Sweetening Tainted Meats

If you read many old cookbooks you will soon see that many of them cover the subject of how to freshen tainted meat.  With no refrigeration, people ate meat that we would turn our nose up at today.  These books contained all types of suggestion on how to salvage meat that was starting to spoil.  Today I am going to post some of these methods.  However, I want to be very clear that I have not tried them and would not in any way suggest that they are safe or that you should try them.

The book published in 1908 “Household discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s cook book” suggest the following methods To sweeten tainted meats.

“Apply a solution of chloride of soda (sodium hypochlorite) by means of a soft brush or sponge.  With this quickly wash over the tainted portions and rinse immediately with fresh water. Afterwards broil or roast the meat so as to expose the tainted portions to a high temperature and char them with the heat.

Or if they are to be boiled, place half a dozen lumps of charcoal, the size of an egg in the water.

Or place a quantity of pulverized charcoal in a cheesecloth bag, and place these in the kettle.  All odors will be absorbed by the charcoal and the meat will be sweet and clean.”

The cook’s own book, and housekeeper’s register, (1832) suggests the following

“Tainted meat may be restored by washing in cold water, afterwards in strong chamomile tea, after which it may be sprinkled with salt and used the following day, first washing it in cold water.  Roughly, pounded charcoal rubbed all over the meat also restores it when tainted.  In Scotland meat is frequently kept a fortnight smothered in oatmeal, and carefully wiped every day; and if it should be a little tainted, it is soaked some hours before it is used, in oatmeal and water.”

I am not sure what these methods accomplished besides killing the odors, but many of our ancestor used them and somehow most of them survived their food.




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3 Responses to Sweetening Tainted Meats

  1. Sandy Taylor says:

    Heya Howard!

    I just wanted to say that Mrs. Curtis’s Cookbook and Household Discoveries is one of my favorite and best sources of information. I highly recommend it for preppers.

    In regards to tainted meat, I recently finished reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Evan, which is about the Great American Dustbowl, a part of our history I had previously been unfamiliar with. The book talks about the mass slaughter of hares – what do you do with 12,000 rabbit carcasses in one day, in a time before fridges? Especially when the town’s human population was only in the hundreds.. the answer was… Nothing. They sat out in the heat for several days, and folks tried to use the carcasses as much as possible, even after they began to show signs of spoiling. The humans were starving, afterall.

    Riveting historical tale, and information in how to use spoiling meat could save folks from starvation in the future.. I highly recommend Household Discoveries and have learned much from my copy thus far.

    ~ Sandy Taylor

    • admin says:

      I agree with you Mrs. Curtis’s book is quite useful. Like any of the old books that I collect, you just have to use a little common sence to avoid the occasional fallacies that appear in them.

      • Sandy Taylor says:

        My favorite so far? For stain treatment, rub gasoline into your clothes. Or the various uses of fresh asbestos… If you look past those types of things, you can find awesome information. Household Discoveries has a great section on how to build an outhouse. It doesn’t just describe how, in general terms, it tells you specifically and exactly how, and that’s why I love my old paper books! 🙂

        ~ Sandy Taylor

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