difference between the
waxy and floury potato is that the latter is so constituted that
all the starch granules may be disintegrated by heat in the manner
already described before any considerable proportion of the starch is
converted into dextrin, while the starch of the waxy potatoes for some
reason, probably a larger supply of diastase, is so much more readily
convertible into dextrin, that a considerable proportion becomes gummy
before the whole of the granules are broken up, _i.e._ before the
potato is cooked or softened throughout.

I must here throw myself into the great controversy of jackets or no
jackets. Should potatoes be peeled before cooking, or should they be
boiled in their jackets? I say most decidedly in jackets, and will
state my reasons. From 53 to 56 per cent. of the above-stated saline
constituents of the potato is potash, and potash is an important
constituent of blood—so important that in Norway, where scurvy once
prevailed very seriously, it has been banished since the introduction
of the potato, and, according to Lang and other good authorities,
this is owing to the use of potatoes by a people who formerly were
insufficiently supplied with saline vegetable food.

Potash salts are freely soluble in water, and I find that the water in
which potatoes have been boiled contains potash, as may be proved by
boiling it down to concentrate, then filtering and adding the usual
potash test, platinum chloride.

It is evident that the skin of the potato must resist this passage of
the potash into the water, though it may not fully prevent it. The
bursting of the skin only occurs at quite the latter stage of the
cookery. The greatest practical authorities on the potato, Irishmen,
appear to be unanimous. I do not remember to have seen a pre-peeled
potato in Ireland. I find that I can at once detect by the difference
of flavour whether a potato has been boiled with or without its jacket,
and that this difference is evidently saline.

These considerations lead to another conclusion, viz. that baked
potatoes and fried potatoes, or potatoes cooked in such a manner as to
be eaten with their own broth, as in Irish stew (in which cases the
previous peeling does no mischief), are preferable to boiled potatoes.
Steamed potatoes probably lose less of their potash juices than when
boiled; but this is uncertain, as the modicum of distilled water
condensed upon the potato and continually renewed may wash away as much
as the larger quantity of hard water in which the boiled potato is

Those who eat an abundance of fruit, of raw salads, and other
vegetables supplying a sufficiency of potash to the blood, may peel and
boil their potatoes; but the poor Irish peasant, who depends upon the
potato for all his sustenance, requires that they shall supply him with

When travelling in Ireland (I explored every county of that country
rather exhaustively during three successive summers when editing the
4th edition of Murray’s ‘Handbook’), I was surprised at the absence
of fruit-trees in the small farms where one might expect them to
abound. On speaking of this the reason given was that all trees are
the landlord’s property; that if a tenant should plant them they
would suggest luxury and prosperity, and therefore a rise of rent; or
otherwise stated, the tenant would be fined for thus improving the
value of his holding. This was before the passing of the Land Act,
which we may hope will put an end to such legalised brigandage. With
the abolition of rack-renting the Irish peasant may grow and eat fruit;
may even taste jam without fear and trembling; may grow rhubarb and
make pies and puddings in defiance of the agent. When this is the case,
his craving for potato-potash will probably diminish, and his children
may actually feed on bread.

I have been told by an American lady that in the fatherland of
potatoes, as well as in their adopted country, they are always boiled
or steamed in their jackets: that American cooks, like those of
Ireland, would consider it an outrage to cut off the protecting skin
of the potato before cooking it; that they are more commonly mashed
there than here, and that the mashing is done by rapidly removing the
skins and throwing the stripped potato into a supplementary saucepan or
other vessel, in which they may be kept hot until the preparation is

As regards the nutritive value of the potato, it is well to understand
that the common notion concerning its cheapness as an article of food
is a fallacy. Taking Dr. Edward Smith’s figures, 760 grains of carbon
and 24 grains of nitrogen are contained in 1 lb. of potatoes; 2½ lbs.
of potatoes are required to supply the amount of carbon contained in
1 lb. of bread; and 3½ lbs. of potatoes are necessary for supplying
the nitrogen of 1 lb. of bread. With bread at 1½_d._ per lb., potatoes
should cost less than ½_d._ per lb. in order to be as cheap as bread
for the hard-working man who requires an abundance of nitrogenous food.

Potatoes contain 17 per cent. of carbon; oatmeal has 73 per cent.
Taking nitrogenous matter also into consideration, 1 lb. of oatmeal is
worth 6 lbs. of potatoes.

My own observations in Ireland have fully convinced me of the wisdom
of William Cobbett’s denunciation of the potato as a staple article of
food. The bulk that has to be eaten, and is eaten, in order to sustain
life, converts the potato feeder into a mere assimilating machine
during a largo part of the day, and renders him unfit for any kind of
vigorous mental or bodily exertion. If I were the autocratic Czar of
Ireland, my first step towards the regeneration of the Irish people
would be the introduction, acclimatising, and dissemination of the
Colorado beetle, in order to produce a complete and permanent potato
famine. The effect of potato feeding may be studied by watching the
work of a potato-fed Irish mower or reaper who comes across to work
upon an English farm where the harvestmen are fed in the farmhouse and
the supply of beer is not excessive. The improvement of his working
powers after two or three weeks of English feeding is comparable to
that of a horse when fed upon corn, beans, and hay, after feeding for a
year on grass only.

My strictures on the potato do not apply to them as used in England,
where the prevailing vice of our ordinary diet is that it is too
carnivorous. The potatoes we eat with our meat serve to dilute it, and
supply the farinaceous element in which flesh is deficient.

The reader may have observed that most of the starch foods are derived
from the roots or stems of plants. Many others are used in tropical
climates where little labour is demanded or done, and, therefore, but
little nitrogenous food required.


[15] In fairness to retailers I should state that the price of
arrowroot just now is unusually low; the ordinary range is from
twopence to two shillings. People who are afraid of having their
arrowroot adulterated should ask themselves what can be used to cheapen
the St. Vincent at the above-quoted prices, which are those of the
unquestionably genuine article.



HAVING treated the cookery of the chief constituents of the roots
and stems of the plant, the fibre and the starch, I now come to food
obtained from the seeds and the leaves.

Taking the seeds first, as the more important, it becomes necessary to
describe the nitrogenous constituents which are more abundant in them
than in any other part of the plant, though they also contain starch
and cell material, or woody fibre, as already stated.

In the preceding chapter I described a method of separating starch from
flour by washing a piece of dough in water, and thereby removing the
starch granules, which fall to the bottom of the water. If this washing
is continued until no further milkiness of the water is produced, the
piece of dough will be much reduced in dimensions, and changed into a
grey, tough, elastic, and viscous or glutinous substance, which has
been compared to bird-lime, and has received the appropriate name of
_gluten_. When dried, it becomes a hard, horny, transparent mass. It is
insoluble in cold water, and partly soluble in hot water. It is soluble
in strong vinegar, and in weak solutions of potash or soda. If the
alkaline solution is neutralised by an acid, the gluten is precipitated.

If crude gluten, obtained as above, is subjected to the action
of hot alcohol, it is separated into two distinct substances, one
soluble and the other insoluble. As the solution cools, a further
separation takes place of a substance soluble in hot alcohol but
not in cold, and another soluble in either hot or cold alcohol.
The first, viz. that insoluble in either hot or cold alcohol, has
been named _gluten-fibrin_; that soluble in hot alcohol, but not
in cold, _gluten-casein_; and that soluble in either hot or cold
alcohol, _glutin_. I give these names and explain them, as my readers
may be otherwise puzzled by meeting them in books where they are
used without explanation, especially as there is another substance
presently to be described, to which the name of ‘vegetable casein’
has also been applied. The gluten-fibrin is supposed to correspond
with blood-fibrin, gluten-casein with animal-casein, and glutin with
albumen. Their composition is as follows, which I append for what it
is worth in connection with this theory, but mainly to show how small
is the difference between the chemical composition of the nitrogenous
constituents of animals and those of plants. I shall come to this
subject again:

    |         --         | Gluten-Fibrin | Gluten-Casein | Glutin |
    | Carbon             |     53·23     |     53·46     |  53·27 |
    | Hydrogen           |      7·01     |      7·13     |   7·17 |
    | Nitrogen           |     16·41     |     16·04     |  15·94 |
    | Oxygen and sulphur |     23·35     |     23·37     |  23·62 |

    |                    |  Blood-Fibrin |               |        |
    |         --         |   (Scherer)   | Animal-Casein | Albumen|
    | Carbon             |     53·57     |     53·83     |  53·50 |
    | Hydrogen           |      6·90     |      7·15     |   7·00 |
    | Nitrogen           |     15·72     |     15·65     |  15·50 |
    | Oxygen and sulphur |     22·81     |     23·37     |  24·00 |

Gluten is usually described as ‘partly soluble in hot water.’ My own
examination of this substance suggests that ‘partially soluble’ is a
better description than ‘partly soluble’ (Miller) or ‘very slightly
soluble’ (Lehmann). This difference is not merely a verbal quibble, but
very real and practical in reference to the _rationale_ of its cookery.
A partially soluble substance is one which is composed of soluble and
also of insoluble constituents, which, as already stated, is strictly
the case with gluten in reference to the solvent action of hot alcohol.
A very slightly soluble substance is one that dissolves completely, but
demands a very large quantity of the solvent. I find that the action of
hot water on gluten, as applied in cookery, is to effect what may be
described as a partial solution—that is, it effects a loosening of the
bonds of solidity without going so far as to render it completely fluid.

It appears to be a sort of hydration similar to that which is effected
by hot water on starch, but less decided.

To illustrate this, wash some flour in cold water so as to separate
the gluten in the manner already described; then boil some flour as in
making ordinary bill-stickers’ paste, and wash this in cold water. The
gluten will come out with difficulty from this, and, when separated,
will be softer and less tenacious than the cold-washed specimen. This
difference remains until some of the water it contains is driven out,
for which reason I regard it as hydrated, though I am not prepared to
say that the hydration is of a truly chemical character—a definite
chemical combination of gluten with water; it may be only a mechanical
combination—a loosening of solidity by a molecular intermingling of

The importance of this in the cookery of grain-food is very great, as
anybody who aspires to the honour of becoming a martyr to science may
prove by simply making a meal on raw wheat, masticating the grains
until reduced to small pills of gluten, and then swallowing them. Mild
indigestion or acute spasms will follow, according to the quantity
taken and the digestive energies of the experimenter. Raw flour will
act similarly, but less decidedly.

Bread-making is the most important, as well as a typical example, of
the cookery of grain-food. The grinding of the grain is the first
process of such cookery; it vastly increases the area exposed to the
subsequent actions.

The next stage is that of surrounding each grain of the flour with
a thin film of water. This is done in making the dough by careful
admixture of a modicum of water and kneading, in order to squeeze
the water well between all the particles. The effect of insufficient
enveloping in water is sometimes seen in a loaf containing a white
powdery kernel of unmixed flour.

If nothing more than this were done, and such simple dough were baked,
the starch granules would be duly broken up and hydrated, the gluten
also hydrated, but, at the same time, the particles of flour would be
so cemented together as to form a mass so hard and tough when baked,
that no ordinary human teeth could crush it. Among all our modern
triumphs of applied science, none can be named that is more refined and
elegant than the old device by which this difficulty is overcome in the
everyday business of making bread. Who invented it, and when, I do not
know. Its discovery was certainly very far anterior to any knowledge
of the chemical principles involved in its application, and probably

The problem has a very difficult aspect. Here are millions of
particles, each of which has to be moistened on its surface, but each,
when thus moistened, becomes remarkably adhesive, and therefore sticks
fast to all its surrounding neighbours. We require, without altogether
suppressing this adhesiveness, to interpose a barrier that shall sunder
these millions of particles from each other so delicately as neither to
separate them completely nor allow them to completely adhere.

It is evident that, if the operation that supplies each particle with
its film of moisture can simultaneously supply it with a partial
atmosphere of gaseous matter, the difficult and delicate problem will
be effectively solved. It is thus solved in making bread.

As already explained, the seed which is broken up into flour contains
diastase as well as starch, and this diastase, when aided by moisture
and moderate warmth, converts the starch into dextrin and sugar. This
action commences when the dough is made; this alone would only increase
the adhesiveness of the mass, if it went no further, but the sugar
thus produced may, by the aid of a suitable ferment, be converted into
alcohol. As the composition of alcohol corresponds to that of sugar,
minus carbonic acid, the evolution of carbonic acid gas is an essential
part of this conversion.

With these facts before us, their practical application in bread-making
is easily understood. To the water with which the flour is to be
moistened some yeast is added, and the yeast-cells, which are very
much smaller than the grains of flour, are diffused throughout the
water. The flour is moistened with this liquid, which only demands a
temperature of about 70° Fahr. to act with considerable energy on every
granule of flour that it touches. Instead, then, of the passive, lumpy,
tenacious dough produced by moistening the flour with mere water, a
lively ‘sponge,’ as the baker calls it, is produced, which ‘rises’
or grows in bulk by the evolution and interposition of millions of
invisibly small bubbles of gas. This sponge is mixed with more flour
and water, and kneaded and kneaded again to effect a complete and equal
diffusion of the gas bubbles, and finally, the porous mass of dough is
placed in an oven previously raised to a temperature of about 450°.

The baker’s old-fashioned method of testing the temperature of his oven
is instructive. He throws flour on the floor. If it blackens without
taking fire, the heat is considered sufficient. It might be supposed
that this is too high a temperature, as the object is to cook the
flour, not to burn it. But we must remember that the flour which has
been prepared for baking is mixed with water, and the evaporation of
this water will materially lower the temperature of the dough itself.
Besides this, we must bear in mind that another object is to be
attained. A hard shell or crust has to be formed, which will so encase
and support the lump of dough as to prevent it from subsiding when the
further evolution of carbonic acid gas shall cease, which will be the
case some time before the cooking of the mass is completed. It will
happen when the temperature reaches the point at which the yeast-cells
can no longer germinate, which temperature is considerably below the
boiling point of water.

In spite of this high outside temperature, that of the inner part of
the loaf is kept down to a little above 212° by the evaporation of
the water contained in the bread. The escape of this vapour and the
expansion of the carbonic acid bubbles by heat combine to increase the
porosity of the loaf.

The outside being heated considerably above the temperature of the
inner part, this variation produces the differences between the
crust and the crumb. The action of the high temperature in directly
converting some of the starch into dextrin will be understood from what
I have already stated, and also the partial conversion of this dextrin
into caramel, which was described in Chapter VII.

Thus we have in the crust an excess of dextrin as compared with
the crumb, and the addition of a variable quantity of caramel. In
lightly-baked bread, with a crust of uniform pale yellowish colour, the
conversion of the dextrin into caramel has barely commenced, and the
gummy character of the dextrin coating is well displayed. Some such
bread, especially the long staves of life common in France, appear as
though they had been varnished, and their crust is partially soluble in

This explains the apparent paradox that hard crust, or dry toast, is
more easily digested than the soft crumb of bread; the cookery of the
crumb not having been carried beyond the mere hydration of the gluten
and the starch, and such degree of dextrin formation as was due to
the action of the diastase of the grain during the preliminary period
of ‘rising.’ In the crust some of the work of insalivation is already
done by the baker. The digestibility of toast is doubtless aided by its
brittleness, causing it to be more broken up and mixed with the saliva.

Everybody has, of course, heard of ‘unfermented bread,’ and many have
tasted it. Several methods have been devised, some patented, for
effecting an evolution of gas in the dough without having recourse to
the fermentation above described. One of these is that of adding a
little hydrochloric acid to the water used in moistening the flour, and
mixing bicarbonate of soda in powder with the flour (to every 4 lbs.
of flour ½ oz. bicarbonate and 4½ fluid drachms of hydrochloric acid of
1·16 specific gravity). These combine and form sodium chloride, common
salt, with evolution of carbonic acid. The salt thus formed takes the
place of that usually added in ordinary bread-making, and the carbonic
acid gas evolved acts like that given off in fermentation; but the
rapidity of the action of the acid and carbonate presents a difficulty.
The bread must be quickly made, as the action is soon completed. It
does not go on steadily increasing and stopping just at the right
moment, as in the case of fermentation.

Other methods similar in principle have been adopted, such as adding
ammonia carbonate with the soda carbonate. The ammonia salt is volatile
itself, besides evolving carbonic acid by its union with the acid.

In spite of the great amount of ingenuity expended upon the manufacture
of such unfermented bread, and the efforts to bring it into use, but
little progress has been made. The general verdict appears to be that
the unfermented bread is not so ‘sweet,’ that it lacks some element of
flavour, is ‘chippy’ or tasteless as compared with good old-fashioned
wheaten bread, free from alum or other adulteration. My theory of this
difference is that it is due to the absence of those changes which
take place while the sponge or dough is rising, when, if I am right,
the diastase of the grain is operating, as in germination, to produce
a certain quantity of dextrin and sugar, and possibly acting also on
the gluten. Deficiency of dextrin is, I think, the chief cause of the
chippy character of aerated bread. It must be remembered that, in
ordinary bread-making, the fermentation is protracted over several
hours, during which the temperature most favourable to germination is
steadily maintained.

The practical importance of the fermentation is strikingly shown by the
fact that, in the course of sponge rising, dough rising, and baking,
a loaf becomes about four times as large as the original mixture of
flour, water, &c., of which it was made; or, otherwise stated, an
ordinary loaf is made up of one part of solid bread to more than three
parts of air bubbles or pores. French rolls and some other kinds of
fancy bread are still more gaseous.

So far I have only named the flour, water, salt, and yeast. These,
with a little sugar or milk, added according to taste and custom, are
the ingredients of home-made bread, but ‘bakers’ bread’ is commonly,
though not necessarily, somewhat more complex. There is the material
technically known as ‘fruit,’ and another which bears the equivocal
name of ‘stuff,’ or ‘rocky.’ The _fruit_ are potatoes. The quantity
of these prescribed in Knight’s ‘Guide to Trade’ is one peck to the
sack of flour. This proportion is so small (about 3 per cent. by
weight) that, if not exceeded, it cannot be regarded as a fraudulent
adulteration, for the additional cost involved in the boiling,
skinning, and general preparing of the small addition exceeds the
saving in the price of raw material. The fruit, therefore, is not added
merely because it is cheaper than flour, as many people suppose.

The instructions concerning its use given in the work above named
clearly indicate that the potato flour is used to assist fermentation.
These instructions prescribe that the peck of potatoes shall be boiled
in their skins, mashed in the ‘seasoning tub,’ then mixed with two or
three quarts of water, the same quantity of patent yeast, and three or
four pounds of flour. The mixture is left to stand for six or twelve
hours, when it will have become what is called a _ferment_. After
straining through a sieve, to separate the skins of the fruit, it is
mixed with the sack of flour, water, &c.

It is evident from this that it would not pay to add such a quantity in
such a manner as a mere adulterant. The baker uses it for improving the
bread, from his point of view.

The _stuff_ or _rocky_ consists, according to Tomlinson, of one part of
alum to three parts of common salt. The same authority tells us that
the bakers buy this at 2_d._ per packet, containing 1 lb. in each, and
that they believe it to be ground alum. They buy it thus for immediate
use, being subject to a heavy fine if they keep alum on the premises.
The quantity of the mixture ordinarily used is 8 oz. to each sack of
flour weighing 280 lbs., so that the proportion of alum is but 2 oz. to
280 lbs. As one sack of flour is (with water) made into eighty loaves
weighing 4 lbs. each, the quantity of alum in 1 lb. of bread amounts to
1/160th of an oz.

The _rationale_ of the action of this small quantity of alum is still
a chemical puzzle. That it has an appreciable effect in improving
the _appearance_ of the bread is unquestionable, and it may actually
improve the quality of bread made from inferior flour.

One of the baker’s technical tests of quality is the manner in which
the loaves of a batch separate from each other. That they should break
evenly and present a somewhat silky rather than a lumpy fracture, is a
matter of trade estimation. When the fracture is rough and lumpy, one
loaf pulling away some of the just belongings of its neighbour, the
feelings of the orthodox baker are much wounded. The alum is said to
prevent this impropriety, while an excess of salt aggravates it.

It appears to be a fact that this small quantity of alum whitens the
bread. In this, as in so many other cases of adulteration, there
are two guilty parties—the buyer who demands impossible or unnatural
appearances, and the manufacturer or vendor who supplies the foolish
demand. The judging of bread by its whiteness is a mistake which has
led to much mischief, against which the recent agitation for ‘whole
meal’ is, I think, an extreme reaction.

If the husk, which is demanded by the whole-meal agitators, were as
digestible as the inner flour, they would unquestionably be right, but
it is easy to show that it is not, and that in some cases the passage
of the undigested particles may produce mischievous irritation in the
intestinal canal. My own opinion on this subject (it still remains in
the region of opinion rather than of science) is that a middle course
is the right one, viz. that bread should be made of moderately-dressed
or ‘seconds’ flour rather than over-dressed ‘firsts’ or undressed
‘thirds’—_i.e._ unsifted whole-meal flour.

Such seconds flour does not fairly produce white bread, and consumers
are unwise in demanding whiteness. In my household we make our own
bread, but occasionally, when the demand exceeds ordinary supply, a
loaf or two is bought from the baker. I find that, with corresponding
or identical flour, the baker’s bread is whiter than the home-made, and
proportionally inferior. I may describe it as colourless in flavour,
it lacks the characteristic of wheaten sweetness. There are, however,
exceptions to this, as certain bakers are now doing a great business in
supplying what they call ‘home-made’ or ‘farmhouse’ bread. It is darker
in colour than ordinary bread, but is sold nevertheless at a higher
price, and I find that it has the flavour of the bread made in my own
kitchen. When their customers become more intelligent, all the bakers
will doubtless cease to incur the expense of buying packets of ‘stuff’
or ‘rocky,’ or any other bleaching abomination.

Liebig asserts that in certain cases the use of lime-water improves the
quality of bread. Tomlinson says that ‘in the time of bad harvests,
when the wheat is damaged, the flour may be considerably improved,
without any injurious result whatever, by the addition of from 20 to 40
grains of carbonate of magnesia to every pound of flour.’ It is also
stated that chalk has been used for the same purpose. These would all
act in nearly the same manner by neutralising any acid, such as acetic,
that might already exist or be generated in the course of fermentation.

When gluten is kept in a moist state, it slowly loses its soft,
elastic, and insoluble condition; if kept in water for a few days, it
gradually runs down into a turbid, slimy solution, which does not form
dough when mixed with starch. The gluten of imperfectly-ripened wheat,
or of flour or wheat that has been badly kept in the midst of humid
surroundings, appears to have fallen partially into this condition, the
gluten being an actively hygroscopic substance.

Liebig’s experiments show that flour in which the gluten has undergone
this partial change may have its original qualities restored by mixing
100 parts of flour with 26 or 27 parts of saturated lime-water and a
sufficiency of ordinary water to work it into dough. I suspect that
the action of the alum is of a similar kind, though this does not
satisfactorily account for the bleaching.

The action of sulphate of copper, which has been used in Belgium and
other places for improving the appearance and sponginess of loaves, is
still more mysterious than that of alum. Kuhlmann found that a single
grain in a 4-lb. loaf produced a marked alteration in the appearance
of the bread. Fortunately this adulteration, if perpetrated to a
mischievous extent, may be easily detected by acidulating the crumb,
and then moistening with a solution of ferrocyanide of potassium.
The brown colour thus produced betrays the presence of copper. The
detection of alum in small quantities is extremely difficult.

I should add that the ancient method of effecting the fermentation of
bread, which I understand is still employed to some extent in France,
differs somewhat from the ordinary modern English practice.

When flour made into dough is kept for some time moderately warm, it
undergoes spontaneous fermentation, formerly described as ‘panary
fermentation,’ and supposed to be of a different nature from the
fermentation which produces yeast.

Dough in this condition is called _leaven_, and when kneaded with fresh
flour and water its fermentation is communicated to the whole lump;
hence the ancient metaphors. In practice the leaven was obtained by
setting aside some of the dough of a previous batch, and adding this
to the next when its fermentation had reached its maximum activity.
One reason why the modern method has superseded this appears to be
that the leaven is liable to proceed onward beyond the first stage of
fermentation, or that producing alcohol, and run into the acetous, or
vinegar-forming fermentation, producing sour bread. Another reason may
be that the potato mixture above described, which is but another kind
of leaven, is more effectual and convenient.

Dr. Dauglish’s method (patented in 1856, 1857, and 1858) is based on
the fact that water under pressure absorbs and holds in solution a
large quantity of carbonic acid gas, which escapes when the pressure
is diminished, as in uncorking soda-water, &c. Dr. Dauglish places the
flour in a strong, air-tight iron vessel, then forces water saturated
with carbonic acid under high pressure into this; kneading-knives mix
the dough by their rotation. When the mixture is completed a trap at
the lower part of the globular iron vessel is opened. The pressure of
the confined carbonic acid above forces the dough through this in a
cylindrical jet or flat ribbon as required, and this squirted cylinder
or ribbon is fashioned by suitable cutters, &c., into loaves. The
compressed gas expands, and the loaves are smartly baked before the
expansive energy of the gas is exhausted. It is justly claimed for this
process that it is far more cleanly than the ordinary method of making
bread, as with suitable machinery such ‘aerated bread’ can be made
without handling.

The difference between new and stale bread is familiar enough, but
the nature of the difference is by no means so commonly understood.
It is generally supposed to be a simple result of mere drying. That
this is not a true explanation may be easily proved by repeating the
experiments of Boussingault, who placed a very stale loaf (six days
old) in an oven for an hour, during which time it was, of course,
being further dried; but, nevertheless, it came out as a new loaf. He
found that during the six days, while becoming stale, it only lost 1
per cent. of its weight by drying, and that during the one hour in the
oven it lost 3½ per cent. in becoming new, and apparently more moist.
By using an air-tight case instead of an ordinary oven, he repeated
the experiment several times in succession on the same piece of bread,
making it alternately stale and new each time.

