PEAR TREE LOG

pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That was two years ago...he's still in Shanghai and I am still writing. There will be nothing clever, witty, or well written; nothing to impress. It is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.


I have moved over to my new blog: Bramble Rambles - you are welcome to call in and have a read.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Potions and Salves from the Old Farmhouse Receipt Books

We awoke to find that snow had fallen through the night - not a lot of snow - but enough to make the world look beautiful and certainly enough to cause problems on the roads.  As the day grew lighter the snow grew heavier.  The gardens were transformed into a winter wonderland.



Definitely a day for sitting by the fireside.  


Time to pull out my favourite recipe books...the old, dog-eared and tatty ones which have probably done duty in five or six kitchens before they ended up loved and cherished in mine.



There is a huge vat of vegetable broth simmering on the Rayburn, the bread has been baked, the kitchen is warm and filled with delicious aromas.   No need for food recipes then, but how about some good old-fashioned home cures for those pesky sore throats and colds?

Linseed Tea ~ a remedy for sore throats and colds.  Take half an ounce of linseed, wash it, and put it in a saucepan with a print of cold water.   Simmer for half an hour.    Add half an ounce of liquorice and a quarter of an ounce of sugar candy.   Strain and drink a little at a time.

Treacle Posset ~ Warm a pint of milk, and pour into it a tabespoonful of black treacle.  Boil for five minutes. Drink it hot.  It is very good for a cough.

Cough Mixture ~ To a pint and a half of water add a pound of black treacle, two ounces of liquorice and boil for half an hour.  Add a pennyworth of paregoric*, a pennyworth of aniseed, and some oil of peppermint.   When cold, bottle tightly.   One tablespoonful every four hours.

* paregoric - a camphorated tincture of opium
Raspberry Milk ~ No draught is more agreeable to a feverish patient than a dessertspoonful of raspberry vinegar mixed in a tumbler of cold water.  It should never stand in any metal or glazed vessel for the acid would act upon the surface to an injurious extent.

Raspberry Vinegar ~ Put two quarts of white wine vinegar and two quarts of fine freshly picked raspberries.   Let it stand three to four days.  Then strain, and to each quart of liquid add a pound of sugar.  Put both fruit and vinegar into a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.   Bottle when cold.  Take two teaspoonfuls for a cold.   Blackberry vinegar may also be used.

Honey Cough Mixture ~ Put into a bottle 4 ozs pure cod liver oil, 1oz of glycerine, 4 oz honey and the strained juice of 3 lemons.   Shake well.  This mixture should be taken three times a day, after meals.  

Perhaps you have a few aches and pains?

Liniment ~ A drachm of oil of cloves and two drachms of amber, with nine drachms of camphorated oil.  Mix together and rub on the chest or between the shoulders.

Old-Fashioned Sulphur Salve ~ Mix equal parts of home-made lard and flowers of sulphur to a smooth paste.   This very simple ointment is ready for use immediately, and has always been a wonderfully quick cure for most affections of the skin.

Farmhouse Herb Salve ~ This salve is excellent for all sores and bruises, and is particularly good also as a veterinary aid for softening the udders of newly-calved cows, or for sore teats.   Its healing properties are remarkable.
You will need 1 lb home-rendered lard and 1 good handful of each of the following: elderflowers, wormwood, groundsel.   Cut the herbs into 1 inch lengths.  Put into and earthenware pot with the lard, and bring to the boil in the oven.   Simmer for half an hour.   Then strain into pots and tie down when cool.
This salve can be made from dried herbs, but it is better to use them fresh.


***Do not try this one!***  A cure for lumbago was to carry a little bag of quicksilver in your pocket.

Household Hints

'Reviver' for Blue Fabrics ~ Take an old saucepan - iron or enamel, not brass or copper - and fill it full of ordinary green ivy leaves.   When as many as possible have been pressed into the pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  After boiling for 20 minutes, stand the pan by the side of the stove and simmer for 3 hours.  Strain off the leaves and to every pint of liquid, add 1 tablespoonful of liquid ammonia.   Put into a bottle and cork, and for safety, label "Poison" .  It keeps indefinitely.

Spread the garment to be cleaned on a table, and with a cloth (preferably a piece of old blue serge) sponge, giving extra attention to the most soiled patches.   Press with an iron afterwards.

...this next one could be particularly useful while we have so much snow around...

Waterproofing Boots ~ Melt two parts of bees-wax with 1 part of mutton fat.  Thoroughly blend.  Rub on soles and uppers.  More easily applied if slightly warmed.  


30 comments:

  1. Your snow photos would be beautiful on Christmas Greeting cards for next year. In reading your remedies, the word paregoric brought back memories of my childhood. My Mom used tincture of paregoric for babies teething, tummy troubles and for soothing me when I had a bad cough. I believe, just recently, they have started manufacturing it again.

