When it comes down to it, everyone has their own personal cooking methods in the kitchen. You may cook up your own experimental recipes on a regular basis, or you may take heed from your grandma when it comes to her traditional and classic cooking. However, going back in time may not always be the best way to cook up a storm, as some of the cooking advice shelled out in the past has been pretty weird.
1300s – The moldier, the better
Nowadays, we live in a world where moldy food is chucked in the trash before anyone can even get a whiff of it. It seems as though things were a little different back in the 1300s, though. French chef Guillaume Tirel loved to dish out advice to those wanting to cook meals for the upper class living in the 14th-Century.
And he noted that it was better to keep cooked meat for a month before picking off the mold and then feasting upon it.
1300s – Eggs or eels?
When you’re trying to follow a recipe and realize that you don’t have eggs, it can be pretty annoying? There aren’t many substitutes for egg – especially if you want to separate the yolk and the whites…
But one cookbook from the 1300s wanted to let their readers know that not having eggs was okay. After all, mashed eels make a great alternative, right? They noted that one of the greatest hacks you could ever learn was replacing eggs with eels. We might just take their word for it.
1600s – The buttery bogs
Bogs are dirty, messy, wet, and unclean, and while this kind of wetland is made from composting plant material, you probably wouldn’t want to use a bog as a refrigerator. However, it seems as though those who lived in the 17th Century decided to give it a go.
Archeological findings have noted that those who lived as far back as 600 BC and as recently as the 1700s used to keep their butter buried in bogs to keep them fresh and cool.
1740 – Catnip isn’t just for cats
If you have a cat, you’ll know that these animals go wild for catnip. It’s like their very own kryptonite or their very own aphrodisiac. But what if we told you that it was thought to have the same effects on humans?
Those who lived during the 1740s often put catnip in their food because they believed it to have aphrodisiacal properties. They cooked their puddings, cakes, soups, and more with catnip in them, and it was meant to “promote breeding” within the human race. Okay then.
1747 – The perfect cake
If you love making cakes, have you ever wondered what goes into making the perfect cake? Well, according to Hannah Glasse in her 1747 book, The Art of Cookery, there were a few tricks that you needed to adhere to.
To begin with, her “perfect” cake mixture consisted of 35 eggs and needed to be whisked – by hand – for a whopping two hours before it was ready to go in the oven. Then, it needed to be cooked for three hours before it was ready to go.
1747 – A breakfast of champions
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Hannah Glasse was no stranger to a big breakfast. In fact, she used her cookbook to promote a recipe that had already become pretty popular by the time 1747 came around.
This recipe was called “hamburgh sausage” and featured a hamburger patty, much like the ones we eat today. However, this hamburger patty was served on top of porridge – and we’re not quite sure how we feel about that. It could be delicious.
1788 – A magic tongue
Most of the time, you don’t really know if your eggs are fresh until you crack them and can really get to grips with what’s going on inside of the shell. Richard Briggs wrote in his 1788 cookbook, The English Art of Cookery, that there was a way to check whether your eggs were fresh before you cracked them into a bowl.
According to him, all you have to do was lick the egg and determine whether it was cold or warm to touch. If the egg is cold, it’s stale.
1796 – The dark side of the moon
If you’re a big fan of salmon, you’re probably already pretty familiar with how to not only store it but also how to cook it. It’s not a difficult fish to work with, but it seems as though The First American Cookbook wants you to heed some warnings.
According to this 1796 cookbook, it is important that you do not expose your salmon to the moon – or put it anywhere near the moon’s light. It’s been said that the moon “has much more injurious effect than the sun.”
1796 – Keep your cows close
It’s often said that you need to keep your enemies close, but it seems as though you should also keep your cows close. Amelia Simmons, who wrote The First American Cookbook, noted that the only way to perfect recipes that include milk – such as a delicious liquor-filled syllabub – you had to milk your cow directly into the recipe.
So, instead of milking your cow before setting up shop in the kitchen and creating a delicious meal, you had to milk your cow half-way through to make it taste even better.
1861 – Beef tea, anyone?
There’s no doubt about the fact that many people love a good ol’ cup of tea. While there are all kinds of different tea flavors out there, we don’t think that we have ever heard of beef tea before. However, it seems as though a cookbook released in 1861 swears by this concoction…
To “supply all that is necessary to sustain life” when you are inactive or ill. This tea is essentially made by placing lean beef into salty water and letting it sit for a few hours.
