ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD
ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD.
THE most important element in cooking is, indubitably, the
cook. And the most important of a cook's virtues is shown in
the selection of food. A good cook is, to a certain extent, born,
not made ; and if born deficient in necessary faculties, the novice
should be made to understand that she has mistaken her mission.
The necessary faculties are those of accurate taste and smell
with which, joined to enthusiasm and punctuality, she may become
a useful and honored member of society without which, she is
simply an incumbrance. The tests to try her by are plainly
cooked eggs, joints, and vegetables. If she regularly sends these
up in a state to give a zest to her master's appetite, let him think
no trouble or expense wasted in teaching her whatever she desires
to learn ; if they excite disgust, harm rather than good is done by
her technical knowledge of those disguises of inferiority known
as " made dishes." Cleanliness may be taught, a variety of re-
ceipts may be bought, but a delicate nose is beyond price. Choose
a cook young, choose her carefully, and treat her liberally.
It is an old remark that a good cook shows generally a bad
temper. There is more truth in it than in most proverbs; for the
fact is that in half-educated persons, just indignation is apt to
bear the appearance of wrath ; and the needful rebukes to over-
reaching tradesmen, and the disappointments which one who
loves her work must feel, if her enthusiasm is not appreciated,
beget a sharpness of tongue and manner difficult to endure.
Nevertheless, it is wise to bear and forbear, and to keep an effi-
cient servant when you have got one.
This is not a cookery-book, and therefore, of course, the details
of the kitchen could not be entered into, even were I equal to the
task. It is not the business of these pages to teach how to make
food nice, except so far as that quality indirectly bears upon its
wholesomeness. All that can be attempted is, to po*int out a few
88 GENERAL DIETETICS.
particulars in which the preparation of food bears upon what is
known of the physiology of digestion and the economics of nu-
trition. And in a future chapter will be discussed the extent to
which a physician should interfere with the cook in the adminis-
tration of food to his patients, in sickness.
No kitchen is complete without an open range. It is impossi-
ble to have a properly roasted joint by any other means, as I
learned by visiting the private premises of a " Patent Kitchener"
manufacturer, and finding there an old-fashioned fire-place in full
operation. He cared too much for his diet to employ his own
works. Experience has led me to question even the economy of
the closed fire in practical working.
Roasting is the most perfect mode possible of preparing meat
for the table. The heat radiated from the open range coagulates
the outer layer, of albumen, and thus the exit of that which is
still fluid is prevented, and it becomes solidified very slowly, if at
all. The areolar tissue which unites the muscular fibres is con-
verted by gradual heat into gelatin, 1 and is retained in the centre
of the mass in a form ready for solution. At the same time the
fibrin and albumen take on, according to Dr. Mulder, 2 a form
more highly oxidized and, .especially in the case of the former,
more capable of solution in water. The fat also is melted out of
the fat-cells, and is partially combined with the alkali from the
serum of the blood. Thus, the external layer of albumen be-
comes a sort of box, which keeps together the valuable parts till
they shall have undergone the desired changes by slow heat a
box, however, permeable by the oxygen of the free surrounding
air, so that most of the empyreumatic oils generated by the char-
ring of the surface are carried oif. As these are neither agreeable
nor wholesome, the loss is a gain. There is also an acrid volatile
product, acrolein, produced by the burning of the fat, which is
The first part of roasting should therefore be got through
rapidly, by close exposure to a bright hot fire, in an open, well-
ventilated kitchen. By this, the gravy is retained in the meat,
1 Not, however, the sarcolemma, which an experiment of Professor Kolli-
ker's seems to remove from the class of substances yielding gelatin. See
Kolliker's Mikj-os. Anat. , vol. ii, p. 250.
2 Quoted in Moleschott's Diatetik, p. 450.
ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD. 89
till, at the first incision, it flows out of a reddish color. After the
complete coagulation of the albumen on the surface, the joint
should be removed a little further off from the fire, so as to roast
The whole time of roasting depends partly on the weight of the
joint, partly on the sort of meat.