For this experiment the oven should be but moderately heated—260°
to 300° Fahr. is sufficient. I am fond of hot rolls for breakfast,
and frequently have them _à la Boussingault_, by treating stale
bread-crusts in this manner. My wife tells me that when the crusts
have been long neglected, and are thin, the Boussingault hot rolls are
improved by dipping the crust in water before putting it into the oven.
This is not necessary in experimenting with a whole loaf or a thick
piece of stale bread.

The crumb of bread, whether new or stale, contains about 45 per cent.
of water. Miller says ‘the difference in properties between the two
depends simply upon difference in molecular arrangement.’

This ‘molecular arrangement’ is the customary modern method of
explaining a multitude of similar physical and chemical problems, or,
as I would rather say, of evading explanation under the cover of a
vague conventional phrase.

I have made some simple experiments which supply a visible explanation
of the facts without invoking the aid of any invisible atoms or
molecules, or any imaginary arrangements or rearrangements of these
imaginary entities.

I find that, as bread becomes stale, its porosity _appears_ to
increase, and that when renewed by reheating, it returns to its
original _apparently_ smaller degree of porosity. That this change can
be only apparent is evident from the facts that the total quantity of
solid material in the loaf remains the same, and its total dimensions
are retained more or less completely by the rigidity of the crust.
I say ‘more or less,’ because this depends upon the thickness
and hardness of the crust, and also upon the completeness of its
surrounding. Lightly-baked loaves shrink a little in dimensions in
becoming stale, and partly regain the loss on reheating, but this
difference only exaggerates the apparent paradox of varying porosity,
as the diminished bulk of a given quantity of material displays
increased porosity, and the increase of total dimensions accompanies
the diminished porosity.

I have obtained a reconciliation of this paradox by careful examination
of the structure of the crumb. This shows that the larger or decidedly
visible pores are cells having walls of somewhat silky appearance. The
silky lustre and structure is, I have no doubt, due to a varnish of
dextrin, the gummy nature of which I have already described. On looking
a little more closely at this inner surface of the big blow-holes
with the aid of a hand-lens of moderate power, I find that it is not
a continuous varnish of gum, but a net-work or agglomeration of gummy
fibres and particles, barely touching each other.

My theory of the change that takes place as the bread becomes stale is,
that these fibres and particles gradually approach each other either
by shrinkage or adhesive attraction, and thus consolidate and harden
the walls of each of the millions of easily visible pores, these walls
forming the solid material of which the loaf is made up. In doing so
they naturally increase the dimensions of the visible pores, while the
microscopic interstices or spaces between the minute fibres of the cell
walls are diminished by the approximation or adhesion of the fibres to
each other.

This adhesion is probably aided by an oozing out or efflorescence
of the vapour held by the fibres, and its condensation on their
surfaces. This point, be it understood, is merely hypothetical, as
the efflorescence is not visible. All the other phenomena I have just
described are visible either with the naked eye or by the aid of a lens.

When the stale bread is again heated, a general expansion occurs by
the conversion of liquid water into aqueous vapour, every grain of
water thus converted expanding to 1,700 times its former bulk. As
this happens throughout, _i.e._ upon the surface of every one of the
countless fibres or particles, there must be a general elbowing in
the crowd, breaking up the recent adhesion between these fibres and
thrusting them all apart in the directions of least resistance; _i.e._
towards the open spaces of the larger and visible pores, producing that
_apparent_ diminution of porosity that I have observed as the easily
visible characteristic of the change.

This explanation may be further demonstrated by cutting a loaf through
the middle from top to bottom, and exposing the cut surfaces. In this
case the bread becomes unequally stale, more so near the cut surface
than within. The unequal pull due to the greater approximation and
adhesion of the fibres and small particles causes a rupture of the
exposed surface of the crumb, which becomes cracked or fissured without
any perceptible alteration of the size of the visible pores. If the two
broken faces be now accurately placed together, the halves thus closely
joined, firmly tied, and placed for an hour in the oven, it will be
seen on separating them that the chasms are considerably closed, though
not quite healed. Careful examination of the structure of the inside,
by breaking out a portion of the crumb, will reveal that loosening
which I have described.

‘Popped corn’ is a peculiar example of starch cookery. Here a certain
degree of porosity is given to an originally close-compacted structure
of starch by the simple operation of explosive violence due to the
sudden conversion into vapour of the water naturally associated with
the starch. The operation is too rapid for the production of much



AS most of my readers doubtless know, peas, beans, lentils and other
seeds of leguminous plants are more nutritious, theoretically, than the
seeds of grasses, such as wheat, barley, oats, maize, &c. I was glad
to see at the Health Exhibition a fine series of the South Kensington
cases, displaying in the simplest and most demonstrative manner the
proximate analyses of the chief materials of animal and vegetable food.
I refer to them now because they did not receive the attention they
deserve. On the opening day there was, out of all the crowd, only one
other besides myself bestowing any attention upon them. These cases
show 1 lb. of wheat, oats, potatoes, peas, &c. &c., on trays; by the
side of these are bottles, containing the quantity of water in the 1
lb., and other trays, containing the other constituents of the same
quantity; the starch, gluten, casein, the mineral matter, &c., thus
displaying at a glance the nutritious value of each so far as chemical
analysis can display it. Those Irishmen and others who think I have
been too hard upon the potato, will do well to take its nutritive
measure thus, and compare it with that of other vegetable foods. I
should add that these cases form a part of the permanent collection of
the South Kensington Museum, and therefore may be studied at any time.

All the leguminous seeds, the ground-nuts, &c., have their nitrogenous
constituents displayed under the name of ‘casein.’ The use of this term
is rather confusing. In many modern books it does not appear at all in
connection with the vegetable kingdom, but is replaced by ‘legumin.’
Liebig regarded this nitrogenous constituent of the leguminous seeds,
almonds, &c., as identical with the casein of milk, and it was a
pupil and friend of Liebig’s—the late Prince Consort—who devised and
originally supervised this graphic method of displaying the chemistry
of food.[16]

I will not here discuss the vexed question of whether the analyses
of Liebig, identifying legumin with casein, or rather those of Dumas
and Cahours, who state that the vegetable casein is not of the same
composition as animal casein, are correct.

The following figures display my justification for thus lightly
treating the discussion:

    |         --         | Casein | Legumin | Legumin | Legumin |
    | Carbon             |  53·7  |   50·50 |  55·05  |  56·24  |
    | Hydrogen           |   7·2  |    6·78 |   7·59  |   7·97  |
    | Nitrogen           |  16·6  |   18·17 |  15·89  |  15·83  |
    | Oxygen and Sulphur |  22·5  |   24·55 |  21·47  |  19·96  |

The first column shows the results of Dumas for animal casein; the
second, those of Dumas and Cahours for legumin; the third, those of
Jones for the same; and the fourth, those of Rochleder; all as quoted
by Lehmann. Here it will be seen that the differences upon which
Dumas and Cahours base their supposed refutation of the identity of
the animal with the vegetable principle are much smaller than the
differences between the results of different analyses of the latter.
These differences I suspect are all due to the difficulty of isolating
the substances in question, especially of the vegetable substance,
which is so intimately mixed with the starch, &c., in its natural
condition that complete separation is of questionable possibility. The
difficulty (or impossibility) of driving off all the adhering water,
without removing the combined elements of water, is a further source of

This will be understood by the following description of the method of
separation as given by Miller (‘Elements of Chemistry,’ vol. iii.).
‘Legumin is usually extracted from peas or from almonds, by digesting
the pulp of the crushed seeds in warm water for two or three hours. The
undissolved portion is strained off by means of linen, and the turbid
liquid allowed to deposit the starch which it holds in suspension; it
is then filtered and mixed with dilute acetic acid. A white flocculent
precipitate is thus formed, which must be collected on a filter and

This is but a mechanical process, and its liability to variation
in result may be learned by anybody who will repeat it, or who has
separated the gluten of flour by similar treatment.

Practically regarded in relation to our present subject, casein and
legumin may be considered as the same. Their nutritive values are
equal, and exceptionally high, supposing they can be digested and
assimilated. One is the most difficult of digestion of the nitrogenous
constituents of vegetable food, and the other enjoys the same
distinction among those of animal food. Both primarily exist in a
soluble form; both are rendered solid and insoluble in water by the
action of acids; _both are precipitated as a curd by rennet_, and both
are rendered soluble after precipitation, or are retained in their
original soluble form by the action of alkalies. They nearly resemble
_in flavour_, and John Chinaman makes actual cheese from peas and beans.

    Pease-pudding hot, pease-pudding cold,
    Pease-pudding in the pot, nine days old.

I leave to Mr. Clodd the historical problem of determining whether this
notable couplet is of Semitic, Aryan, Neolithic, or Paleolithic origin.
Regarded from my point of view, it expresses a culinary and chemical
principle of some importance, and indicates an ancient practice that is
worthy of revival.

I have lately made some experiments on the ensilage of human food,
whereby the cellular tissue of the vegetable may be gradually subjected
to that breaking up of fibre already described. One of the curious
achievements of chemical metamorphoses that is often quoted as a matter
for wonderment is the conversion of old rags into sugar by treating
them with acid. The wonderment of this is diminished, and its interest
increased, when we remember that the cellulose or woody fibre of which
the rags are composed has the same composition as starch, and thus
its conversion into sugar corresponds to the every-day proceedings
described in Chapter XI. All that I have read and seen in connection
with the recent ensilage experiments on cattle fodder indicate that
it is a process of slow vegetable cookery, a digesting or maceration
of fibrous vegetables in their own juices, which loosens the fibre,
renders it softer and more digestible, and not only does this, but, to
some extent, converts it into dextrin and sugar.

I hereby recommend those gentlemen who have ensilage-pits and are
sufficiently enterprising to try bold experiments, to water the fodder,
as it is being packed down, with dilute hydrochloric acid or acetic
acid, which, if I am not deluded by plausible theory, will materially
increase the sugar-forming action of the ensilage. The acid, if
not over-supplied, will find ammonia and other bases with which to
neutralise itself.

Such ensilage will correspond to that which occurs when we gather
Jersey or other superlatively fine pears in autumn as soon as they are
full grown. They are then hard, woody, and acid, quite unfit for food,
but by simply storing them for a month, or two, or three, they become
lusciously tender and sweet; the woody fibres are converted into sugar,
the acid neutralised, and all this by simply fulfilling the conditions
of ensilage, viz. close packing of the fibre, exclusion of air by the
thick rind of the fruit, _plus_ the other condition which I have just
suggested, viz. the diffusion of acid among the well-packed fibres of
the ensilage material.

In my experiments on the ensilage of human food I have encountered
the same difficulty as that which has troubled graziers in their
experiments, viz. that small-scale results do not fairly represent
those obtained with large quantities. There is besides this another
element of imperfection in my experiments respecting which I am bound
to be candid to my readers, viz. that the idea of thus extending the
principle was suggested in the course of writing this series, and,
therefore, a sufficient time has not yet elapsed to enable me (with
much other occupation) to do practical justice to the investigation.

I find that oatmeal-porridge is greatly improved by being made some
days before it is required, then stored in a closed jar, brought
forth and heated for use. The change effected is just that which
theoretically may be expected, viz. a softening of the fibrous
material, and a sweetening due to the formation of sugar. This
sweetening I observed many years ago in some gruel that was partly
eaten one night and left standing until next morning, when I thought
it tasted sweeter; but to be assured of this I had it warmed again two
nights afterwards, so that it might be tasted under the same conditions
of temperature, palate, &c., as at first. The sweetness was still more
distinct, but the experiment was carried no further.

I have lately learned that my ensilage notion is not absolutely new.
A friend who read my Cantor Lectures tells me that he has long been
accustomed to have his porridge made some days before eating it, then
having it warmed up when required. He finds the result more digestible
than newly-made porridge. The classical nine days’ old pease-pudding
is a similar anticipation, and I find, rather curiously, that nine
days is about the limit to which it may be practically kept in a cool
place before mildew—mouldiness—is sufficiently established to spoil
the pudding. I have not yet tried a barrel full of pease-pudding or
moistened pease-meal, closely covered and powerfully pressed down, but
hope to do so.

Besides these we have a notable example of ensilage in sour-kraut—a
foreign luxury that John Bull, with his usual blindness, denounces,
as a matter of course. ‘Horrid stuff!’ ‘beastly mess!’ and such-like
expressions I hear whenever I name it to certain persons. Who are
these persons? Simply English men and English women who have never
seen, never tasted, and know nothing whatever of what they denounce
so violently, in spite of the fact that it is a staple article of food
among millions of highly-intelligent people. Common sense (to say
nothing of that highest result of true scientific training, the faculty
of suspending judgment until the arrival of knowledge) should suggest
that some degree of investigation should precede the denunciation.

In the cases of the sour-kraut and the ripening pear there is acid at
work upon the fibre, which, as I have before stated, assists in the
conversion of this indigestible constituent into soluble and digestible
dextrin and sugar.

The demand for the solution of the vegetable casein or legumin, which
has such high nutritive value and is so abundant in peas, &c., is of
the opposite kind. Acids solidify and harden casein, alkalies soften
and dissolve it. Therefore the chemical agent suggested as a suitable
aid in the ensilage or slow cookery, or the boiling or rapid cookery,
of leguminous food is such an alkali as may be wholesome and compatible
with the demands for nutrition.

The analyses of peas, beans, lentils, &c., show a deficiency of
potash salts as compared with the quantity of nitrogenous nutriment
they contain; therefore I propose, as in the case of cheese food,
that we should add this potash in the convenient and safe form of
bicarbonate—not merely add it to the water in which the vegetables may
be boiled, and which water is thrown away (as in the common practice
of adding soda when boiling greens), but add the potash to the actual
pease-porridge, pease-pudding, lentil soup, &c., and treat it as a part
of the food as well as an adjunct to the cookery. This is especially
required when we use dried peas, dried beans of any kind, such as
haricots, dried lentils, &c.

I find that taking the ordinary yellow split-peas and boiling them
in a weak solution of bicarbonate of potash for two or three hours, a
partial solution of the casein is effected, producing pease-pudding, or
pease-porridge, or _purée_ (according to the quantity of water used),
which is softer and more gelid than that which is obtained by similarly
boiling without the potash. The undissolved portion evidently consists
of the fibrous tissue of the peas, the gelatinous or dissolved portion
being the starch, with more or less of casein. I say ‘more or less,’
because at present I have not been able to determine whether or not the
casein is _all_ rendered soluble.

The flavour of the clear pea-soup which I obtained by filtering through
flannel shows that some of the casein is dissolved; this is further
demonstrated by adding an acid to the clear solution, which at once
precipitates the dissolved casein. The filtered pea-soup sets to a
stiff jelly on cooling, and promises to be a special food of some
value, but for the reasons above stated, I am not yet able to speak
positively as to its quantitative value. The experience of any one
person is not sufficient for this, the question being, not whether
it contains nutritive material—this is unquestionable—but whether it
is easily digested and assimilated. As we all know, a food of this
kind may ‘agree’ with some persons and not with others—_i.e._ it may
be digested and assimilated with ease or with difficulty according
to personal idiosyncrasies. The cheesy character of the abundant
precipitate which I obtain by acidulating this solution is very
interesting and instructive, regarded from a chemical point of view.
The solubility of the casein is increased by soaking the peas for some
hours, or, better still, a few days, in the solution of bicarbonate of

Another question is opened by these experiments, viz. what is the
character and the value of the fibrous solid matter remaining behind
after filtering out the clear pea-soup? Has the alkali acted in an
opposite manner to the acid in the ripening pear? Is it merely a
fibrous refuse only fit for pig-food, or is it deserving of further
attention in the kitchen? Should it be treated with dilute acid—say
a little vinegar—to break up the fibre, and thereby be made into
good porridge? Other questions crop up here as they have been
cropping continually since I committed myself to the writing of these
papers, and so abundantly that if I could afford to set up a special
laboratory, and endow it with a staff of assistants, there would be
some years’ work for myself and staff before I could answer them
exhaustively, and, doubtless, the answers would suggest new questions,
and so on _ad infinitum_. I state this in apology for the merely
suggestive crudity of many of the ideas that I have thrown out.

Before leaving the subject of peas, I must here repeat a practical
suggestion that I published in the ‘Birmingham Journal,’ about twenty
years ago, viz. that the water in which green peas are boiled should
not be thrown away. It contains much of the saline constituents of the
peas, some soluble casein, and has a fine flavour, the very essence
of the peas. If to this, as it comes from the saucepan, be added a
little stock, or some Liebig’s ‘Extract,’ a delicious soup is at once
produced, requiring nothing more than ordinary seasoning. With care,
it may form a clear soup such as just now is in fashion among the
fastidious, but prepared however roughly, it is a very economical,
wholesome, and appetising soup, and costs a minimum of trouble.

I must here add a few words in advocacy of the further adoption in
this country of the French practice of using as _potage_ the water in
which vegetables generally (excepting potatoes) have been boiled.
When we boil cabbages, turnips, carrots, &c., we dissolve out of them
a very large proportion of their saline constituents; salts which are
absolutely necessary for the maintenance of health; salts without which
we become victims of gout, rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia, gravel, and
all the ills that human flesh with a lithic acid diathesis is heir
to; _i.e._ about the most painful series of all its inheritances. The
potash of these salts existing therein in combination with organic
acids is separated from these acids by organic combustion, and is
then and there presented to the baneful lithic acid of the blood and
tissues, the stony torture-particles of which it converts into soluble
lithate of potash, and thus enables them to be carried out of the

I know not which of the Fathers of the Church invented fast-day and
_soupe maigre_, but could almost suppose that he was a scientific monk,
a profound alchemist, like Basil Valentine, who, in his seekings for
the _aurum potabile_, the elixir of life, had learned the beneficent
action of organic potash salts on the blood, and therefore used the
authority of the Church to enforce their frequent use among the

The above remarks when published in ‘Knowledge’ invoked much
correspondence, including many inquiries for further information
concerning the salts that should be contained in our food, and in what
other form they might be obtained.

I therefore add the following, especially as I can speak from practical
experience of the miseries that may be escaped by understanding and
applying it. I inherit what is called a ‘lithic acid diathesis.’ My
father and his brothers were martyrs to rheumatic gout, and died early
in consequence. I had a premonitory attack of gout at the age of
twenty-five, and other warning symptoms at other times, but have kept
the enemy at bay during forty years by simply understanding that this
lithic acid (stony acid) combines with potash, forming thus a soluble
salt, which is safely excreted. Otherwise it is deposited here or
there, producing gout, rheumatism, stone, gravel, and other dreadfully
painful diseases, which are practically incurable when the deposit is
fairly established. By effecting the above-named combination in the
blood the deposition is _prevented_.

The potash required for the purpose exists in several conditions.
First, in its uncombined state as caustic potash. This is poison, for
the simple reason that it combines so vigorously with organic matter
that it would decompose the digestive organs themselves if presented to
them. The lower carbonate is less caustic, the bicarbonate nearly, but
not quite, neutral. Even this, however, should not be taken as _food_,
because it is capable of combining with the acid constituents of the
gastric juice.

The proper compounds to be used are those which correspond to the
salts existing in the juices of vegetables and flesh, viz. compounds
of potash with _organic_ acids, such as tartaric acid, which forms the
potash salt of the grape; such as citric acid, with which potash is
combined in lemons and oranges; malic acid, with which it is combined
in apples and many other fruits; the natural acids of vegetables
generally; lactic acid in milk, &c.

All these acids, and many others of similar origin, are composed of
carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, held together with such feeble affinity
that they are easily dissociated or decomposed by heat. This may be
shown by heating some cream of tartar or tartaric acid on a strip of
metal or glass. It will become carbonised to a cinder, like other
organic matter. If the heat is raised sufficiently this cinder will all
burn away to carbonic acid and water in the case of the pure acid, or
will leave carbonate of potash if cream of tartar or other potash salt
is thus burned.

Unless I am mistaken, this represents violently what occurs gradually
and mildly in the human body, which is in a continuous state of slow
combustion so long as it is alive. The organic acids of the potash
salts suffer slow combustion, give off their excess of carbonic acid
and water to be breathed out, evaporated, and ejected, leaving behind
their potash, which combines with the otherwise stony lithic acid just
when and where it comes into separate existence by the organic actions
which effect the above-described slow combustion.

If we take potash in combination with a mineral acid, such as the
sulphuric, nitric, or hydrochloric, no such decomposition is possible;
the bonds uniting the elements of the mineral acid are too strong to
be sundered by the mild chemistry of the living body, and the mineral
acid, if separated from its potash base, would be most mischievous, as
it precipitates the lithic acid in its worst form.

For this reason, all free mineral acids are poisons to those who have
a lithic acid diathesis; they may even create it where it did not
previously exist. Hence the iniquity of cheapening the manufacture of
lemonade, ginger-beer, &c., by using dilute sulphuric or hydrochloric
acid as a substitute for citric or tartaric acid. I shall presently
come to the cookery of wines, and have something to say about the
mineral acids used in producing the choicer qualities of some very
‘dry,’ high-priced samples which, according to my view of the subject,
have caused the operations of lithotomy and lithotrity to be included
among the luxuries of the rich.

It should be understood that when I recommended the use of bicarbonate
of potash for the solution of casein, all these principles were kept
in view, including the objection to the bicarbonate itself. In the
case of the cheese, the quantity recommended was based on an estimate
of the quantity of lactic acid existing in the cheese and capable of
leaving the casein to go over to the potash. In the case of the peas
the quantity is difficult to estimate, owing to its variability. The
more correct determination of such quantities is among the objects of
further research to which I have before alluded.

Speaking generally it is not to the laboratory of the chemist that we
should go for our potash salts, but to the laboratory of nature, and
more especially to that of the vegetable kingdom. They exist in the
green parts of all vegetables. This is illustrated by the manufacture
of commercial potash from the ashes of the twigs and leaves of timber
trees. The more succulent the vegetable the greater the quantity of
potash it contains, though there are some minor exceptions to this. As
I have already stated, we extract and waste a considerable proportion
of these salts when we boil vegetables and throw away the _potage_,
which our wiser and more thrifty neighbours add to their every-day
_menu_. When we eat raw vegetables, as in salads, we obtain all their

Fruits generally contain important quantities of potash salts, and
it is upon these especially that the possible victims of lithic acid
should rely. Lemons and grapes contain them most abundantly. Those who
cannot afford to buy these as articles of daily food may use cream of
tartar, which, when genuine, is the natural salt of the grape, thrown
down in the manner I shall describe when on the subject of the cookery
of wines.

At the risk of being accused of presumption, I must here protest, as a
chemist, against one of ‘the fallacies of the faculty,’ or of certain
members of the faculty, viz. that of indiscriminately prohibiting to
gouty and rheumatic patients the use of acids or anything having an
acid taste.

This has probably arisen from experience of the fact that _mineral_
acids do serious mischief, and that alkaline carbonate of potash
affords relief. The difference between the organic acids, which are
decomposed in the manner I have described, and the fixed composition of
the mineral acids, does not appear to have been sufficiently studied by
those who prohibit fruit and vegetables on account of their acidity.
It must never be forgotten that nearly all the organic compounds of
potash, as they exist in vegetables and fruit, are acid. It may be
desirable, in some cases, to add a little bicarbonate of potash to
neutralise this excess of acid and increase the potash supply. I have
found it advantageous to throw a half-saltspoonful of this into a
tumbler of water containing the juice of a lemon, and have even added
it to stewed or baked rhubarb and gooseberries. In these it froths like
whipped cream, and diminishes the demand for sugar, an excess of which
appears to be mischievous to those who require much potash.

I must conclude this sermon on the potash text by adding that it is
quite possible to take an excess of this solvent. Such excess is
depressing; its action is what is called ‘lowering.’ I will not venture
upon an explanation of the _rationale_ of this lowering, or discuss
the question of whether or not the blood is made watery, as sometimes

Intimately connected with this part of my subject is another vegetable
principle that I have not yet named. This is vegetable jelly, or
_pectin_, the jelly of fruits, of turnips, carrots, parsnips, &c.
Fremy has named it _pectose_. Like the saline juices of meat it is
very little changed by cookery. An acid may be separated from it which
has been named ‘pectic acid,’ the properties and artificial compounds
of which appear to me to suggest the theory that the natural jelly of
fruits largely consists of compounds of this acid with potash or soda
or lime. We all know the appearance and flavour of currant jelly, apple
jelly, &c., which are composed of natural vegetable jelly plus sugar.

The separation of these jellies is an operation of cookery, and one
that deserves more attention than it receives. I shall never forget
the _rahat lakoum_, prepared for the Sultana, which I once had the
privilege of eating in the kitchen of the Seraglio of Stamboul, where
it was presented to me by his Excellency the Grand Confectioner as
a sample of his masterpiece. Its basis was the pure pectose of many
fruits, the inspissated juices of grapes, peaches, pine-apples, and I
know not what others. The sherbet was similar, but liquid. Well may
they obey the Prophet and abstain from the grosser concoctions that
we call wine when such ambrosial nectar as this is supplied in its
place! It is to Imperial Tokay as tokay is to table-beer! I tasted many
other choice confections there, and when I find myself defending the
Turk against his many enemies, my conscience sometimes asks whether my
politics have been influenced by the remembrance of that visit.

