The Country Housewife, by Richard Bradley


In this Month there are many Delicacies about a Country Seat; all kinds of Pond–Fish are good, there is plenty of Poultry of all kinds, wild and tame, except the Water–Fowl, which should yet remain untouch’d. Turkey Poults, Pheasant Poults, Partridges, and some sort of Pigeons, are good; but for the most part the Dove-cote Pigeons are distemper’d, and are now full of Knots in their Skins, and unwholesome. The Eggs of Fowls likewise at this Season, as well as in the former Month, are unhealthful. Towards the end, Pork comes again in Season, and young Pigs also are pretty plentiful; ’tis a good time likewise to save young Pigs to grow up for now you may turn them with their Dams into the Stubbles, and soon after into the Woods. About the end of this Month, you have Rabbets full grown in common Warrens, and young wild Ducks; and those who live near the Sea, have plenty of Oysters, and in great perfection, much better, in my opinion, than in the Winter. Hares are also now good, and Buck Venison is still good. Turnips, Carrots, Cabbages, Caulyflowers, Artichokes, Melons, Cucumbers, and such like, are in prime; Sallary and Endive, Nasturtium Indicum Flowers, Cabbage Lettice, and blanch’d sweet Fennel is now good for Sallads. Peas and Beans, and Kidney-beans, are likewise to be met with, so that a Country Gentleman and Farmer may have every thing at home, and let out a Table fit for a Prince, without being beholden to the Markets; and the great variety of Fruits which this Season produces, renders it still more delightful and profitable.

Now Elder-berries are ripe and fit for making of Wine, as well the white as the red sort: these are both very good, if they are rightly managed. The following drinks very much like the French Wine call’d Hermitage, and is full as strong.

To make red Elder Wine.

Take twenty Pounds of Malaga Raisins pick’d and rubb’d clean, but not wash’d; shred them small, and steep them in five Gallons of Spring Water, putting the Water cold to them, and stirring them every day; then pass the Liquor thro’ a Hair Sieve, pressing the Raisins with your Hands, and have in readiness six Pints of the Juice of Elder–Berries that have been first pick’d from the Stalks, and then drawn by boiling the Berries in a glaz’d Earthen Pot, set in a Pan of Water over the Fire. Put this Juice cold into the Liquor, stirring it well together, and then tunning it in a Vessel that will just hold it, and let it stand six Weeks or two Months in a warm place; then bottle it, and it will keep a Year if the Bottles are well stopp’d. Note, that the Elder–Berries must be full ripe, and gather’d in a dry day; and when you have tunn’d your Wine, let the place where you set it be warm and dry, where no external Air is admitted, that it may ferment or work duly, for that is a material point. If it be otherwise disposed, so that it stands in a place which is subject to Heats and Cold, the Ferment will stop upon Cold, or be too violent upon Heats; but in cold Weather put some Straw about it. See more of the working of Liquors in March, in the Article of Brewing, and likewise take care that your Bottles are dry when you bottle your Wine, and that you have good Corks; take care likewise that your Wine be clear before you bottle it, or it will be good for nothing. If this Wine be rightly managed according to the above Directions, it will be fit for drinking after it has been bottled a Month.

In the making of white Elder–Wine, there is no difference if you make it with Raisins; but it is much the best, in my Opinion, if you make it with Sugar after the following manner: only it is to be consider’d, that white Elder–Berries are yet very scarce, and there must be more of them used in the Sugar Wine than in the Raisin Wine.

To make white Elder–Wine, or red Elder–Wine, with Sugar.