Brown meats, such as beef, and mutton, and goose, require a
quarter of an hour for each pound.
Veal and pork, the same, with five or six minutes added at the
end to make sure of absence of red.
White-fleshed birds take somewhat less ; for example, a turkey
of 8| Ibs. (according to M. Gouffe) only an hour and three
quarters, a capon of 4 Ibs. fifty minutes, a fowl of 3 Ibs. half an
hour, a pheasant thirty-five minutes, a partridge fifteen minutes.
The fire should be thoroughly lighted before commencing, and
kept up evenly ; two gills of broth put in the pan, and the larger
roasts basted with it five or six times, the smaller three times,
during roasting. Before removal from the spit, some thick fleshy
part should be pressed with the finger, to ascertain that it is soft.
Uncooked parts retain their elasticity. All these times have been
calculated on the understanding that there is no draught to lower
the temperature between the fire and screen, for, however airy and
well-ventilated the kitchen should be, such an irregular distribu-
tion of heat is most noxious, and overthrows all calculations for
the clue roasting of meat.
M. Brillat-Savarin pronounced on est ne rdtisseur ; in this he
does not show his usual wisdom, for an eye on the clock will sup-
ply the lack of an instinctive knowledge of time.
Roasting properly conducted is the most scientific and whole-
some, and on that score the most economical mode of dressing
Baking naked meat at a high temperature is a feeble imitation ;
and the way cooks have of baking first, and then browning the
outside, so completely reverses the needful order of the required
processes that it may be designated a fraud. Baked meat is ill-
flavored and indigestible from the saturation of the substance
with empyreuma ; but it is not so when the temperature is mode-
rate, and when the materials are further defended from it by a
layer of some bad conductor of heat, such as a thick pie-dish, or
90 GENERAL DIETETICS.
a crust, or a coat of clay (as practiced by the gipsies). No empy-
reuma, or product of charring, is then formed ; and the fat and
gravy which ooze out, assist in the cooking. The process goes on
even after the dish is taken out of the oven, if it is kept hot by
being enveloped in a thick flannel, or placed in one of Silver's
Norwegian cooking boxes. The " Cornish pasty " is the most
perfect dinner that a laborer, or sportsman, or artist, can have
brought to his midday rendezvous. Meat or fish, and potatoes,
or anything in short that the taste or purse dictates, are enveloped
in a thick solid crust, baked slowly, and then packed in several
layers of woollen. The basketful will keep warm for hours, and
is the ne plus ultra of outdoor refreshment.
Vegetables and fruit demand the same slow treatment. For a
large party, apple or gooseberry pie should be baked all night in
an old-fashioned red dairy pan.
Eggs should not be used, or at any rate very sparingly, in
bakes ; for submitted to heat for a long period, their albumen be-
comes more and more tough and insoluble.
Rapid boiling has, in a minor degree, the same case-hardening
effect on the meat as roasting ; but the interior albumen seems, by
this process, more hardened and less digestible. In boiling a
joint, the heat should be kept up for five or six minutes. Then,
it should be cooled down by the addition of three pints of cold
water for each gallon of boiling water, and retained at that heat. 1
In boiling fish, the addition of salt to the water, or the use of
sea-water, makes the flesh firmer, and retains the flavor in the
interior ; but in making stock for souchees, the softer the water the
Mutton is best boiled in hard water, for the same reason as fish.
Slow boiling makes, it is true, a nourishing soup, but converts
the muscular fibre into a mass of hard strings, which, eaten or not
eaten, are in nine cases out of ten equally wasted. They are to
1 That is to say, reduced with water at 50 from 212 Fahrenheit to 170,
or to the extent of 42. The formula in the text is given as a specimen of the
best, perhaps the only, mode of directing cooks how to reduce temperature.