The ‘lumps of delight’ sold by our confectioners are imitations made of
flavoured gelatin. Similar substitutes are sold in Constantinople. The
same as regards the sherbet.

I conclude this part of my subject by re-echoing Mr. Gladstone’s
advocacy of the extension of fruit culture. We shamefully neglect the
best of all food, in eating and drinking so little fruit. As regards
cooked fruit, I say jam for the million, jelly for the luxurious, and
juice for all. With these in abundance, the abolition of alcoholic
drinks will follow as a necessary result of natural nausea.

I may add that besides the letters asking for the further information
here given, I have since received several others from readers who have
adopted the diet above prescribed with good practical results.

I have further learned that vegetarians are remarkably free from the
lithic acid troubles above named, and that many who were sufferers
before they became vegetarians have subsequently escaped.

The testimony of a large number is demanded in such subjects, as
individual examples may depend upon individual peculiarities of


[16] Shortly after the close of the Great Exhibition of 1851, when the
South Kensington Museum was only in embryo, I had occasion to call
on Dr. Lyon Playfair at the ‘boilers,’ and there found the Prince
hard at work giving instructions for the arrangement and labelling of
these analysed food products and the similarly displayed materials of
industry, such as whalebone, ivory, &c. I then, by inquiry, learned how
much time and labour he was devoting, not only to the general business
of the collection, but also to its minor details.



I MUST not leave the subject of vegetable cookery without describing
Count Rumford’s achievements in feeding the paupers, rogues, and
vagabonds of Munich. An account of this is the more desirable, from the
fact that the ‘soup’ which formed the basis of his dietary is still
misunderstood in this country, for reasons that I shall presently state.

After reorganising the Bavarian army, not only as regards military
discipline, but in the feeding, clothing, education, and useful
employment of the men, in order to make them good citizens as well
as good soldiers, he attacked a still more difficult problem—that of
removing from Bavaria the scandal and burden of the hordes of beggars
and thieves which had become intolerable. He tells us that ‘the number
of itinerant beggars of both sexes, and all ages, as well foreigners
as natives, who strolled about the country in all directions, levying
contributions from the industrious inhabitants, stealing and robbing,
and leading a life of indolence and most shameless debauchery, was
quite incredible;’ and, further, that ‘these detestable vermin swarmed
everywhere, and not only their impudence and clamorous importunity were
without any bounds, but they had recourse to the most diabolical acts
and most horrid crimes in the prosecution of their infamous trade.
Young children were stolen from their parents by these wretches,
and their eyes put out, or their tender limbs broken and distorted,
in order, by exposing them thus maimed, to excite the pity and
commiseration of the public.’ He gives further particulars of their
trading upon the misery of their own children, and their organisation
to obtain alms by systematic intimidation. Previous attempts to cure
the evil had failed, the public had lost all faith in further projects,
and therefore no support was to be expected for Rumford’s scheme.
‘Aware of this,’ he says, ‘I took my measures accordingly. To convince
the public that the scheme was feasible, I determined first, by a great
exertion, to carry it into complete execution, and _then_ to ask them
to support it.’

He describes the military organisation by which he distributed the
army throughout the country districts to capture all the strolling
provincial beggars, and how, on Jan. 1, 1790, he bagged all the beggars
of Munich in less than an hour by means of a well-organised civil and
military _battue_, New Year’s Day being the great festival when all
the beggars went abroad to enforce their customary black-mail upon
the industrious section of the population. Though very interesting, I
must not enter upon these details, but cannot help stepping a little
aside from my proper subject to quote his weighty words on the ethical
principles upon which he proceeded. He says that ‘with persons of this
description, it is easy to be conceived that precepts, admonitions, and
punishments would be of little avail. But where precepts fail, _habits_
may sometimes be successful. To make vicious and abandoned people
happy, it has generally been supposed necessary, _first_, to make them
virtuous. But why not reverse this order? Why not make them first
_happy_ and then virtuous? If happiness and virtue be _inseparable_,
the end will as certainly be attained by one method as by the other;
and it is most undoubtedly much easier to contribute to the happiness
and comfort of persons in a state of poverty and misery than, by
admonitions and punishments, to improve their morals.’

He applied these principles to his miserable material with complete
success, and, referring to the result, exclaims, ‘Would to God that
my success might encourage others to follow my example!’ Further
examination of his proceedings shows that, in order to follow such
example, a knowledge of first principles and a determination to carry
them out in bold defiance of vulgar ignorance, general prejudice, and,
vilest of all, polite sneering, is necessary.

Having captured the beggars thus cleverly, he proceeded to carry out
the above-stated principle by taking them to a large building already
prepared, where ‘everything was done that could be devised to make
them _really comfortable_.’ The first condition of such comfort, he
maintains, is cleanliness, and his dissertation on this, though written
so long ago, might be quoted in letters of gold by our sanitarians of

Describing how he carried out his principles, he says of the prisoners
thus captured: ‘Most of them had been used to living in the most
miserable hovels, in the midst of vermin and every kind of filthiness,
or to sleep in the streets and under the hedges, half naked and
exposed to all the inclemencies of the seasons. A large and commodious
building, fitted up in the neatest and most comfortable manner, was
now provided for their reception. In this agreeable retreat they found
spacious and elegant apartments kept with the most scrupulous neatness;
well warmed in winter and well lighted; a good warm dinner every day,
_gratis_, cooked and served up with all possible attention to order and
cleanliness; materials and utensils for those that were able to work;
masters _gratis_ for those who required instruction; the most generous
pay, _in money_, for all the labour performed; and the kindest usage
from every person, from the highest to the lowest, belonging to the
establishment. Here in this asylum for the indigent and unfortunate,
no ill-usage, no harsh language is permitted. During five years that
the establishment has existed, not a blow has been given to anyone, not
even to a child by his instructor.’

This appears like the very expensive scheme of a benevolent utopian;
but, to set my readers at rest on this point, I will anticipate a
little by stating that, although at first some expense was incurred,
all this was finally repaid, and, at the end of six years, there
remained a net profit of 100,000 florins, ‘after expenses of every
kind, salaries, wages, repairs, &c., had been deducted.’

When will _our_ workhouses be administered with similar results?

I must not dwell upon his devices for gradually inveigling the lazy
creatures into habits of industry, for he understood human nature too
well to adopt the gaoler’s theory, which assumes that every able-bodied
man can do a day’s work daily, in spite of previous habits. Rumford’s
patients became industrious ultimately, but were not made so at once.

This development of industry was one of the elements of financial
and moral success, and the next in importance was the economy of the
commissariat, which depended on Rumford’s skilful cookery of the
cheapest viands, rendering them digestible, nutritious, and palatable.
Had he adopted the dietary of an English workhouse or an English
prison, his financial success would have been impossible, and his
patients would have been no better fed, nor better able to work.

The staple food was what he calls a ‘soup,’ but I find, on following
out his instructions for making it, that I obtain a porridge rather
than a soup. He made many experiments, and says: ‘I constantly found
that the richness or quality of a soup depended more upon a proper
choice of the ingredients, and a proper management of the fire in the
combination of these ingredients, than upon the quantity of solid
nutritious matter employed;—much more upon the art and skill of the
cook than upon the sum laid out in the market.’

Our vegetarian friends will be interested in learning that at first he
used meat in the soup provided for the beggars, but gradually omitted
it, and the change was unnoticed by those who ate, and no difference
was observable as regards its nutritive value.

In 1790, little, or rather nothing, was known of the chemistry of food.
Oxygen had been discovered only sixteen years before, and chemical
analysis, as now understood, was an unknown art. In spite of this
Rumford selected as the basis of his soup just that proximate element
which we now know to be one of the most nutritious that he could have
obtained from either the animal or vegetable kingdom—viz. _casein_.
He not only selected this, but he combined it with those other
constituents of food which our highest refinements of modern practical
chemistry and physiology have proved to be exactly what are required to
supplement the casein and constitute a complete dietary. By selecting
the cheapest form of casein and the cheapest sources of the other
constituents, he succeeded in supplying the beggars with good hot
dinners daily at the cost of less than one halfpenny each. The cost of
the mess for the Bavarian soldiers under his command was rather more,
viz. twopence daily, three farthings of this being devoted to pure
luxuries, such as beer, &c.

Some of his chemical speculations, however, have not been confirmed.
The composition of water had just been discovered, and he found by
experience that a given quantity of solid food was more satisfying to
the appetite and more effective in nutrition when made into soup by
long boiling with water. This led him to suppose that the water itself
was decomposed by cookery, and its elements recombined or united with
other elements, and thus became nutritious by being converted into the
tissues of plants and animals.

Thus, speaking of the barley which formed an important constituent of
his soup, he says: ‘It requires, it is true, a great deal of boiling;
but when it is properly managed, it thickens a vast quantity of water,
and, as I suppose, _prepares it for decomposition_’ (the italics are
his own).

We now know that this idea of decomposing water by such means is a
mistake; but, in my own opinion, there is something behind it which
still remains to be learned by modern chemists. In my endeavours to
fathom the _rationale_ of the changes which occur in cookery, I have
been (as my readers will remember) continually driven into hypotheses
of hydration, _i.e._ of supposing that some of the water used in
cookery unites to form true chemical compounds with certain of the
constituents of the food. As already stated, when I commenced this
subject I had no idea of its suggestiveness, of the wide field of
research which it has opened out. One of these lines of research is
the determination of the nature of this hydration of cooked gelatin,
fibrin, cellulose, casein, starch, legumin, &c. That water is _with_
them when they are cooked is evident enough, but whether that water is
brought into actual chemical combination with them in such wise as to
form new compounds of additional nutritive value proportionate to the
chemical addition of water, demands so much investigation that I have
been driven to merely theorise where I ought to have demonstrated.

The fact that the living body which our food is building up and
renewing contains about 80 per cent. of water, some of it combined, and
some of it uncombined, has a notable bearing on the question. We may
yet learn that hydration and dehydration have more to do with the vital
functions than has hitherto been supposed.

The following are the ingredients used by Rumford in ‘Soup No. 1’:

                                                 Avoirdupois.    Cost.
                                                   lbs. oz.     £  s.  d.
  4 _viertels_ of pearl barley, equal to about 20⅓
      gallons                                      141   2      0  11  7½
  4 _viertels_ of peas                             131   4      0   7  3¼
  Cuttings of fine wheaten bread                    69  10      0  10  2¼
  Salt                                              19  13      0   1  2½
  24 _maass_, very weak beer, vinegar, or rather
      small beer turned sour, about 24 quarts       46  13      0   1  5½
  Water, about 560 quarts                        1,077   0          --
                                                 ---------      ---------
                                                 1,485  10      1  11  9

  Fuel, 88 lbs. dry pine wood                                   0   0  2¼
  Wages of three cook maids, at 20 florins a year each          0   0  3⅔
  Daily expense of feeding the three cook maids, at 10 creutzers
      (3⅔ pence sterling) each, according to agreement          0   0 11
  Daily wages of two men servants                               0   1  7¼
  Repairs of kitchen furniture (90 florins per ann.) daily      0   0  5½
        Total daily expenses when dinner is provided for
          1,200 persons                                         1  15  2⅔

This amounts to 422/1200, or a trifle more than ⅓ of a penny for each
dinner of this No. 1 soup. The cost was still further reduced by the
use of the potato, then a novelty, concerning which Rumford makes the
following remarks, now very curious. ‘So strong was the aversion of the
public, particularly the poor, against them at the time when we began
to make use of them in the public kitchen of the House of Industry in
Munich, that we were absolutely obliged, at first, to introduce them by
stealth. A private room in a retired corner was fitted up as a kitchen
for cooking them; and it was necessary to disguise them, by boiling
them down entirely, and destroying their form and texture, to prevent
their being detected.’ The following are the ingredients of ‘Soup No.
2,’ with potatoes:

                                       Avoirdupois.  Cost.
                                          lbs. oz.  £ s.  d.
    2 _viertels_ of pearl barley           70   9   0 5  9-13/22
    2 _viertels_ of peas                   65  10   0 3  7⅝
    8 _viertels_ of potatoes              230   4   0 1  9-9/11
    Cuttings of bread                      69  10   0 10 2-4/11
    Salt                                   19  13   0 1  2½
    Vinegar                                46  13   0 1  5½
    Water                                 982  15      --
    Fuel, servants, repairs, &c., as before         0 3  5-5/12
          Total daily cost of 1,200 dinners         1 7  6⅔

This reduces the cost to a little above one farthing per dinner.

In the essay from which the above is quoted, there is another account,
reducing all the items to what they would cost in London in November
1795, which raises the amount to 2¾ farthings per portion for No. 1,
and 2½ farthings for No. 2. In this estimate the expenses for fuel,
servants, kitchen furniture, &c. are stated at three times as much as
the cost at Munich, and the other items at the prices stated in the
printed report of the Board of Agriculture of November 10, 1795.

But since 1795 we have made great progress in the right direction.
Bread then cost one shilling per loaf, barley and peas about 50 per
cent. more than at present, salt is set down by Rumford at 1¼_d._
per lb. (now about one farthing). Fuel was also dearer. But wages
have risen greatly. As stated in money, they are about doubled (in
purchasing power—_i.e._ real wages—they are threefold). Making all
these allowances, charging wages at six times those paid by him, I
find that the present cost of Rumford’s No. 1 soup would be a little
over one halfpenny per portion, and No. 2 just about one halfpenny. I
here assume that Rumford’s directions for the construction of kitchen
fireplaces and economy of fuel are carried out. We are in these matters
still a century behind his arrangements of 1790, and nothing short of a
coal-famine will punish and cure our criminal extravagance.

The cookery of the above-named ingredients is conducted as follows:
‘The water and pearl barley first put together in the boiler and made
to boil, the peas are then added, and the boiling is continued over a
gentle fire about two hours; the potatoes are then added (peeled), and
the boiling is continued for about one hour more, during which time the
contents of the boiler are frequently stirred about with a large wooden
spoon or ladle, in order to destroy the texture of the potatoes, and to
reduce the soup to one uniform mass. When this is done, the vinegar and
salt are added; and, last of all, at the moment that it is to be served
up, the cuttings of bread.’ No. 1 is to be cooked for three hours
without the potatoes.

As already stated, I have found, in carrying out these instructions,
that I obtain a _purée_ or porridge rather than a soup. I found
the No. 1 to be excellent, No. 2 inferior. It was better when very
small potatoes were used; they became more jellied, and the _purée_
altogether had less of the granular texture of mashed potatoes. I
found it necessary to conduct the whole of the cooking myself; the
inveterate kitchen superstition concerning simmering and boiling, the
belief that anything rapidly boiling is hotter than when it simmers,
and is therefore cooking more quickly, compels the non-scientific cook
to shorten the tedious three-hour process by boiling. This boiling
drives the water from below, bakes the lower stratum of the porridge,
and spoils the whole. The ordinary cook, were she ‘at the strappado,
or all the racks in the world,’ would not keep anything barely boiling
for three hours with no visible result. According to her positive and
superlative experience, the mess is cooked sufficiently in one-third of
the time, as soon as the peas are softened. She don’t, and she won’t,
and she can’t, and she shan’t understand anything about hydration.
‘When it’s done, it’s done, and there’s an end to it, and what more do
you want?’ Hence the failures of the attempts to introduce Rumford’s
porridge in our English workhouses, prisons, and soup kitchens. I find,
when I make it myself, that it is incomparably superior and far cheaper
than the ‘skilly’ at present provided, though the sample of skilly that
I tasted was superior to the ordinary slop.

The weight of each portion, as served to the beggars, &c., was 19·9 oz.
(1 Bavarian pound); the solid matter contained was 6 oz. of No. 2, or
4¾ oz. of No. 1, and Rumford states that this ‘is quite sufficient to
make a good meal for a strong, healthy person,’ as ‘abundantly proved
by long experience.’ He insists, again and again, upon the necessity of
the three-hours’ cooking, and I am equally convinced of its necessity,
though, as above explained, not on the same theoretical grounds. No
repetition of his experience is fair unless this be attended to. I have
no hesitation in affirming that the 4¾ oz. of No. 1, when thus boiled
for 3 hours, will supply more nutriment than 6 oz. boiled only 1½ hour.

The bread should _not_ be cooked, but added just before serving the
soup. In reference to this he has published a very curious essay,
entitled ‘Of the Pleasure of Eating, and of the Means that may be
Employed for Increasing it.’

Rumford used wood as fuel, and his kitchen-ranges were constructed of
brickwork with a separate fire for each pot, the pot being set in in
the brickwork immediately above the fireplace in such manner that the
flame and heated products of combustion surrounded the pot on their way
to the exit flue. The quantity of fuel was adjusted to each operation,
and with wood embers a long sustained moderate heat was easily obtained.

With coal-fires such separate firing would be troublesome, as
coal cannot be so easily kindled on requirement as wood. With our
roaring, wasteful kitchen furnaces and still more wasteful cooks, the
long-sustained moderate heat is not practicable without some further
device. I found that, by using a ‘milk scalder,’ which is a water-bath
similar to a glue-pot, but on a large scale, I could obtain Rumford’s
results over a common kitchen-range with very little trouble, and no
risk of baking the bottom part of the porridge.

I further found that even a longer period of stewing than he prescribes
is desirable.

I made a hearty meal on No. 1 soup, and found it as satisfactory as
any dinner of meat, potatoes, &c., of any number of courses; and,
as a chemist, I assert without any hesitation, that such a meal is
demonstrably of equal or superior nutritive value to an ordinary
Englishman’s slice of beef diluted with potatoes. The No. 2 soup is
not so satisfactory. Rumford was wrong in his estimate of the value of

In the formula for Rumford’s soup it is stated that the bread
should not be cooked, but added just before serving the soup. Like
everything else in his practical programmes, this was prescribed with
a philosophical reason. His reasons may have been fanciful sometimes,
but he never acted stupidly, as the vulgar majority of mankind usually
do when they blindly follow an established custom without knowing any
reason for so doing, or even attempting to discover a reason.

In his essay on ‘The Pleasure of Eating, and of the Means that may be
Employed for Increasing it,’ he says: ‘The pleasure enjoyed in eating
depends, first, on the agreeableness of the taste of the food; and,
secondly, upon its power to affect the palate. Now, there are many
substances extremely cheap, by which very agreeable tastes may be given
to food, particularly when the basis or nutritive substance of the food
is tasteless; and the effect of any kind of palatable solid food (of
meat, for instance) upon the organs of taste may be increased, almost
indefinitely, by reducing the size of the particles of such food, and
causing it to act upon the palate by a larger surface. And if means be
used to prevent its being swallowed too soon, which may easily be done
by mixing it with some hard and tasteless substance, such as crumbs
of bread rendered hard by toasting, or anything else of that kind, by
which a long mastication is rendered necessary, the enjoyment of eating
may be greatly increased and prolonged.’ He adds that ‘the idea of
occupying a person a great while, and affording him much pleasure at
the same time in eating a small quantity of food, may perhaps appear
ridiculous to some; but those who consider the matter attentively
will perceive that it is very important. It is perhaps as much so as
anything that can employ the attention of the philosopher.’

Further on he adds: ‘If a glutton can be made to gormandise two hours
upon two ounces of meat, it is certainly much better for him than to
give himself an indigestion by eating two pounds in the same time.’

This is amusing as well as instructive; so also are his researches
into what I may venture to describe as the _specific sapidity_ of
different kinds of food, which he determined by diluting or intermixing
them with insipid materials, and thereby ascertaining the amount of
surface over which they might be spread before their particular flavour
disappeared. He concluded that a red herring has the highest specific
sapidity—_i.e._ the greatest amount of flavour in a given weight of any
kind of food he had tested, and that, comparing it on the basis of cost
for cost, its superiority is still greater.

He tells us that ‘the pleasure of eating depends very much indeed upon
the _manner_ in which the food is applied to the organs of taste,’ and
that he considers ‘it necessary to mention, and even to illustrate in
the clearest manner, every circumstance which appears to have influence
in producing these important effects.’ As an example of this, I may
quote his instructions for eating hasty pudding: ‘The pudding is then
eaten with a spoon, each spoonful of it being dipped into the sauce
before it is carried to the mouth, care being had in taking it up to
begin on the outside, or near the brim of the plate, and to approach
the centre by regular advances, in order not to demolish too soon
the excavation which forms the reservoir for the sauce.’ His solid
Indian-corn pudding is, in like manner, ‘to be eaten with a knife and
fork, beginning at the circumference of the slice, and approaching
regularly towards the centre, each piece of pudding being taken up with
the fork and dipped into the butter, or dipped into it _in part only_,
before it is carried to the mouth.’

As a supplement to the cheap soup recipes I will quote one which
Rumford gives as the cheapest food which in his opinion can be provided
in England: Take of water 8 gallons, mix it with 5 lbs. of barley-meal,
boil it to the consistency of a thick jelly. Season with salt, vinegar,
pepper, sweet herbs, and four red herrings pounded in a mortar. Instead
of bread, add 5 lbs. of Indian corn made into a _samp_, and stir it
together with a ladle. Serve immediately in portions of 20 oz.

_Samp_ is ‘said to have been invented by the savages of North America,
who have no corn-mills.’ It is Indian corn deprived of its external
coat by soaking it ten or twelve hours in a lixivium of water and wood
ashes.[17] This coat or husk, being separated from the kernel, rises
to the surface of the water, while the grain remains at the bottom.
The separated kernel is stewed for about two days in a kettle of water
placed near the fire. ‘When sufficiently cooked, the kernels will be
found to be swelled to a great size and burst open, and this food,
which is uncommonly sweet and nourishing, may be used in a great
variety of ways; but the best way of using it is to mix it with milk,
and with soups and broths as a substitute for bread.’ He prefers it to
bread because ‘it requires more mastication, and consequently tends
more to prolong the pleasure of eating.’

The cost of this soup he estimates as follows:

                                                                s. d.
  5 lbs. barley meal, at 1½_d._ per. lb., or 5_s._ 6_d._
      per bushel                                                0  7½
  5 lbs. Indian corn, at 1¼_d._ per lb.                         0  6¼
  4 red herrings                                                0  3
  Vinegar                                                       0  1
  Salt                                                          0  1
  Pepper and sweet herbs                                        0  2
                                                                1  8¾

This makes 64 portions, which thus cost rather less than one-third of
a penny each. As prices were higher then than now, it comes down to
little more than one farthing, or one-third of a penny, as stated, when
cost of preparation in making on a large scale is included. I have not
been successful in making this soup; failed in the ‘samp,’ as explained
in the foot-note. By substituting ‘raspings’ (the coarse powder rasped
off the surface of rolls or over-baked loaves) or bread-crumbs browned
in an oven, I obtain a fair result for those who have no objection to a
diffused flavour of red herring.

By using grated cheese instead of the herring, as well as substituting
bread-crumbs or raspings for the Indian corn, I have completely
succeeded; but for economy and quality combined, the No. 1 soup, as
supplied at Munich, is preferable.

The feeding of the Bavarian soldiers is stated in detail in vol. i.
of Rumford’s ‘Essays.’ I take one characteristic example. It is from
an official report on experiments made ‘in obedience to the orders of
Lieut.-General Count Rumford, by Sergeant Wickelhof’s mess, in the
first company of the first (or Elector’s Own) regiment of Grenadiers at

JUNE 10, 1795.—BILL OF FARE. Boiled beef, with soup and bread dumplings.

DETAILS OF THE EXPENSE. First, for the boiled beef and the soup.

           lb.  loths.                              Creutzers.
            2     0 beef                                16
            0     1 sweet herbs                          1
            0     0¼ pepper                              0½
            0     6 salt                                 0½
            1    14½ ammunition bread cut fine           2⅞
            9    20 water                                0
           ------------                                 ----
    Total  13     9¾                           Cost     20⅞

The Bavarian pound is a little less than 1¼ lb. avoirdupois, and is
divided into 32 loths.

All these were put into an earthenware pot and boiled for two hours and
a quarter; then divided into twelve portions of 26-7/12 loths each,
costing 1¾ creutzer.

Second, for the bread dumpling.

           lb. loths.                   Creutzers.
           10  13 f fine semel bread        10
            1   0 of fine flour              4½
            0   6 salt                       0½
            3   0 water                      0
            -----                           ---
    Total   5  19                     Cost  15

This mass was made into dumplings, which were boiled half an hour in
clear water. Upon taking them out of the water they were found to weigh
5 lbs. 24 loths, giving 15⅓ loths to each portion, costing 1¼ creutzer.

The meat, soup, and dumplings were served all at once, in the same
dish, and were all eaten together at dinner. Each member of the mess
was also supplied with 10 loths of rye bread, which cost 5/16 of a
creutzer. Also with 10 loths of the same for breakfast, another piece
of same weight in the afternoon, and another for his supper.

A detailed analysis of this is given, the sum total of which shows that
each man received in avoirdupois weight daily:

    lb.    oz.
     2    2-34/100 of solids
     1    2-84/100 of ‘prepared water’
     3    5-18/100 total solids and fluids.

which cost 5-17/48 creutzers, or twopence sterling, very nearly. Other
bills of fare of other messes, officially reported, give about the
same. This is exclusive of the cost of fuel, &c., for cooking.

All who are concerned in soup-kitchens or other economic dietaries
should carefully study the details supplied in these ‘Essays’ of Count
Rumford; they are thoroughly practical, and, although nearly a century
old, are highly instructive at the present day. With their aid large
basins of good, nutritious soup might be supplied at one penny per
basin, leaving a profit for establishment expenses; and if such were
obtainable at Billingsgate, Smithfield, Leadenhall, Covent Garden, and
other markets in London and the provinces, where poor men are working
at early hours on cold mornings, the dram-drinking which prevails so
fatally in such places would be more effectually superseded than by any
temperance missions, which are limited to mere talking. Such soup is
incomparably better than tea or coffee. It should be included in the
bill of fare of all the coffee-palaces and such-like establishments.

