The Book of Household Management, by Isabella Beeton

Chapter XXVIII.

General Observations on Creams, Jellies, SoufflÉS, Omelets, & Sweet Dishes.

1385. CREAMS. — The yellowish-white, opaque fluid, smooth and unctuous to the touch, which separates itself from new milk, and forms a layer on its surface, when removed by skimming, is employed in a variety of culinary preparations. The analyses of the contents of cream have been decided to be, in 100 parts — butter, 3.5; curd, or matter of cheese, 3.5; whey, 92.0. That cream contains an oil, is evinced by its staining clothes in the manner of oil; and when boiled for some time, a little oil floats upon the surface. The thick animal oil which it contains, the well-known butter, is separated only by agitation, as in the common process of churning, and the cheesy matter remains blended with the whey in the state of buttermilk. Of the several kinds of cream, the principal are the Devonshire and Dutch clotted creams, the Costorphin cream, and the Scotch sour cream. The Devonshire cream is produced by nearly boiling the milk in shallow tin vessels over a charcoal fire, and kept in that state until the whole of the cream is thrown up. It is used for eating with fruits and tarts. The cream from Costorphin, a village of that name near Edinburgh, is accelerated in its separation from three or four days’ old milk, by a certain degree of heat; and the Dutch clotted cream — a coagulated mass in which a spoon will stand upright — is manufactured from fresh-drawn milk, which is put into a pan, and stirred with a spoon two or three times a day, to prevent the cream from separating from the milk. The Scotch “sour cream” is a misnomer; for it is a material produced without cream. A small tub filled with skimmed milk is put into a larger one, containing hot water, and after remaining there all night, the thin milk (called wigg) is drawn off, and the remainder of the contents of the smaller vessel is “sour cream.”

1386. JELLIES are not the nourishing food they were at one time considered to be, and many eminent physicians are of opinion that they are less digestible than the flesh, or muscular part of animals; still, when acidulated with lemon-juice and flavoured with wine, they are very suitable for some convalescents. Vegetable jelly is a distinct principle, existing in fruits, which possesses the property of gelatinizing when boiled and cooled; but it is a principle entirely different from the gelatine of animal bodies, although the name of jelly, common to both, sometimes leads to an erroneous idea on that subject. Animal jelly, or gelatine, is glue, whereas vegetable jelly is rather analogous to gum. Liebig places gelatine very low indeed in the scale of usefulness. He says, “Gelatine, which by itself is tasteless, and when eaten, excites nausea, possesses no nutritive value; that, even when accompanied by the savoury constituents of flesh, it is not capable of supporting the vital process, and when added to the usual diet as a substitute for plastic matter, does not increase, but, on the contrary, diminishes the nutritive value of the food, which it renders insufficient in quantity and inferior in quality.” It is this substance which is most frequently employed in the manufacture of the jellies supplied by the confectioner; but those prepared at home from calves’ feet do possess some nutrition, and are the only sort that should be given to invalids. Isinglass is the purest variety of gelatine, and is prepared from the sounds or swimming-bladders of certain fish, chiefly the sturgeon. From its whiteness it is mostly used for making blanc-mange and similar dishes.

1387. THE WHITE OF EGGS is perhaps the best substance that can be employed in clarifying jelly, as well as some other fluids, for the reason that when albumen (and the white of eggs is nearly pure albumen) is put into a liquid that is muddy, from substances suspended in it, on boiling the liquid, the albumen coagulates in a flocculent manner, and, entangling with it the impurities, rises with them to the surface as a scum, or sinks to the bottom, according to their weight.

1388. SOUFFLES, OMELETS, AND SWEET DISHES, in which eggs form the principal ingredient, demand, for their successful manufacture, an experienced cook. They are the prettiest, but most difficult of all entremets. The most essential thing to insure success is to secure the best ingredients from an honest tradesman. The entremets coming within the above classification, are healthy, nourishing, and pleasant to the taste, and may be eaten with safety by persons of the most delicate stomachs.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31