Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Apple Marmalade: A Perfect Glaze for Ham

Apple Marmalade

A word frequently used in historic contexts to denote a certain type of apple is Pippin. The name was used over the centuries to describe a variety of different apples. The word Pippin originally meant any apple grown from a pip (the hard little seeds contained within). By the late 16th century, the word referred to a hard, late-ripening apple with an acid flavor. Additionally, the name Pippin has been used to describe many different types of cider apples and eating apples. In America, the name Pippin referred to an American variety of apple known as the Newtown Pippin.

Newtown Pippin apples were developed in Newtown in what is now Long Island, New York. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew them. Click here to read more about this variety of apple.

Newtown Pippin Apples

Here is one of many historic recipes that specifically references the use of pippin apples:

Source: The Kentucky Housewife by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, 1838

This recipe for Apple Marmalade is from a 19th century American cookbook called The Kentucky Housewife published in 1839.  The author, Lettice Bryan, suggests using pippins for this recipe (quite likely the Newtown variety) or any other "nice cooking apple." Newtown Pippins are possibly the parent apple to the Ginger Gold variety of apple. Therefore, since I cannot get Newtown Pippins in my neck of the woods, I am using Ginger Golds for this recipe (I am assuming Mrs. Bryan would approve!):

Apple Marmalade: Modern Recipe Adaptation

Yield: About 5 Cups

3 Pounds Ginger Gold Apples (or any cooking apple you like)
2 1/4 Pounds Brown Sugar (I used true Muscovado brown sugar)
Peel of 2 Lemons, Grated or Cut in Long Thin Strips
1 Cup Water

  1. Peel, core, and slice apples very thin.
  2. Place apples, brown sugar, lemon peel, and water in a large heavy-bottomed (to prevent burning) stockpot. Set on the stove at medium high heat.
  3. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to medium low.
  4. Cook uncovered for 60-75 minutes, until the apples become soft enough to mash and the liquid gets very thick. Stir frequently.
  5. When the apples are soft enough to mash and the liquid is thick and syrupy, remove from the heat and rough mash all of the apples (it's okay if it's a little lumpy).
This is the consistency of the marmalade when it should be removed
from the heat ready for the apples to be mashed.
  • Store in covered jars in the refrigerator or use a hot water canner to seal the jars.
  • Use as a glaze for ham or pork.
  • Mix into your favorite barbecue sauce.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Apple Tart: Make Gervase Markham's 1615 Recipe in Your 21st Century Kitchen

Gervase Markham was born in 1568 in Nottinghamshire, England. Markham was a poet; however, he is actually most well remembered for his work, The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman first published in London in 1615. Markham was born during the reign of Elizabeth I and was a contemporary of William Shakespeare, being just four years younger than the bard.  

Enjoy a taste of Elizabethan/Shakespearian England with Markham's recipe for Apple Tart. The recipe is very typical for its day in that it includes a natural red food coloring called sanders (ground sandalwood), rose-water, and white wine. As was common in that time period, the apple filling was meant to be placed inside a coffin (a pastry case with bottom and removable lid). Listed below are several ways in which to make this recipe.

Here is the recipe as it was originally written:

Apple Tart by Gervase Markham (1615)
Take apples and pare them, and slice them thin from the core into a pipkin with white wine, good store of sugar, cinnamon, a few sanders, and rose-water, and boil it till it be thick; then, cool it, and strain it, and beat it very well together with a spoon; then put it into a coffin as you did the prune tart, and adorn it also in the same manner; and this tart you may fill thicker or thinner, as you please to raise the edge of the coffin; and carrieth the colour red.