Since the above appeared in ‘Knowledge,’ I have had much correspondence
with ladies and gentlemen who are benevolently exerting themselves
in the good work of providing cheap dinners for poor school-children
and poor people generally. I may mention particularly the Rev. W.
Moore Ede, Rector of Gateshead-on-Tyne, a pioneer in the ‘Penny
Dinner’ movement, and who has published a valuable penny tract on the
subject, ‘Cheap Food and Cheap Cookery,’ which I recommend to all his
fellow-workers. (He supplies distribution copies at 6_d._ per 100.) His
‘Penny Dinner Cooker,’ now commercially supplied by Messrs. Walker and
Emley, Newcastle, overcomes the difficulties I have described in the
slow cookery of Rumford’s soup. It is a double vessel on the glue-pot
principle, heated by gas.


[17] Such lixivium is essentially a dilute solution of carbonate of
potash in very crude form, not conveniently obtained by burners of pit
coal. I tried the experiment of soaking some ordinary Indian corn in
a solution of carbonate of potash, exceeding the ten or twelve hours
specified by Count Rumford. The external coat was not removed even
after two days’ soaking, but the corns were much swollen and softened.
I suspect that this difference is due to the condition of the corn
which is imported here. It is fully ripened, dried, and hardened, while
that used by the Indians was probably fresh gathered, barely ripe, and
much softer.



TAKE eight parts by weight of meal (Rumford says ‘wheat or rye meal,’
and I add, or oatmeal), and one part of butter. Melt the butter in a
clean _iron_ frying-pan, and, when thus melted, sprinkle the meal into
it; stir the whole briskly with a broad wooden spoon or spatula till
the butter has disappeared and the meal is of a uniform brown colour,
like roasted coffee, great care being taken to prevent burning on the
bottom of the pan. About half an ounce of this roasted meal boiled in
a pint of water, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and vinegar, forms
‘burnt soup,’ much used by the wood-cutters of Bavaria, who work in the
mountains far away from any habitations. Their provisions for a week
(the time they commonly remain in the mountains) consist of a large
loaf of rye bread (which, as it does not so soon grow dry and stale as
wheaten bread, is always preferred to it); a linen bag, containing a
small quantity of roasted meal, prepared as above; another small bag of
salt, and a small wooden box containing some pounded black pepper; and
sometimes, but not often, a small bottle of vinegar; but _black pepper_
is an ingredient never omitted. The rye bread, which eaten alone or
with cold water would be very hard fare, is rendered palatable and
satisfactory, Rumford thinks also more wholesome and nutritious, by the
help of a bowl of hot soup, so easily prepared from the roasted meal.
He tells us that this is not only used by the wood-cutters, but that
it is also the common breakfast of the Bavarian peasant, and adds that
‘it is infinitely preferable, in all respects, to that most pernicious
wash, _tea_, with which the lower classes of the inhabitants of this
island drench their stomachs and ruin their constitutions.’ He adds
that ‘when tea is taken with a sufficient quantity of sugar and good
cream, and with a large quantity of bread-and-butter, or with toast
and boiled eggs, and, above all, _when it is not drunk too hot_, it is
certainly less unwholesome; but a simple infusion of this drug, drunk
boiling hot, as the poor usually take it, is certainly a poison, which,
though it is sometimes slow in its operation, never fails to produce
fatal effects, even in the strongest constitutions, where the free use
of it is continued for a considerable length of time.’

This may appear to many a very strong condemnation of their favourite
beverage; nevertheless, I am satisfied that it is sound; and my opinion
is not hastily adopted, nor borrowed from Rumford, but a conclusion
based upon many observations, extending over a long period of years,
and confirmed by experiments made upon myself.

I therefore strongly recommend this substitute, especially as so
many of us have to submit to the beneficent domestic despotism of
the gentler and more persevering sex, one of the common forms of
this despotism being that of not permitting its male victim to drink
cold water at breakfast. This burnt soup has the further advantage
of rendering imperative the boiling of the water, a most important
precaution against the perils of sewage contamination, not removable by
mere filtration.

The experience of every confirmed tea-drinker, when soundly
interpreted, supplies condemnation of his beverage; the plea commonly
urged on its behalf being, when understood, an eloquent expression of
such condemnation. ‘It is so refreshing;’ ‘I am fit for nothing when
tea-time comes round until I have had my tea, and then I am fit for
anything.’ The ‘fit for nothing’ state comes on at 5 P.M., when the
drug is taken at the orthodox time, or even in the early morning, in
the case of those who are accustomed to have a cup of tea brought to
their bedside before rising. Some will even plead for tea by telling
that by its aid one can sit up all night long at brain-work without
feeling sleepy, provided ample supplies of the infusion are taken from
time to time.

It is unquestionably true that such may be done; that the tea-drinker
is languid and weary at tea-time, whatever be the hour, and that the
refreshment produced by ‘the cup that cheers’ and is _said_ not to
inebriate, is almost instantaneous.

What is the true significance of these facts?

The refreshment is certainly not due to nutrition, not to the
rebuilding of any worn-out or exhausted organic tissue. The total
quantity of material conveyed from the tea-leaves into the water is
ridiculously too small for the performance of any such nutritive
function; and besides this, the action is far too rapid, there is not
sufficient time for the conversion of even that minute quantity into
organised working tissue. The action cannot be that of a food, but
is purely and simply that of a stimulating or irritant drug, acting
directly and abnormally on the nervous system.

The five-o’clock lassitude and craving is neither more nor less
than the reaction induced by the habitual abnormal stimulation; or
otherwise, and quite fairly, stated, it is the outward symptom of a
diseased condition of brain produced by the action of a drug; it may be
but a mild form of disease, but it is truly a disease nevertheless.

The active principle which produces this result is the crystalline
alkaloid, the _theine_,[18] a compound belonging to the same class
as strychnine and a number of similar vegetable poisons. These, when
diluted, act medicinally—that is, produce disturbance of normal
functions as the tea does, and, like theine, most of them act specially
on the nervous system; when concentrated they are dreadful poisons,
very small doses causing death. The volatile oil, of which tea contains
about 1 per cent., probably contributes to this effect. Johnston
attributes the headaches and giddiness to which tea-tasters are subject
to this oil, and also ‘the attacks of paralysis to which, after a
few years, those who are employed in packing and unpacking chests of
tea are found to be liable.’ As both the alkaloid and the oil are
volatile, I suspect that they jointly contribute to these disturbances,
the narcotic business being done by the volatile oil, the paralysis
supplied by the alkaloid.

The non-tea-drinker does not suffer any of the five-o’clock symptoms,
and, if otherwise in sound health, remains in steady working condition
until his day’s work is ended and the time for rest and sleep arrives.
But the habitual victim of any kind of drug or disturber of normal
functions acquires a diseased condition, displayed by the loss of
vitality or other deviation from normal function, which is temporarily
relieved by the usual dose of the drug, but only in such wise as to
generate a renewed craving. I include in this general statement all the
vice-drugs (to coin a general name), such as alcohol, opium, tobacco
(whether smoked, chewed, or snuffed), arsenic, haschisch, betel-nut,
coca-leaf, thorn-apple, Siberian fungus, maté, &c., all of which are
excessively ‘refreshing’ to their victims, and of which the use may
be, and has been, defended by the same arguments as those used by the
advocates of habitual tea-drinking.

Speaking generally, the reaction or residual effect of these on the
system is nearly the opposite of that of their immediate effect, and
thus larger and larger doses are demanded to bring the system to its
normal condition. The non-tea-drinker or moderate drinker is kept awake
by a cup of tea or coffee taken late at night, while the hard drinker
of these beverages scarcely feels any effect, especially if accustomed
to take it at that time.

The practice of taking tea or coffee by students, in order to work
at night, is downright madness, especially when preparing for an
examination. More than half of the cases of breakdown, loss of memory,
fainting, &c., which occur during severe examinations, and far more
frequently than is commonly known, are due to this.

I continually hear of promising students who have thus failed; and,
on inquiry, have learned—in almost every instance—that the victim has
previously drugged himself with tea or coffee. Sleep is the rest of the
brain; to rob the hard-worked brain of its necessary rest is cerebral

My old friend, the late Thomas Wright (the archæologist), was a victim
of this terrible folly. He undertook the translation of the ‘Life of
Julius Cæsar,’ by Napoleon III., and to do it in a cruelly short time.
He fulfilled his contract by sitting up several nights successively by
the aid of strong tea or coffee (I forget which). I saw him shortly
afterwards. In a few weeks he had aged alarmingly, had become quite
bald; his brain gave way and never recovered. There was but little
difference between his age and mine, and but for this dreadful cerebral
strain, rendered possible only by the stimulant (for otherwise he would
have fallen to sleep over his work, and thereby saved his life), he
might still be amusing and instructing thousands of readers by fresh
volumes of popularised archæological research.

I need scarcely add that all I have said above applies to coffee as to
tea, though not so seriously _in this country_. The active alkaloid is
the same in both, but tea contains weight for weight above twice as
much as coffee. In this country we commonly use about 50 per cent. more
coffee than tea to each given measure of water. On the Continent they
use about double our quantity (this is the true secret of ‘Coffee as in
France’), and thus produce as potent an infusion as our tea.

I need scarcely add that the above remarks are exclusively applied to
the _habitual_ use of these stimulants. As medicines, used occasionally
and judiciously, they are invaluable, provided always that they are not
used as ordinary beverages. In Italy, Greece, and some parts of the
East, it is customary, when anybody feels ill with indefinite symptoms,
to send to the druggist for a dose of tea. From what I have seen of
its action on non-tea-drinkers, it appears to be specially potent in
arresting the premonitory symptoms of fever, the fever headache, &c.

Since the publication of the above in ‘Knowledge,’ I have been reminded
of the high authorities who have defended the use of the alkaloids,
and more particularly of Liebig’s theory, or the theory commonly
attributed to Liebig, but which is Lehmann’s, published in Liebig’s
‘Annalen,’ vol. lxxxvii., and adopted and advocated by Liebig with his
usual ability.

Lehmann watched _for some weeks_ the effects of coffee upon two persons
in good health. He found that it retarded the waste of the tissues of
the body, that the proportion of phosphoric acid and of urea excreted
by the kidneys was diminished by the action of the coffee, the diet
being in all other respects the same. Pure caffeine (which is the same
as theine) produced a similar effect; the aromatic oil of the coffee,
given separately, was found to exert a stimulating effect on the
nervous system.

Johnston (‘Chemistry of Common Life’) closely following Liebig, and
referring to the researches of Lehmann, says: ‘_The waste of the body
is lessened by the introduction of theine into the stomach—that is,
by the use of tea._ And if the waste be lessened, the necessity for
food to repair it will be lessened in an equal proportion. In other
words, by the consumption of a certain quantity of tea, the health
and strength of the body will be maintained in an equal degree upon a
smaller quantity of ordinary food. _Tea, therefore, saves food_—stands
to a certain extent in the place of food—while, at the same time, it
soothes the body and enlivens the mind.’

He proceeds to say that ‘in the old and infirm it serves also another
purpose. In the life of most persons a period arrives when the stomach
no longer digests enough of the ordinary elements of food to make
up for the natural daily waste of the bodily substance. The size
and weight of the body, therefore, begin to diminish more or less
perceptibly. At this period _tea comes in as a medicine to arrest
the waste_, to keep the body from falling away so fast, and thus to
enable the less energetic powers of digestion still to supply as much
as is needed to repair the wear and tear of the solid tissues.’ No
wonder, therefore, says he, ‘_that the aged female, who has barely
enough income to buy what are called the common necessaries of life,
should yet spend a portion of her small gains in purchasing her ounce
of tea. She can live quite as well on less common food when she takes
her tea along with it_; while she feels lighter at the same time, more
cheerful, and fitter for her work, because of the indulgence.’ (The
italics are my own for comparison with those that follow.)

All this is based upon the researches of Lehmann and others, who
measured the work of the vital furnace by the quantity of ashes
produced—the urea and phosphoric acid excreted. But there is also
another method of measuring the same, that of collecting the expired
breath and determining the quantity of carbonic acid given off by
combustion. This method is imperfect, inasmuch as it only measures a
portion of the carbonic acid which is given off. The skin is also a
respiratory organ, co-operating with the lungs in evolving carbonic

Dr. Edward Smith adopted the method of measuring the respired carbonic
acid only. His results were first published in ‘The Philosophical
Transactions’ of 1859, and again in Chapter XXXV. of his volume on
‘Food,’ International Scientific Series.

After stating, in the latter, the details of the experiments, which
include depth of respiration as well as amount of carbonic acid
respired, he says: ‘Hence it was proved beyond all doubt that tea is
a most powerful respiratory excitant. As it causes an evolution of
carbon greatly beyond that which it supplies, it follows that it must
powerfully promote those vital changes in food which ultimately produce
the carbonic acid to be evolved. Instead, therefore, of supplying
nutritive matter, it causes the assimilation and transformation of
other foods.’

Now, note the following practical conclusions, which I quote in Dr.
Smith’s own words, but take the liberty of rendering in italics those
passages that I wish the reader to specially compare with the preceding
quotations from Johnston: ‘In reference to nutrition, we may say that
_tea increases waste_, since it promotes the transformation of food
without supplying nutriment, and increases the loss of heat without
supplying fuel, and _it is therefore especially adapted to the wants
of those who usually eat too much_, and after a full meal, when the
process of assimilation should be quickened, but _is less adapted to
the poor and ill-fed_, and during fasting.’ He tells us very positively
that ‘to take tea before a meal is as absurd as not to take it after
a meal, unless the system be at all times replete with nutritive
material.’ And, again: ‘Our experiments have sufficed to show how tea
may be _injurious if taken with deficient food, and thereby exaggerate
the evils of the poor_;’ and, again: ‘The conclusions at which we
arrived after our researches in 1858 were, that tea should not be taken
without food, unless after a full meal; or with insufficient food;
or by the young or very feeble; and that _its essential action is to
waste the system or consume food_, by promoting vital action which it
does not support, and they have not been disproved by any subsequent
scientific researches.’

This final assertion may be true, and to those who ‘go in for the last
thing out,’ the latest novelty or fashion in science, literature, or
millinery, the absence of any refutation of later date is quite enough.

But how about the previous ‘scientific researches’ of Lehmann, who,
on all such subjects, is about the highest authority that can be
quoted. His three volumes on ‘Physiological Chemistry,’ translated
and republished by the Cavendish Society, stand pre-eminent as the
best-written, most condensed, and complete work on the subject, and his
original researches constitute a lifetime’s work, not of mere random
change-ringing among the elements of obscure and insignificant organic
compounds, but of judiciously selected chemical work, having definite
philosophical aims and objects.

It is evident from the passages I have emphatically quoted that Dr.
Smith flatly contradicts Lehmann, and arrives at directly contradictory
physiological results and practical inferences.

Are we, therefore, to conclude that he has blundered in his analysis,
or that Lehmann has done so?

On carefully comparing the two sets of investigations, I conclude that
there is no necessary contradiction _in the facts_: that both may be,
and in all probability are, quite correct as regards their chemical
results; but that Dr. Smith has only attacked half the problem, while
Lehmann has grasped the whole.

All the popular stimulants, refreshing drugs, and ‘pick-me-ups’ have
two distinct and opposite actions—an immediate exaltation which lasts
for a certain period, varying with the drug and the constitution of
its victim, and a subsequent depression proportionate to the primary
exaltation, but, as I believe, always exceeding it either in duration
or intensity, or both, thus giving as a nett or mean result a loss of

Dr. Smith’s experiments only measured the carbonic acid exhaled from
the lungs _during the first stage_, the period of exaltation. His
experiments were extended to 50 minutes, 71 minutes, 65 minutes, and
in one case to 1 hour and 50 minutes. It is worthy of note that, in
Experiment 1, 100 grains of black tea were given to two persons, and
the duration of the experiment was 50 and 71 minutes; the average
increase was 71 and 68 cubic inches per minute, while in No. 6, with
the same dose and the carbonic acid collected during 1 hour and 50
minutes, the average increase per minute was only 47·5 cubic inches.
These indicate a decline of the exaltation, and the curves on his
diagrams show the same. His coffee results were similar.

We all know that the ‘refreshing’ action of tea often extends over
a considerable period. My own experiments on myself show that it
continues about three or four hours, and that of beer or wine less than
one hour (moderate doses in each case).

I have tested this by walking measured distances after taking the
stimulant and comparing with my walking powers when taking no other
beverage than cold water. The duration of the tea stimulation has been
also measured (painfully so) by the duration of sleeplessness when
female seduction has led me to drink tea late in the evening. The
duration of coffee is about one-third less than tea.

Lehmann’s experiments extending over weeks (days instead of minutes),
measured the whole effect of the alkaloid and oil of the coffee during
both the periods of exaltation and depression, and, therefore, supplied
a mean or total result which accords with ordinary everyday experience.
It is well known that the pot of tea of the poor needlewoman subdues
the natural craving for food; the habitual smoker claims the same merit
for his pipe, and the chewer for his quid. Wonderful stories are told
of the long abstinence of the drinkers of maté, chewers of betel-nut,
Siberian fungus, coca-leaf, and pepper-wort, and the smokers and eaters
of haschisch, &c. Not only is the sense of hunger allayed, but less
food is demanded for sustaining life.

It is a curious fact that similar effects should be produced, and
similar advantages claimed, for the use of a drug which is totally
different in its other chemical properties and relations. ‘White
arsenic,’ or arsenious acid, is the oxide of a metal, and far as the
poles asunder from the alkaloids, alcohols, and aromatic resins in
chemical classification. But it does check the waste of the tissues,
and is eaten by the Styrians and others with physiological effects
curiously resembling those of its chemical antipodeans above named.
Foremost among these physiological effects is that of ‘making the food
appear to go farther.’

It is strange that Liebig or any physiologist who accepts his views
of vital chemistry, should claim this diminution of the normal waste
and renewal of tissue as a merit, seeing that, according to Liebig,
life itself is the product of such change, and death the result of its
cessation. But in the eagerness that has been displayed to justify
existing indulgences, this claim has been extensively made by men who
ought to know better than to admit such a plea.

I speak, as before, of the _habitual_ use of such drugs, not of their
occasional medicinal use. The waste of the body may be going on with
killing rapidity, as in fever, and then such medicines may save life,
provided always that the body has not become ‘tolerant,’ or partially
insensible, to them by daily usage. I once watched a dangerous case
of typhoid fever. Acting under the instructions of skilful medical
attendants, and aided by a clinical thermometer and a seconds watch,
I so applied small doses of brandy at short intervals as to keep down
both pulse and temperature within the limits of fatal combustion. The
patient had scarcely tasted alcohol before this, and therefore it
exerted its maximum efficacy. I was surprised at the certain response
of both pulse and temperature to this most valuable medicine and most
pernicious beverage.

The argument that has been the most industriously urged in favour of
all the vice-drugs, and each in its turn, is that miserable apology
that has been made for every folly, every vice, every political abuse,
every social crime (such as slavery, polygamy, &c.), when the time has
arrived for reformation. I cannot condescend to seriously argue against
it, but merely state the fact that the widely-diffused practice of
using some kind of stimulating drug has been claimed as a sufficient
proof of the necessity or advantage of such practice. I leave my
readers to bestow on such a plea the treatment they may think it
deserves. Those who believe that a rational being should have rational
grounds for his conduct will treat this customary refuge of blind
conservatism as I do.

I recommend tea drinkers who desire to practically investigate the
subject for themselves to repeat the experiment that I have made. After
establishing the habit of taking tea at a particular hour, suddenly
relinquish it altogether. The result will be more or less unpleasant,
in some cases seriously so. My symptoms were a dull headache and
intellectual sluggishness during the remainder of the day—and if
compelled to do any brain-work, such as lecturing or writing, I did it
badly. This, as I have already said, is the diseased condition induced
by the habit. These symptoms vary with the amount of the customary
indulgence and the temperament of the individual. A rough, lumbering,
insensible navvy may drink a quart or two of tea, or a few gallons of
beer, or several quarterns of gin, with but small results of any kind.
I know an omnibus-driver who makes seven double journeys daily, and
his ‘reglars’ are half a quartern of gin at each terminus—_i.e._ 1¾
pints daily, exclusive of extras. This would render most men helplessly
drunk, but he is never drunk, and drives well and safely.

Assuming, then, that the experimenter has taken sufficient daily tea
to have a sensible effect, he will suffer on leaving it off. Let him
persevere in the discontinuance, in spite of brain languor and dull
headache. He will find that day by day the languor will diminish, and
in the course of time (about a fortnight or three weeks in my case)
he will be weaned. He will retain from morning to night the full,
free, and steady use of all his faculties; will get through his day’s
work without any fluctuation of working ability (provided, of course,
no other stimulant is used). Instead of his best faculties being
dependent on a drug for their awakening, he will be in the condition
of true manhood—_i.e._ able to do his best in any direction of effort,
simply in reply to moral demand; able to do whatever is right and
advantageous, because his reason shows that it is so. The sense of duty
is to such a free man the only stimulus demanded for calling forth his
uttermost energies.

If he again returns to his habitual tea, he will again be reduced to
more or less of dependence upon it. This condition of dependence is a
state of disease precisely analogous to that which is induced by opium
and other drugs that operate by temporary abnormal cerebral exaltation.
The pleasurable sensations enjoyed by the opium-eater or smoker or
morphia injector are more intense than those of the tea-drinker, and
the reaction proportionally greater.

I must not leave this subject without a word or two in reference to a
widely prevailing and very mischievous fallacy. Many argue and actually
believe that because a given drug has great efficiency in curing
disease, it must do good if taken under ordinary conditions of health.

No high authorities are demanded for the refutation of this. A little
common sense properly used is quite sufficient. It is evident that
a medicine, properly so-called, is something which is capable of
producing a disturbing or alterative effect on the body generally
or some particular organ. The skill of the physician consists in so
applying this disturbing agency as to produce an alteration of the
state of disease, a direct conversion of the state of disease to a
state of health, if possible (which is rarely the case), or more
usually the conversion of one state of disease into another of milder
character. But, when we are in a state of sound health, any disturbance
or alteration must be a change for the worse, must throw us out of
health to an extent proportionate to the potency of the drug.

I might illustrate this by a multitude of familiar examples, but they
would carry me too far away from my proper subject. There is, however,
one class of such remedies which are directly connected with the
chemistry of cookery. I refer to the condiments that act as ‘tonics,’
excluding common salt, which is an article of food, though often
miscalled a condiment. Salt is food simply because it supplies the
blood with one of its normal and necessary constituents, chloride of
sodium, without which we cannot live. A certain quantity of it exists
in most of our ordinary food, but not always sufficient.

Cayenne pepper may be selected as a typical example of a condiment
properly so-called. Mustard is a food and condiment combined; this is
the case with some others. Curry powders are mixtures of very potent
condiments with more or less of farinaceous materials, and sulphur
compounds, which, like the oil of mustard, of onions, garlic, &c., may
have a certain amount of special nutritive value.

The mere condiment is a stimulating drug that does its work directly
upon the inner lining of the stomach, by exciting it to increased
and abnormal activity. A dyspeptic may obtain immediate relief by
using cayenne pepper. Among the advertised patent medicines is a pill
bearing the very ominous name of its compounder, the active constituent
of which is cayenne. Great relief and temporary comfort is commonly
obtained by using it as a ‘dinner pill.’ If thus used only as a
temporary remedy for an acute and temporary, or exceptional, attack of
indigestion all is well, but the cayenne, whether taken in pills or
dusted over the food or stewed with it in curries or any otherwise,
is one of the most cruel of slow poisons when taken _habitually_.
Thousands of poor wretches are crawling miserably towards their graves,
the victims of the multitude of maladies of both mind and body that are
connected with chronic, incurable dyspepsia, all brought about by the
habitual use of cayenne and its condimental cousins.

The usual history of these victims is, that they began by over-feeding,
took the condiment to force the stomach to do more than its healthful
amount of work, using but a little at first. Then the stomach became
tolerant of this little, and demanded more; then more, and more, and
more, until at last inflammation, ulceration, torpidity, and finally
the death of the digestive powers, accompanied with all that long
train of miseries to which I have referred. India is their special
fatherland. Englishmen, accustomed to an active life at home, and a
climate demanding much fuel-food for the maintenance of animal heat,
go to India, crammed, maybe, with Latin, but ignorant of the laws of
health; cheap servants promote indolence, tropical heat diminishes
respiratory oxidation, and the appetite naturally fails.

Instead of understanding this failure as an admonition to take smaller
quantities of food, or food of less nutritive and combustive value,
such as carbohydrates instead of hydrocarbons and albumenoids, they
regard it as a symptom of ill-health, and take curries, bitter ale, and
other tonics or appetising condiments, which, however mischievous in
England, are far more so there.

I know several men who have lived rationally in India, and they all
agree that the climate is especially favourable to longevity, provided
bitter beer, and all other alcoholic drinks, all peppery condiments,
and flesh foods are avoided. The most remarkable example of vigorous
old age I have ever met was a retired colonel eighty-two years of age,
who had risen from the ranks, and had been fifty-five years in India
without furlough; drunk no alcohol during that period; was a vegetarian
in India, though not so in his native land. I guessed his age to be
somewhere about sixty. He was a Scotchman, and an ardent student of the
works of both George and Dr. Andrew Combe.

