The Country Housewife, by Richard Bradley


As this is the busy Month in the Dairy, I shall here insert the Remarks I have by me concerning the making of Cheeses; and in this Work it is first necessary to know how to manage the Rennet. The Rennet is made of the Calves Bag, which is taken as soon as the Calf is kill’d, and scour’d inside and outside with Salt, after having first discharg’d it of the Curd, which is always found in it; this Curd must likewise be well wash’d in a Cullender with Water, and the Hairs pick’d out of it till it becomes very white, then return the Curd again into the Bag, and add to it two good Handfuls of Salt, and shut the Mouth of the Bag close with a Skewer, then lay the Bag in an Earthen–Pan, and cover it close, and keep it in a dry place; this will remain fit for use twelve Months. When you would use it, boil a Quart of Water, after you have salted it, so as to bear an Egg, and letting it stand to be quite cold, pour it into the Bag, and prick the Bag full of very small Holes, and lay it in a clean Pan for use. While this Rennet is fresh, a Spoonful of the Liquor will turn or set about sixteen or twenty Gallons of Milk; but as it is longer kept, it grows weaker, and must be used in greater quantity: this Rennet will last good about a Month. This is the Essex and Hertfordshire way.

Another way of preparing of Rennet Bags, is to take the Calves Bag, and wash and scour it with Salt, and the Curd likewise, as directed above; and then salting it very well, hang it up in the Corner of a Kitchen Chimney, and dry it; and as soon as you want to use it, boil Water and Salt, as before, and fill the Bag with it, making small Holes in the Bag, as before directed, and keeping it in a clean Pan.

It is to be noted, that the Bag of the Calf, which is the part that receives the Milk, is so disposed, as to change the Milk into Curd, as soon as it is received into it; and the Curd, which is found in it, partaking of that quality of the Bag, which disposes it to harden the Milk; these are therefore to be preserv’d for the same use, when we employ common Milk to be made into Curd: but as the Calves Bag is warm, when it naturally receives the Milk from the Cow, and it then curdles in it; so, when we want to set or turn Milk, for Cheese or other use, we must have the Milk warm as one may guess the Body of the Calf was, and the Milk was likewise, when the Calf receiv’d it from the Cow. There is great danger if the Milk be too hot when the Rennet is put to it, for then it sets or turns to Curd very quick, and the Cheese will be hard; but it is good to let the Milk be of such a warmth as not to come too soon, as it is called in the Dairies, but to have it of such a warmth, as to let the Curd set easily, and come moderately, for the quicker the Curd comes, the harder it is, and the harder the Curd is, the harder is the Cheese. Again, we must have some regard to the Pasture where our Cows feed; those that feed in rank Grass have more watery parts in their Milk than those Cows which feed on short Grass: and sometimes, as I have observed before, in my other Works, the Cows feed upon Crow Garlick, or the Alliaria, or Sauce alone, or Jack in the Hedge, or Goose-grass, or Clivers, or Rennet Wort, and their Milk will either be ill tasted, or else turn or curd of itself, altho’ the Cow has had a due time after Calving; and if the Goose-grass or Clivers happen to be the occasion of the turning of the Milk, then a less quantity of Rennet should be used: for the only use of Rennet is to fix the Milk, and turn it to Curd, and if already there is near an equivalent for Rennet in the Milk, by the Cow’s eating such Herbs, then a little of it will do. But as I have observ’d above, where Cattle feed upon long rank Grass, the Milk is watery, and does not contain two thirds of the Cream, or Richness that there is in the same quantity of Milk from Cows fed upon short fine Grass: So that if one was to make Cheese, one would chuse the Milk of Cows that fed upon the purest fine Grass. Here the Milk would be rich, and if the Rennet is good and well proportion’d, the Cheese will be so too. It is to be observ’d likewise, that when Cows feed upon such Weeds as I have mention’d, I mean the Clivers, which turn their Milk, the Curd is always hard and scatter’d, and never comes into a Body, as the pure Milk will do that is set with Rennet, and consequently the Cheese will be hard. There is one thing likewise to be taken notice of, with regard to the Rennet, that as the Bag, of which it is made, happens to be good, so is the Rennet good in proportion. I mean the Bag is good when the Milk of the Cow, that suckled the Calf, is good; for the goodness of the Feed of the Cow does not only dispose the Body of the Calf to produce a gentleness or softness in the Acid, which promotes the curdling of the Milk, when it is received into the Body of the Calf, but makes the Rennet more tender to the setting of the Cheese–Curd, and so the Cheese will consequently be the better for it: And I judge that one reason why the Suffolk Cheese is so much noted for its hardness, is on account of the badness of the Rennet, tho’ it is certain, that the worst Cheeses of that Country are made of Skim–Milk; however, the nature of the Milk is such, according to my Observation, that it makes very rich Butter, but the Cream rises on it so quickly, and so substantially, that it leaves no fatness or richness in the other part, which we call the Skim–Milk, but that remains little better than Water: so that ’tis no wonder in this case, and thro’ the rank Feed of the Cows, that the Cheeses of those parts are not good. I think however the Cheese of Suffolk might be help’d in a good measure, if the Farmers there were to have their Rennet Bags from places where the Grass was short and fine; for I guess then, from the above reasoning, that the Curd would be of a more tender nature, or not of so binding a quality as it now is, and the Cheese consequently would be the better. But besides the goodness of the Milk and the Rennet, if a Cheese is over press’d, it will be hard and unpleasant; but it is to be remark’d, that all Cheeses that are hard press’d will keep longer than those that are gently press’d, and bear transporting thro’ the hottest Climates, which the more tender-made Cheeses will not without corrupting, unless they are put into Oil. There is one thing which I may observe particularly, relating to the Rennet Bag; which is, that the Calf should suck it full about an hour before it is kill’d, that there may be more and fresher Curd in it; tho’ in the killing of Calves it is a Rule to let the Calf fast some time before killing, which we are told contributes to the Whiteness of the Flesh. Again, it would be an advantage in the making of Cheese to have your Cattle all of one sort, and to feed all upon the same sort of Pasture; for when it happens to be otherwise, the Cheeses are apt to decay, from the different Tempers of the Milk; but let our Milk be what it will, be careful of the former Method prescribed, i.e. to break the Curd by gentle degrees, and as equally as possible every where: the little pains extraordinary will be paid in the goodness of the Cheese, for then it will not be full of Eyes or Hollows, and will sell the better.