Gather the Elder–Berries ripe and dry, pick them, bruise them with your Hands, and strain them; then set the Liquor by in glaz’d earthen Vessels for twelve hours to settle, then put to every pint of Juice a pint and half of Water, and to every Gallon of this Liquor put three Pounds of Lisbon Sugar: set this in a Kettle over the Fire, and when it is ready to boil, clarify it with the Whites of four or five Eggs; let it boil an hour, and when it is almost cold, work it with some strong Ale–Yeast, and then tun it, filling up the Vessel from time to time with the same Liquor saved on purpose, as it sinks by working. In a Month’s time, if the Vessel holds about eight Gallons, it will be fine and fit to bottle, and after bottling, will be fit to drink in two Months: but remember, that all Liquors must be fine before they are bottled, or else they will grow sharp and ferment in the Bottles, and never be good for any thing.

N.B. Add to every Gallon of this Liquor a Pint of strong Mountain Wine, but not such as has the Borachio or Hogskin flavour. This Wine will be very strong and pleasant, and will keep several Years.

We must prepare our Red Elder–Wine in the same manner that we make with Sugar, and if our Vessel hold about eight or ten Gallons, it will be fit for Bottling in about a Month; but if the Vessel be larger, it must stand longer in proportion, three or four Months at least for a Hogshead.

This Month Barberries are ripe and fit for pickling; they make a pretty Garnish, and are prepared as follows.

To pickle Barberries, or Pipperages, as call’d in some places.

Gather your Barberries in dry Weather, and lay them in their Bunches into an earthen glazed Pot, then boil a quantity of Water made strong with Salt, scumming it as it rises, and let it stand to be quite cold; then pour it upon the Barberries, so as to cover them an Inch, and cover it close. Some use half Vinegar and half Water for this Pickle, but it is at every one’s pleasure, I think one is as good as the other.

Partridges are now in Season, and are prepared after several manners; some of the principal are the following.

Boil’d Partridges with stew’d Sallary, from Lady W———.

The Partridges being clean’d and trussed, boil them tender, and make the following Sauce for them. Take half a score large Sallary Plants that are well whiten’d or blanched, boil them first in Water and Salt, and then stew them tender with Gravey, Salt, some Pepper, and a Spoonful or two of White wine; and when they are enough, thicken and brown the Sauce they are stew’d in with burnt Butter, lay your Sallary at the bottom of the Dish, and your Partridges upon that, then pour your Sauce over all, and garnish with Lemmon or Orange slic’d. This is the method of stewing Sallary, which is an agreeable Plate of itself.

From the same Lady I had the following Directions for roasted Partridges: Partridges which are designed for roasting may be larded with fine Bacon Fat on the Breast, or roasted without larding; but in a Dish of these Fowls, there should be some of one and some of the other. The Sauce for them should be of two sorts, one of Gravey in the Dish with them, and the other of Bread in Saucers on the sides of the Dish. The Gravey is made of Beef, an Onion, a Bunch of sweet Herbs, some Salt and Pepper, stew’d half an hour together, in a little more Water than will cover them, then strain off the Liquor into the Dish.

The Pap–Sauce, or Bread–Sauce, is made of grated Crumb of Bread, boiled with as much Water as will cover it, a little Butter, an Onion, and some whole Pepper; this must be kept stirring often, and when it is very thick, withdraw the Onion, and serve it in a Saucer with your Partridges. These Sauces may likewise be served with Pheasants, or Quails. These may also be stew’d, farced, baked, or put in Soups, or used in Fricassees. Thus far the Lady.

Hares begin now to be in Season, and are well dress’d by the following Receipt, which I purchased a few Years ago, at a noted Tavern in London.

A Hare and its Sauces.

If you kill a Hare by Coursing, you may keep it if the Weather be cool three days before you roast it; or if it has been run hard by the Hounds, then it will not keep so long. When the Skin is taken off, it is the fashion to leave the Ears on, but that is at pleasure; then truss it for Roasting, and take the Liver and boil it, and mince it very small; add to this grated Bread, a little All–Spice, but fine, some butter’d Eggs, a little dry’d sweet Marjoram, with a Seasoning of Pepper and Salt at discretion, and some Parsley shred small: Mix this well together, and add the Yolk of an Egg to it to bind it; then fill the Body of the Hare moderately with this Farce, and sew up the Belly. When the Hare is first laid down to the fire, put about three pints of Water with an Onion, some Salt and whole Pepper, in the Dripping-pan, and baste the Hare with this till it is near roasted enough, and baste it with a piece of fat burning Bacon, or in the place of that, common Butter; but the Bacon is best, if the Person knows how to use it. When it is enough, pour the following Sauce into the Dish with it: Take the Liquor, with the Onion and Pepper in the Dripping-pan, out before you baste the Hare with Butter or Bacon, and boil it with a glass of Claret; it will be very rich when it comes to be mixt with the Farce out of the Belly of the Hare, and is little trouble. You may thicken this with a little Butter and Flower, if you please.