A correspondent inquires whether I class cocoa amongst the stimulants.
So far as I am able to learn, it should not be so classed, but I cannot
speak absolutely. Mere chemistry supplies no answer to this question.
It is purely a physiological subject, to be studied by observation of
effects. Such observations may be made by anybody whose system has not
become ‘tolerant’ of the substance in question. My own experience of
cocoa in all its forms is that it is not stimulating in any sensible
degree. I have acquired no habit of using it, and yet I can enjoy a
rich cup or bowl of cocoa or chocolate just before bed-time without
losing any sleep. When I am occasionally betrayed into taking a late
cup of coffee or tea, I repent it for some hours after going to bed.
My inquiries among other people, who are not under the influence of
that most powerful of all arguments, the logic of inclination, have
confirmed my own experience.

I should, however, add that some authorities have attributed
exhilarating properties to the _theobromine_ or nitrogenous alkaloid
of cocoa. Its composition nearly resembles that of theine, as the
following (from Johnston) shows:

                Theine   Theobromine
    Carbon      49·80       46·43
    Hydrogen     5·08        4·20
    Nitrogen    28·83       35·85
    Oxygen      16·29       13·52
               ------      ------
               100·00      100·00

It exists in the cocoa bean in about the same proportion as the theine
in tea, but in making a cup of cocoa we use a much greater weight
of cocoa than of tea in a cup of tea. If, therefore, the properties
of theobromine were similar to those of theine, we should feel the
stimulating effects much more decidedly.

The alkaloid of tea and coffee in its pure state has been administered
to animals, and found to produce paralysis, but I am not aware that
theobromine has acted similarly.

Another essential difference between cocoa and tea or coffee is that
cocoa is, strictly speaking, a food. We do not merely make an infusion
of the cacao bean, but eat it bodily in the form of a soup. It is
highly nutritious, one of the most nutritious foods in common use. When
travelling on foot in mountainous and other regions, where there was a
risk of spending the night _al fresco_ and supperless, I have usually
carried a cake of chocolate in my knapsack, as the most portable and
unchangeable form of concentrated nutriment, and have found it most
valuable. On one occasion I went astray on the Kjolenfjeld, in Norway,
and struggled for about twenty-four hours without food or shelter. I
had no chocolate then, and sorely repented my improvidence. Many other
pedestrians have tried chocolate in like manner, and all I know have
commended its great ‘staying’ properties, simply regarded as food. I
therefore conclude that Linnæus was not without strong justification in
giving it the name of _theobroma_ (food for the gods), but to confirm
this practically the pure nut, the whole nut, and nothing but the nut
(excepting the milk and sugar added by the consumer) should be used.
Some miserable counterfeits are offered—farinaceous paste, flavoured
with cocoa and sugar. The best sample I have been able to procure is
the ship cocoa prepared for the Navy. This is nothing but the whole nut
unsweetened, ground, and crushed to an impalpable paste. It requires
a little boiling, and when milk alone is used, with due proportion of
sugar, it is a _theobroma_. Condensed milk diluted, and without further
sweetening, may be used.

The following are the results of the analyses of two samples of cocoa
by Payen:

    Cacao butter                                   48  50
    Albumen, fibrin, and other nitrogenous matter  21  20
    Theobromine                                     4   2
    Starch, with traces of sugar                   11  10
    Cellulose                                       3   2
    Colouring matter, aromatic essence             traces
    Mineral matter                                  3   4
    Water                                          10  12
                                                  --- ---
                                                  100 100

The very large proportion of fat shows that the Italians are right in
their mode of using their breakfast cup of chocolate. They cut their
roll into ‘fingers,’ and dip it in the ‘aurora’ instead of spreading
butter on it.

Vegetable food generally contains an excess of cellulose and a
deficiency of fat; therefore cocoa, with its excess of fat and
deficiency of cellulose, is theoretically indicated as a very desirable
adjunct to an ordinary vegetarian dietary. The few experiments I
have made by perpetrating the culinary heresy of adding cocoa to
oatmeal-porridge and other _purées_, to mashed potatoes, turnips,
carrots, boiled rice, sago, tapioca, &c., prove that vegetarians have
much to learn in the cookery of cocoa. During two months’ sojourn in
Milan my daily breakfast consisted of bread, grapes, and powdered
chocolate. Each grape was bitten across, one-half eaten pure and
simple, then the cut and pulpy face of the other half was dipped in the
chocolate powder, and eaten with as much as adhered to it. I have never
been better fed.


[18] Ordinary tea contains about 2 per cent. of this. It may easily
be obtained by making a strong infusion and _slowly_ evaporating
it to dryness, then placing this dried extract on a watch-glass or
evaporating-dish, covering it with an inverted wineglass, tumbler, or
conical cap of paper. A white fume rises and condenses on the cool
cover in the form of minute colourless crystals. The tea itself may
be used in the same manner as the dried extract, but the quantity of
crystals will be less.



IN an unguarded moment I promised to include the above in this work,
and will do the best I can to fulfil the rash promise; but the utmost
result of this effort can only be a contribution to a subject which is
too profoundly mysterious to be fully grasped by any intellect that
is not sufficiently clairvoyant to penetrate paving-stones, and see
through them to the interiors of the closely-tiled cellars wherein the
mysteries are manipulated.

I will first define what I mean by the cookery of wine. Grape juice
in its unfermented state may be described as ‘raw wine,’ or this name
may be applied to the juice after fermentation. I apply it in the
latter sense, and shall use it as describing grape juice which has
been spontaneously and recently fermented without the addition of any
foreign materials, or altered by keeping, or heating, or any other
process beyond fermentation. All such processes and admixture which
affect any chemical changes on the raw material I shall describe as
cookery, and the result as cooked wine. When I refer to wine made from
other juice than that of the grape it will be named specifically.

At the outset a fallacy, very prevalent in this country, should be
controverted. The high prices charged for the cooked material sold to
Englishmen has led to absurdly exaggerated notions of the original
value of wine. I am quite safe in stating that the average market value
of rich wine in its raw state, in countries where the grape grows
luxuriantly, and where, in consequence, the average quality of the wine
is the best, does not exceed sixpence per gallon, or one penny per
bottle. I speak now of the newly-made wine. Allowing another sixpence
per gallon for barrelling and storage, the value of the commodity in
portable form becomes twopence per bottle. I am not speaking of thin,
poor wines, produced by a second or third pressing of the grapes, but
of the best and richest quality, and, of course, I do not include
the fancy wines—those produced in certain vineyards of celebrated
châteaux—that are superstitiously venerated by those easily-deluded
people who suppose themselves to be connoisseurs of choice wines. I
refer to ninety-nine per cent. of the _rich_ wines that actually come
into the market. Wines made from grapes grown in unfavourable climates
naturally cost more in proportion to the poorness of the yield.

As some of my readers may be inclined to question this estimate of
average cost, a few illustrative facts may be named. In Sicily and
Calabria I usually paid at the roadside or village ‘osterias’ an
equivalent to one halfpenny for a glass or tumbler holding nearly half
a pint of common wine, thin, but genuine. This was at the rate of less
than one shilling per gallon, or twopence per bottle, and included the
cost of barrelling, storage, and innkeeper’s profit on retailing. In
the luxuriant wine-growing regions of Spain, a traveller halting at a
railway refreshment station and buying one of the sausage sandwiches
that there prevail, is allowed to help himself to wine to drink on
the spot without charge, but if he fills his flask to carry away he
is subjected to an extra charge of one halfpenny. It is well known
to all concerned that at vintage-time of fairly good seasons, in all
countries where the grape grows freely, a good empty cask is worth more
than the new wine it contains when filled; that much wine is wasted
from lack of vessels, and anybody sending two good empty casks to a
vigneron can have one of them filled in exchange for the other. Those
who desire further illustrations and verification should ask their
friends—_outside of the trade_—who have travelled in Southern wine
countries, and know the language and something more of the country than
is to be learned by being simply transferred from one hotel to another
under the guidance of couriers, ciceroni, valets de place, &c.

Thus the five shillings paid for a bottle of rich port is made up of
one penny for the original wine, one penny more for cost of storage,
&c., about sixpence for duty and carriage to this country, and twopence
for bottling, making tenpence altogether; the remaining four shillings
and twopence is paid for cookery and wine-merchant’s profits.

Under cookery I include those changes which may be obtained by simply
exposing the wine to the action of the temperature of an ordinary
cellar, or the higher temperature of ‘Pasteuring,’ to be presently

In the youthful days of chemistry the first of these methods of cookery
was the only one available, and wine was kept by wine-merchants with
purely commercial intent for a considerable number of years.

A little reflection will show that this simple and original cookery was
very expensive, sufficiently so to legitimately explain the rise in
market value from tenpence to five shillings or more per bottle.

Wine-merchants require a respectable profit on the capital they invest
in their business—at least ten per cent. per annum on the prime cost of
the wine laid down. Then there is the rental of cellars and offices,
the establishment expenses—such as wages, sampling, sending out,
advertising, losses by bad debts, &c.—to be added. The capital lying
dead in the cellar demands compound interest. At ten per cent. the
principal doubles in about seven and one-third years. Calling it seven
years, to allow very meagrely for establishment expenses, we get the
following result:

                                                £   s. d.
  When  7 years old the tenpenny wine is worth  0   1  8  per bottle.
    ”  14        ”         ”           ”        0   3  4     ”
    ”  21        ”         ”           ”        0   6  8     ”
    ”  28        ”         ”           ”        0  13  4     ”
    ”  35        ”         ”           ”        1   6  8     ”

Here, then, we have a fair commercial explanation of the high prices of
old-fashioned old wines; or of what I may _now_ call the traditional
value of wine.

Of course, this is less when a man lays down his own wine in his own
cellar, in obedience to the maxim, ‘Lay down good port in the days of
your youth, and when you are old your friends will not forsake you.’
He may be satisfied with a much smaller rate of interest than the
man engaged in business fairly demands. Still, when wine thus aged
was thrown into the market, it competed with commercially cellared
wine, and obtained remarkable prices, especially as it has a special
value for ‘blending’ purposes, _i.e._ for mixing with newer wines and
infecting them with its own senility.

But why do I say that _now_ such values are traditional? Simply because
the progress of chemistry has shown us how the changes resulting from
years of cellarage may be effected by scientific cookery in a few
hours or days. We are indebted to Pasteur for the most legitimate—I
might say the only legitimate—method of doing this. The process is
accordingly called ‘Pasteuring.’ It consists in simply heating the
wine to the temperature of 60° C. = 140° Fahr., the temperature at
which, as will be remembered, the visible changes in the cookery of
animal food commences. It is worthy of note that this is also the exact
temperature at which diastase acts most powerfully in converting starch
into dextrin. Pasteuring is a process demanding considerable skill; no
portion of the wine during its cookery must be raised above 140°, yet
all must reach it; nor must it be exposed to the air.

The apparatus designed by Rossignol is one of the best suited for this
purpose. It is a large metallic vat or boiler with air-tight cover and
a false bottom, from which rises a trumpet-shaped tube through the
middle of the vat, and passing through an air-tight fitting in the
cover. The chamber formed by the false bottom is filled with water by
means of this tube, the object being to prevent the wine at the lower
part from being heated directly by the fire which is below the water
chamber. A thermometer is also inserted air-tight in the lid, with its
bulb half-way down the vat. To allow for expansion a tube is similarly
fitted into the lid. This is bent syphon-like, and its lower end dipped
into a flask containing wine or water, so that air or vapour may escape
and bubble through, but none enter. Even in drawing off from the vat
the wine is not allowed to flow through the air, but is conveyed by
a pipe which bends down, and dips to the bottom of the barrel. The
apparatus is bulky and expensive.

If heated with exposure to air, the wine acquires a flavour easily
recognised as the ‘_goût de cuit_,’ or flavour of cooking. When
Pasteur’s method is properly conducted the only changes effected
are those which would be otherwise produced by age. I have heard of
many failures made by English wine-merchants in their attempts at
Pasteuring, and am not at all surprised, seeing how secretly and
clumsily these attempts have been made.

The changes thus produced are somewhat obscure. One effect is probably
that which more decidedly occurs in the maturing of whisky and other
spirits distilled from grain, viz. the reduction of the proportion
of amylic alcohol or fusel oil, which, although less abundantly
produced in the fermentation of grape juice than in grain or potato
spirit, is formed in varying quantities. Caproic alcohol and caprylic
alcohol are also produced by the fermentation of grape juice or the
‘marc’ of grapes—_i.e._ the mixture of the whole juice and the skins.
These are acrid, ill-flavoured spirits, more conducive to headache
than the ethylic alcohol, which is proper spirit of good wine. Every
wine-drinker knows that the amount of headache obtainable from a given
quantity of wine, or a given outlay of cash, varies with the sample,
and this variation appears to be due to these supplementary alcohols or

Another change appears to be the formation of ethers having choice
flavours and bouquets; _œnanthic ether_, or the ether of wine, is the
most important of these, and it is probably formed by the action of
the natural acid salts of the wine upon its alcohol. Johnston says:
‘So powerful is the odour of this substance, however, that few wines
contain more than one forty-thousandth part of their bulk of it. Yet
it is always present, can always be recognised by its smell, and is
one of the general characteristics of all grape wines.’ This ether is
stated to be the basis of _Hungarian wine oil_, which, according to
the same authority, has been sold for flavouring brandy at the rate of
sixty-nine dollars per pound. I am surprised that up to the present
time it has not been cheaply produced in large quantities. Chemical
problems that appear far more difficult have been practically solved.

The paternal tenderness with which wine is regarded, both by its
producers and consumers, is amusing. They speak of it as being ‘sick,’
describe its ‘diseases,’ and their remedies as though it were a
sentient being; and these diseases, like our own, are now attributed to
bacilli, bacteria, or other microbia.

Pasteur, who has worked out this question of the origin of diseases in
wine as he is so well known to have done in animals, recommends (in
papers read before the French Academy in May and August 1865), that
these microbia be ‘killed’ by filling the bottles close up to the cork,
which is thrust in just with sufficient firmness to allow the wine on
expanding to force it out a little, but not entirely, thus preventing
any air from entering the bottle. The bottles are then placed in a
chamber heated to temperatures ranging from 45° to 100° C. (113° to
212° Fahr.), where they remain for an hour or two. They are then set
aside, allowed to cool, and the cork driven in. It is said that this
treatment kills the microbia, gives to the wine an increased bouquet
and improved colour—in fact, ages it considerably. Both old and new
wines may be thus treated.

I simply state this on the authority of Pasteur, having made no direct
experiments or observations on these diseases, which he describes
as resulting in acetification, ropiness, bitterness, and decay or

There is, however, another kind of sickness which I have studied, both
experimentally and theoretically. I refer to the temporary sickness
which sometimes occurs to rich wines when they are moved from one
cellar to another, and to light wines when newly exported from their
native climate to our own. Genuine wines are the most subject to
such sickness;—the natural, unsophisticated wines, those that have
not been subjected to ‘fortification,’ to ‘vinage,’ to ‘plastering,’
‘sulphuring,’ &c.—processes of cookery to be presently described.

This sickness shows itself by the wine becoming turbid, or opalescent,
then throwing down either a crust or a loose, troublesome sediment.

Those of my readers who are sufficiently interested in this subject to
care to study it practically should make the following experiment:

Dissolve in distilled water, or, better, in water slightly acidulated
with hydrochloric acid, as much cream of tartar as will saturate it.
This is best done by heating the water, agitating an excess of cream of
tartar in it, then allowing the water to cool, the excess of salt to
subside, and pouring off the clear solution. Now add to this solution,
while quite clear and bright, a little clear brandy, whisky, or other
spirit, and mix them by shaking. The solution will become ‘sick,’ like
the wine. Why is this?

It depends upon the fact that the bitartrate of potash, or cream of
tartar, is soluble to some extent in water, but almost insoluble
in alcohol. In a mixture of alcohol and water its solubility is
intermediate—the more alcohol the smaller the quantity that can be held
in solution (hydrochloric and most other acids, excepting tartaric,
increase its solubility in water). Thus, if we have a saturated
solution of this salt either in pure water or acidulated water, or
wine, the addition of alcohol throws some of it down in solid form, and
this makes the solution sick or turbid. When pure water or acidulated
water is used, as in the above-described experiment, crystals of the
salt are freely formed, and fall down readily; but with a complex
liquid like wine, containing saccharine and mucilaginous matter, the
precipitation takes place very slowly; the particles are excessively
minute, become entangled with the mucilage, &c., and thus remain
suspended for a long time, maintaining the turbidity accordingly.

Now, this bitartrate of potash is the characteristic natural salt
of the grape, and its unfermented juice is saturated with it. As
fermentation proceeds, and the sugar of the grape-juice is converted
into alcohol, the capacity of the juice for holding the salt in
solution diminishes, and it is gradually thrown down. But it does not
fall alone. It carries with it some of the colouring and extractive
matter of the grape-juice. This precipitate, in its crude state called
_argol_, or _roher Weinstein_, is the source from which we obtain the
tartaric acid of commerce, the cream of tartar, and other salts of
tartaric acid.

Now let us suppose that we have a natural, unsophisticated wine.
It is evident that it is saturated with the tartrate, since only
so much argol was thrown down during fermentation as it was unable
to retain. It is further evident that if such a wine has not been
exhaustively fermented, _i.e._ if it still contains some of the
original grape-sugar, and if any further fermentation of this sugar
takes place, the capacity of the mixture for holding the tartrate in
solution becomes diminished, and a further precipitation must occur.
This precipitation will come down very slowly, will consist not merely
of pure crystals of cream of tartar, but of minute particles carrying
with it some colouring matter, extractives, &c., and thus spoiling the
brilliancy of the wine, making it more or less turbid.

But this is not all. Boiling water dissolves ⅙th of its weight of cream
of tartar, cold water only 1/180th, and, at intermediate temperatures,
intermediate quantities. Therefore, if we lower the temperature of a
saturated solution, precipitation occurs. Hence, the sickening of wine
due to change of cellars or change of climate, even when no further
fermentation occurs. The lighter the wine, _i.e._ the less alcohol it
contains naturally, the more tartrate it contains, and the greater the
liability to this source of sickness.

This, then, is the temporary sickness to which I have referred. I
have proved the truth of this theory by filtering such sickened wine
through laboratory filtering paper, thereby rendering it transparent,
and obtaining on the paper all the guilty disturbing matter. I found
it to be a kind of argol, but containing a much larger proportion of
extractive and colouring matter, and a smaller proportion of tartrate
than the argol of commerce. I operated upon rich new Catalan wine.

This brings me at once to the source or origin of a sort of
wine-cookery by no means so legitimate as the Pasteuring already
described, as it frequently amounts to serious adulteration. The
wine-merchants are here the victims of their customers, who demand
an amount of transparency that is simply impossible as a permanent
condition of unsophisticated grape-wine. To anybody who has any
knowledge of the chemistry of wine, nothing can be more ludicrous
than the antics of the pretending connoisseur of wine who holds his
glass up to the light, shuts one eye (even at the stage before double
vision commences), and admires the brilliancy of the liquid, this very
brilliancy being, in nineteen samples out of twenty, the evidence of
adulteration, cookery, or sophistication of some kind. Genuine wine
made from pure grape-juice without chemical manipulation is a liquid
that is never reliably clear, for the reasons above stated. Partial
precipitation, sufficient to produce opalescence, is continually taking
place, and therefore the unnatural brilliancy demanded is obtained by
substituting the natural and wholesome tartrate by salts of mineral
acids, and even by the free mineral acid itself. At one time I deemed
this latter adulteration impossible, but have been convinced by direct
examination of samples of _high-priced_ (mark this, not _cheap_) dry
sherries that they contained free sulphuric and sulphurous acid.

The action of this free mineral acid on the wine will be understood
by what I have already explained concerning the solubility of the
bitartrate of potash. This solubility is greatly increased by a little
of such acid, and therefore the transparency of the wine is by such
addition rendered stable, unaffected by changes of temperature.

But what is the effect of such free mineral acid on the drinker of
the wine? If he is in any degree pre-disposed to gout, rheumatism,
stone, or any of the lithic acid diseases, his life is sacrificed,
with preceding tortures of the most horrible kind. It has been stated,
and probably with truth, that the late Emperor Napoleon III. drank dry
sherry, and was a martyr of this kind. I repeat emphatically that,
generally speaking, high-priced dry sherries are far worse than cheap
Marsala, both as regards the quantity they contain of sulphates and
free acid.

Anybody who doubts this may convince himself by simply purchasing a
little chloride of barium, dissolving it in distilled water, and adding
to the sample of wine to be tested a few drops of this solution.

Pure wine, containing its full supply of natural tartrate, will become
cloudy to a small extent, and gradually. A small precipitate will be
formed by the tartrate. The wine that contains either free sulphuric
acid or any of its compounds will yield _immediately_ a copious white
precipitate like chalk, but much more dense. This is sulphate of
baryta. The experiment may be made in a common wine-glass, but better
in a cylindrical test-tube, as, by using in this a fixed quantity in
each experiment, a rough notion of the relative quantity of sulphate
may be formed by the depth of the white layer after all has come down.
To determine this _accurately_, the wine, after applying the test,
should be filtered through proper filtering paper, and the precipitate
and paper burnt in a platinum or porcelain crucible and then weighed;
but this demands apparatus not always available, and some technical
skill. The simple demonstration of the copious precipitation is
instructive, and those of my readers who are practical chemists, but
have not yet applied this test to such wines, will be astonished, as I
was, at the amount of precipitation.

I may add that my first experience was upon a sample of dry sherry,
brought to me by a friend who bought his wine of a respectable
wine-merchant, and paid a high price for it, but found that it
disagreed with him; it contained an alarming quantity of free sulphuric
acid. Since that I have tested scores of samples, some of the finest in
the market, sent to me by a conscientious importer as the best he could
obtain, and these contained sulphate of potash instead of bitartrate.

My friend, the sherry-merchant, could not account for it, though he
was most anxious to do so. This was about three years ago. By dint of
inquiry and cross-examination of experts in the wine trade, I have,
I believe, discovered the origin of the sulphate of potash that is
contained in the samples that the British wine-merchant sells as he
buys, and conscientiously believes to be pure.

At first I hunted up all the information I could obtain from books
concerning the manufacture of sherry; learned that the grapes are
usually sprinkled with a little powdered sulphur as they are placed
in the vats prior to stamping. The quantity thus added, however, is
quite insufficient to account for the sulphur compounds in the samples
of wine I examined. Another source is described in the books—that
from sulphuring the casks. This process consists simply of burning
sulphur inside a partially-filled or empty cask, until the exhaustion
of free oxygen and its replacement by sulphurous acid renders further
combustion impossible. The cask is then filled with the wine. This
would add a little of sulphurous acid, but still not sufficient.

Then comes the ‘plastering,’ or intentional addition of gypsum (plaster
of Paris). This, if largely carried out, is sufficient to explain
the complete conversion of the natural tartrates into sulphates of
potash, and such plastering is admitted to be an adulteration or
sophistication. I obtained samples of sherry from a reliable source,
which I have no doubt the shipper honestly believed to have been
subjected to no such deliberate plastering; still,from these came down
an extravagantly excessive precipitate on the addition of chloride of
barium solution.

I afterwards learned that ‘Spanish earth’ was used in the fining. Why
Spanish earth in preference to isinglass or white of egg, which are
quite unobjectionable and very efficient? To this question I could
get no satisfactory answer directly, but learned vaguely that the
fining produced by the white of egg, though complete at the time, was
not permanent, while that effected by Spanish earth, containing much
sulphate of lime, is permanent. The brilliancy thus obtained is not
lost by age or variations of temperature, and the dry sherries thus
cooked are preferred by English wine-drinkers.

The sulphate of potash which, by the action of sulphate of lime, is
made to replace bitartrate, is so readily soluble that neither changes
of temperature nor increase of alcohol, due to further fermentation,
will throw it down; and thus the wine-maker and wine-merchant,
without any guilty intent, and ignorant of what he is really doing,
sophisticates the wine, alters its essential composition, and adds
an impurity in doing what he supposes to be a mere clarification or
removal of impurities.

I have heard of genuine sherries being returned as bad to the shipper
because they were genuine, and had been fined without sophistication.

My own experience of genuine wines in wine-growing countries teaches me
that such wines are rarely brilliant; and the variations of solubility
of the natural salt of the grape, which I have already explained, shows
why this is the case. If the drinkers of sherry and other white and
golden wines would cease to demand the conventional brilliancy, they
would soon be supplied with the genuine article, which really costs the
wine-merchant less than the cooked product they now insist upon having.
This foolish demand of his customers merely gives him a large amount of
unnecessary trouble and annoyance.

So far, the wine-merchant; but how about the consumer? Simply that
the substitution of a mineral acid—the sulphuric for a vegetable acid
(the tartaric)—supplies him with a precipitant of lithic acid in his
own body; that is, provides him with the source of gout, rheumatism,
gravel, stone, &c., with which _English_ wine-drinkers are proverbially

I am the more urgent in propounding this view of the subject, because I
see plainly that not only the patients, but too commonly their medical
advisers, do not understand it. When I was in the midst of these
experiments I called upon a clerical neighbour, and found him in his
study with his foot on a pillow, and groaning with gout. A decanter of
pale, choice, very dry sherry was on the table. He poured out a glass
for me and another for himself. I tasted it, and then perpetrated the
unheard-of rudeness of denouncing the wine for which my host had paid
so high a price. He knew a little chemistry, and I accordingly went
home forthwith, brought back some chloride of barium, added it to his
choice sherry, and showed him a precipitate which made him shudder. He
drank no more dry sherry, and has had no serious relapse of gout.