The female mind abhors meters of all kinds, and degrees Fahrenheit men-
tioned in our orders would infallibly entail their rejection, as only fit for hos-
pital nurses. Medical men cannot be too cautious to avoid introducing any-
thing reputed " chemical " into the kitchen.
ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD. 91
be found in the faeces, exhibiting all the beautiful transverse striae
of their original state, quite unaffected by their intestinal journey.
The utility of Soups and Broths depends on several circum-
stances which modify the advantages accruing from their liquid
state. In the first, place, heat seems to have an effect in some
degree proportioned to the period of application to albumen, ren-
dering it more or less insoluble, at the same time that, to a deli-
cate palate, there is a decided loss of flavor. Thus soups and
stews which are kept too hot, are wholesome enough during the
first few hours, may be digested at a railway refreshment room for
some hours after, but on the second or third day give the rash
stranger, beguiled into a cheap French dinner, an almost certain
diarrhoea. Though finely divided, the minute fragments of mus-
cular fibre seem to be, individually, rendered insoluble by con-
Then, again, a high temperature, too long continued, extracts
from the meat all its gelatin an innutritious material, which en-
velops the fragments of fibrin in the stomach, and prevents their
being acted upon. And this is all the more likely, when an over-
anxious cook tries to make the soup what she calls "good" (that
is, strong, stiff, and gluey) for invalids.
Again, if the soup is, by straining, made clear and ornamental,
a great deal of the most valuable part of it is removed : the bouilli,
if not over-boiled, contains the chief constituents wanted as nour-
This subject will be reverted to when discussing cookery for
Soup is rendered more wholesome and nutritious for healthy
persons by the addition of vegetables. Thus, the "Administra-
tion de 1' Assistance publique" in France, adopted, by the advice
of a commission of physiologists and physicians, a formula for the
preparation of bouillon embracing this addition. Reduced to ap-
proximate English measures the recipe is as follows :
"Water, 4 pints.
Meat (with bono), ....... 2 Ibs.
Carrots, turnips, and other vegetables, ... 6 ozs.
Roast onions, ........ i oz. 1
1 Cyr, De I'Alimcntation, p. 49.
92 GENERAL DIETETICS.
It may be safely commended for adoption in " soup-kitchens."
Boiling is a form of cookery peculiarly adapted to vegetables.
Dr. Paris 1 remarks that it deprives them of a considerable portion
of contained air, which is injurious to digestion when in excess.
Potatoes should be steamed or boiled in their skins, and not so
long as for them to fall to pieces from the breaking of the starch-
granules ; when skinned, they ought to retain their shape. On
the other hand, the cabbage tribe and carrots can hardly be boiled
too long. It is essential that soft water should be employed, and
it is the securing this, that makes steaming such an advisable form
of boiling, for steam is of course, soft water.
Particular care should be taken that vegetables are thoroughly
boiled soft all the way through, and dried on a cullender.
A certain quantity of oleaginous matter renders vegetables, in
which there is much combined water, less massive in the stomach.
Thus, roast potatoes are better for the addition of some fresh but-
ter, and mashed potatoes for a little cream beaten up with the
puree after it has been passed through a sieve; and, again,
milky rice pudding does not collect into a lump as plain rice is
apt to do. In making the latter dish up for baking, eggs should
never be used. Baked white of egg is the most insoluble form of
Plain boiled rice should always have a little fresh cold butter
mixed up with it. In that way it will serve as an accompaniment
of meat at dinner.
Stewing has the advantage over dry baking, that there is no
charring or formation of empyreumatic gases ; and the heat is not
too great. The principal objection to it is that the meat often
gets saturated Avith the fat gravy, and is, thus, too rich for some
It is, however, not nearly so liable to this objection as Frying.
Unless conducted with great skill, this process coats each particle
of the food with a medium difficult of penetration by the gastric
juice, for it is oily, whereas the secretion of the stomach is watery.
Butyric acid and other rancid and empyreumatic educts are formed,
and disturb digestion, producing, not rarely, flatulence and heart-
burn. The art consists in frying " lightly," as cooks phrase it,
1 Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine, i, 576.
ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD. 93
that is to say, quickly and evenly, and with constant motion, so
that the high heat required does not char any part. For those
who do not dislike the flavor of oil, it is a more manageable me-
dium than butter, and generally turns out a lighter dish. Good
Lucca or Provence oil is also less likely to be sophisticated than
Hashiny is not to be encouraged. From the two processes that
are gone through, the animal fibre is too much hardened to be
readily digested. Cold meat is wholesomer, and may be made as
palatable with mayonnaise or some such sauce. If it must be
done, at least let a water-bath (bain marie) be used.
Marinating, that is, baking in vinegar and water with layers
of bay-leaves and pepper-corn, is suitable for the more oily kinds
of fish. 1
Sroiling imparts a peculiar tenderness to the meat, by the rapid
hardening or browning of the surface, preventing the evaporation
of the juice. It is, in fact, roasting applied to small portions of
meat. Tradition commends it as a suitable cookery for the meat
of persons in training; but, perhaps, in no sort of dish does it
shine so much as in fish.
In the preparation of mixed dishes and in seasoning it should
be a general and almost universal rule that the different ingre-
dients should be as far as possible cooked separately. The reason
is obvious, each article, from its texture, requires, for its perfec-
tion, to be submitted to heat for a different period. Too long ex-
posure destroys its flavor and solubility. To take familiar exam-
ples, an egg if made into a custard, or just coagulated, is tasty
and wholesome ; but if baked for half an hour in a pudding it
becomes useless as an article of food. Spices lose nearly all their
flavor, whije retaining all their irritating qualities, if mixed in a
dish before boiling; yet if heated up separately and for a shorter
time, they retain it, and will suffice in much smaller quantity.
Soup, on the other hand, requires less boiling than the vegetables
which are usually put in it. If boiled together, the latter are
therefore sure to be underdone. If baked in a tartlet, jam loses
1 Another mode of wholesomely cooking oily fish, such as sprats, pilchards,
or herrings, is to stew or bake them in a deep dish in layers, with a layer of
breadcrumbs between each.
94 GENERAL DIETETICS.
all fruity odor and taste, and sinks into the paste. It should be
only barely heated after the paste is done. Just warm an oyster,
it is sapid and digestible ; bake it in a beef-steak pie, it is leathery
and insoluble. It ought to be put in cold, just before the dish
comes to table. Onions require long cooking; but the other
seasoning herbs usually used in broths should not be sprinkled in
till a late stage of the boiling.
The effects of salting are often misunderstood. It is well known
that living exclusively on salted meat produces scurvy ; and it is
imagined that the injury to the system arises from the saline mat-
ter thus introduced into it. Such, however, is not the case. Chlo-
ride of sodium is such a large constituent of our blood that it can-
not possibly be noxious. The unwholesomeness of salt meat, as
an article of diet, depends on its deficiencies, not on its excesses :
it has lost, according to Baron Liebig's calculation, half its nutri-
tive value by the removal of its fluids and salts by the brine ;
and the dried-up remnant is difficult of solution. Soaking in
water may soften and remove the salt, but it does not restore its
Smoking and Drying are not quite so injurious to the texture of
the flesh as salting. It would seem that in the latter the hard-
ening process goes on continuously ; in fact, the salt remains and
continuously extracts the aqueous constituents. But the drying
takes place once for all, and the article gets no worse when it is
once prepared, until decomposition occurs. These modes of prep-
aration seem peculiarly adapted for fish, which naturally perish so
readily, and which are more injured than even meat by salting.
Tinned meat cannot make any claim to a recommendation ex-
cept on economical grounds. When heated up for the table it is
too much cooked to be digestible or pleasant. It is best eaten cold,
with some of its own jelly, and salad or mayonnaise sauce.
