Good Food Blog
War on wastePosted at 11:30AM, 30 September 2008 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
I have a fascinating collection of wartime food pamphlets issued by the Ministry of Food. Some of the ideas are definitely not to today's tastes (and possibly not even then either!) - powdered milk and sugar sandwiches anyone?
Food was rationed, so nothing was ever wasted; everyone made preserves, bottled fruits and salted vegetables, and to supplement their quota, many people kept hens in back gardens and grew vegetables in allotments, gardens and even window boxes. The Ministry of Food issued lots of newspaper and magazine advertisements, recipe leaflets and radio broadcasts with practical information on how to make the best of what was available and make ingredients go further.
There were some excellent recipes given out in a booklet and a radio programme called 'The Kitchen Front'. Alongside recipes for 'mock marzipan' (cooked sieved haricot beans, ground rice, almond essence and margarine), 'mock cream' (margarine and milk) and 'mock oysters' (sardines, mashed artichokes and breadcrumbs), there were also more appetising recipes that we'd find appealing today - chestnut soup, savoury charlotte (made with lots of fresh vegetables and bacon), potato and sausagemeat pancakes and apple custard pie, for example.
Many of the money-saving hints and thrifty tips are also just as useful nowadays, especially in the current credit crunch. For instance, store potatoes with an apple to prevent them sprouting; freshen up stale bread by brushing it with water, wrapping in foil and heating for 10 minutes in a moderate oven; refresh stale crackers or breakfast cereals by spreading them on a baking tray and putting in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.
Don't heat air when you're cooking! Make sure the cooker ring matches the size of the pan
Bacon rinds and vegetable trimmings (such as pea pods) and the cooking water can be made into soup and meat bones into stock; if short of eggs for a cake recipe, substitute 1 tablespoon vinegar per egg; use honey or syrup instead of sugar (1 tablespoonful for each 55g sugar) for making cakes; to stop jam tarts from boiling over during cooking, sprinkle with a few drops of cold water before cooking; to prevent sausages bursting, dip them in boiling water before frying; add a little cider or wine vinegar to the water in which you boil ham to improve the flavour; don't heat air when you're cooking! Make sure the cooker ring matches the size of the pan and put a lid on the pan so it heats more quickly.
I tried out some wartime recipes for a week on my family - they not only loved the interesting, tasty dishes, but - even better - I saved lots of money on the food bill too!
Has anyone else come across interesting wartime recipes or money-saving tips?