In this case his medical adviser prohibited port and advised dry sherry.

The following from ‘The Brewer, Distiller, and Wine Manufacturer,’ by
John Gardner (Churchill’s ‘Technological Handbooks,’ 1883), supports my
view of the position of the wine-maker and wine-merchant. ‘Dupré and
Thudicum have shown by experiment that this practice of plastering, as
it is called, also reduces the yield of the liquid, as a considerable
part of the wine mechanically combines with the gypsum and is lost.’
When an adulteration—justly so-called—is practised, the object is
to enable the perpetrator to obtain an increased profit on selling
the commodity at a given price. In this case an opposite result is
obtained. The gypsum, or Spanish earth, is used in considerable
quantity, and leaves a bulky residuum, which carries away some of the
wine with it, and thus increases the cost to the seller of the saleable

Having referred so often to dry wines, I should explain the chemistry
of this so-called dryness. The fermentation of wine is the result
of a vegetable growth, that of the yeast, a microscopic fungus
(_Penicillium glaucum_). The must, or juice of the grape, obtains the
germ spontaneously—probably from the atmosphere. Two distinct effects
are produced by this fermentation or growth of fungus: first, the sugar
of the must is converted into alcohol; second, more or less of the
albuminous or nitrogenous matter of the must is consumed as food by
the fungus. If uninterrupted, this fermentation goes on either until
the supply of sufficient sugar is stopped, or until the supply of
sufficient albuminous matter is stopped. The relative proportions of
these determine which of the two shall be first exhausted.

If the sugar is exhausted before the nitrogenous food of the fungus,
a dry wine is produced; if the nitrogenous food is first consumed,
the remaining unfermented sugar produces a sweet wine. If the sugar
is greatly in excess, a _vin de liqueur_ is the result, such as the
Frontignac, Lunel, Rivesaltes, &c., made from the muscat grape.

The varieties of grape are very numerous. Rusby, in his ‘Visit to the
Vineyards of Spain and France,’ gives a list of 570 varieties, and, as
far back as 1827, Cavalow enumerated more than 1,500 different wines in
France alone.

From the above it will be understood that, _cæteris paribus_, the
poorer the grape the drier the wine; or that a given variety of grape
will yield a drier wine if grown where it ripens imperfectly, than if
grown in a warmer climate. But the quantity of wine obtainable from a
given acreage in the cooler climate is less than where the sun is more
effective, and thus the _naturally_ dry wines cost more to produce than
the _naturally_ sweet wines.

The reader will understand, from what has already been stated
concerning the origin of the difference between natural sweet wines and
natural dry wines, that the conversion of either one into the other
is not a difficult problem. Wine is a fashionable beverage in this
country, and fashions fluctuate. These fluctuations are not accompanied
with a corresponding variation in the chemical composition of any
particular class of grapes, but somehow the wine produced therefrom
obeys the laws of supply and demand. For some years past the demand for
dry sherry has dominated in this country, though, as I am informed, the
weathercock of fashion is now on the turn.

One mode of satisfying this demand for dry wine is, of course, to make
it from a grape which has little sugar and much albuminous matter,
but in a given district this is not always possible. Another is to
gather the grapes before they are fully ripened, but this involves a
sacrifice in the yield of alcohol, and probably of flavour. Another
method, obvious enough to the chemist, is to add as much albuminous
or nitrogenous material as shall continue to feed the yeast fungus
until all, or nearly all, the sugar in the grape shall be converted
into alcohol, thus supplying strength and dryness (or salinity)
simultaneously. Should these be excessive, the remedy is simple and
cheap wherever water abounds. It should be noted that the quantity of
sugar naturally contained in the ripe grape varies from 10 to 30 per
cent.—a very large range. The quantity of alcohol varies proportionally
when the must is fermented to dryness. According to Pavy, ‘there are
dry sherries to be met with that are free from sugar,’ while in other
wines the quantity of remaining sugar amounts to as much as 20 per cent.

White of egg and gelatin are the most easily available and innocent
forms of nitrogenous material that may be used for sustaining or
renewing the fermentation of wines that are to be artificially dried.
My inquiries in the trade lead me to conclude that this is not
understood as well as it should be. Both white of egg and gelatin (in
the form of isinglass or otherwise) are freely used for fining, and
it is well enough known that wines that have been freely subjected to
such fining keep better and become drier with age, but I have never
yet met a wine-merchant who understood why, nor any sound explanation
of the fact in the trade literature. When thus added to the wine
already fermented, the effect is doubtless due to the promotion of a
slow, secondary fermentation. The bulk of the gelatin or albumen is
carried down with the sediment, but some remains in solution. There may
be some doubt as to the albumen thus remaining, but none concerning
the gelatin, which is freely soluble both in water and alcohol. The
truly scientific mode of applying this principle would be to add the
nitrogenous material to the must.

I dwell thus upon this because, if fashion insists so imperatively
upon dryness as to compel artificial drying, this method is the least
objectionable, being a close imitation of natural drying, almost
identical; while there are other methods of inducing fictitious dryness
that are mischievous adulterations.

Generally described, these consist in producing an imitation of the
natural salinity of the dry wine by the addition of factitious salts
and fortifying with alcohol. The sugar remains, but is disguised
thereby. It was a wine thus treated that first brought the subject
of the sulphates, already referred to, under my notice. It contained
a considerable quantity of sugar, but was not perceptibly sweet. It
was very strong and decidedly acid; contained free sulphuric acid and
alum, which, as all who have tasted it know, gives a peculiar sense of
dryness to the palate.

The sulphuring, plastering, and use of Spanish earth increase the
dryness of a given wine by adding mineral acid and mineral salts. In
a paper recently read before the French Academy by L. Magnier de la
Source (‘Comptes Rendus,’ vol. xcviii. page 110), the author states
that ‘plastering modifies the chemical characters of the colouring
matter of the wine, and not only does the calcium sulphate decompose
the potassium hydrogen tartrate (cream of tartar), with formation of
calcium tartrate, potassium sulphate, and free tartaric acid, but it
also decomposes the neutral organic compounds of potassium which exist
in the juice of the grape.’ I quote from abstract in ‘Journal of the
Chemical Society’ of May 1884.

In the French ‘Journal of Pharmaceutical Chemistry,’ vol. vi. pp.
118-123 (1882), is a paper, by P. Carles, in which the chemical and
hygienic results of plastering are discussed. His general conclusion
is, that the use of gypsum in clearing wines ‘renders them hurtful
as beverages;’ that the gypsum acts ‘on the potassium bitartrate in
the juice of the grape, forming calcium tartrate, tartaric acid, and
potassium sulphate, a large proportion of the last two bodies remaining
in the wine.’ Unplastered wines contain about two grammes of _free
acid_ per litre; after plastering, they contain ‘double or treble that
amount, and even more.’

A German chemist, Griessmayer, and more recently another, Kaiser, have
also studied this subject, and arrive at similar conclusions. Kaiser
analysed wines which were plastered by adding gypsum to the must, that
is to the juice before fermentation, and also samples in which the
gypsum was added to the ‘finished wine,’ _i.e._ for fining, so-called.
He found that ‘in the finished wine, by the addition of gypsum, the
tartaric acid is replaced by sulphuric acid, and there is a perceptible
increase in the calcium; the other constituents remain unaltered.’
His conclusion is that the plastering of wine should be called
adulteration, and treated accordingly, on the ground that the article
in question is thereby deprived of its characteristic constituents,
and others, not normally present, are introduced. This refers more
especially to the plastering or gypsum fining of finished wines.
(Biedermann’s ‘Centralblatt,’ 1881, pp. 632, 633.)

In the paper above named, by P. Carles, we are told that ‘owing to the
injurious nature of the impurities of plastered wines, endeavours have
been made to free them from these by a method called “deplastering,”
but the remedy proves worse than the defect.’ The samples analysed by
Carles contained barium salts, barium chloride having been used to
remove the sulphuric acid. In some cases excess of the barium salt was
found in the wine, and in others barium sulphate was held in suspension.

Closely following the abstract of this paper, in the ‘Journal of
the Chemical Society,’ is another from the French ‘Journal of
Pharmaceutical Chemistry,’ vol. v. pp. 581-3, to which I now refer,
by the way, for the instruction of claret-drinkers, who may not be
aware of the fact that the phylloxera destroyed all the claret grapes
in certain districts of France, without stopping the manufacture or
diminishing the export of claret itself. In this paper, by J. Lefort,
we are told, as a matter of course, that ‘owing to the ravages of the
phylloxera among the vines, substitutes for grape-juice are being
introduced for the manufacture of wines; of these, the author specially
condemns the use of beet-root sugar, since, during its fermentation,
besides ethyl alcohol and aldehyde, it yields propyl, butyl, and amyl
alcohols, which have been shown by Dujardin and Audigé to act as
poisons in very small quantities.’

In connection with this subject I may add that the French Government
carefully protects its own citizens by rigid inspection and analysis of
the wines offered for sale to French wine-drinkers; but does not feel
bound to expend its funds and energies in hampering commerce by severe
examination of the wines that are exported to ‘John Bull et son Île,’
especially as John Bull is known to have a robust constitution. Thus,
vast quantities of brilliantly coloured liquid, flavoured with orris
root, which would not be allowed to pass the barriers of Paris, but
must go somewhere, is drunk in England at a cost of four times as much
as the Frenchman pays for genuine grape-wine. The coloured concoction
being brighter, skilfully cooked, and duly labelled to imitate the
products of real or imaginary celebrated vineyards, is preferred by the
English _gourmet_ to anything that can be made from simple grape-juice.

I should add that a character somewhat similar to that of natural
dryness is obtained by mixing with the grape-juice wine a secondary
product, obtained by adding water to the _marc_ (_i.e._ the residue
of skins, &c., that remains after pressing out the must or juice);
a minimum of sugar is dissolved in the water, and this liquor is
fermented. The skins and seeds contain much tannic acid or astringent
matter, and this roughness imposes upon many wine-drinkers, provided
the price charged for the wine thus cheapened be sufficiently high.

Some years ago, while resident in Birmingham, an enterprising
manufacturing druggist consulted me on a practical difficulty which
he was unable to solve. He had succeeded in producing a very fine
claret (Château Digbeth, let us call it) by duly fortifying with silent
spirit a solution of cream of tartar, and flavouring this with a small
quantity of orris root. Tasted in the dark it was all that could be
desired for introducing a new industry to Birmingham; but the wine
was white, and every colouring material that he had tried producing
the required tint marred the flavour and bouquet of the pure Château
Digbeth. He might have used one of the magenta dyes, but as these were
prepared by boiling aniline over dry arsenic acid, and my Birmingham
friend was burdened with a conscience, he refrained from thus applying
one of the recent triumphs of chemical science.

This was previous to the invasion of France by the phylloxera. During
the early period of that visitation, French enterprise being more
powerfully stimulated and less scrupulous than that of Birmingham, made
use of the aniline dyes for colouring spurious claret to such an extent
that the French Government interfered, and a special test paper named
Œnokrine was invented by MM. Lainville and Roy, and sold in Paris for
the purpose of detecting falsely-coloured wines.

The mode of using the Œnokrine is as follows: ‘A slip of the paper is
steeped in pure wine for about five seconds, briskly shaken, in order
to remove excess of liquid, and then placed on a sheet of white paper
to serve as a standard. A second slip of the test-paper is then steeped
in the suspected wine in the same manner, and laid beside the former.
It is asserted that 1/100,000 of magenta is sufficient to give the
paper a violet shade, whilst a larger quantity produces a carmine red.
With genuine red wine the colour produced is a greyish blue, which
becomes lead-coloured on drying.’ I copy the above from the ‘Quarterly
Journal of Science’ of April 1877. The editor adds that the inventors
of this paper have discovered a method of removing the magenta from
wines without injuring their quality, ‘a fact of some importance, if it
be true that several hundred thousand hectolitres of wine sophisticated
with magenta are in the hands of the wine-merchants’ (a hectolitre is =
22 gallons).

Another simple test that was recommended at the time was to immerse
a small wisp of raw silk[19] in the suspected wine, keeping it there
at a boiling heat for a few minutes. Aniline colours dye the silk
permanently; the natural colour of the grape is easily washed out. I
find on referring to the ‘Chemical News,’ the ‘Journal of the Chemical
Society,’ the ‘Comptes Rendus,’ and other scientific periodicals of
the period of the phylloxera plague, such a multitude of methods for
testing false colouring materials that I give up in despair my original
intention of describing them in detail. It would demand far more space
than the subject deserves. I will, however, just name a few of the
more harmless colouring adulterants that are stated to have been used,
and for which special tests have been devised by French and German

Beet-root, peach-wood, elderberries, mulberries, log-wood,
privet-berries, litmus, ammoniacal cochineal, Fernambucca-wood,
phytolacca, burnt sugar, extract of rhatany, bilberries; ‘jerupiga’ or
‘geropiga,’ a compound of elder juice, brown sugar, grape juice, and
crude Portuguese brandy’ (for choice tawny port); ‘tincture of saffron,
turmeric, or safflower’ (for golden sherry); red poppies, mallow
flowers, &c.

Those of my readers who have done anything in practical chemistry
are well acquainted with blue and red litmus, and the general fact
that such vegetable colours change from blue to red when exposed to
an acid, and return to blue when the acid is overcome by an alkali.
The colouring matter of the grape is one of these. Mulder and Maumené
have given it the name of _œnocyan_ or _wine-blue_, as its colour,
when neutral, is blue; the red colour of genuine wines is due to the
presence of tartaric and acetic acid acting upon the wine-blue. There
are a few purple wines, their colour being due to unusual absence of
acid. The original vintage which gave celebrity to port wine is an
example of this.

The bouquet of wine is usually described as due to the presence
of ether, _œnanthic_ ether, which is naturally formed during the
fermentation of grape juice, and is itself a variable mixture of other
ethers, such as caprilic, caproic, &c. The oil of the seed of the grape
contributes to the bouquet. The fancy values of fancy wines are largely
due, or more properly speaking _were_ largely due, to peculiarities
of bouquet. These peculiar wines became costly because their supply
was limited, only a certain vineyard, in some cases of very small
area, producing the whole crop of the fancy article. The high price
once established, and the demand far exceeding the possibilities of
supply from the original source, other and resembling wines are now
sold under the name of the celebrated locality with the bouquet or _a_
bouquet artificially introduced. It has thus come about in the ordinary
course of business that the dearest wines of the choicest brands are
those which are the most likely to be sophisticated. The flavouring of
wine, the imparting of delicate bouquet, is a high art, and is costly.
It is only upon high-priced wines that such costly operations can be
practised. Simple ordinary grape-juice—as I have already stated—is
so cheap when and where its quality is the highest, _i.e._ in good
seasons and suitable climates, that adulteration with anything but
water renders the adulterated product more costly than the genuine.
When there is a good vintage it does not pay even to add sugar and
water to the marc or residue, and press this a second time. It is more
profitable to use it for making inferior brandy, or wine oil, _huile de
marc_, or even for fodder or manure.

This, however, only applies where the demand is for simple genuine
wine, a demand almost unknown in England, where connoisseurs abound who
pass their glasses horizontally under their noses, hold them up to the
light to look for beeswings and absurd transparency, knowingly examine
the brand on the cork, and otherwise offer themselves as willing dupes
to be pecuniarily immolated on the great high altar of the holy shrine
of costly humbug.

Some years ago I was at Frankfort, on my way to the Tyrol and Venice,
and there saw, at a few paces before me, an unquestionable Englishman,
with an ill-slung knapsack. I spoke to him, earned his gratitude at
once by showing him how to dispense with that knapsack abomination,
the breast-strap. We chummed, and put up at a genuine German hostelry
of my selection, the Gasthaus zum Schwanen. Here we supped with a
multitude of natives, to the great amusement of my new friend, who
had hitherto halted at hotels devised for Englishmen. The handmaiden
served us with wine in tumblers, and we both pronounced it excellent.
My new friend was enthusiastic; the bouquet was superior to anything
he had ever met with before, and if it could only be fined—it was
not by any means bright—it would be invaluable. He then took me into
his confidence. He was in the wine trade, assisting in his father’s
business; the ‘governor’ had told him to look out in the course of his
travels, as there were obscure vineyards here and there producing very
choice wines that might be contracted for at very low prices. This was
one of them; here was good business. If I would help him to learn all
about it, presentation cases of wine should be poured upon me for ever

I accordingly asked the handmaiden, ‘Was für Wein?’ &c. Her answer
was, ‘Apfel-Wein.’ She was frightened at my burst of laughter, and the
young wine-merchant also imagined that he had made acquaintance with a
lunatic, until I translated the answer, and told him that we had been
drinking cider. We called for more, and _then_ recognised the ‘curious’
bouquet at once.

The manufacture of bouquets has made great progress of late, and they
are much cheaper than formerly. Their chief source is coal-tar, the
refuse from gas-works. That most easily produced is the essence of
bitter almonds, which supplies a ‘nutty’ flavour and bouquet. Anybody
may make it by simply adding benzol (the most volatile portion of the
coal-tar), in small portions at a time, to warm, fuming nitric acid.
On cooling and diluting the mixture, a yellow oil, which solidifies
at a little above the freezing point of water, is formed. It may be
purified by washing first with water, and then with a weak solution of
carbonate of soda to remove the excess of acid. It is now largely used
in cookery as essence of bitter almonds. Its old perfumery name was
Essence of Mirbane.

By more elaborate operations on the coal-tar product, a number of other
essences and bouquets of curiously imitative character are produced.
One of the most familiar of these is the essence of jargonelle pears,
which flavours the ‘pear drops’ of the confectioner so cunningly;
another is raspberry flavour, by the aid of which a mixture of
fig-seeds and apple-pulp, duly coloured, may be converted into a
raspberry jam that would deceive our Prime Minister. I do not say that
it now is so used (though I believe it has been), for the simple reason
that wholesale jam-makers now grow their own fruit so cheaply that the
genuine article costs no more than the sham. Raspberries can be grown
and gathered at a cost of about twopence per pound.

With wine at 60_s._ to 100_s._ per dozen the case is different. The
price leaves an ample margin for the conversion of ‘Italian reds,’
Catalans, and other sound ordinary wines into any fancy brands that
may happen to be in fashion. Such being the case, the mere fact that
certain emperors or potentates have bought up the whole produce of the
château that is named on the labels does not interfere with the market
supply, which is strictly regulated by the demand.[20]

Visiting a friend in the trade, he offered me a glass of the wine that
he drank himself when at home, and supplied to his own family. He asked
my opinion of it. I replied that I thought it was genuine grape-juice,
resembling that which I had been accustomed to drink at country inns in
the Côte d’Or (Burgundy) and in Italy. He told me that he imported it
directly from a district near to that I first named, and could supply
it at 12_s._ per dozen with a fair profit. Afterwards, when calling at
his place of business in the West-end, he told me that one of his best
customers had just been tasting the various samples of dinner claret
then remaining on the table, some of them expensive, and that he had
chosen the same as I had, but what was my friend to do? Had he quoted
12_s._ per dozen, he would have lost one of his best customers, and
sacrificed his reputation as a high-class wine-merchant; therefore he
quoted 54_s._, and both buyer and seller were perfectly satisfied: the
wine-merchant made a large profit, and the customer obtained what he
demanded—a good wine at a ‘respectable price.’ He could not insult his
friends by putting cheap 12_s._ trash on _his_ table.

Here arises an ethical question. Was the wine-merchant justified in
making this charge under the circumstances; or, otherwise stated,
who was to blame for the crookedness of the transaction? I say the
customer; my verdict is, ‘Sarve him right!’

In reference to wines, and still more to cigars, and some other useless
luxuries, the typical Englishman is a victim to a prevalent commercial
superstition. He blindly assumes that price must necessarily represent
quality, and therefore shuts his eyes and opens his mouth to swallow
anything with complete satisfaction, provided that he pays a good
price for it at a respectable establishment, _i.e._ one where only
high-priced articles are sold.

If any reader thinks I speak too strongly, let him ascertain the market
price per lb. of the best Havanna tobacco leaves where they are grown,
also the cost of twisting them into cigar shape (a skilful workwoman
can make a thousand in a day), then add to the sum of these the cost of
packing, carriage, and duty. He will be rather astonished at the result
of this arithmetical problem.

If these things were necessaries of life, or contributed in any degree
or manner to human welfare, I should protest indignantly; but seeing
what they are and what they do, I rather rejoice at the limitation of
consumption effected by their fancy prices.


[19] In repeating these experiments I find that the best form of silk
is that which the Coventry dyers technically call ‘boiled silk,’ _i.e._
raw silk boiled in potash to remove its resinous varnish. In this state
the aniline dyes attach themselves to the fibre very readily and firmly.

[20] The following is from _Knowledge_ of August 15, 1884. It is
editorial, not mine, though I have heard these ‘Spirit Flavours’ spoken
of by experts as ordinary merchandise. The Hungarian wine oil is one of
them: ‘I have just obtained what is expressively known as “a wrinkle”
from a wholesale price-list of a distiller which has fallen (no matter
how) into my hands. That it was never intended to be seen by any
mortal eyes outside of “the trade” goes without saying. In this highly
instructive document I find, under the head of “Spirit Flavours,”
“the attention of consumers in Australia and India” (we needn’t say
anything about England) “is particularly called to these very useful
and excellent flavours. One pound of either of these essences to
fifty gallons of plain spirit” (let us suppose potato spirit) “will
make immediately a fine brandy or old tom, &c., without the use of a
still.—See _Lancet_ report.” This is followed by a list of prices of
these “flavours,” and then follows a similar one of “Wine Aromas.”
A cheerful look-out all this presents, upon my word! The confiding
traveller calls at his inn for some old brandy, and they make it in
the bar while he is waiting. He orders a pint of claret or port, and
straightway he is served with some that has been two and a half minutes
in bottle! After the perusal of this price-list, I have come to the
conclusion that in the case of no articles of consumption whatever is
the motto _Caveat emptor_ more needful to be attended to than in that
of (so called) wines and spirits.’



IN my introductory chapter I said, ‘The fact that we use the digestive
and nutrient apparatus of sheep, oxen, &c., for the preparation of our
food is merely a transitory barbarism, to be ultimately superseded when
my present subject is sufficiently understood and applied to enable us
to prepare the constituents of the vegetable kingdom to be as easily
assimilated as the prepared grass which we call beef and mutton.’

This sentence, when it appeared in ‘Knowledge,’ brought me in
communication with a very earnest body of men and women, who at
considerable social inconvenience are abstaining from flesh food,
and doing it purely on principle. Some people sneer at them, call
them ‘crotchetty,’ ‘faddy,’ &c., but, for my own part, I have a great
respect for crotchetty people, having learned long ago that every first
great step that has ever been taken in the path of human progress was
denounced as a crotchet by those it was leaving behind. This respect is
quite apart from the consideration of whether I agree or disagree with
the crotchets themselves.

I therefore willingly respond to the request that I should explain more
fully my view of this subject. The fact that there are now in London
eight exclusively vegetarian restaurants, and all of them flourishing,
shows that it is one of wide interest.

At the outset it is necessary to brush aside certain false issues that
are commonly raised in discussing this subject. The question is not
whether we are herbivorous or carnivorous animals. It is perfectly
certain that we are neither. The carnivora feed on flesh _alone_,
and eat that flesh raw. Nobody proposes that we should do this. The
herbivora eat raw grass. Nobody suggests that we should follow _their_

It is perfectly clear that man cannot be classed with the carnivorous
animals, nor the herbivorous animals, nor with the graminivorous
animals. His teeth are not constructed for munching and grinding raw
grain, nor his digestive organs for assimilating such grain in this

He is not even to be classed with the omnivorous animals. He stands
apart from all as THE COOKING ANIMAL.

It is true that there was a time when our ancestors ate raw flesh,
including that of each other.

In the limestone caverns of this and other European countries we find
human bones gnawed by human teeth, and split open by flint implements
for the evident purpose of extracting the marrow, according to the
domestic economy of the period.

The shell mounds that these prehistoric bipeds have left behind, show
that mussels, oysters, and other mollusca were also eaten raw, and
they doubtless varied the menu with snails, slugs, and worms, as the
remaining Australian savages still do. Besides these they probably
included roots, succulent plants, nuts, and such fruit as then existed.

There are many among us who are very proud of their ancient lineage,
and who think it honourable to go back as far as possible and to
maintain the customs of their forefathers; but they all seem to
draw a line somewhere, none desiring to go as far back as to their
inter-glacial troglodytic ancestors, and, therefore, I need not discuss
the desirability of restoring their dietary.

All human beings became cooks as soon as they learned how to make a
fire, and have all continued to be cooks ever since.

We should, therefore, look at this vegetarian question from the
point of view of prepared food, which excludes nearly all comparison
with the food of the brute creation. I say ‘nearly all,’ because
there is one case in which all the animals that approach the nearest
to ourselves—the mammalia—are provided naturally with a specially
prepared food, viz. the mother’s milk. The composition of this
preparation appears to me to throw more light than anything else upon
this vegetarian controversy, and yet it seems to have been entirely

The milk prepared for the young of the different animals in the
laboratory or kitchen of Nature is surely adapted to their structure
as regards natural food requirements. Without assuming that the human
dietetic requirements are identical with either of the other mammals,
we may learn something concerning our approximation to one class or
another by comparing the composition of human milk with that of the
animals in question.