1896 – Building a fire
Most people try to avoid building a fire in their kitchens, mostly because it’s extremely unsafe, and we don’t need to. After all, we have electric cookers and gas ovens, which are much easier to start and maintain.
Those who lived during the late 1800s didn’t have that privilege, though, and they had to build fires in their kitchen every time they wanted to cook something. Thankfully, the 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cookbook had all of the instructions you needed to start your fire.
1900 – Trust your hands
If you’re the kind of person who loves to be precise when they follow a recipe, you may whip out your scales to ensure that every single measurement is correct. That wasn’t the case back in 1900, though.
Most cookbooks were a bit more lenient when it came to their recipes, and they noted that those at home should add a “pinch” to their recipe. Or, even more ambiguous, many ingredients needed to be “by the handful.” Surely everyone’s hands are different sizes? How did that work?
1920s – The pineapple trick
Nowadays, it’s not too hard to try and find pineapple in the grocery store. It’s pretty readily available to us, but that hasn’t always been the case. This fruit was a hot commodity back in the 1920s, and many of its features were still unknown.
Because of this, experts told those at home to cut their pineapple using two different knives – one for the flesh, and the other for the skin. This was because they believed the acids in the skin supposedly contained acids that would leave you with a sore mouth.
1920s – No use crying over bad milk
We all know that there’s no use crying over spilled milk, but you might not want to cry over spoiled milk instead. While we’re inclined to simply pour our spoiled milk down the drain, those who lived during the 1920s couldn’t afford to throw away such a luxury item.
They were going to make the most of their spoiled milk even if their life depended on it – and we can’t help but think that stirring baking soda into this spoiled milk would force their life to depend on it. That doesn’t sound good.
1920s – Keeping things fresh
If those during the 1920s didn’t even want to risk getting to the point where their milk could potentially sour, they did have an option to keep their milk fresh. That’s because countless cookbooks and cooking experts noted that mixing the milk with a spoonful of horseradish would preserve milk and keep it fresh for days.
While we would like to think that this was the case, we don’t think we’ll be trying horseradish-flavored-milk anytime soon. We’ll just stick to our regular ol’ milk, thanks.
1920s – Keep the burning at bay
You don’t need to be a genius to know that water puts out fires, and it seems as though those who lived during the 1920s took this incredibly literally within their cooking adventures. Many cookbooks noted that if you wanted to stop your cake or bread from burning…
Then all you had to do was put some water into the oven with it. While we definitely understand the logic, we don’t quite know if this worked as well as they expected it to. Kudos for the idea, though.
1929 – Jello-O all day, every day
Do you love Jell-O? You probably eat this food as a dessert, because that’s what it was made for, right? Erm, not quite. Over the years, the marketing team behind this food has often tried to get it into different markets, and they did just that in 1929.
They created a menu that used Jell-O within various different savory recipes, including jellied cabbage relish, jellied corned beef loaf, and jellied raw vegetable salad. Although people do eat this today, we think we’ll pair ours with ice cream instead.
1930s – A grapefruit a day
Grapefruit has long been associated with weight loss, and it seems as though this may have come from the information splashed around the news in the 1930s. The people who lived during this era were told that eating a grapefruit before every meal would increase your chances of weight loss.
And it seems as though people just couldn’t get enough of these bitter fruits. Many people would eat countless fruits a day, so we wonder how that worked out for them?
1930s – Bringing stale bread back to life
During the 1930s, many families were feeling the effects of the Great Depression. Because of this, money was tight, and they did everything they could to make their food go further. In fact, they couldn’t even afford to throw away their stale bread.
Thankfully, there was a strange hack that would bring their stale bread back to life. All they had to do was slice up the stale bread, wet it with hot water, mash it up, place it back into a baking tin, and then bake it again. Apparently, it worked.
1940s – Simmer down, people
There’s nothing worse than a bad smell lingering around your house, and while we have all kinds of air fresheners and scented candles now, we also still use a trick from the 1940s to keep these smells at bay.