The process of "tinning" meat is well known to consist in the
expulsion of air from the material by means of heat ; and it is to
be feared that so long as this procedure alone is employed, the
injury from the excess of temperature is unavoidable. The aim
of the inventor should be, to effect the same object by the aid of
air-pumps in the cold.
Ice seems to promise more favorable results than the last-named
device, for preserving meat during its conveyance over long dis-
ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD. 95
tances from the overstocked producer to the hungry consumer.
The attempt lias hitherto failed from several avoidable causes ;
but the Committee of the Society of Arts, who have taken up the
matter, are sanguine of final success in putting the Australian
fresh meat butcher in direct communication with the English
laborer. It should be remembered that meat which has been thus
preserved requires immediate cooking, as it quickly goes bad from
the change into a higher temperature of air. It should, if possi-
ble, be brought home in an ice-box, and kept there till wanted.
Vegetables preserved by drying undergo an interstitial harden-
ing of the tissues which renders them insoluble in the saliva, as
may be observed by their want of flavor. They are inferior to
fresh vegetables for use in preventing scurvy indeed they seem
inferior to lime-juice for that purpose so that they cannot be
wholesome for the healthy. It is a fact, not explained as yet,
that long transport, especially by sea, however rapid, has a some-
what similar deleterious effect on vegetables ; so that we do not
get the advantage which might have been anticipated from the
increased rapidity of communication with distant supplies. A
notable instance is that of Algerian peas.
The preservation of food by excluding the air by means of oil
is a subject which requires further experimenting upon. Delicate
fish, such as sardines for example, can be kept in this way for a
long time; and from time immemorial the method has been
adopted for wine in Italy. A thin layer of fresh oil in the neck
of the flask obviates the necessity of a cork in wine not intended
to travel, and is much more efficient, preventing even the lightest
and most perishable liquors from turning sour. Potted meats and
sausages are often judiciously preserved by a layer of lard, which
seems effectual in retaining moisture and preventing decomposi-
tion. Why do we not apply the same principle to the storing of
jams, gooseberries, plums, etc., for winter use?
Preservation with sugar has the disadvantage of introducing- an
ingredient which is cloying to the appetite, a mask to the natural
flavor of the vegetable, and, moreover, apt to generate an excess
of acid in the stomach.
As a rule, forced vegetables, and fruit out of season, are not to
be recommended. The natural period of its perfection is long
enough for us to enjoy each ; and, then, a change is as wholesome
96 GENERAL DIETETICS.
as it is pleasant. To bring them to table sooner gratifies merely
a vulgar ostentation or impatient gluttony, and receives its just
punishment in a premature weariness.
Certain articles of diet yield their savors best when their valu-
able ingredients are got out in the form of an Extract. An illus-
tration of this may be found in the Guatemala mode of preparing
Coffee and Chocolate* which is as follows :
" Coffee berries are used that have been stored dry one year.
Taking enough for one or two days' consumption, they rub them
in a linen cloth, and lay them in the sun before roasting. This
operation is always performed by the lady of the house, over a
quick charcoal fire, in an iron cylinder, which she keeps turning for
ten or fifteen minutes, till the berries are roasted on all sides. The
most esteemed bean is the ' peaberry ' (which bears the round mono-
cotyledonous form, instead of the dicotyledonous), in consequence
of its browning more evenly. It is not a different species of coffee,
but an accidental variety, more common on some trees than others.
At the critical moment of perfection, the berries are emptied into
a basket and stirred round to prevent their further concoction.
They are then ground, and a very strong liquid extract is made
from them by infusion in hot water. A common percolating
coffee-pot will serve this purpose, and save straining. A dessert-
spoonful of this essence, with either boiling water or boiling milk
poured on it, forms a cup which is the invariable bonne bouche of
"Cacao trees grow wild, and are also cultivated round some
Indian villages ; the berries are dried in the sun ; and an Indian
woman generally comes to your hacienda to make them into choc-
olate. Kneeling before her mill, consisting of a smooth curved
surface with a heavy stone roller, she grinds the kernels up with
an equal weight of sugar, and flavors with cinnamon or vanilla,
the latter a wild product of the forest. It is ground three times
over, and, when in a smooth paste, is cut into oblong square pieces,
each enough for one cup. It is then dried on a plate over a char-
coal fire. When required for use, it is dissolved in boiling water
or milk, and a thick froth worked on the top of each cup with a
1 Dictated by Mrs. Osbert Salvin.
ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD. 97
swizzle-stick or whisk. The cup is often filled up with milk-
cheese, cut into small dies."