But besides the way of preparing the Rennet, as I have here set down, it is practised to make an artificial Rennet, which will do very well for making of Cheese; and that is, to boil the Cliver, or as some call it Goose-grass, or others Rennet–Wort, in Water, and you may add some Tops of Sweet Bryar; about a Spoonful of which Decoction, or boiled Liquor, will turn a Pail-full of Milk, of about five Gallons, without any other help; but in the Preparation of this, as well as the other, for the Improvement of the Cheeses, in giving them rich Flavours, it is adviseable to insert, while we are boiling the Waters for them, either some of such Sweet Herbs as we like, or such Spices as we most covet the taste of. As for the famous Stilton Cheese, which I have already published the Receipt of, we are to make the Rennet strong of Mace, by boiling the Mace in the Salt and Water, for without that is done, the Cheese will not have the true Relish that the first famous Stilton Cheeses had; and without the People of Stilton keep up the antient way of making it, agreeable to the old Receipt, they must of necessity lose the Reputation they have gain’d by their Cheeses. I shall not pretend to affirm why the Cheeses now in that Town are not generally so good as they were formerly; but perhaps it is because some of the Cheese–Sellers there depend upon the reputation of the first Cheeses, and now buy Cheeses from other parts, where nothing of the true Receipt is known but the Figure. However, it would be injustice in me if I did not take notice, that the Master of the Blue–Bell Inn in Stilton provided me with one that was excellent in its way, and yearly furnishes as many Customers with them as give him timely Notice: But as these Cheeses require time in the Dairy, before they are fit for eating, and the Season of making them is in the Bloom of the Year, so it is necessary to speak for them betimes, to have them to one’s mind. I shall not give the Receipt of it at this time, as it has already fallen into a good number of hands with my former Pieces, and has been thought good enough to have been copied from me, with many other Articles, and published by Mr. Lawrence. I shall proceed therefore to give the Receipts for making of some other kinds of Cheeses, which yet have not appear’d in the World, which I have collected from some of the best Dairies in England. The following is the famous Buckingham Cheese, which I had from Mr. Foord, a very curious Gentleman of that place.