I find ready to hand in Dr. Miller’s ‘Chemistry’, vol. iii., a
comparative statement of the mean of several analyses of the milk of
woman, cow, goat, ass, sheep, and bitch. The latter is a moderately
carnivorous animal, nearly approaching the omnivorous character
commonly ascribed to man. The following is the statement:

  |                        |Woman|  Cow | Goat |  Ass | Sheep | Bitch |
  | Water                  | 88·6| 87·4 | 82·0 | 90·5 |  85·6 |  66·3 |
  | Fat                    |  2·6|  4·0 |  4·5 |  1·4 |   4·5 |  14·8 |
  | Sugar and soluble salts|  4·9|  5·0 |  4·5 |  6·4 |   4·2 |   2·9 |
  | Nitrogenous compounds  |     |      |      |      |       |       |
  | and insoluble salts    |  3·9|  3·6 |  9·0 |  1·7 |   5·7 |  16·0 |

According to this it is quite evident that Nature regards our food
requirements as approaching much nearer to the herbivora than to the
carnivora, and has provided for us accordingly.

If we are to begin the building-up of our bodies on a food more nearly
resembling that of the herbivora than that of the carnivora, it is only
reasonable to assume that we should continue on the same principle.

The particulars of the difference are instructive. The food which
Nature provides for the human infant differs from that provided for the
young carnivorous animal, just in the same way as flesh food differs
from the cultivated and cooked vegetables and fruit within easy reach
of man.

These contain less fat, less nitrogenous matter, more water, and more
sugar (or starch, which becomes sugar during digestion) than animal

Those who advocate the use of flesh food usually do so on the ground
that it is more nutritious, contains more nitrogenous material and more
fat than vegetable food. So much the worse for the human being, says
Nature, when _she_ prepares the food.

But as a matter of practical fact there are no flesh-eaters among us,
none who avail themselves of this higher proportion of albuminoids and
fat. We all practically admit every day in eating our ordinary English
dinner, that this excess of nitrogenous matter and fat is bad; we do
so by mixing the meat with that particular vegetable which contains
an excess of the carbo-hydrates (starch) with the smallest available
quantity of albuminoids and fat. The slice of meat, diluted with the
lump of potato, brings the whole down to about the average composition
of a fairly-arranged vegetarian repast. When I speak of a vegetarian
repast, I do not mean mere cabbages and potatoes, but properly
selected, well cooked, nutritious vegetable food. As an example, I
will take Count Rumford’s No. 1 soup, already described, without the
bread, and in like manner take beef and potatoes without bread. Taking
original weights, and assuming that the lump of potato weighed the same
as the slice of meat, we get the following composition according to the
table given by Pavy, page 410:

    |                | Water | Albumen | Starch | Sugar |  Fat | Salts |
    |                +-------+---------+--------+-------+------+-------+
    | Lean beef      | 72·00 |  19·30  |   --   |   --  | 3·60 |  5·10 |
    | Potatoes       | 75·00 |   2·10  |  18·80 |  3·20 | 0·20 |  0·70 |
    |                +-------+---------+--------+-------+------+-------+
    |                |147·00 |  21·40  |  18·80 |  3·20 | 3·80 |  5·80 |
    |                +-------+---------+--------+-------+------+-------+
    |Mean composition|       |         |        |       |      |       |
    | of mixture     | 73·50 |  10·70  |   9·40 |  1·60 | 1·90 |  2·90 |

Rumford’s soup (without the bread afterwards added) was composed
of equal measures of peas and pearl barley, or barley meal, and
nearly equal weights. Their percentage composition as stated in the
above-named table is as follows:

    |                | Water | Albumen | Starch | Sugar | Fat  | Salts |
    |                +-------+---------+--------+-------+------+-------+
    | Peas           | 15·00 |  23·00  |  55·40 |  2·00 | 2·10 |  2·50 |
    | Barley meal    | 15·00 |   6·30  |  69·40 |  4·90 | 2·40 |  2·00 |
    |                +-------+---------+--------+-------+------+-------+
    |                | 30·00 |  29·30  | 134·80 |  6·90 | 4·50 |  4·50 |
    |                +-------+---------+--------+-------+------+-------+
    |Mean composition|       |         |        |       |      |       |
    | of mixture     | 15·00 |  14·65  |  62·40 |  3·45 | 2·25 |  2·25 |

Here, then, in 100 parts of the material of Rumford’s halfpenny dinner,
as compared with the ‘mixed diet,’ we have 40 per cent. more of
nitrogenous food, more than six and a half times as much carbo-hydrate
in the form of starch, more than double the quantity of sugar, about
17 per cent. more of fat, and only a little less of salts (supplied by
the salt which Rumford added). Thus the ‘mixed diet’ falls short in all
the costly constituents, and only excels by its abundance of very cheap

This analysis supplies the explanation of what has puzzled many
inquirers, and encouraged some sneerers at this work of the great
scientific philanthropist, viz. that he allowed less than five ounces
of solids for each man’s dinner. He did so and found it sufficient,
because he was supplying far more nutritious material than beef and
potatoes; his five ounces was more satisfactory than a pound of beef
and potatoes, three-fourths of which is water, for which water John
Bull blindly pays a shilling or more per pound when he buys his prime

Rumford added the water at pump cost, and, by long boiling, caused
some of it to unite with the solid materials (by the hydration I have
described), and then served the combination in the form of porridge,
raising each portion to 19¾ ounces.

I might multiply such examples to prove the fallacy of the prevailing
notions concerning the nutritive value of the ‘mixed diet,’ a fallacy
which is merely an inherited epidemic, a baseless physical superstition.

I will, however, just add one more example for comparison—viz. the
Highlander’s porridge. The following is the composition of oatmeal—also
from Pavy’s table:

    Water      15·00
    Albumen    12·60
    Starch     58·40
    Sugar       5·40
    Fat         5·60
    Salts       3·00

Compare this with the beef and potatoes above, and it will be seen that
it is _superior in every item excepting the water_. One hundred ounces
of oatmeal contain 1·9 ounce more of albumen than is contained in 100
ounces of beef and potatoes mixed in equal proportions. The 100 ounces
of oatmeal supplies 39·6 ounces more of carbo-hydrate (starch). The 100
ounces of oatmeal is superior to the extent of 3·8 ounces in sugar. It
has the advantage by 3·7 ounces in fat, and 0·9 ounce in salts, but
the mixed diet beats the oatmeal by containing 58½ ounces more water;
nearly four times as much. This deficiency is readily supplied in the

These figures explain a puzzle that may have suggested itself to some
of my thoughtful readers—viz. the smallness of the quantity of dry
oatmeal that is used in making a large portion of porridge. If we
could, in like manner, see our portion of beef or mutton and potatoes
reduced to dryness, the smallness of the quantity of actually solid
food required for a meal would be similarly manifest. An alderman’s
banquet in this condition would barely fill a breakfast cup.

I cannot at all agree with those of my vegetarian friends who denounce
flesh-meat as a prolific source of disease, as inflaming the passions,
and generally demoralising. Neither am I at all disposed to make a
religion of either eating, or drinking, or abstaining. There are
certain albuminoids, certain carbo-hydrates, certain hydro-carbons,
and certain salts demanded for our sustenance. Excepting in fruit,
these are not supplied by nature in a fit condition for _our_ use. They
must be prepared. Whether we do _all_ the preparation in the kitchen
by bringing the produce of the earth directly there, or whether, on
account of our ignorance and incapacity as cooks, we pass our food
through the stomach, intestines, blood-vessels, &c., of sheep and
oxen, as a substitute for the first stages of scientific cookery, the
result is about the same as regards the dietic result.

Flesh feeding is a nasty practice, but I see no grounds for denouncing
it as physiologically injurious, excepting in the fact that the
liability to gout, rheumatism, and neuralgia is increased by it.

In my youthful days I was on friendly terms with a sheep that belonged
to a butcher in Jermyn Street. This animal, for some reason, had been
spared in its lamb-hood, and was reared as the butcher’s pet. It was
well-known in St. James’s by following the butcher’s men through the
streets like a dog. I have seen this sheep steal mutton-chops and
devour them raw. It preferred beef or mutton to grass. It enjoyed
robust health, and was by no means ferocious.

It was merely a disgusting animal, with excessively perverted appetite;
a perversion that supplies very suggestive material for human

My own experiments on myself, and the multitude of other experiments
that I am daily witnessing among men of all occupations who have cast
aside flesh food after many years of mixed diet, prove incontestably
that flesh food is quite unnecessary; and also that men and women who
emulate the aforesaid sheep to the mild extent of consuming daily
about two ounces of animal tissue combined with six ounces of water,
and dilute this with such weak vegetable food as the potato, are not
measurably altered thereby so far as physical health is concerned.[21]

On economical grounds, however, the difference is enormous. If all
Englishmen were vegetarians and fish-eaters, the whole aspect of the
country would be changed. It would be a land of gardens and orchards,
instead of gradually reverting to prairie grazing-ground as at present.
The unemployed miserables of our great towns, the inhabitants of our
union workhouses, and all our rogues and vagabonds, would find ample
and suitable employment in agriculture. Every acre of land would
require three or four times as much labour as at present, and feed five
or six times as many people.

No sentimental exaggeration is demanded for the recommendation of such
a reform as this.


[21] Since the above was written I have met with some alarming
revelations concerning the increasing prevalence of cancer, which, if
confirmed, will force me to withdraw this conclusion. This horrible
disease has increased in England with increase of prosperity—with
increase of luxury in feeding—which in this country means more flesh
food. In the ten years from 1850 to 1860, the deaths from cancer had
increased by 2,000; from 1860 to 1870 the increase was 2,400; from 1870
to 1880 it reached 3,200, above the preceding ten years. The proportion
of deaths is far higher among the well-to-do classes than among the
poorer classes. It seems to be the one disease that increases with
improved general sanitary conditions. The evidence is not yet complete,
but as far as it goes it points most ominously to a direct connection
between cancer and excessive flesh feeding among people of sedentary
habits. The most abundant victims appear to be women who eat much meat
and take but little out-of-door exercise.



A FEW years ago the ‘farmers’ friends’ were very sanguine on the
subject of using malt as cattle food. At agricultural meetings
throughout the country the iniquitous malt-tax was eloquently denounced
because it stood in the way of this great fodder reform. Then the
malt-tax was repealed, and forthwith the subject fell out of hearing.
Why was this?

The idea of malt feeding was theoretically sound. By the malting of
barley or other grain its diastase is made to act upon its insoluble
starch, and to convert this more or less completely into soluble
dextrin, a change which is absolutely necessary as a part of the
business of digestion. Therefore, if you feed cattle on malted grain
instead of raw grain, you supply them with a food so prepared that a
part of the business of digestion is already done for them, and their
nutrition is thereby advanced.

From what I am able to learn, the reason why this hopeful theory has
not been carried out is simply that it does not ‘pay.’ The advantage in
fattening the cattle is not sufficient to remunerate the farmers for
the extra cost of the malted food.

This may be the case with oxen, but it does not follow that it should
be the same with human beings. Cattle feed on grass, mangold-wurzels,
&c., in their raw state, but we cannot; and, as I have already shown,
we are not graminivorous in the manner they are; we cannot digest raw
wheat, barley, oats, or maize.

We cannot do this because we are not supplied with such effective
natural grinding apparatus as they have in their mouths, and, further,
because we have a much smaller supply of saliva and a shorter
alimentary canal.

We can easily supply our natural deficiencies in the matter of
grinding, and do so by means of our flour mills, but at first thought
the idea of finding an artificial representative of the saliva of oxen
does not recommend itself. When, however, it is understood that the
chief active principle of the saliva so closely resembles the diastase
of malt that it has received the name of ‘animal diastase,’ and is
probably the same compound, the aspect of the problem changes.

Not only is this the case with the secretion from the glands
surrounding the mouth, but the pancreas which is concerned in a later
stage of digestion is a gland so similar to the salivary glands that
in ordinary cookery both are dressed and served as ‘sweetbreads;’ the
‘pancreatic juice’ is a liquid closely resembling saliva, and contains
a similar diastase, or substance that converts starch into dextrin, and
from dextrin to sugar. Lehmann says, ‘It is now indubitably established
that the pancreatic juice possesses this sugar-forming power in a far
higher degree than the saliva.’

Besides this, there is another sugar-forming secretion, the ‘intestinal
juice,’ which operates on the starch of the food as it passes along the
intestinal canal.

This being the case, we should, in exercising our privilege as cooking
animals, be able to assist the digestive functions of the saliva, the
pancreatic and intestinal secretions, just as we help our teeth by the
flour mill, and the means of doing this is offered by the diastase of

In accordance with this reasoning I have made some experiments on
a variety of our common vegetable foods, by simply raising them—in
contact with water—to the temperature most favourable to the converting
action of diastase (140° to 150° Fahrenheit), and then adding a little
malt extract or malt flour.

This extract may be purchased ready made, or prepared by soaking
crushed or ground malt in warm water, leaving it for an hour or two or
longer, and then pressing out the liquid.

I find that oatmeal-porridge when thus treated is thinned by the
conversion of the bulk of its insoluble starch into soluble dextrin;
that boiled rice is similarly thinned; that a stiff jelly of arrowroot
is at once rendered watery, and its conversion into dextrin is
demonstrated by its altered action when a solution of iodine is added
to it. It no longer becomes suddenly of a deep blue colour as when it
was starch.

Sago and tapioca are similarly changed, but not so completely as
arrowroot. This is evidently because they contain a little nitrogenous
matter and cellulose, which, when stirred, give a milkiness to the
otherwise clear and limpid solution of dextrin.

Pease-pudding when thus treated behaves very instructively. Instead of
remaining as a fairly uniform paste, it partially separates into paste
and clear liquid, the paste being the cellulose and vegetable casein,
the liquid a solution of the dextrin or converted starch.

Mashed turnips, carrots, potatoes, &c., behave similarly, the general
results showing that so far as starch is concerned there is no
practical difficulty in obtaining a conversion of the starch into
dextrin by means of a very small quantity of maltose.

Hasty pudding made of boiled flour is similarly altered. Generally
speaking, the degree of visible alteration is proportionate to the
amount of starch, but the more intimately it is mixed with the
cellulose, the more slowly the change occurs.

I have made malt-porridge by using malt flour instead of oatmeal. I
found it rather too sweet, but on mixing about one part of malt flour
with four to eight parts of oatmeal, an excellent and easily digestible
porridge is obtained, and one which I strongly recommend as a most
valuable food for strong people and invalids, children and adults.

Further details of these experiments would be tedious, and are not
necessary, as they display no chemical changes that are new to science,
and the practical results may be briefly stated without such details,
as follows.

I recommend, first, the production of malt flour by grinding and
sifting malted wheat, malted barley, or malted oats, or all of these,
and the retailing of this at its fair value as a staple article of
food. Every shopkeeper who sells flour or meal of any kind should sell

Secondly, that this malted flour, or the extract made from it as above
described, be mixed with the ordinary flour used in making pastry,
biscuits, bread, &c.,[22] and with all kinds of porridge, pastry,
pea-soup, and other farinaceous preparations, and that when these are
 cooked they should be
slowly heated at first, in order that the maltose may act upon the
starch at its most favourable temperature (140° to 150° Fahr.).

Thirdly, when practicable, such preparations as porridge, pea-soup,
pastry, &c., should be prepared by first cooking them in the usual
manner, then stirring the malt meal or malt extract into them, and
allowing the mixture to remain for some time. This time may vary
from a few minutes to several hours or days—the longer the better.
I have proved by experiments on boiled rice, oatmeal-porridge,
pease-pudding, &c., that complete conversion may thus be effected. When
the temperature of 140° to 150° is carefully obtained, the work of
conversion is done in half an hour or less. At 212° it is arrested. At
temperatures below 140°, it proceeds with a slowness varying with the
depression of temperature. The most rapid result is obtained by first
cooking the food as above, then reducing the temperature to 150°, and
adding the malt flour or malt extract, and maintaining the temperature
for a short time. The advantage of previous cooking is due to the
preliminary breaking-up and hydration of the starch granules.

Fourthly, besides the malt meal or malt flour, I recommend the
manufacture of what I may call ‘pearl malt,’ that is, malt treated as
barley is treated in the manufacture of pearl barley. This pearl malt
may be largely used in soups, puddings, and for other purposes evident
to the practical cook. It may be found preferable to the malt flour for
some of the above-named purposes, especially for making a _purée_ like
Rumford’s soup.

I strongly recommend such a soup to vegetarians—_i.e._ the Rumford soup
No. 1, already described, but with the admixture of a little pearl malt
with the pearl barley (or malt flour failing the pearl malt). A small
proportion of malt (one-twentieth, for example) has a considerable
effect, but a larger amount is desirable. In all cases this quantity
may be regulated by experience and according to whether a decided malt
flavour is or is not preferred.

I have not yet met with any malted maize commercially prepared, but my
experiments on a small scale show that it is a very desirable product.

As regards the action of vegetable diastase on cellulose, whether it
is capable of breaking it up or effecting its hydration and conversion
into digestible sugar, I am not yet able to speak positively, but the
following facts are promising.

I treated sago, tapioca, and rice with the maltose as above, and found
that at a temperature of 140° to 150° all the starch disappears in
about half an hour, as proved by the iodine test. Still the liquid was
not clear: flocculi of cellulose, &c., were suspended in it. I kept
this on the top of a stove several days, where the temperature of the
liquid varied from 100° to 180° while the fire was burning, but fell to
that of the atmosphere during the night. The quantity of the insoluble
matter considerably diminished, but it was not entirely removed.

This led me to make further experiments, still in progress, on the
ensilage of human food with the aid of diastase. These experiments are
on a small scale, and are sufficiently satisfactory to justify more
effective trials on a larger scale. It is well known that ordinary
ensilage succeeds much better on a large than on a small scale, and I
have no doubt that such will be the case with my diastase ensilage of
oatmeal, pease-pudding, mashed roots, &c.

I am also treating such vegetable food material with various acids for
the same purpose.

When by these or other means we convert vegetable tissue into dextrin
and sugar, as it is naturally converted in the ripening pear, and
as it has been artificially converted in our laboratories, we shall
extend our food supplies in an incalculable degree. Swedes, turnips,
mangold-wurzels, &c., will become delicate diet for invalids; horse
beans, far more nutritious than beef; delicate biscuits and fancy
pastry, as well as ordinary bread, will be produced from sawdust
and wood shavings, plus a little leguminous flour to supplement the
nitrogenous requirement.

This may even be done now. Long ago I converted an old
pocket-handkerchief and part of an old shirt into sugar, but not
profitably as a commercial transaction. Other chemists have done the
like in their laboratories. It is yet to be done in the kitchen.

I should add that the sugar referred to in all the above is not cane
sugar, but the sugar corresponding to that in the grape and in honey.
It is less sweet than cane or beet sugar, but is a better food.

I have already spoken of the difficulty presented by the opposite
nature of the solvents demanded by the casein and the cellulose in my
experiments on the ensilage of pease-pudding. The action of diastase
indicates a possible solution of this difficulty. Let us suppose that
a sufficient amount of potash is used to dissolve the casein, its
solution separated as described (pages 218-219), the insoluble fibrous
remainder treated with maltose or malt flour, and its action allowed
to proceed to fermentation and effecting the formation of acetic acid.
Will this acid, by means of ensilage, act upon the cellulose as the
acid of the unripe pear acts upon its cellulose?

This is another of the questions that I can only suggest, not having
had time and opportunity to supply experimental answer.

Do fruits contain diastase?

Two kinds of food are described by Pavy (‘Treatise on Food and
Dietetics,’ page 227), in the preparation of which the conversion of
starch into dextrin appears to be effected. As I have no acquaintance
with these, never met with them either in Scotland or Wales, I will
quote his description:

‘_Sowans_, _seeds_, or _flummery_, which constitutes a very popular
article of diet in Scotland and South Wales, is made from the husks of
the grain (oats). The husks, with the starchy particles adhering to
them, are separated from the other parts of the grain and steeped in
water for one or two days, until the mass ferments and becomes sourish.
It is then skimmed and the liquid boiled down to the consistence of
gruel. In Wales this food is called _sucan_. _Budrum_ is prepared
in the same manner, except that the liquid is boiled down to a
sufficient consistency to form, when cold, a firm jelly. This resembles
blancmange, and constitutes a light, demulcent, and nutritious article
of food, which is well suited for the weak stomach.’

Here it is evident that solution takes place and a gummy substance is
formed; this and the fermentation and sourish taste all indicate the
action of the diastase of the seed converting the starch into dextrin
and sugar, the latter passing at once into acetic fermentation. Having
only just met with this passage, I am unable to supply any experimental
evidence, but suggest to any of my readers who may be on the spot where
either of these preparations are made, the simple experiment of adding
a little diluted tincture of iodine to the sowans or budrum, preferably
to the latter. If any of the starch remains as starch, a deep blue
tint will be immediately struck; if this is not the case it is _all_

I have just received a letter (while the proofs of this sheet are in
course of correction) from a retired barrister in his seventy-third
year, who, after a successful career in India, ‘retired in 1870 to
enjoy the _otium cum dig_.’ Among other interesting particulars
relating to animal and vegetable diet, he tells me that ‘somehow I
did not, with a purely vegetable diet, excite saliva sufficient for
digestion, and being constitutionally a gouty subject, I have suffered
very much from gout until comparatively lately (say the last eight
months), when an idea came into my head that by the use of potash I
might get rid of the calcareous deposit accompanying gout, and have
been taking 30 drops of liquor potassæ in my tea with very good effect.
But within the last ten days, thanks to your article in “Knowledge”
of January 16, 1885, I have, as it were by magic, become young again.
I was not aware that the diastase of malt had the same powers as
the salivary secretions. When I read your article, I commenced the
experiment on my morning food, namely, oatmeal-porridge, of which for
several years I have cooked daily four ounces, of which I could never
eat more than half without feeling distended for an hour or two, and
then again feeling hungry and a craving for more food. Since I followed
your directions I have been able to eat comfortably nearly the whole
(five ounces with the malt). I feel no distension for the time nor
craving afterwards; I am comfortably satisfied for hours; but what
is more, the diastased porridge has had the effect of removing the
tendency to costiveness, which was sore trouble, and it has rendered my
joints supple, and destroyed the tendency of my finger and toe-nails
to grow rapidly and brittle. All this seems to have changed, as if by
magic. I, therefore, write to you as a public benefactor, to thank you
for your seasonable hints.’

I quote this letter (with the permission of the writer, Mr. A. T. T.
Petersen) the more willingly and confidently from the fact that I have
lately adopted as a regular supper diet a porridge made of oatmeal,
to which about one-sixth or one-eighth of malt flour is added. I find
it in every respect advantageous, far better than ordinary simple
oatmeal-porridge. The following from Pavy, p. 229, indicates further
the desirability of assisting the salivary glands and pancreas in
digesting this otherwise excellent food. Speaking of oatmeal-porridge,
he says: ‘It is apt to disagree with some dyspeptics, having a tendency
to produce acidity and pyrosis, and cases have been noticed among those
who have been in the daily habit of consuming it, where dyspeptic
symptoms have subsided upon temporarily abandoning its use.’

My readers should try the following experiment. It supplies a striking
demonstration of the potency of the diastase of malt.

Make a portion of oatmeal-porridge in the usual manner, but unusually
thick—a pudding rather than a porridge; then, while it is still hot
(150° or thereabouts) in the saucepan, add some _dry_ malt flour (equal
to one-eighth to one-fourth of the oatmeal used). Stir this dry flour
into it and a curious transformation will take place. The dry flour
instead of thickening the mixture acts like the addition of water,
and converts the thick pudding into a thin porridge. I find that this
paradox greatly astonishes the practical cook.


[22] I have lately learned that a patent was secured some years ago for
‘malt bread,’ and that such bread is obtainable from bakers who make
it under a license from the patentee. The ‘revised formula’ for 1884,
which I have just obtained, says: ‘Take of wheat meal 6 lbs., wheat
flour 6 lbs., malt flour 6 oz., German yeast 2 oz., salt 2 oz., water
sufficient. Make into dough (without first melting the malt), prove
well, and bake in tins.’



I HAVE repeatedly spoken of the nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous
constituents of food, assuming that the nitrogenous are the more
nutritious, are the plastic or flesh-building materials, and that the
non-nitrogenous materials cannot build up flesh or bone or nervous
matter, can only supply the material of fat, and by their combustion
maintain the animal heat.

In doing so I have been treading on loose ground—I may say on a
scientific quicksand. When I first taught practical physiology to
children in Edinburgh, many years ago, this part of the subject was
much easier to teach than now. The simple and elegant theory of Liebig
was then generally accepted, and appeared quite sound.

According to this, every muscular effort is performed at the expense
of muscular tissue; every mental effort, at the expense of cerebral
tissue; and so on with all the forces of life. This consumption or
degradation of tissue demands continual supplies of food for its
renewal, and as all the working organs of the animal are composed of
nitrogenous tissue, it is clearly necessary, according to this, that we
should be supplied with nitrogenous food to renew them, seeing that the
nitrogen of the air cannot be assimilated by animals at all.

But besides doing mechanical and mental work, the animal body is
continually giving out heat, and its temperature must be maintained.
Food is also demanded for this, and the non-nitrogenous food is the
most readily combustible, especially the hydro-carbons or fats; the
carbo-hydrates—starch, sugar, &c.—also, but in lower degree. These,
then, were described as fuel food, or heat-producers.

This view is strongly confirmed by a multitude of familiar facts. Men,
horses, and other animals cannot do continuous hard work without a
supply of nitrogenous food; the harder the work the more they require,
and the greater becomes their craving for it. On the other hand, when
such food is eaten in large quantities by idle people, they become
victims of inflammatory disease, or their health otherwise suffers,
according, probably, to whether they assimilate or reject it.

