Friday, April 3, 2015

Carrot Marmalade: Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge 22, Make It Do or Do Without

Carrot Marmalade: Making Do in the Great War

The Challenge: Make It Do or Do Without 
March 22 - April 4
Working around food availability to gain a desired outcome has been a challenge throughout history. Whether supplementing seasonal produce, dealing with rationed or blockaded food in wartime, or re-imagining a dish without access to crucial ingredients, the cooks of the past had to get creative. Do homage to their ingenuity by interpreting historical substitutions.

"If you cannot have the best, make the best of what you have."
May Byron, author of The Great War Cook Book, c.1915

An Era of Scarcity:
For this challenge, I chose to make a recipe from a collection of English recipes written by author May Byron during the Great War. The cook book is not marked with a publication date but it was likely published around 1915, just after the Defense of the Relm Act (DORA) was enacted in 1914 for securing public safety. One of the aims of this act was to ensure that food shortages never happened. In a war in which the availability of food was used as a tactical maneuver to try to get both sides to surrender, this need to reduce reliance upon outside sources for food must have been crucial to fighting the war on the home front. One result of this need to keep up a reliable supply of locally produced food was the development in 1916 of the Woman's Land Army (WLA). The Woman's Land Army worked an extra three million acres of land taken over for farming and employed young, single women as its chief farmers. By 1918, it was clear that more had to be done to insure that the English population on the home-front and those in the military could continue to be fed and rationing was finally introduced.  

Marmalade Made-Do:
Over the course of many centuries, the British developed a love of marmalade. Originally, the earliest British marmalades were made in the British Medieval days with quince, and eventually over time the recipe transformed itself and the bitter Seville orange was used. The World War One  era recipe I offer here is a method for making a well-loved favorite in the manner of  "making do"--using something easily obtained that could be grown in any English field, the humble carrot, and a small quantity of lemons as a replacement for the bitter oranges. The lemons add the tartness and the pectin needed to help make the marmalade set into a gel.

The Recipe: Carrot Marmalade
Source: The Great War Cook Book, From Trench Pudding to Carrot Marmalade by May Myron, c. 1915 (Published in 2014 by Amberley Publishing with an Introduction by Eleri Pipien)

Date/Year and Region
England, World War One

How Did You Make It
I followed the recipe as it was written. However, I only made 1/4 of the amount indicated.
Carrots and Lemons Ready to Cook

Cooked carrots and lemons ready to be sieved.

Carrot and lemon pulp.

Time to Complete
The majority of the time is taken up with the initial cooking down of the carrots and lemons, about 2 1/2 hours. There is an additional 10 minutes for cooking down the sugar until the marmalade sets.

Total Cost
$5 for carrots and lemons.

How Successful Was It?
I have to admit that I was really skeptical about this recipe which is why I made just one-fourth the recipe. Well, I admit I was wrong. It is not only much better than I expected it to be, I actually like it better than regular orange marmalade! It has a smoother, less bitter texture than regular marmalade. Who would have ever thought it would be so good???
How Accurate Is It?
I followed the recipe exactly as written, except that I made one-fourth the original amount written in the recipe.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, interesting! I've seen recipes for carrot marmalade from the 1940s, but not from WW1! I may have to try that sometime.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.