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    1. Hello Meggie, We still have all of that snow and more is forecast for later. I love how things turn a full circle and how some of the old medicines are now being updated and used again.

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  2. Oh - I'm in need of some of these mixtures. Since the weekend I've gone down with the annual January cough and chest infection. My Mum used to give us hot Honey, Rum and Butter when we were kids. Jx

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    1. Hello Jan, Sorry to hear that you haven't been well - but I do hope you have indulged in some of that honey, rum and butter remedy. It sounds very cheering!

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  3. What an interesting list of cure-alls and housekeeping aids! The cough and sore throat posets are especially helpful right now ... oh, and the boot salve too! What a fun exercise you must have had choosing what receipts to share!

    I hope you're enjoying the snow; it does make things prettier at this time of year!

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    1. Hello Susan, I love those old (inexpensive & tatty) books so much more than my glossy, modern ones. I find myself drawn to them time and time again.

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  4. I tried the boot-waterproofing receipe but the sheep kept leaping out of the pot so I'm not sure that I got the proportions correct. Time will tell.

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    1. Hello Owl, I should stick to wearing Wellington boots - unless of course they are beef wellingtons, in which case you may need the waterproofing after all.

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  5. Lady Magnon's Uggs are now looking decidedly yucky. Are you sure about the recipe?

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    1. p.s. I was warm when applied!

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    2. Hello Cro, That's the key, apply when warm!

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  6. Beeswax + boots = trip to emergency!
    Jane x

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    1. Hello Jane, I wonder how many dogs got into trouble for chewing the tasty, mutton-fat covered boots!

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  7. Love the photographs. So glad I don't have to whip up my own remedies!

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    1. Hello Sweet Posy Dreams, I'm so glad you enjoyed reading them. The main ones I make up are syrups and cordials, from the autumnal berries, they are used to help fend off 'flu and cold during winter...fingers crossed. Elderberry is a particular favourite.

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  8. The fact that these remedies were passed on shows how powerful the placebo effect can be.

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    1. Hello Ms Sparrow, The placebo effect can be very powerful and just goes to show the untapped power of the mind... a fascinating subject.

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  9. The linseed thingamy sounds like one I would have a go at
    But where do I find licorice?

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    1. Hello John, Probably at one of those wonderful little herb shops, like the one I showed you a few months ago. It is an Aladdin's cave filled with mysterious jars. I shall enquire next time I'm there.

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  10. Lovely snow pictures . . . I enjoyed your Household Hints and Home Remedies! It sounds like we each had the same idea . . . bring out the torn, tattered, tried and true recipe books, sit by the fire and browse!

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    1. Hello Lynne, You are far more organised than I. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour around your old recipe books. Real treasures and such fun to read. We have more snow forecast for today and the weekend - could be time I pulled out some more books.

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  11. Honey Cough Mixture: 4 oz cod liver oil... Well, that would quickly identify any malingerers! We used to get cod liver oil for the vitamin D and it tasted horrible. When we had coughs, my mum would rub our chests with Vicks Vaporub and then pin a warm folded up flanned to the front of our pyjamas. It felt wonderful and smelt so therapeutic.

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    1. Hello Jenny, I had exactly the same thought...it brought back memories of having to take that vile stuff, it felt like a punishment. Isn't it wonderful how the smell of Vicks can transport us back through time to childhood?

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  12. Oh can you still find paregoric? Mother always kept it in the medicine cabinet. Loved reading all the remedies.

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    1. Hello Bonnie, I love these old books with their advice and recipes. I am particularly fond of some of the household hints and always give thanks that I don't have to follow them...things like how to tell whether flour is good, or how to 'clean' sour meat..

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  13. Many of these remedies I have had!! Some not as pleasant, but they did the trick. My mother's cough medicine was a mixture of Rye whiskey, lemon and honey; today that wouldn't set right giving children alcohol, but it sure took care of a cough:-D

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    1. Hello Susan, Wow! You were lucky! We had the lemon, honey and hot water treatment - soothing, but not half as much fun as with the Rye whiskey addition! Very occasionally I do remember being given a teaspoonful of brandy well diluted in hot water and sweetened with honey, I haven't a clue what it was for but it certainly made me feel better!

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  14. This is so interesting. I know a lot of the old home remedies really worked and even now they say in addition to medical treatment. I remember having a big dollop of Vick's salve on my chest at night for a cold. It sure helped keep your nasal passages open! Stay warm!

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    1. Hello Diane, I think that there is a little nugget of wisdom held within many of these old remedies. Whether it is the placebo effect, soothing, or curative, people have always wanted to 'make people better'. Vick's chest rub has helped so many of us through those pesky colds of childhood. We have more snow expected today - the fires have been lit.

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  15. Love the snow photos and reading about the various old tyme remedies especially the measurements like drachms and dessertspoonfuls, wonderful.

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