To make Buckingham Cheese. From Mr. Foord of that Place.

Prepare a Cheese Vat or Cheese Mote of a square Figure, six Inches over, and nine Inches deep, full of small Holes for the convenience of letting out the Whey when the Curd is put into it: Then take the Night’s Cream, and mix it with the Morning’s Milk, and put the Rennet to it to cool. When the Curd is come, take it gently from the Whey, and fill the Cheese Vat with it, and lay a Board up on the Curd, and as that sinks, fill up the Cheese Vat with fresh Curds; this should be done once every Hour till Night. The next Day turn your Cheese upside down, and continue turning it every Night and Morning till it shrinks from the Vat or Cheese Mote, and is stiff enough to take out without breaking, and then lay it upon the Shelf to be turn’d, and shift it Night and Morning till ’tis dry for use. This Mr. Foord tells me is the best sort of Cheese he has met with in England.

The following I have experienced to be an extraordinary Cheese; in some places ’tis call’d the Golden Cheese, and in others the Marygold Cheese, which it is properly. The Juice of the Marygolds adds a very great richness to the Milk, and contributes almost as much to it as Cream would do. The following is the Receipt to make it.

To make Marygold Cheese.

Gather your Marygold Flowers in a dry Day, and pick the golden-colour’d Leaves from them, (these we call the Petals of the Flowers:) As soon as you have pick’d a sufficient quantity of these Leaves for your use, bruise them in a Mortar, or grind them, if you have Conveniency, and strain out the Juice; this Juice, when you put the Rennet to the Milk, must be put into the Milk, and stirr’d into it. The Milk must then be set, and as soon as the Curd is come, break it gently, and as equally as possible, and put it into the Cheese Vat, and press it with a gentle Weight, letting the bottom part of the Vat have such a number of Holes in it, as will let out the Whey easily, or else a Spout to carry off the Whey; but the Holes are much better than the Spout. This Cheese, which is made in a Cloth, must be used like other Cheeses made after that manner.

As for the making of Sage–Cheese, the following is the best way that I have met with, and therefore I think the Receipt may be useful to the Publick.

To make a plain Sage–Cheese.

Gather the young Tops of red Sage, and bruise them in a Mortar till you can press the Juice from them; then take Leaves of Spinach or Spinage, and bruise them likewise, and press out the Juice to mix with the Sage Juice; for the Sage Juice of it self is not of a pleasant green Colour, and the Spinach Juice is added to it to render it more bright to the Sight; it also serves to take off the bitterness of the Sage. When this Juice is prepared, put your Rennet to the Milk, and, at the same time, mix as much of your Sage and Spinach Juice with it, as will give the Milk the green Colour you desire. If you would have it strong of the Sage, you must have the greater share of Sage Juice; or weaker of the Sage, the greater share of Spinach Juice. When the Curd is come, break the Curd gently, and when it is all equally broken, put it into the Vat or Cheese Mote, and press it gently: remember that the equal and due breaking of the Curd will keep your Cheese from having Hollows or Eyes in it, and the gentle pressing of Cheese will make it eat tender and mellow. This, as well as the Marygold Cheese, must be salted, when it has been press’d about eight Hours.

To make Sage–Cheese in Figures.

