Berrying a Hundred Years Ago

wild strawberry plant

What was it like to pick wild strawberries a hundred years ago? Here’s a description that appeared in a 1919 magazine:

One might manage April and May, or even July, in the city, but a wild strawberry June belongs only in the heart of the country.

Do you know where these, the sweetest of wild berries, thrive? Up a hill road strewn with leaves, where an ovenbird calls and the red squirrel scolds, over a wall in a mowing, shut away from the rest of the world by pines and birches. A towhee hops on a crumbled stone fence. From remote woods is the trill of a thrush. A squirrel speaks out of the abundance of his irascible nature. The trees sway, the clouds trail their shadow across the slopes of the mountain.

Gathering wild strawberries is exceeding intimate work. Here they grow in a wide patch, to the exclusion of other plants, so thick that when you lean close to them and peek under the leaves you see a red-spotted carpet. Continued bending is painful. Continued squatting is impossible. You select a less fruited section and kneel. Then, preferring stains to stiff joints, you sit. Basket full, you cover the delicious sweetness with ferns and, then, there at the foot of the hill is the brook in which to dip your arms to the elbow and lave your hot face.

Excerpt from “Berrying” by Beulah Rector (American Cookery, June/July, 1919)

Not Much Nourishment in Broths

glass of meat broth

Did you ever wonder whether broths are nourishing? Well, I found the answer in a hundred-year-old magazine. Here’s the question posed by a reader and the response:

Q: I should like to ask you about the advisability of giving canned broths to invalids and children. I am speaking particularly of a child fourteen months old that is taking broths every day. Are such broths as nutritious as if freshly made? Is there any nutritive value left in the used meat?

Mrs. A.K.H., Mass.

A: Broths are usually made from meats, sometimes with the addition of vegetables, and contain only those food materials which are soluble in hot water, or, like starch, diffusible in water. Sugars and meat bases, such as creatin, are soluble in water. A part of the mineral substances in the foods is also soluble. The nutritive value of broths is necessarily limited. It is the opinion of many physicians and physiologists that the food stuffs in broths, especially the nitrogenous bases, are not equal in value to the ordinary proteins which are not soluble in water. It is a common opinion that the food materials in broths are more easily assimilated and therefore are preferable in many diseased conditions to more nutritious foods, which the impaired digestive apparatus is unable to utilize. I should regard broths of any kind as a poor substitute for milk for a child of fourteen months. Canned broths, when they are first made, are perhaps as desirable as home-made broths. They are likely to dissolve some of the tin from the container, and soluble tin salts are not particularly useful in the stomach of a child. It is not possible, in my opinion, to nourish a child on broths of kinds. It should be milk.

Good Housekeeping ( June, 1919)

Hundred-year-old Advice for Removing Chewing Gum from Hair

unwrapped stick of chewing gum

A hundred years ago Good Housekeeping magazine contained lots of household tips submitted by readers. Some tips are just as relevant today as they were in 1919. Here is advice for removing chewing gum from hair:

Chewing Gum

Perhaps some other mother will welcome this bit of news. My baby came in the other day with several pieces of chewing gum in her mass of curls. I thought at first that I must cut them at once, and prepared for the sacrifice. Then I remembered that oil will take chewing gum off one’s hands. I had no oil but instead used vaseline. It proved ideal, for the gum rolled up and I could take it right out. Then a shampoo was all that was necessary to restore the youngster’s beautiful gold curls. Mrs. J.J., N.C.

Good Housekeeping (May, 1919)


Hundred-year-old Tips on Ways to Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

spatula in green bowl

Here are some hundred-year-old suggestions for ways to spend less time in the kitchen.

Waste no minutes in the kitchen:

  • Dough, batter, whipped cream, or egg white may be scraped from a bowl with a spatula in half the time required with a spoon or other utensil.
  • Hot baked puddings and custards will not stick to the baking dishes if the dish be first rubbed over with fat and then dredged with sugar.
  • Cakes, loaf or layer, are quickly removed from loose-bottom aluminum cake-pans and the washing of the pans is a very simple matter.
  • Use a “magic cover” when rolling out soft dough of any sort. When through work, scrape the cloth with a knife, if necessary, then shake out of doors. Wash the stockinet on the rolling pin often.
  • A Scotch bowl of cast-iron with bail for lifting used for no other purpose than frying, tends to simplify this mode of cooking. If the fat be strained after use and returned to the bowl after it has been carefully wiped out, no delay is occasioned when frying is again in order.

American Cookery (February, 1919)