The following is also a very good one: Take a pound of lean Beef, boil it in about three pints of Water with an Onion, a Bunch of sweet Herbs, some All-spice, Pepper and Salt, till the Beef is boil’d half enough; then cut the Beef in several places to let out the Gravey, and continue to boil all those till the Liquor has lost a third part; then add a little Claret to it, and strain the Liquor through a Sieve, pouring the Gravey hot into the Dish before you put the Hare in it; and when you lay in the Hare, cut away the part that was sew’d up, or take away the thread that sew’d it. Some chuse to skewer up the Belly of the Hare, rather than sew it. You may serve this with Lemmon sliced, and in a plate by it have the following Sauce.

Sweet Venison Sauce.

Take half a pint of Claret, a little Stick of Cinnamon, and boil them together till the Flavour of the Cinnamon is in the Claret; then sweeten it to your mind with double-refined Loaf-sugar. Or else,

Grate some Crumb of Bread, and put to it as much Claret as will make it like thin Pap; add to this a small piece of Cinnamon, and boil it well, then sweeten it with double-refined Loaf-sugar grated small. These are the sweet Sauces used for Hare, and all other Venison.

To dress a Hare with White or Brown Sauce, from the late curious Mr. Harrison of Henley upon Thames.

Cut your Hare in four or eight pieces, and slit the Head; fry it a little in Hog’s Lard, and then put it to stew in an earthen glazed Vessel, with Gravey, half a pint of White-wine, Pepper, Nutmeg, Salt, a bunch of sweet Herbs, and a slice or two of Lemmon–Peel; keep this close covered, and stew it gently till ’tis tender, then strain off the Sauce, and brown it with fry’d Flower, or burnt Butter: pour the Sauce hot over the Hare, and serve it With a Garnish of Lemmon in Slices; but if you would have your Sauce of brighter Colour, instead of the burnt Butter, or fry’d Flower, thicken it with the Yolks of three or four Eggs. This is an excellent way of dressing a Hare, and more generally admired than any other.

This being the Season for taking Honey, I shall here set down the Method of making of Mead, after two ways, which are both extraordinary.

To make Mead, from Lady G.

Take eight Gallons of Water, and as much Honey as will make it bear an Egg; add to this the Rind of six Lemmons, and boil it well, scumming it carefully as it rises. When ’tis off the Fire, put to it the Juice of the six Lemmons, and pour it into a clean Tub, or open earthen Vessel, if you have one large enough, to work three Days; then scum it well, and pour off the clear into the Cask, and let it stand open till it has done making a hissing Noise; after which, stop it up close, and in three Months time it will be fine, and fit for bottling.

To make Hydromel, or Mead.

Take eight Gallons of Water, and as much Honey as will make the Water bear an Egg; put to this a quarter of a pound of Cloves tied in three or four pieces of Muslin or Linnen Cloth, and set it to boil till the Scum has done rising, scumming it as it rises; then take it off the Fire, and take out the Cloves, which may be wash’d and dry’d for other Uses, and pour your Mead into an open Tub to ferment for about three days, till the Violence of the Working is over; after which, scum it very well, and pour the clear into a Vessel, leaving the Bung open till it has done hissing, which you may know by holding your Ear close to it, for at a distance you can hardly discover it. When this hissing is over, stop it close, and let it stand three Months till it is fine, before you bottle it; remember in bottling this, as well as all other Liquors, that the Bottles must be clean, and perfectly dry, and that every Bottle be well cork’d. This will keep good several Years.