Those that are willing to have figur’d Cheeses, such Cheeses as are partly green and partly otherwise, must take the following method. Provide two Cheese Vats of the same bigness, and set your Milk in two different Vessels; one part with plain Rennet only, and the other with Rennet and Sage Juice, as directed in the above Receipt; make these as you would do two distinct Cheeses, and put them into the Presses at the same time. When each of these Cheeses has been prest half an hour, take them out and cut some square Pieces, or long Slips, quite out of the plain Cheese, and lay them by upon a Plate; then cut as many Pieces out of the Sage Cheese, of the same Size and Figure of those that were cut out of the plain Cheese, and presently put the pieces of the Sage Cheese into the holes that were cut in the plain Cheese, and the pieces cutout of the plain Cheese into the holes of the Sage Cheese, contriving to make them fit exactly: for this use some have Tin Plate, made into Figures of several Shapes, with which they cut out the pieces of their Cheeses so exactly, that they fit without trouble. When this is done, return them to the Presses, and treat them like common Cheeses, so will you have one Cheese Sage, with white or plain Figures in it, and the other a white Cheese, with green Figures in it. In the making of these Cheeses you must particularly observe to break your Curd very equally, and press both your Cheeses as equally as possible before you cut out the Figures; for else when they come to be press’d for the last time, your Figures will press unequally and lose their Shapes. When these Cheeses are made, they must be frequently turn’d and shifted on the Shelf, and often rubb’d with a coarse Cloath. These Cheeses may be made about two Inches thick, for if they are thicker, it will be more difficult to make the Figures regular; these will be fit to eat in about eight Months.

To make Cheese in imitation of Cheshire Cheese.

When your Milk is set, and the Curd is come, it must not be broken with a Dish, as is usual in the making of other Cheeses, but drawn together by the Hands to one side of the Vessel, gently and regularly broken; for if it is roughly press’d, a great deal of the richness of the Milk will go into the Whey. As you thus gather your Curd, put it into the Vat or Cheese Mote till it is full, then press it and turn it often, salting it at several times. It is to be noted, that the Cheeses should be six or eight Inches thick, and will be fit to eat in a Year; they must be frequently turn’d and shifted upon the Shelf, and rubb’d often with a dry coarse Cloath, and at the Year’s end may have a hole bored in the middle, so as to contain a quarter Pint of Sack, which must be pour’d into it, and then the hole stopp’d close with some of the same Cheese, and the Cheese set in a Wine Cellar for six Months to mellow; at the end of which time, the Sack will be all lost, and the hole will be in a manner clos’d up.

To make Cheese in imitation of those made in Gloucestershire.

These Cheeses are to be about two Inches thick, and the Vats or Cheese Motes must be provided accordingly; set your Milk as directed in the former Receipts, and breaking it as equally and tenderly as possible, put it in a Cloth into the Vat, and set it in the press for an Hour; then take it out of the Press, and cut it in small Pieces, as big as Nutmegs, into a Pan of scalding Water, taking them again soon out of the Water, and sprinkle them with Salt at your pleasure, and return them again to the Vat or Cheese Mote, and keep them in the Press till the next Morning, and after that turn them and wipe them often, till they come to be very dry; or else when you have let one of these Cheeses press about two Hours, salt it on the upper side, and turn it at Night, and salt the side that lies uppermost, to lie in the Press till Morning; but the first way of cutting and salting it is much the best. These Cheeses will be fit to cut when they have been made eight Months; it is to be observ’d, that if we salt them in the manner first mention’d, that is, by cutting the Cheese, such Cheeses will be smooth-coated.

To make Slip–Coat Cheese, which is the thin Summer Cheese, call’d in London Cream Cheese. From the Farm call’d the Vaises in Essex.

Take six Quarts of new Milk, and a Pint of Cream, put it together with a Spoonful of Rennet just warm, and let it stand till the Curd is come; then lay a Cloath in your Cheese Vat, and with a Skimming–Dish cut out the Curd, and lay it in the Vat till it is full, turning your Cheese–Cloath over it; and as the Curd settles, lay more on, till you have laid on all. When the Whey is drain’d out, turn the Cheese into a dry Cloath, and then lay a weight of a Pound upon it; at Night turn it into another dry Cloath, and the next Morning salt it a little, then make a Bed of Nettles or Ash–Leaves to lay it on, and cover it with the same, shifting them twice a day, till the Cheese is fit to eat, which will be in about ten days. This Cheese is approved to be the best of the kind in the whole Country, and may be made all the Summer.