Yes, you may have used a simmer pot before – because it’s pretty awesome. This trick involves sticking the likes of cinnamon and oranges into a pot of water on the stove and then simmering it for a few hours. As it warms up, the smells permeate around the house and keep the bad smells at bay.
1944 – Spam-a-lot
If you have relatives who were alive during 1944, they may have already introduced you to the wonders of Spam. This canned cooked pork made its way into their lives during the late 1930s and really became popular in 1944.
Families across the globe were encouraged to add Spam into their meals, as it was not only cheap, but it also went a long way. While it was marketed as a healthy meat alternative, there’s no doubt about the fact that it’s not quite as popular these days.
1947 – Everything works together
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, new and exciting foods were making their way onto the market, and this meant that homeowners became much more inventive and experimental when it came to their recipes.
Because of this, Chiquitas Bananas decided to come forth with a new recipe for people to try; the Ham Banana Rolls. The idea behind this recipe was that you could simply wrap ham and mustard around bananas before drizzling in a cheese sauce, and people would like them. We struggle to believe that was the case, though.
1949 – Making things healthy
We’ve long been told that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but even back in the 1940s, people struggled to keep up their intake of fruit. Homeowners wanted cheap recipes that would feed their whole family – and fruit rarely did that.
Because of this, Ben Irvin Butler decided to come up with a cheap recipe that would not only include fruit but would also feed everyone. This recipe featured a corned beef hash topped with halved pineapple or apricots, and apparently, this was delicious.
1950 – No slamming allowed
Most of us have slammed our oven door on numerous occasions. It’s just something we do without really thinking about it, and most of the time, it’s an accident. However, those in 1950 made sure that they were as gentle as possible with their oven door…
Because there was no slamming allowed. According to this age-old advice, slamming the door would disrupt your cake’s baking process. This theory has since been put to the test, and it seems as though this advice was completely false.
1950s – The vinegar trick
There are two kinds of people in this world. There are those who love vinegar, and then there are those who can’t stand the stuff. If you’re part of the latter category, you probably won’t like this meat tenderizing trick from the 1950s.
Back in the day, people used to soak their meat in vinegar before cooking it. This supposedly made it juicy and tender, but we can’t help but think that it just made it, well, vinegar-y. We guess we’ll take their word for it.
1950s – Don’t wine about it
Many modern recipes allow you to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to your sauces and soups, and this normally comes in the form of liquor or wine. While most of us know to heat up these liquids to burn off the elements that make you feel a little light-headed…
Recipes in the 1950s weren’t about that life. In fact, they wanted their home cooks to add these liquids to the recipe while it was still cold so that they didn’t lose the flavor. We bet they had very enjoyable meals.
1950s – Getting juicy
Although it’s pretty easy to buy lemon juice in a bottle, those who lived during the 1950s kept things a bit more authentic – and for that, we commend them. Instead of simply pouring the lemon juice out of a bottle, they bought real lemons and squeezed them with their bare hands.
They also used a little trick to help them out. That’s because it was a common hack during this era to pour hot water over your lemon before giving it a squeeze. This supposedly helped them get more juice out of the fruit.
1950s – A hobby, not a chore
Hands up if you like cooking? We bet there are some people out there who didn’t put their hands up because they see cooking as more of a chore than a hobby. However, Dione Lucas noted in the 1950s that this was the wrong way to think of cooking.
She confessed that if cooking becomes like your everyday household chores, such as cleaning your house, “nothing good will come out, just something unpleasant.” So, if you want delicious food, you need to enjoy the process a bit more. Apparently.
1955 – Boiling is bad
We’re not sure if there is anyone out there who still boils their meat, but if you do, you need to stop immediately. This information came from 1955 when the author of The Homemaker’s Meat Recipe Book noted that meat should always be simmered.
On no occasion should you ever boil your meat – and don’t say that we haven’t told you so. It makes us feel a bit weird inside knowing that people have been boiling their meat in the past, but at least you know now.
1957 – Presentation is everything
Everyone knows that the key to a good dinner party is the atmosphere and the presentation, and people still go all out when it comes to the napkins, the centerpieces, and the cutlery. This was also the case back in 1957, and those who lived during this time were encouraged to make everything look incredible.
Yes, this even meant that they spent their time fashioning their eggs into the shape of swans and creating some of the most artistic food you’ve ever seen in your life. They’re almost too good to eat.