Modern Recipe Adaptation
5-6 Large Apples (I use sweet apples to avoid using large quantities of added sugar)
3/4 Cup White Wine
1 Teaspoon Ceylon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Rose-Water
2 Teaspoons Sanders (or several drops of food coloring)

Pastry Crust for 1 Pie; Use Either:


  1. Peel and core the apples. Slice them thin.
  2. Place the apples in a large saucepan and add the wine,  cinnamon, rose-water, and red food coloring. Place on the stovetop over high heat and bring to the boil. Once yje boiling point is reached, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the apples become soft. Stir frequently.
  3. Once the apples are soft, remove them from the stove and let cool.
  4. Drain the excess liquid from the cooled apples. The apples can be left in large chunks or they can be mashed in the way the original recipe directs. 
  5. Heat the oven to 350ยบ F.
  6. Prepare your dough based on the type of pie you would like to make (see below). Instead of making the pie in a traditional coffin as directed in the original recipe, I chose to make three different types of pies. Here they are:

Use a Raised French Pie Mould: 

French Raised Pie Mould

Baked Apple Pie Made in the French Raised Pie Fashion

Use Mini Raised Pie Moulds:
Mini Raised Pie 

Modernize it by Adding a Crumb Topping:

To Make the Crumb Topping: Whisk together 2/3 cup all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add 4 tablespoons of cold, cubed butter and mix together with your fingers until the butter is the size of peas.  

To Assemble the Pie:  Place a pie crust (store-bought or homemade) in a pie plate. Spoon the apples on top of the crust and then top them with the crumb mixture. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tamarind Drink: A Tart and Refreshing Beverage With Roots in Africa

Tamarind Pods

The fruit of the Tamarind evergreen tree (Tamarindus indica) is a seed pod that contains a fragrant but sour pulp. While the tamarind is native to Africa, it spread to India as early as the prehistoric days and is now grown all over the tropical world. Tamarind has been used historically as a medicine, but it also has an extensive culinary history.

Tamarind pods grow in clusters and contain very small beans which are surrounded by a sour pulp. The pulp is compressed into a cake and can then be turned into a paste or syrup/concentrate. The processed tamarind can then be used in many different culinary applications. For instance, many Indian dishes such as chutneys and curries contain tamarind paste; the syrup can also be diluted with sweetened water and made into a drink; and, with the addition of honey or sugar, the pulp can be made into a sweetmeat candy. The majority of Westerners, however, probably know the taste of tamarind without even realizing it because it is a key base ingredient in the ever-popular Indian inspired but very British condiment, Worcestershire Sauce.

The history of tamarind in the USA stretches back to the colonial days. According to food historian Michael Twitty in his 2006 book Fighting Old Nep: The Foodways of Enslaved Afro-Marylanders, 1634-1864, Africans in Maryland, particularly those who could trace their ancestry to the Wolof people or other related people living in the dry savannas of northern Senegal, would have definitely known about tamarind and its many uses. Twitty recounts a literary vignette in his work to describe a possible market experience Afro-Marylanders may have had in the 18th century. He writes about how Afro-Maryland men, who returning to their plantation from a trip to Annapolis to sell their goods at market, surprised their wives with the purchase of . . . 

" a few groceries bought at a store. Red rice, coconuts, peanuts, white rice, tamarind, ginger, spices, and various tropical nuts . . . ."

Advertisements for imported groceries abound in the 18th century newspaper The Maryland Gazette and proves that tamarind, along with other foreign goods, were highly sought after in the colonial market town of Annapolis.

Here is a 1767 advertisement including tamarind:

For a taste of the past, present, and future, try tamarind for yourself with this easy recipe:

Recipe for Tamarind Drink 
1 Quart Water
1 - 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Tamarind Paste (click here for link to purchase this)

  1. In a saucepan, mix 1 cup of the sugar into the water and bring to a boil. Whisk to make sure all of the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the tamarind paste and whisk. Taste and add more sugar, if desired.
  3. Refrigerate this mixture until completely chilled.
  4. Serve.
Note: You can alter the measurements of the ingredients in this drink to suit your particular tastes--make it stronger, sweeter, or weaker!

Alan Davidson, The Penguin Companion to Food. New York: 2002.

Michael Twitty, Fighting Old Nep: The Foodways of Enslaved Afro-Marylanders, 1634-1864, 2006.