Besides this way of making Mead, there is another which I have approved to be very good, which, in all particulars, except the Water, is the same with this; and instead of the Water, put the like Quantity of small Ale–Wort, brew’d with pale Malt: but this will require less Honey than the former, and will require more time in the Vessel before it is fine and fit to bottle; but it will last many Years good, and will drink like Cyprus Wine when it is a Year old. In this Liquor, take particular care that your Cloves are fresh and sound, for else you must add a Quantity in proportion.

N.B. We may make these Meads in the Spring of the Year, as well as at this Season; only the advantage of making it now, is, that you have an opportunity of washing the Honey–Combs after the Honey is run off, and thereby will save Expence in Honey.

The Potatoe now begins to be gather’d, and is a very useful Root, being either boil’d or roasted in hot Embers; and after it is boiled, to be broiled, or after boiling it tender, and beaten in a Mortar, it is used to thicken Sauces, and for making of rich Puddings, as I am inform’d by a skilful Person in this way.

The Roots of red Beets now begin to come in season, and are very good boiled, and sliced, to be put in a Pickle of Vinegar only: thus you may keep them to garnish Sallads of small Herbs, and in some Intervals put Horse–Radish scraped. These Roots will hold all the Winter. The Root of the red Beet makes an excellent Dish, prepared after the following manner, which I got abroad.

To fry the Roots of Red Beets.

Wash your Beet–Roots, and lay them in an earthen glazed Pan, bake them in an Oven, and then peel the Skin off them: after this is done, slit them from the Top to the Tail, and cut them in the shape of the Fish call’d a Sole, about the thickness of the third part of an Inch; dip these in a thick Batter, made of White–Wine, fine Flower, sweet Cream, the Whites and Yolks of Eggs, rather more Yolks than Whites, some Pepper, Salt, and Cloves beaten fine, all well mix’d. As you dip every piece of Beet–Root in this Batter, strew them over thick with fine Flower mix’d with grated Bread, and Parsley shred small, and then fry them in Lard: when they are enough, let them dry, and serve them with a Garnish of Lemmon. These likewise may be put about stew’d Carps, Tench, or roasted Jacks, by way of Garnish, with scraped Horse–Radish, and pickled Barberries.

In the Heats of this Month, the following Jelly is used by a curious Gentleman abroad, who gave me the Receipt of it, under the Name of The Jelly of Health: It is of great use to weak People, and extremely pleasant.

To make the Jelly of Health.

Take some Calves Feet, according to the Jelly you design to make, and also get a Cock of the common Poultry kind; wash these well, and put them in a Kettle to boil, with a proportionable Quantity of Water, particularly taking off the Scum as it rises. When these Meats are boiled almost to pieces, it is a sign that your Jelly is boiled enough; but take care that it is not too stiff, which you may try by taking a little out with a Spoon, and then setting it to cool. Then pour the Liquor thro’ a Sieve into a Stew-pan, and take off all the Fat; after which, put to the Liquor a proportionable Quantity of double-refined Loaf–Sugar, a small Stick or two of Cinnamon, three or four Cloves, and the Rinds of two or three Lemmons: boil all these together gently for about a quarter of an hour, till it is well-tasted, and then beat up the Whites of four or five Eggs, with the Juice of the six Lemmons, and pour them into the Jelly, stirring the whole a little time over the Fire; then let this Mixture stand still upon the Fire till it rises ready to boil over; at which time, you must take it off, and pour it into the Jelly–Bag, and as it runs thro’ into a Pan set to receive it, pour it again into the Jelly–Bag for three or four times till it comes clear, and then let it drop into Jelly–Glasses. Sometimes, the above Gentleman told me, he has put a little White–Wine into the Liquor while the Meats were boiling in it, which he thinks helps it.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54