It is to be observ’d, that if in any sort of Cheese, which is here mentioned, there is not a strength or briskness of taste agreeable to every Palate, it may be strengthned, by putting either Spice into the Rennet Bag, as Pepper, or Mace, or Cloves, which will make the Rennet very strong, and the Cheese of consequence more sharp to the Palate; or else add the Juices of strong sweet Herbs to the Milk, when the Rennet is put in: the Juice of Marygolds especially helps the richness of the Milk, or Cheese. The Mace in good quantity put into the Rennet will give the Cheese a most agreeable warmth.

As for the Antipathy which some People bear to Cheese, I judge that it must proceed from the first impression made from the Nurse that suckles Children, or from the first Cow’s Milk that is given them: for as the Stomach is the first part which the Nourishment is received into; so, as that Nourishment is at first favourably receiv’d into the Stomach, so the Tone of the Stomach will ever remain afterwards, unless it could be so clear’d from the first impression by such a Tryal as Human Nature can hardly bear. I guess too, that from this Prejudice in the Stomach proceeds the Aversion which some People have to the Smell of Cheese; and if I may go a little farther this way, I suppose that the Dislike to Cats, and the Antipathy some People bear to them, is from Frights which the Mothers have receiv’d from them during their Pregnancy: concerning which last Particular, I have offer’d my Sentiments in the Article of the Longing of Women, in my Philosophical Account of the Works of Nature. But as for the other things, which some People bear an Aversion to, as the Mutton of black Sheep, or a Breast of Mutton, &c. they depend upon the loathing of the Stomach, from the first Impression. What I have remark’d here, concerning the preparing and softning of the quality of the Rennet Bag, is in part a reason for the first good or bad Impression that may be made upon Mankind with regard to Cheese; and I think the following relation, which I had from a noble Peer, from whom I have learnt many curious and useful things, tending to the good of my Country, will be acceptable to the World.

Some Gentlemen that had been hunting, and were led by their Sport to a retir’d part of the Country, where they found only a Cottage to refresh themselves in, were forc’d to take up with Bread and Cheese; there was nothing else to be had, and they had craving Stomachs: but one of the Company was so unfortunate as to have an aversion to Cheese, and could never bear either the taste or smell of it; however, at this time feeing how heartily it was eaten by his Companions, and being very hungry, he resolved to venture upon it, and eat heartily of it; but about an hour after was taken so very ill with Purging and Vomiting, that in a short time his Life was despair’d of. He had the Advice of the best Physicians, but no Medicine took place, and he was given over, after he had lain in that condition a Week; however, at length the Distemper went off, and by degrees he get strength enough to go homeward, and in his way happening to stop at an Inn, where there stood a Waggon Load of Cheshire Cheeses, he found that he had a strong Appetite to eat some of that sort, and had one cut on purpose, and eat heartily of it, without suffering the least inconvenience, and has ever since been a great lover of Cheese. So that there is an Example of getting over this Aversion; but considering the difficulty he went thro’, it shews the danger of such an Attempt: Nothing less than the violent Scouring he underwent could have chang’d the first Impression made in his Stomach. But thus far of Cheese.

It is necessary, in the next place, to say something of Butter, and how far that may be mended in many parts of England, as well for private as for more general use.

In the first place it is to be remark’d, that some Grounds will never produce good Butter, and others will not produce good Cheese, tho’ there is the best management in the Dairy. Again, there is one sort of Cattle, which tho’ we feed them in the finest Grass, and best Pasture, will never yield a rich Milk; while on the other hand, there are some sorts of Cattle which will yield a rich Milk for Butter in any Pasture: tho’, as I have observ’d before, the Milk and Butter will be ill tasted if the Cows fed upon Crow–Garlick, Alliaria, or Saxifrage. What I have said of this, with regard to the making of Cheese, must here be consider’d; that is, if the Cows feed upon short fine Grass, there will be more Cream in the Milk than if they feed upon long rank Grass. Indeed the long rank Grass will give more Milk than the short, but less Butter, and worse into the bargain. Again, the Milk of one Cow shall give richer and better Butter than the Milk of others, tho’ they all feed on the same Pasture, even so that the Milk of one Cow will cover or enrich the Butter made from nine or ten other Cows; her Milk will make Butter of a rich yellow Colour, full of Fatness, and the others will only produce a pale, lean Butter, but all together will be good: I know several Instances of this, and every one who is skilful in a Dairy may observe it. I have already treated largely concerning this Particular, in my Works of Husbandry, and I shall therefore proceed to speak of the Management of Milk in the Dairy for making Butter; for I am very sensible, that many Farmers might have twice the Benefit from their Dairies, if the Articles of Butter and Cheese were consider’d in a rational way, and the old Custom could be broke through; and moreover, if the best Rules for managing of the Dairy were known, and put in practice, the whole Country would be the better for it, every one might enjoy the benefit of good things: whereas for want of knowledge among some Farmers, their Goods are of small value, and the People are also disatisfied.