A principle of rational cookery, much overlooked by professors
of the culinary art, is that each article of diet should be so pre-
pared that its own natural flavors and other characteristics should
be enhanced, instead of being masked or destroyed. Condiments
and sauces should be so moderately used, as never to be a promi-
nent feature ; and then, should be so blended and balanced, as to
make it difficult to identify them. There seems to me nothing
Utopian in the idea of a universal sauce, adapted to all sorts of
animal food, making them all more savory and more wholesome
at the same time. 1 There is ample scope for individual taste in
the selection of the variety suited to the user's palate.
One is almost ashamed to mention cleanliness as an essential in
cookery, the idea of the contrary condition in eatables is so re-
pulsive ; but cooks do not seem aware how often their dishes are
unpalatable, and, therefore, unwholesome, solely from being pre-
pared in a vessel which has a disagreeable flavor remaining in it.
Soap is sometimes employed in washing pots, instead of soda ;
and the taste of the rank train-oil seems to adhere to the metal,
and to infect a succession of otherwise excellent material ; and so
adheres the odor of onions, and of several other condiments, to a
steel knife. The use of printed paper to stand glass and crock-
ery upon, in cupboards, is also objectionable, as the oily effluvium
from fresh printing-ink is very rank, and acrid, and penetrating,
as our patients who suffer from hemorrhoids well know to their
Fish is an article very often spoilt by injudicious endeavors to
make it palatable. "Melted butter," in reality, requires the hand
of a first-rate artist, whereas every kitchen maid thinks she can
concoct it. Unless M. Gouffe's instructions have been followed
to the letter, it is best avoided altogether. A few drops of Chili
vinegar, or black pepper vinegar, or elder vinegar, or Worcester
1 This is an old ambition, see Pepys's Diary, February, 10, 1661-9. Tbe
Duke of York " did mightily magnify bis sauce, which he did then eat with
everything, and said it was the best universal sauce in the world, it being
taught him by the Spanish ambassador; made of some parsley and a dry toast,
beat in a mortar together with vinegar, salt, and a little pepper; he eats it
with flesh, or fowl, or fish. . . . By and by did taste it, and liked it mightily."
98 GENERAL DIETETICS.
sauce, or a slice of lemon, or a sauce made by boiling pepper and
salt in plain water with a few favorite herbs, assist the digestion
of the fish, whereas greasy sauces impede the process, chemically
Grilling does for fish that which roasting or boiling does for
meat, and is a commendable mode of preparation, especially as it
obviates the temptation to take sauce.
Those professional lectures are usually the most instructive
which take up some universally known and simple matter relat-
ing to a subject, and use it in illustration of the principles in-
volved in the art to be taught. To exemplify the elements of
sanatory cookery, perhaps nothing could be more fitly chosen by
a lecturer than the cooking of an egg. First, for the name our
great-grandmothers (if proverb register language truly) talked of
" roasting " an egg : we call the same process " boiling," marking
the fact that there is no essential difference between the two, the
end of both being the same, namely, the bringing albumen into a
mechanical condition more suitable for the digestive viscera than
when raw. Then, an egg, more clearly than any other meat, ex-
hibits the virtues of freshness, and the vices of defects in that
quality. Boil an egg warm from the nest, and you recognize it
by its creamy, lightly coagulated, eminently digestible form of
albumen. Even by next day it is less perfect, and steadily de-
generates in value, till it becomes the most hateful of poisons.
