Period Martha Washington's Candied Apricots

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#1
This recipe comes from Martha Washington's collection of handwritten recipes compiled by here between 1749 and 1799.

To Candy Green Apricock Chipps
Take your Apricocks, pare them and cut them into chipps, and put them into running water with A good handful of green wheat, before it be eard (before it starts to ear). Then boyle them a little, after take them from the fire, and put them in a silver or earthen dish with a pretty quantity of good white sugar finely beat. Then set them over the fire till they be dry, and they will look clear and green. Then lay then on glas then in a stove A whil, & then box ym.
Not the easiest recipe to interpret - plus I've never heard of green wheat - unless she means unripened wheat. Thankfully the blog I found this gem on has a recreated recipe for those wanting to give a variation of this a try.

Ingredients
• 10 apricots
• 4 cups sugar
• ½ cup orange juice
• 2 tablespoons honey (rose honey is apparently preferred but I just used regular)
• 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 lemon
• ¼ cup orange liqueur like Cointreau or Triple Sec. I used orange Curacao!

Directions - https://bitefromthepast.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/martha-washingtons-candied-apricots/
 

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JPK Huson 1863

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#6
Don't you love the old recipes? They knew what to do with ingredients, just run water, throw a handful of wheat in there, boyle.

There's no " Put sugar in food processor for exactly 15 seconds, set aside, go out to the store and buy Jones Smith organic apricots, make friends with them and set aside, weigh 3 grams of green wheat on your new kitchen scale, set aside. " etc. You know what I mean. Modern preparation instructions tend to be lengthy plus a little preachy like no one has been cooking since the first cavewoman threw a boar on the fire.

Wonder if Martha's green apricots ended up in a fruitcake?
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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Don't you love the old recipes? They knew what to do with ingredients, just run water, throw a handful of wheat in there, boyle.

There's no " Put sugar in food processor for exactly 15 seconds, set aside, go out to the store and buy Jones Smith organic apricots, make friends with them and set aside, weigh 3 grams of green wheat on your new kitchen scale, set aside. " etc. You know what I mean. Modern preparation instructions tend to be lengthy plus a little preachy like no one has been cooking since the first cavewoman threw a boar on the fire.

Wonder if Martha's green apricots ended up in a fruitcake?
It's so true, often times modern recipes can be very long winded. I always start to worry if I've over mixed batter when it's very specific like beat on medium for 2 minutes and I realize maybe it's been 4 minutes! Baking especially should be one of those things you have to judge for yourself. Is the batter the right consistency, are those edges really golden brown?

The only time a lot of instructions are helpful is when something is very complicated and you've never done it before and have no clue how it's done. But then I tend to find a YouTube video more helpful than loads of instructions.

I bet the green apricots did end up fruitcake. Makes sense since it's preserved fruit and would be green, which sounds about right for a fruitcake filling.
 
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#9
Modern preparation instructions tend to be lengthy plus a little preachy like no one has been cooking since the first cavewoman threw a boar on the fire.
I kind of agree, and regularly cut back on instructions when copying a recipe, but an astonishing percentage of modern Americans do not cook. And even those who cook, often do not bake or roast. My dad set up and ran the Whirlpool Cool Line, back in the early 1980s, and every Thanksgiving and Christmas they'd get calls from people who'd locked the oven while making their turkey -- meaning they'd have to wait until the oven got cool enough to unlock to open it, which would be long after the turkey was dangerously inedible.

A study in England said that most cooks depended on six dishes -- then a somewhat larger one kicked it up to nine, but said:

The research found that the average mother has eight cookery books in the house, but has attempted just five recipes.

Of the cooks questioned, 39 percent also found that at least half of the recipes they try from these books do not turn out as expected.
I don't imagine Americans are any better. According to the British studies, my mother is quite typical in just rotating the same recipes, week after week after week, with a couple of seasonal variations.

Read an article not long ago complaining about a lot of the cooking shows on TV, precisely because they make cooking look so difficult and complicated. "Some of the early shows were great about building the non-cook's confidence; all these contents and races make cooking look insanely difficult, to the point people don't even try."

Although, as Anna Elizabeth Henry points out, youtube has picked up the slack. I would guess their system would suggest legit cooking shows to the fans of the crazy stuff, anyhow.

EDIT:
Article on cooking shows I was remembering (not sure that my paraphrase exactly conveys what he meant to say....)

Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia arrived on our television screens. It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or “The Next Food Network Star.” What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves — an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for.
https://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/magazine/02cooking-t.html?_r=1
 
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