1960 – The cake solution
If you’re a baker that can’t stand a dry cake, it might be an idea to take a leaf out of this book. In 1960, dry cakes were discouraged, and bakers were given the right tools to ensure that they could fix their dry Victoria’s Sponge with ease.
Apparently, all you had to do was wrap a damp cloth around your cake and then pop it back into the oven until the cloth was dry. While we’re not sure if this worked or not, there’s no doubt about the fact that it sounds pretty impressive.
1960 – Buy local
During the 1960s, the supermarket was the latest and best new thing that society had to offer. Everything you could want was under one roof, and this meant that people got pretty excited. Unfortunately, this did mean that fewer people were making their way to local farmer’s markets.
And fewer people were helping out the little guy. While many professional cooks tried to encourage their readers to head back to the farmer’s market, their efforts were in vain. They tried their best, but it just didn’t work.
1960 – Eat your crusts
No, we’re not talking about the crusts on your sandwiches. In this case, we’re talking about the crusts of a pie. While most people know that pie crusts are made from flaky and buttery pastry, it seems as though things were a little different back in 1960.
Hunter’s Tomato Sauce and Minute-Rice wanted to encourage people to embrace the meat life, so they released a recipe for a pie crust made completely out of meat. The end result looked a little strange, but people still ate it.
1960 – The ultimate test
Everyone has their own requirements when it comes to meat. Some people like it to be rare, others like it to be medium-rare, and there are even some who like it chargrilled and well-done. One of the tricks during the 1960s was to test your meat throughout the cooking process…
And this was supposed to ensure that your meat stayed as perfect as ever. The trick was to press the meat at different stages of the cooking process, and it was best for your meat to stay springy throughout.
1970 – PB & H
We all know that PB&J makes an awesome combination in a sandwich, but what about PB&H? During the 1970s, an advertisement made the rounds, encouraging home cooks to mix peanut butter with their meat to create an epic hamburger that tasted delicious.
We can only assume that people tried this and liked the flavor combinations together because it’s not uncommon to find peanut butter in burgers today. That doesn’t mean that everyone likes it, though. Some people just think it’s downright weird.
1980 – Shake your eggs
Many people claim to have the perfect techniques when it comes to their cooking exploits, and Julia Child is one chef who has certainly made her mark over the years. She did just that back in the 1980s when she spouted some strange and unusual advice to those at home.
In fact, she came forward with her breakfast hack in 1980, when she claimed that her “shake and jerk” method made the fluffiest eggs for an omelet or scrambled eggs. In fact, people still use it today.
1984 – Another way to cook
If you’re a meat eater, you probably cook your meat on the stove, on the oven, or even on the grill, but have you ever completely cooked your meat in the microwave? Let’s hope that you haven’t because this isn’t safe in the slightest.
That didn’t stop people from doing it in 1984, though, as Gail Duff encouraged people to do just that within her cookbook, Microwave Cooking. She suggested that you place your meat in the microwave and cook with mushroom ketchup and Worcestershire sauce for the ultimate taste sensation.
1985 – Adding an extra something
In today’s day and age, we are encouraged to stay away from too much oil or butter – but it seems as though this same information wasn’t making the rounds during the mid-80s. In fact, one cookbook noted that the best way to ensure that the butter didn’t burn in your pan was to add oil to it…
And it seems as though many people tried this at home. We don’t think that it was the healthiest way to stop your butter burning, but they’ve already done it, so what are we gonna do?
1985 – Get squeezing
Let’s be honest; spinach is pretty disgusting. While there are some people out there who don’t mind it, cooked spinach is always watery, mushy, and just too metallic for most people’s liking. However, there may be a way to stop your spinach from being so awful.
One hack from 1985 suggests that you should squeeze spinach after you have washed it to wring out any excess water. Apparently, this stops it from turning into a pile of green, watery metal. We might give this a try. Or we might not.
1999 – The perfect shape
If you love a poached egg, you may find it pretty annoying when you can’t keep your poached egg all in one piece when it lands in the water. Well, what if we told you that there was a way to avoid the weird, white water in a pan?
Julia Child noted that poking the shell of an egg with a pin and then dipping the whole thing in boiling water for 10 seconds will precook the egg and allow it to keep its shape when you crack it into the water.