In many parts of England, it is common to set Milk in Brass Pans, and that gives an ill Taste to the Milk; and again, there is a custom of setting the Cream in Brass–Kettles over the Fire, and as it warms to stroak the Butter as it rises to the edge of the Kettle: this way is very bad for Butter, for the warm Brass assuredly will spoil the Taste of the Cream, and it is often smoak’d. The surest way is to set the Milk in glaz’d Earthen Pans or in Leaden Pans, but the Earthen Pans are preferable. It should be particularly observ’d, that the Dairy be kept cool, for that in hot Weather contributes greatly to the Advantage of the Butter: I have known some that have had Streams of Water running thro’ them, and at the same Places, instead of Glass Windows, there have been no Lights at all to them but thro’ Wyer, and Shutters to them, to open or close as the Sun chang’d its Course. The thatching of the Dairy is much cooler also than Tyling; and whatever will contribute to keep off the Sun, should be practis’d. There are yet in some Places in England some Farmers that do not know the use of the Churn; however, it is certain, that there is no better way of making Butter than by that means, or something equivalent to it; that is, by beating the Cream, so that the Oily, or Fat Parts separate from the Watery Parts, in the most constant and gentle way that is possible, for to use this beating of the Cream too violently, will make the Butter like Grease; whereas a gentle beating of the Cream will render it more firm or stiff: and besides, when the Cream is beat with too much hurry, the Butter will ferment, and presently change to be of a bad Taste; but if it be gently beat or churn’d, it will be firm, and will be fit for keeping. Again, it must be observ’d, that as the beating or churning of Cream, to bring it to Butter, is only to separate the oily from the watery Parts of the Cream, so when once you begin to churn, or beat the Cream, you must continue to churn or beat it in the most constant manner you can, till the Butter is made: for if you had perhaps beat the Cream within three or four Minutes of its becoming Butter, if you leave off the Work but a Minute, the oily and watery Parts will return to one another, and will require as much Labour as before to separate them: it is like Oil and Vinegar that have been mix’d by Labour, and then let alone for a Minute or two, they will divide and separate from one another, as much as if they had never been mix’d; but the beating of it too violently, will make the Butter oily, as observ’d before. As for the Figure of our common Churn, I shall not give a draught of it, because such as are unacquainted with it may understand it much better by seeing a Model of it, which may be had at any Toy–Shop in London; nay, the very beating of Cream with a Spoon, in a small Bowl, will bring it to Butter; but it must be beat regularly.

In the great Dairies in Holland, where one Farmer keeps four or five hundred Cows, the Cream is put into a large Well, lined with Lead, and a large Beam set with cross Bars is turn’d in the Cream by a Horse; but the violence of the Motion makes the Butter rather like Oil than Butter; and the consequence is, that it will not keep long, and as I have heard say, will not melt well, like the Butter that is made by more gentle means. Where a gentle way is used in making Butter, it will cut like Wax, and it should especially be well wrought with the Hands, when it is fresh, taken from the Churn and salted for common use; for if the Milk be not well work’d out of it, the Butter will not keep. However, if Butter begins to decay in goodness, or change to an ill Taste, let it be work’d well, and wash’d with Water, and it will come to itself, and will bear salting and potting as well as fresh Butter; but always observe not to put up Butters of several sorts into the same Pot or Vessel, but chuse that of the same Dairy, and of the same making, if possible. One of the most curious Women I have met with in this way, is Mrs. Cowen, a Shopkeeper at Newport Pond in Essex, who pots great quantities every Year; there are undoubtedly many others who are very good in this way, but as I do not know them, therefore I may be excus’d if I mention her in particular.