Man is a cosmopolitan animal, and the variations of his natural demand
for food in different climates affords very direct support to Liebig’s
theory. Enormous quantities of hydro-carbon, in the form of fat, are
consumed by the Esquimaux and by Europeans when they winter in the
Arctic regions. They cannot live there without it. In hot climates
_some_ fuel food is required, and the milder form of carbo-hydrates is
chosen, and found to be most suitable; rice, which is mainly composed
of starch, is an example. Sugar also. Offer an Esquimaux a tallow
candle and a rice or tapioca pudding; he will reject the latter, and
eat the former with great relish.

A multitude of other facts might be stated, all supporting Liebig’s

There is one that just occurs to me as I write, which I will state,
as it appears to have been hitherto unnoticed. Some organs which act
in such wise that we can _see_ their mode of action are visibly
disintegrated and consumed by their own activity, and may be seen to
demand the perpetual renewal described by Liebig. There are glands of
cellular structure which cast off their terminal cells containing the
fluid they secrete; do their work by giving up their own structural
substance at their peripheral working surface.

Where, then, is the quicksand? It is here. If muscular and mental work
were done at the expense of the nitrogenous muscular and cerebral
tissues, the quantity of nitrogen excreted should vary with the
amount of work done. This was formerly stated to be the case without
hesitation, as the following passage from Carpenter’s ‘Manual of
Physiology’ (3rd edition, 1856, page 256), shows: ‘Every action of the
nervous and muscular systems involves the death and decay of a certain
amount of the living tissue, as is indicated by the appearance of the
products of that decay in the excretions.’

More recent experiments by Fick and Wislicenus, Parkes, Houghton,
Ranke, Voit, Flint, and others are said to contradict this by showing
that the waste nitrogen varies with the quantity of nitrogenous food
that is eaten, but not with the muscular work done. For the details
of these experiments I must refer the reader to standard _modern_
physiological treatises, as a full description of them would carry me
too far away from my immediate subject. (Dr. Pavy’s ‘Treatise on Food’
has an introductory chapter on ‘The Dynamic Relations of Food,’ in
which this subject is clearly treated in sufficient detail for popular

It is quite the fashion now to rely upon these later experiments; but
for my own part, I am by no means satisfied with them—and for this
reason, that the excretions from the skin and from the lungs were not

It is just these which are greatly increased by exercise, and their
normal quantity is very large, especially those from the skin, which
are threefold, viz. the insensible perspiration, which is transpired by
the skin as invisible vapour; the sweat, which is liquid, and the solid
particles of exuded cuticle.

Lavoisier and Seguin long ago made very laborious experiments upon
themselves in order to determine the amount of the insensible
perspiration. Seguin enclosed himself in a bag of glazed taffeta, which
was tied over him with no other opening than a hole corresponding to
his mouth; the edges of this hole were glued to his lips with a mixture
of turpentine and pitch. He carefully weighed himself and the bag
before and after his enclosure therein. His own loss of weight being
partly from the lungs and partly from the skin, the amount gained by
the bag represented the quantity of the latter; the difference between
this and the loss of his own weight gave the amount exhaled from the

He thus found that the largest quantity of _insensible_ exhalation from
the lungs and skin together amounted to 3½ oz. per hour, or at the rate
of 5¼ lbs. per day. The smallest quantity was 1 lb. 14 oz., and the
mean was 3 lbs. 11 oz. Three-fourths of this was cutaneous.

These figures only show the quantity of insensible perspiration during
repose. Valentin found that his hourly loss by cutaneous exhalation
while sitting amounted to 32·8 grammes, or rather less than 1¼ oz. On
taking exercise, with an empty stomach, in the sun, the hourly loss
increased to 89·3 grammes, or nearly three times as much. After a meal
followed by violent exercise, with the temperature of the air at 72°
F., it amounted to 132·7 grammes, or nearly 4½ times as much as during
repose. A robust man, taking violent exercise in hot weather, may give
off as much as 5 lbs. in an hour.

The third excretion from the skin, the epithelial or superficial scales
of the epidermis, is small in weight, but it is solid, and of similar
composition to gelatin. It should be understood that this increases
largely with exercise. The practice of sponging and ‘rubbing down’ of
athletes removes the excess; but I am not aware of any attempt that has
been made to determine accurately the quantity thus removed.

Does the skin excrete nitrogenous matter that may be, like urea, a
product of the degradation or destruction of muscular tissue?

The following passage from Lehmann’s ‘Physiological Chemistry’ (vol.
ii. p. 389), shows that the skin throws out plenty of nitrogen obtained
from somewhere: ‘It has been shown by the experiments of Milly, Jurine,
Ingenhouss, Spallanzani, Abernethy, Barruel, and Collard di Martigny,
that _gases_, and especially _carbonic acid_ and _nitrogen_, are
likewise exhaled with the liquid secretion of the sudiparious glands.
According to the last-named experimentalist the ratio between these
two gases is very variable; thus, in the gas developed after vegetable
food there is a preponderance of carbonic acid, and, after animal food,
there is an excess of nitrogen. Abernethy found that on an average the
collective gas contained rather more than two-thirds of carbonic acid
and rather less than one-third of nitrogen.’ But it appears that less
gas is exhaled when there is much liquid perspiration.

Lehmann’s summary of the experiments of Abernethy, Brunner, and
Valentin (vol. ii. p. 391), gives the amount of hourly exudation, under
ordinary circumstances, as 50·71 grammes of water, 0·25 of a gramme of
carbon, and 0·92 of a gramme of nitrogen. This amounts to 21½ grammes
of nitrogen per day in the _insensible_ perspiration; three-quarters of
an ounce avoirdupois, or as much nitrogen as is contained in one pound
and a half of natural living muscle.

That the liquid perspiration contains compounds of nitrogen, and just
such compounds as would result from the degradation of nitrogenous
tissue, is unquestionable. As Lehmann says (vol. ii. p. 389), ‘the
sweat very easily decomposes, and gives rise to the secondary formation
of ammonia.’ Simon and Berzelius found salts of ammonia in the sweat:
that the ammonia is combined both with hydrochloric acid and with
organic acids: that it probably exists as carbonate of ammonia in
alkaline sweat.

The existence of urea in sweat appears to be uncertain; some chemists
assert its presence, others deny it. Favre and Schottin, for example,
who have both studied the subject very carefully, are at direct
variance. I suspect that both are right, as its presence or absence is
variable, and appears to depend on the condition of the subject of the

Favre describes a special nitrogenous acid which he discovered
in sweat, and names it _hydrotic_ or _sudoric acid_. Its
composition corresponds, according to his analysis, to the formula

I have summarised these facts, as they show clearly enough that
conclusions based on an examination of the quantity of nitrogen
excreted by the kidneys alone (and such is the sole basis of the
modern theories), are of little or no value in determining whether or
not muscular work is accompanied with degradation of muscular tissue.
The well known fact that the total quantity of excretory work done
by the skin increases with muscular work, while that from the kidneys
rather diminishes, indicates in the plainest possible manner that an
examination of the skin secretion should be primary in connection
with this question. To entirely neglect this in such a research is a
scientific parallel to the histrionic feat of performing the tragedy of
‘Hamlet’ with the Prince of Denmark omitted.

Seeing that it has been entirely neglected, I am justified in
expressing, very plainly and positively, my opinion of the
worthlessness of all the modern research upon which the alleged
refutation of Liebig’s theory of the destruction and renewal of living
tissue in the performance of vital work is based, and my rejection of
the modern alternative hypothesis concerning the manner in which food
supplies the material demanded for muscular and mental work.

I may be accused of rashness and presumption in thus attempting to
stem the overwhelming current of modern scientific progress. Such,
however, is not the case. It is modern scientific _fashion_, rather
than scientific _progress_, that I oppose. We have too much of this
millinery spirit in the scientific world just now; too much eagerness
to run after ‘the last thing out,’ and assume, with undue readiness,
that the ‘latest researches’ are, of course, the best—especially where
fashionable physicians are concerned.

Having summarised Liebig’s theory of the source of vital power, and
its supposed refutation by modern experiments, I will now endeavour to
state the alternative modern hypothesis, though not without difficulty,
nor with satisfactory result, seeing that the recent theorists are
vague and self-contradictory. All agree that vital power or liberated
force is obtained at the expense of some kind of chemical action of a
destructive or oxidising character, and is, therefore, theoretically
analogous to the source of power in a steam-engine; but when they come
to the practical question of the demand for working fuel or food, they
abandon this analogy.

Pavy says (‘Treatise on Food and Dietetics,’ page 6): ‘In the
liberation of actual force, a complete analogy may be traced between
the animal system and a steam-engine. Both are media for the conversion
of latent into actual force. In the animal system, combustible material
is supplied under the form of the various kinds of food, and oxygen is
taken in for the process of respiration. From the chemical energy due
to the combination of these, force is liberated in an active state;
and, besides manifesting itself as heat, and in other ways peculiar
to the animal system, is capable of performing mechanical work.’ In
another place (page 59 of same work), after describing Liebig’s view,
Dr. Pavy says: ‘The facts which have been already adduced’ (those
above described on the nitrogen eliminated by the kidneys), ‘suffice
to refute this doctrine. Indeed, it may be considered as abundantly
proved that food does not require to become organised tissue before it
can be rendered available for force-production.’ On page 81 he says:
‘While nitrogenous matter may be regarded as forming the essential
basis of structures possessing active or living properties, _the
non-nitrogenous principles may be looked upon as supplying the source
of power_. The one may be spoken of as holding the position of the
instrument of action, while the other supplies the motive power.
Nitrogenous alimentary matter may, it is true, by oxidation contribute
to the generation of the moving force, but, as has been explained, in
fulfilling this office there is evidence before us to show that it is
split up into two distinct portions, one containing _the nitrogen,
which is eliminated as useless, and a residuary non-nitrogenous portion
which is retained and utilised in force-production_.’

The italics are mine, for reasons presently to be explained. Pavy’s
work contains repetitions and further illustrations of this attribution
of the origin of force to the non-nitrogenous elements of food.

Then we have a statement of the experiments of Joule on the mechanical
equivalent of heat, connected with experiments of Frankland with the
apparatus that is used for determining the calorific value of coal,
&c.—viz. a little tubular furnace charged with a mixture of the
combustible to be tested, and chlorate of potash. This being placed in
a tube, open below, and thrust under water, is fired, and gives out all
its heat to the surrounding liquid, the rise of temperature of which
measures the calorific value of the substance (see fig. 7, page 21,
‘Simple Treatise on Heat’).

From this result is calculated the mechanical work obtainable from a
given quantity of different food materials. That from a gramme is given
as follows:

    Beef fat               27,778 } Units of work,
    Starch (arrowroot)     11,983 }   or number of
    Lump sugar             10,254 }   pounds lifted
    Grape sugar            10,038 }   one foot.

In Dr. Edward Smith’s treatise on ‘Food,’ the foot-pound equivalent
of each kind of food is specifically stated in such a manner as to
lead the student to conclude that this represents its actual working
efficiency _as food_. Other modern writers represent it in like manner.

Here, then, comes the bearing of these theories on my subject. A
practical dietary or _menu_ is demanded, say, for navvies or for
athletes in full work; another for sedentary people doing little work
of any kind.

According to the new theory, the best possible food for the first class
is fat, butter being superior to lean beef in the proportion of 14,421
to 2,829 (Smith), and beef fat having nearly eight times the value of
lean beef. Ten grains of rice give 7,454 foot-pounds of working-power,
while the same quantity of lean beef gives only 2,829; according to
which 1 lb. of rice should supply as much support to hard workers as 2½
lbs. of beefsteak. None of the modern theorists dare to be consistent
when dealing with such direct practical applications.

I might quote a multitude of other palpable inconsistencies of the
theory, which is so slippery that it cannot be firmly grasped. Thus,
Dr. Pavy (page 403), immediately after describing bacon fat as ‘the
most efficient kind of force-producing material,’ and stating that ‘the
_non-nitrogenous_ alimentary principles appear to possess a higher
dietetic value than the _nitrogenous_,’ tells us that ‘the performance
of work may be looked upon as necessitating a _proportionate supply_
of _nitrogenous_ alimentary matter,’ and his reason for this admission
being that such nitrogenous material is required for the nutrition of
the muscles themselves.

A pretty tissue of inconsistencies is thus supplied! Non-nitrogenous
food is the best force-producer—it corresponds to the fuel of the
steam-engine; the nitrogenous is necessary only to repair the machine.
Nevertheless, when force production is specially demanded, the food
required is not the force-producer, but the special builder of muscles,
the which muscles, according to theory, are _not_ used up and renewed
in doing the work.

It must be remembered that the whole of this modern theoretical fabric
is built upon the experiments which are supposed to show that there is
no more elimination of nitrogenous matter during hard work than during
rest. Yet we are told that ‘the performance of work may be looked upon
as necessitating a proportionate supply of nitrogenous alimentary
matter,’ and that such material ‘is split up into two distinct
portions, one containing the nitrogen, which is eliminated as useless.’
This thesis is proved by experiments showing (as asserted) that such
elimination is not so proportioned.

In short, the modern theory presents us with the following pretty
paradox. The consumption of nitrogenous food is proportionate to work
done. The elimination of nitrogen is _not_ proportionate to work done.
The elimination of nitrogen _is_ proportionate to the consumption of
nitrogenous food.

I have tried hard to obtain a rational physiological view of the modern
theory. When its advocates compare our food to the fuel of an engine,
and maintain that its combustion _directly_ supplies the moving power,
what do they mean?

They cannot suppose that the food is thus oxidised as food, yet such is
implied. The work cannot be done in the stomach, nor in the intestinal
canal, nor in the mesenteric glands, nor in their outlet, the thoracic
duct. After leaving this, the food becomes organised living material,
the blood being such. The question, therefore, as between the new
theory and that of Liebig, must be whether work is effected by _the
combustion of the blood itself_ or by the degradation of the working
tissues, which are fed and renewed by the blood. Although this is so
obviously the only rational physiological question, I have not found it
thus stated.

Such being the case, the supposed analogy to the steam-engine breaks
down altogether; the food is certainly assimilated, is converted into
the living material of the animal itself before it does any work, and
therefore it must be the wear and tear of the machine itself which
supplies the working power, and not that of the food as mere fuel
material shovelled directly into the animal furnace.

I thus agree with Playfair, who says that the modern theory involves
a ‘false analogy of the animal body to a steam-engine,’ and that
‘incessant transformation of the acting parts of the animal machine
forms the condition for its action, while in the case of the
steam-engine it is the transformation of fuel external to the machine
which causes it to move.’ Pavy says that ‘Dr. Playfair, in these
utterances, must be regarded as writing behind the time.’ He may be
behind as regards the _fashion_, but I think he is in advance as
regards the _truth_.

My readers, therefore, need not be ashamed of clinging to the
old-fashioned belief that their own bodies are alive throughout, and
perform all the operations of working, feeling, thinking, &c., by
virtue of their own inherent self-contained vitality, and that in doing
this they consume their own substance, which has to be perpetually
replaced by new material, its quality depending upon the manner of
working and the matter and manner of replacement.

The course of our own evolution thus depends upon ourselves; we may,
according to our own daily conduct, be building up a better body and
a better mind, or one that shall be worse than the fair promise of
the original germ. Therefore the philosophy of the preparation of the
material of which the body and brain are built up and renewed must be
worthy of careful study. This philosophy is ‘THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.’


    ACIDS, mineral and vegetable, 224

    Aërated bread, 206

    Albumen, 19
      coagulation of, 20
        of flesh, 24
      loss of in boiling fish and meat, 24

    Allotropism, 88

    Alum in bread, 203

    Animal diastase, 186

    Apple fritters, 101

    Argol, 273

    Arrowroot, 179

    Arsenic eating, 256

    BAIN-MARIE, 22, 119

    Baked meat, prejudice against, 64

    Baking _versus_ roasting of meat, 65

    Barley sugar, 88

    Basting, 57

    Bavarian beggars and Count Rumford, 229

    Birds’-nests, edible, 35

    Blood-fibrin, 43

    ‘Boiled meat’ is not boiled, 14

    Boiling of fat, 84
      of water, 8

    Bone-soup Commission of French Academy, 36

    Borized meat, 170
      milk, 171

    Bosch _v._ butter, 167
      _v._ butterine, 144

    Boussingault’s experiments on bread, 207

    Bread, 197

    British gum, 182

    Browning of roasted meat, 78
      rationale of, 87

    Budrum, 310

    Butter, 163
      and infection, 166


    Cancer and flesh eating, 301

    Caramel, 87-89
      a disinfectant, 92

    Carnivorous, a sheep, 301

    Casein, 127
      changes of, 128
      vegetable, 211

    Cayenne pepper, 260

    Cellular tissue, 174, 180

    Cheese, cookery of, 136
      digestibility of, 135
      in soup, 149
      nutritive value of, 131
      phosphates in, 133
      porridge, 151
      pudding, 136
      solubility of, 143

    Chemical analysis and nutritive value of food, 6

    Chinese and cooked water, 13

    Chitin, 33

    Chondrin, 33

    Cocoa, 261

    ‘Coffee as in France,’ 96

    Colloids and crystalloids, 115

    Composition of albumen, gelatin, and fibrin, 45
      kreatine and kreatinine, 46

    Condensed milk, 129

    Condiments, 259

    Convection in roasting, 49

    Cooked water, 10

    Cream, 162

    Crust of bread, 91, 136, 200

    Curd of milk, 127

    DEXTRIN, 182, 185
      in bread, 200

    Diastase, 184, 303

    Diastased porridge, 305, 306, 311, 312

    Difference between vegetable and animal food, 177, 297

    Diffusion of liquids, 112

    Digestion of starch, 186

    Dinner of a French or Swiss peasant, 126

    Diosmosis, 114

    Disinfection of water by boiling, 12
      by toast, 92

    Dissociation of flavours, 49

    Dolby’s extractor, 120

    Domestic chops and steaks, 52

    Dough, 197

    Dripping, 159

    Drunkenness and cookery, 61


    Effects of diastased porridge, 311

    Eggs, cookery of, 22
      nutritive value of, 19
      of feathered and featherless young birds, 20

    Endosmosis and exosmosis, 114

    English stewing, 124

    Ensilage of human food, 214
      by means of diastase, 308

    Excretion of nitrogen from the skin, 316

    Expansion of well-grilled meat, 53

    Experiment with Rumford’s roaster, 74

    Explosion of water, 86

    Extract of meat, 117

    FAT, 156
      action of heat on, 84, 158
      bath for joints, 57
      for frying, 101

    Fermentation of bread, 198

    Ferments, 184

    Fibrin, 43

    Fish, boiling of, 24, 27
      cooked in paper, 60
      roasting, 58
      with cheese, 153

    Flames, different kinds of, and grilling, 51

    Flavouring power of the juices of meat, 26

    Flesh feeding, a temporary barbarism, 7

    Flummery, 310

    Fondu, 136

    Forces of nature co-operating with man, 2

    Frozen meat, 94, 168

    Fruit jelly, 225

    Frying, 84
      kettle, 98
      theory of, 97

    Fuel wasted in boiling, 15

    GASTRIC JUICE, modification of, 44

    Gelatin, fibrin, and the juices of meat, 32
      hydration of, 41
      solubility of, 32

    Gluten, 194
      fibrin and gluten casein, 195

    Glycerine, 157

    Green-pea clear soup, 219

    Grilling of chops and steaks, 52

    Gum arabic, 183


    Hot rolls from stale bread, 208

    Hydration of gelatin, 41
      of starch, 181

    INCRUSTATION OF BOILERS, kettles, &c., 11

    Isinglass, 36, 41

    Italian cookery, 90
      of cheese, 149


    Juices of meat, 25, 40, 45


    Kitchener-ovens and roasters, 7

    Kreatine and kreatinine, 45

    LARD, 159
      dissociation of, 85

    Leaven, 206

    Leg of mutton, how to boil, 26

    Legumin, 212

    Lehmann on coffee, 251

    ‘Liaison au roux,’ 90

    Liebig on gelatin, 36
      on tea and coffee, 251

    Liebig’s extract of meat, 25, 37

    Lignin, 174

    Lime in bread, 205

    Lobster suppers, 33

    Locusts as food, 34


    Magnesia in bread, 265

    Malt, action on various foods, 305
      directions for using, 306, 312

    Malted food, 303

    Man, the cooking animal, 295

    Man’s work on earth, 1

    Marie Antoinette’s pie-crust, 176

    Milk, a carrier of infection, 164
      composition of, 162
      cooking of, 163
      dietetic value of, 161
      for herbivora, carnivora, and man, 296
      supply to London, 163

    Muscle fibrin, 43


    Nitrogenous principles of plants and animals compared, 195

    Norwegian cooking apparatus, 24, 30

    Nutrition, fashionable theory of, 315
      inconsistencies of fashionable theory of, 319
      Liebig’s theory of, 313
      Playfair on the physiology of, 324
      the physiology of, 313

    Nutritive value of food as affected by cookery, 6
      of gelatin, 36


    Oils for frying, 107
      volatile and fixed, 84

    Old hens, how to roast, 125, 126

    Oleomargarine, 146

    Oven, construction of, 80

    Oysters and invalids, 180

    PARMESAN CHEESE, 151, 220

    Pasteuring of wine, 269

    Peasants’ food in Italy and France, 61, 126

    Pease-pudding, 214-218

    Pectin, 225

    Penny dinners, 244

    Phosphates in milk and cheese, 133

    Phosphorus in bones and brain, 134

    Popped corn, 210

    Porridge _v._ flesh, 299

    Potage and stewed meat, 116
      value of, 219

    Potash bitartrate, solubility of, 272
      food, 221
      in cheese cookery, 141
      in potatoes, 190
      scurvy, gout, &c., 142

    Potatoes in bread, 202
      a curse of Ireland, 193
      and cheese porridge, 152
      and scurvy, 190
      cookery of, 189
      nutritive value of, 192

    Purification of fat, 101

      in grilling, 47

    Rahat Lakoum, 225

    Rationale of roasting, 48

    Reaction from tea, 257

    Rennet, 129

    Rice and cheese, 153

    ‘Risotto à la Milanese,’ 150

    Roasting an ox, 56
      and grilling, 47
      before open fire, evils of, 60
      large joints, 55
      small joints, 53

    Rumford, Count of, 5
      on boiling meat, 16
      on military rations, 241
      on the pleasure of eating, 238

    Rumford’s cookery, 227

    Rumford’s experiment on low temperature roasting, 29
      roaster, 63, 70
      roasting oven, 76
      soup, 231
      soup compared with flesh food, 298

    SAGO, 189

    Saliva and diastase, 304

    Salivary diastase, 186

    Salmon cooking in Norway, 28

    Samp, 240

    Sauer-kraut, 216

    Sawdust as food, 175

    Science in the kitchen, 4

    Seeds as food, 194

    Sheep, a carnivorous and cannibal, 301

    Sherbet, 225

    Shrimps, fried, 34

    Simmering and boiling, 14

    Small joints and their cookery, 53

    Smith, Dr., on tea, 254

    Snail soup, 35

    Soluble and insoluble casein, 130

    Solution of vegetable casein, 217

    South Kensington food exhibits, 211

    Sowans, 310

    Specific sapidity of food, 239

    Spinning of sugar, 89

    Starch, 178, 181

    Stearic acid, 157

    Stewing, 111
      and albumen, 119

    Stirabout and cheese, 153

    Sulphate of copper in bread, 205

    Super-heaters, cost of, 75

    Syntonin, 43

    TAPIOCA, 188

    Tea and coffee, Rumford’s substitute for, 245
      physiological action of, 246

    Technical and technological education, 3

    Temperature for stewing, 118
      of vegetable cookery, 177

    Tenderness, true and false, 121

    Testing the temperature of fat bath, 100

    Thermometers for the kitchen, 79
      for fat bath, 105

    Thomson, Sir Henry, on roasting of fish, 58

    Tinned meat, 121

    Toast and water, 92

    Tripe and cheese, 154



    Vegetable casein, 211
      diet, economy of, 301
      fibrin, casein and gluten, 195
      food and mixed diet compared, 297
      juices, 211
      -marrow _au gratin_, 155
      tissue, 173

    Vegetables, the cookery of, 173

    Vegetarian question, the, 294


    Waste of fuel in boiling, 15

    Water-bath cookery, 119

    Water in fish, 86

    Whole-meal bread, 6, 204

    Wine, artificial bouquet of, 291
      artificial colour of, 288
      bouquet of, 288
      cookery of, 265
      cost of, 265-292
      drying of, 280
      natural colour of, 288
      Pasteuring of, 269
      plastering of, 277
      sickness of, 271
      sulphuric acid in, 276


    _Spottiswoode & Co. Printers, New-street Square, London._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired. Larger vulgar fractions had been
printed with a hyphen instead of a slash. This was changed to a slash
for conformity. (1-30th is now 1/30th)

Page 54, “is” changed to “it” (exposed, it is evident)

Page 81, “judgment” changed to “judgement” (the judgement of which)

Page 108, while it seems that this sentence is missing an object:

    When common sense and true sentiment supplant mere
    unreasoning prejudice, vegetable oils and vegetable
    fats will largely supplant those of animal origin in
    every element of our dietary.

It has been quoted in just that manner across numerous publications.

Page 109, “facts” changed to “fats” (the chemistry of fats)

Page 328, the text refers to the now more usually spelled “sauerkraut”
as “sour-kraut” in the text and “Sauer-kraut” in the index. These
usages were retained as printed.

Page 328, “fath” changed to “fat” (for fat bath)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Chemistry of Cookery" ***

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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.