Here, may be pointed out, the importance of selection according to
external obvious qualities.
Next, should come a scientific picture of the coagulation of al-
bumen by heat. Albumen begins to coagulate at 140 01 very
slowly, but does not form a solid mass with rapidity under the
temperature of nearly 212. Till it has formed a solid mass it
is easily permeable by heat, and the central parts are solidified,
therefore, equally with the exterior; whereas, coagulated albumen
is a bad conductor of high temperature; and if the outside sets
quickly and firmly, the inside remains light and semi-solid. Boil
an egg at a slow heat, and it is not cooked till hard all through ;
put it into quite boiling water, and the white sets soon, and leaves
the albumen of the yolk soft. This illustrates the rules given a
1 Simon's Chemistry (Day's translation), vol. i, p. 16.
ON THE PREPARATION OF FOOD. 99
few pages back, about applying at first a high heat in roasting and
boiling, and afterwards moderating it, when the hardened surface
lias inclosed the deeper parts as in a box. The shell of the egg
may be a text to demonstrate, how in baking and frying, the ex-
ternal media, the crust and the oil, retain the whole of the sub-
stance, so that there is no loss during these economical culinary
operations, though the meat is less wholesome.
Then, that this loss of wholesomeness is due to the saturation
of the article of diet with the products of dry distillation, and,
also, that enhancement of natural savor, solubility, and whole-
someness run in parallel lines, may be illustrated from the obser-
vations of Beaumont on the different times occupied in the gastric
digestion of eggs in several conditions. He found, for example,
Eggs, whipped and diluted, occupied in digestion, . 1 30
soft boiled (or poached)
It may be observed that this is just the order in which they are
tasty ; that is to say, the degree in which they come with facility
into contact with the sensory nerves distributed through the mu-
cous membrane ; so that pleasure and duty here, as usually in
natural operations, become one.
General rules for the preservation of food are somewhat decep-
tive. They lead to their being too much practiced for the display
of the pride of ingenuity. The fact is that food is always the
worse for storing in respect of its wholesomeness, even if its taste
is not injuriously affected.
But economical reasons exist for the restricted exercise of this
art. The principle consists in excluding the evil oxidizing influ-
ences of air and moisture. In dry goods this is done by keeping
them dry and warm and closely covered up. Starch, rice, tapioca,
sago, macaroni, vermicelli, sugar, sweetmeats, jams, salt, and dried
and salted meats, tea, coffee, etc., require this treatment. And
they should be kept in a different cupboard from odorous goods,
such as candles and soap, or they will catch the objectionable
flavor. But with most fresh organic substances a different treat-
100 GENERAL DIETETICS.
ment is necessary to the attainment of the same end. They con-
tain in their texture itself sufficient moisture and air to oxidize
them into decomposition, and the more stagnant these are the
more surely do the chemical actions result. It is necessary,
therefore, to let them have free ventilation ; their external surface
should be frequently wiped, or at least blown over by a current
of air, so as to let the old moisture escape and fresh be absorbed.
Thus, meat should hang exposed in an open larder, and be often
dried. Lemons should be purchased in the summer and sus-
pended in nets for use at the time when they are dear. Onions
and garlic should be strung up in an outhouse (not the larder).
Parsley, thyme, mint, and other herbs should be dried in the
wind, out of the sun, put each into a separate paper bag, and
hung up in the kitchen. Where apples and pears and chestnuts
are stored, the window should be left open, and the fruit fre-
quently turned. Too much draught makes vegetables withy; so
they should be laid on a stone floor behind the door. Potatoes
are best stacked in dry sand.
The date when each article is stored should be written down.
Eggs are an exception to the usual rule respecting organic sub-
stances. They cannot be treated in the same way by reason of
their structure, yet it is impossible to avoid keeping them for culi-
nary purposes. They are best preserved by being washed over
with a solution of gum and packed in a square box of bran,
which is to be turned over a quarter of a turn every day.