Again, Butter that was good originally, and well potted, may be wash’d and beaten in the Winter, so as to be made more sweet and palatable than fresh Butter, made in many Places, at that time of the Year; and this is frequently practiced about London, where the workers of it get more than twice the first Price of the Butter, by their Care and Labour.

Before I conclude this Article, it may be necessary to observe, that the best managers of the Dairy frequently fill up their Churns with cold Water, before they put in the Cream to churn, in the heat of the Summer, for fear of over-heating the Butter in the making, and in the Winter heat their Churns with warm Water before they use them, but the over-heating of the Churns spoils the Butter; she best way is to set the bottom of the Churn in warm Water, when you churn in cold Weather, to save Trouble.

I shall now proceed to say something of preparing Cordial Waters; for this Month gives us a vast variety of Herbs in full perfection, and in the most proper condition for the use of the Shops, whether for drying, infusing, distilling, &c.

In the first place, all Herbs design’d to be dried, must be gather’d in dry Weather, and laid in some Room, or cover’d Place, to dry in the Shade, to be afterwards used for infusion or distillation, for which Business the dried Herbs are as useful as the green Herbs, if they be such as are Aromatick, viz. Thyme, Sweet Marjoram, Savory, Hysop, Sage, Mint, Rosemary, the Leaves of the Bay–Tree, the Tops of Juniper, Gill, or Ground Ivy, and such like: The Infusions, or Spirits, drawn from dried Herbs are more free from the Earthy and Watery Parts, than the Infusions, or Spirits drawn from green Herbs. I observe, that in making such Infusions as Teas of dried Herbs, the best way is to pour boiling Water upon them, and in half a Minute, at most, pour out the Water again from the Herbs, if we have them in small quantities, as we do Sage Tea, or other Tea; such Tea will then be of a fine green Colour, and full of Spirit: but if the Herbs stand longer with Water upon them, the Water will change of a brownish Colour, will lose the fine Flavour of the Herb, and become ill-tasted; so that in the making of Sage Tea, for example, pour on your boiling Water, and when it has been half a Minute upon the Sage–Leaves, pour it off and fling away the Leaves; for if you pour more Water upon them, you must expect your Tea of a dark Colour and ill tasted: therefore have fresh Sage to every fresh quantity of Water. And the same method should be used in the making of all kinds of Teas, to make them palatable and more wholesome. But when I speak of Teas having good qualities in them, I must not be understood to mean any of the Foreign Teas, such as Green, and Bohea Teas, &c. for I have had experience enough in them to know that they are injurious to the Body, of which I shall say more in a Treatise by it self. What I mention here, is only with regard to the infusing of Herbs in the Tea manner; but there are Infusions of Herbs in Spirits: here the Spirit that the Herbs are put into, must be cold, or used without any Fire at all, and the Herbs in this case may be used either green or dry; here they may stand several days before the Spirit that they are infus’d in be drawn off, as the following Cordial, call’d Surfeit Water, may serve to instance.

To make red Surfeit–Water. From Mrs. B.

To three Gallons of Brandy, put the Flower Leaves of a Bushel of red Poppies, one Pound of Raisins of the Sun stoned, a large Stick of Liquorice sliced, a quarter Pound of Caraway–Seeds bruised, a large Handful of Angelica, Sweet Marjoram, red Sage, Dragon’s Mint, and Baulm, of each a handful; let all these be cover’d close in a Glass, or glaz’d Earthen Vessel, and stand to infuse or steep in the Brandy for nine Days, keeping it, during that time, in a Cellar; then strain it off upon a Pound and half of Loaf–Sugar, and put it into Bottles. This is a good Cordial, if used only when occasion requires.

In this Month, Orange–Flowers are in the greatest plenty; about half a Pound of them put into a Gallon of Brandy, with a quarter Pound of Orange–Peel, and half a Pound of double refin’d Loaf–Sugar, makes a very agreeable Cordial: We may let these Ingredients infuse in the Brandy nine or ten days before we pour the Brandy from them. Some chuse rather to put the Sugar to the Brandy after it is pour’d from the Orange–Flowers.

