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Archive for November, 2018

Inquiring readers,

I am sharing this 18th century recipe just in time for the American Thanksgiving. In Georgian England and Colonial America, apples were picked in late fall in preparation for making cyder.  The fermented concoction was then bottled in March. This recipe comes from The Compleat Houfewife: or, Accomplifs’d Gentlewoman’s Companion, written by Eliza Smith and first published in London in 1727. The book was widely disseminated over the next 50 years, including the American colonies.

Recipe from the Compleat Housewife, a cookery book written by Eliza Smith and published in London in 1727.PULL your Fruit before ‘tis too ripe, and let it lie but one or two days to have one good Sweat; your Apples muft be Pippins, Pearlmains, or Harveys, (if you mix Winter and Summer Fruit together ‘tis never good) grind your Aples and prefs it, and when your Fruit is all prefs’d. put it immediately into a Hogfhead where it may have fome room to Work; but no Vent, but a little hole near the Hoops, but clofe bung’d; put 3 or 4 pound of Raifins into a Hogfhead, and two pound of Sugar, it will make it work better; often racking it off is the beft way to fine it, and always rack it into fmall Veffels, keeping them clofe bung’d, and only a fmall Vent-hole; if it fhould work after racking, put into your Veffel feme Raifins for it to feed on, and bottle it in March.

For those who are curious about the cider recipe above, a hogshead equals 110 gallons. By the end of the 17th century, close to to 10,000 hogsheads were exported yearly from Worcestershire alone. (1)

ancient cider making

From Ancient Cider Making at Smithsonian.com

Drinking cider has been around for thousands of years.

…cider spread throughout the Roman Empire and across Europe, becoming popular with people from the Germanic tribes to the Normans, whose conquest of England in the 9th century brought apple orchards and the very word “cider” into the English language.”  Read more @ Smithsonian.com

While ale and beer were more popular drinks, cider held its own. One of the apples mentioned in Eliza Smith’s cyder recipe is a pippin.  The word pippin denotes an apple tree grown from a seedling and that was not a grafted. Apples in the 17th and 18th century were not the sweet and beautifully shaped varieties we are accustomed to in our day. Pippins were lopsided, lumpy little fruits that were hard and tasted tart when picked early, but slowly ripened into a rich flavor. Other popular cyder apples were Pearmains,  the oldest known apple of English origin, and Doctor Harvey apples, which originated in Norfolk, England in 1629.

The endangered newton pippin apple.

Lumpy little pippins. Click here to learn more about the Newton Pippin apples in this photo. They are (link) now endangered in the U.S. 

In the 16th and 17th centuries , apple orchards were planted in Kent, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire. Most of the apples, which were transported via canals throughout England to an ever expanding market, were used to make cider. This was how cider-making became a big business.

Image of the fronticepiece and title of the Compleat Housewie or Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion

I recall reading one historian’s opinion that, because of the dangers of unsafe water, before the age of enlightenment and before tea, hot chocolate, and coffee became popular and more affordable, (the boiled water essential in their preparation was safe), the populace was generally soused morning, noon, and night from drinking alcoholic beverages such as wine, ale, gin, cider, and other fermented beverages. Some folks obviously drank more than others (the vivid characters in Tom Jones come to mind), but drinking alcoholic beverages was so common, that pregnant women were administered these drinks to dull the pain of labor.

In 2009, Sarah Meachan, a history professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, published a book entitled Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake. In it, she wrote:

In parishes, villages, and small towns throughout England, women continued to make small-scale cider and ale until the eighteenth century.”Quote in this link from Google books

The men and women who colonized the Chesapeake region (Virginia and Maryland) followed patterns similar to their British counterparts. Women made alcohol in the Colonies from the late 17th to late 18th centuries. Men owned the taverns, which made sense since women were not allowed to own property, except in the instance of a rich widow. And, so, cyder making , which was once a woman’s task, both in Great Britain and the colonies, was eventually overtaken by men as the distribution of cyder to male-owned taverns increased in both size, scope, and profitability.

Hard cider is once more gaining popularity in boutique craft breweries that are sprouting up in every place I frequent along the East Coast of the U.S.

In ending this post, I raise my glass of cyder to you, dear readers. May you and yours have a most blessed day with family and friends (and may you remember every bit of it!)

 

Sources:

The Ancient Origins of Apple Cider: The classic fall drink has boozy origins going back thousands of years, Smithsonian Magazine, December 8, 2016, Smithsonian.com

Pippin image: The Heirloom Orchadist,

Additional reading:

Save England’s Real Apples, Karen Homer, The Guardian, downloaded 3/21/2018. URL: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/14/apple-britain-gala-traditional

‘Age of Indulgence: Beer and Wine in the Era of Jane Austen,’ Ancient Art Podcast, July 12, 2015

 

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Landing page to Rowlandson's characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders, intended as a companion to the New Picture of London, with an image of Drayman.

