17 Pantry Essentials a Hundred Years Ago

List of pantry essentials
Source: For Luncheon and Supper Guests (1921) by Alice Bradley

Oh dear – I only have 14 of the 17 pantry essentials that people usually kept on hand a hundred years ago – no pastry flour, rock salt, table sauce. What the heck is table sauce?

41 thoughts on “17 Pantry Essentials a Hundred Years Ago

  1. I also wonder what “table sauce” might be. Ketchup? My grandmother talked of making “chili sauce” which I believed to be a condiment so maybe it referred to a spicy condiment?

      1. I used Heinz chili sauce years ago in a recipe for sweet and sour appetizer meatballs and it was very good. Bet it would be good on hamburgers. I will need to buy some when I go shopping!

    1. Similarly to you, my first thought was that it was ketchip, but it might have been chili sauce. I know that I have seen advertisements for ketchup in hundred-year-old magazines, and I think that I also seen hundred-year-old advertisements for chili sauce – though homemade chili sauce sounds better than the commercial variety.

      1. I agree – those were the days. I have an electric ice cream freezer but somehow it’s not the same as those old hand-crank ones.

    1. I can remember making ice cream using a crank ice cream maker at parties when I was young. Everyone had fun taking turns doing the cranking and it seemed to take forever for the ice cream to be ready to eat.

    1. It’s fascinating how “essential” pantry items have changed across the years. If I was writing the list today, I’d add brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, olive oil, all-purpose flour, cinnamon. . .

  2. Interesting list. I had everything but the fabled “table sauce,” unless that is something like a Worcestershire sauce, in which case I have it all. But I have to confess that the bread flour is a recent addition since the pandemic when I started to explore more bread recipes.

  3. Table sauce? Pass. I have no molasses either, and granulated white sugar has been replaced by golden granulated. Soda I assume is baking soda, in which case yes.

    1. I don’t have any whole wheat flour – though I do have buckwheat and rye. I occasionally make buckwheat pancakes, and the rye flour is left over from a hundred-old recipe that I made last fall. (Note to self: Look for another hundred-year-old recipe that uses rye flour.)

    1. I should do a better job of adding spices on the grocery list when I finish a jar. More often than I want to think about, I start to make a recipe, only to discover the I am out of a spice called for in the recipe.

  4. ‘Table sauce’ is essentially a condiment. Down here, it would be one of several ‘hot sauces,’ like Tabasco or Salsa Roja, depending on whether you’re Cajun or Hispanic. There’s a tomatillo sauce that’s often served, too. In our Cuban restaurants, there’s a cucumber sauce. I suppose for many people it would be ketchup. I grew up using that only for burgers, but I know many people who put it on potatoes, eggs, and so on.

  5. I don’t have rock salt and may not have any bread or pastry flour. We just use whole wheat flour. I have several “table sauces” and the rest of the stuff mentioned.

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