As for the distilling part, we have already several Books which treat largely of that Business, both with respect to the management of what is call’d the cold Still, and the Alembick, to which I shall refer: but in this place I shall only take notice, that whereas several kinds of distill’d Waters are drawn from many Herbs, which do not appear all the Year about; so if one has not an opportunity of collecting all our Herbs together, just when we want them, we may yet distil those we can get at one time, and make another Distillation of those we collect at another time, and so mix both Spirits or Waters together: For Example, in those Cordial Waters where the Ros Solis, or Rosa Solis is used, which is an Herb not always to be found, and will not keep above a day or two after ’tis gather’d, this I say may be distill’d by itself, and kept to use with other Waters at pleasure; putting of this such a proportion as would have been produced from the quantity directed, of the Plant, in the Receipt, if it had been distill’d with the other Herbs: and so of any other Herb that is hard to come by.

This Herb, however, I may inform my Reader, grows in Bogs, and when we find it we may preserve it artificially, by either planting it immediately in other boggy places, or else in artificial Bogs, made of Earth and Water in Tubs, or Earthen Pots, made without holes at the bottom.

This Season affords us great variety of Necessaries for Food, in the Farm and Garden; the Pond Fish, as Pike or Jack, Carp, Tench, and Perch, as well as Eels are in Season, and may be prepared for the Table, as directed in March; there are likewise green Geese, young Ducks, Chickens, Pigeons, and Rabbits in the artificial Warren; and in the Garden, Spinage and Cabbage–Lettuce to boil, some forward Pease and Beans, Asparagus, Artichokes, the first Cabbages, and Caulyflowers, Cucumbers for stewing and in raw Sallads: however, in this Season all raw Sallads should yet partake of some warm Herbs, as I have directed in my New Improvement of Planting and Gardening. The Method which I most approve of for dressing a Sallad, is, after we have duly proportion’d the Herbs, to take two thirds Oil Olive, one third true Vinegar, some hard Eggs cut small, both the Whites and Yolks, a little Salt and some Mustard, all which must be well mix’d and pour’d over the Sallad, having first cut the large Herbs, such as Sallery, Endive, or Cabbage–Lettuce, but none of the small ones: then mix all these well together, that it may be ready just when you want to use it, for the Oil will make it presently soften, and lose its briskness. Onions should always be kept in reserve, because it is not every one that like their relish, nor is Oil agreeable to every one; but where Oil is not liked, the Yolks of hard Eggs, bruis’d and mix’d with the Vinegar, may be used as above. The difficulty of getting good Oil in England, is, I suppose, the reason why every one does not admire it; for I was once of opinion I could never like it: but when I was once persuaded to taste such as was of the best sort, I could never after like a Sallad without it. The best Oil that I have met with in England, is at Mr. Crosse’s, a Genouese Merchant, at the Genouese Arms in Katherine–Street, in the Strand, London.

As for the ordering of the above Animals and Vegetables for the Table, we may find Directions in this Work.

In this Month gather Elder–Flowers when they are dry, and pick them from the Stalks; let them dry in the Shade, and then put an Ounce to each Quart of White–Wine Vinegar, to stand in the Vinegar for two Months, then pour the Vinegar from them for use.

About the end of this Month is a proper time to make Sage–Wine, which is a very pleasant one, and I think worthy a place among the best Receipts.

To make Sage–Wine. From Mrs. E. B.

To three Gallons of Water put six Pounds of Sugar, boil these together, and as the Scum rises take it off, and when it is well boiled put it in a Tub boiling hot, in which there is already a Gallon of red Sage Leaves clean pick’d and wash’d; when the Liquor is near cold, put in the Juice of four large Lemons, beaten well with a little Ale Yeast, mix these all well together, and cover it very close from the Air, and let it stand forty eight Hours; then strain all thro’ a fine Hair–Sieve, and put it into a Vessel that will but just hold it, and when it has done working, slop it down close, and let it stand three Weeks or a Month before you bottle it, putting a Lump of Loaf–Sugar into every Bottle. This Wine is best when it is three Months old. After this manner you may make Wine of any other Herb or Flower.

Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 22:17