One of the privileges of using technology is our ability to peruse original editions online. We no longer need to travel to major city and university libraries to hunt down sources, or travel to distant states and lands, although viewing Jane Austen’s letters at the Morgan Library exhibit in New York gave me an unexpected thrill and feeling of awe.

Thomas Rowlandson is one of my favorite artists/caricaturists of the Georgian era. I hold him and the French caricaturist, Honoré-Victorin Daumier, in the highest esteem. As soon as I discovered this link I wanted to share it with you, the readers of this blog.

The following link leads directly to Rowlandson’s characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders, intended as a companion to the New Picture of London. Published in London in 1820, the 54 scenes of London street life would have been very familiar to Jane Austen and her family. In fact, to understand the world she lived in, one must view the lives led by all the social orders in her era.

Rowlandson's "Chairs to Mend" detail of man, dog, and potential customer

One reason I love Rowlandson cartoons is the attention he pays to details – the dog reacting to his street cries, the chair mending materials he carries, the old woman in the background holding a chair to mend – with deft lines he recreates a noisy, raucous street scene. This image from the British Library is in the public domain.

Jane, who traveled to Bath and London and other large towns, was no simpering Miss. She must have been exposed (infrequently, perhaps) to scenes such as the one depicted in “Strawberries.”  If she did not view them as an eye witness, she might well have come upon to the many caricatures publicly hanging for sale in print shop windows or printed in publications.

Detail of "Strawberries" from Rowlandson's characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders, intended as a companion to the New Picture of London

Rowlandson incorporates rich story telling into his masterful drawings. The strawberry seller in the front of this detail has packaged her fruit tidily in small baskets, which the customer at right carries away with some satisfaction. The strawberry seller in the background at left sells her fruit loosely, allowing the male customer to bend over and ogle her bosom while grabbing for her berries, a not so subtle jab at the many streetwalkers (both day and night) occupying London at the time.

Jane’s pugnacious sense of humor, evident from her juvenilia and in a more sophisticated fashion in her later novels and letters, makes sense, given her talent, the way in which her family nurtured her budding talent, and the influence satiric novels and cartoons of the day must have had on her. No matter how gently bred a young lady might be (except for the most shielded), there was no escaping the dichotomy between the rules of etiquette for the gently bred and the general licentiousness of the Georgian era.

Rowlandson depicts both worlds masterfully in the hand-colored plates we are privileged to view in this online resource.

Two pages in Rowlandson's characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders, intended as a companion to the New Picture of London, depicting Door-Mats seller and Earthen-ware seller.

I love how Rowlandson draws details of every day life that no longer exists: the maid choosing a new door mat and another maid scrubbing the front stoop, while she is ogled by an old man. In ‘Earthen-Ware,’ a lady of quality inspects the pots and bowls for sale. This is a straightforward depiction of merchants trying to make a sale, one in which I can readily imagine Jane Austen as the customer. This public domain image was taken from this link on the British Library website.

 

Image of a lady selling poodle pups to a couple in Rowlandson's characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders, intended as a companion to the New Picture of London.

One of the sweeter drawings in Rowlandson’s book. Public domain image from the British Library/

One can learn so much from these illustrations about early 19th century London and a life once lived and now lost. Heartbreaking scenes (such as those with the chimney sweepers and coal heavers) are interspersed with a sweet depiction of a young gardener showing his wares to a pretty woman or a funny scene of a woman crying “sweet lavender” while holding a screaming baby. These images help me understand Jane Austen’s London experiences better, while making me appreciate the sheer artistry of the man who created them.

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Inquiring readers,

We are almost halfway through our blog tour of Rachel Dodge’s book, Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen. So far, you have been treated to a number of informative and creative interviews and reviews. You also had the opportunity to join in several givaways.

AND THE WINNERS ARE! Camille Turner and Jamie Fisher! Congratulations, ladies. As soon as I hear from you, I shall send your addresses to the publisher.

 

Jane Austen’s World is jumping on board the giveaway bandwagon. Using a random drawing generator, I will choose two visitors from the U.S. who answer this question (which Rachel Dodge also answered. See her reply in this post: Click here.)

What’s one question you wish you could ask Jane in person if you could go back in time?

I will draw the two winners on Saturday, November 17thand make the announcement on the 18th! Books will be sent by the publisher, Bethany House as soon as I receive your mailing addresses. (My apologies to all our foreign visitors.)

Now, feel free to comment away!

Vic

 

 

 

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