May 5, 2016

Civil War Era Confederate Milk Substitute

"We have a quantity of arrowroot, and I was told by several that it was useless to prepare it, as the men would not touch it." Kate Cummings, Confederate Nurse



This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks. This week I tried my hand at a confederate milk substitute called Arrowroot powder. 

Arrowroot powder is a starchy powder made from the Maranta Arundinacea plant that is native to Mexico and South America. While it is not something most people are familiar with in modern times, the powder was ubiquitous during the 1860s. Arrowroot powder was frequently used to make a custard like meal for children and those with "weak constitutions." It was a staple in hospitals. 

Additionally, it was used to make mock cream, puddings, jellies, and was considered a good cough syrup and very nutritious. I was excited to share this recipe, even though it is very simple. because arrowroot was something so common in the 1800s and it's not something many people today have even heard of.   

The Challenge: Mock Foods (April 22 - May 5) Historic cookbooks are full of recipes meant to imitate rare, expensive or impractical ingredients. It’s your turn to help your food pretend it’s something that it isn’t!

Arrowroot Powder

The Date/Year and Region: American South, Mobile Alabama

The Recipe: "I make it into a liquid, and while hot stir in several well beaten eggs, then season well with preserves (those slightly acid are the best), then let stand until cool. With wine instead of preserves it is excellent. It makes a pleasant and nourishing drink, will ease a cough, and is beneficial in cases of pneumonia. The men drink it with a relish, but I do not enlighten them in regard to the nature of the mixture. "

Civil War Era Recipe: Confederate Milk Substitute


Ingredients:

- Arrowroot Powder
- Water
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 cup of wine or spoonful of citrus preserves

Instructions:

Put your water in a saucepan on medium heat. Add enough arrowroot powder to make it a milk consistency. Break and scramble the eggs in a separate bowl. Add the eggs and preserves or wine to the arrowroot mixture when it is simmering. Mix the eggs in and remove from the heat to cool. If you want a milk substitute, only stir the eggs in until combined. If you'd rather have an arrowroot meal or medicine, stir until it forms a custard consistency.    

Time to Complete: 15 minutes

Total Cost: $2.00

How Successful Was It?: I have a horrible habit of tasting what I'm cooking as I am cooking it. I tasted the arrowroot powder mixed with the water. It tasted like the left over residue from smarties and smelled like the grease on Auntie Anne's Pretzels. It was so bad I could not believe this was considered a substitute. With the addition of the egg and wine it actually did become a neutral flavor that would be passable for milk with the addition of a little sugar. It was good enough when mixed with something out.     



How Accurate Is It?: No substitutions made. 

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