60+ Cookbook Notes From The 1930’s to 1960’s

ApronHere is a collection of notes I’ve gathered from a variety of vintage books, cookbooks and magazines from the 1930’s to 1960’s. Many of them are from women who would send them in to share with each other, they were quite resourceful back in the day!

  1. To bring out the flavor in older spices, try heating them in a frying pan first (no oil or other ingredients added).
  2. Use the root half of the onion last, it will last longer when stored. You can plant the roots of green onions to grow your own.
  3. To avoid waste in measuring shortening, use the liquid-level method. If you need 1/2 cup shortening fill a measuring cup to 1/2 mark with water. Drop in shortening, push it under the water; continue until liquid reaches 1-cup mark. Drain off the liquid. For 3/4 cup of shortening, start with 1/4 cup water; for 1/3 cup, start with 2/3 cup of water, and so on.
  4. When frying with butter, don’t cook with high heat since butter has a low smoking/burning point.
  5. Using hot tea instead of water when cooking roasts or stewing meat is a good way to add flavor and tenderize the meats.
  6. Spark up the flavor of ripe olives by soaking them overnight in olive oil to which as been added a very small clove of garlic.
  7. If shredded coconut gets dry, make extra delicious by toasting. Sprinkle it on a baking sheet and heat in moderate oven, shaking occasionally to brown evenly.
  8. You can use your fats over and over by straining them after each use. Fry slices of potato in fat to remove the odors of fish, onion or other highly flavored foods.
  9. When celery loses its crispness, place it in a pan of cold water. Slice a raw potato and put it in the pan. Let stand for a few hours. Remove the celery and you will find that it has regained its original crispness.
  10. Remove fat from hot soup by straining broth through a cloth wrung from cold water. All the fat will remain in cloth except just enough to enrich soup. Heat soup again before serving.
  11. Gravy thickening, sauces, etc., can be made smooth by using a small jar with a tight lid. Put the mixture of milk or water and flour into the jar and shake well until all lumps disappear.
  12. Grease drippings can be clarified for further use by straining to remove large particles and then cutting up an Irish potato and frying it in the grease. All the small particles will cling to the potato.
  13. Iced tea requires only one-half as much sugar if sweetened when hot than when cold. After tea is strained and ready to serve, freeze a portion of it in the electric refrigerator and add this to glasses for cooling instead of plain ice.
  14. Gelatine in individual form is easier handled if a muffin pan is used instead of small molds. Pan can be placed in a refrigerator without danger of over-turning and much time is saved.
  15. Milk, in being boiled, frequently sticks to the pan. To prevent this, rinse the pan in hot water before using.
  16. Pancakes can be made without smoke or odor by rubbing the gridiron with a small bag of salt, which will also prevent the cakes from sticking to the iron. This is equally effective on waffle iron.
  17. Potato water, when used in making gravies, greatly improves the flavor. *Tipnut note: this is what my grandmother always did with her gravies.
  18. Salad dressing, boiled, will not curdle if the beaten eggs are stirred into cold vinegar before boiling.
  19. Salty tastes in gravies, soups, etc., can be eliminated by dropping a piece of raw potato into the liquid for a few minutes before removing from the fire.
  20. Spaghetti or macaroni frequently boil over when cooking. This can be prevented by adding a tablespoon of cooking oil or lard to the water.
  21. Spicing of fruits, pickles, relishes, etc., is made easier by putting the spices in a tea ball. It can be removed from the hot syrup at any time without trouble.
  22. Bananas for salads will keep their natural color if sprinkled with powdered sugar or lemon juice.
  23. Grapefruit or oranges can be peeled easily if permitted to stand in boiling water for ten minutes.
  24. Peaches will not discolor if immersed in solution of half milk and half water after peeling.
  25. Bacon should be soaked in cold water three or four minutes before frying. This prevents grease from running and gives the bacon a much finer flavor.
  26. Fish scales can be removed quickly and easily by first dipping the fish in boiling water.
  27. Meats for boiling and roasting should be plunged into cold water first as this hardens the film on the outside, encasing and retaining the juices. No salt should be added until meat is nearly done, as it releases juices of the meat if added too soon.
  28. Scrambling eggs: Add a tablespoonful of cream for each egg. It makes them light and they will go farther.
  29. Carrots for salads or general cooking should first be dropping in boiling water for two or three minutes. The skins will then come off easily.
  30. Cabbage odor can be avoided by dropping two English walnuts (uncracked) into the kettle while cooking.
  31. Cabbage is much sweeter if cooked in open kettle 8 minutes.
  32. Cauliflower will remain white and give off no odor while cooking in half milk and half water. Use liquid for soup or cream sauce.
  33. To keep cheese from getting hard, cut off enough for immediate use and spread the remaining portion with a thin film of butter or margarine. Put it in a cool place. This keeps out the air and prevents the cheese from drying out.
  34. To rid your ham of the rind: Slit the rind lengthwise on the underside before placing it in the roasting pan. As the ham bakes, the rind will pull away and can be removed easily without lifting the ham.
  35. To thin a small portion of peanut butter, use orange juice. It makes it spread much easier and adds taste appeal.
  36. A corner cut from an envelope and pierced at the point makes a good funnel for filling salt and pepper shakers.
  37. For a novel sandwich spread, try mixing caraway seed or celery seed in cottage cheese. Add salt and enough cream to make the mixture spread easily.
  38. Give your children a surprise in their popcorn balls the next time you make them. Take a lollipop and shape the popcorn around the top. Helps keep children from having those sticky hands which give Mother those wash day blues.
  39. As you use from a breakfast food box, cut the sides down and fold over to fit the contents, putting a rubber band around the top. This will keep remaining breakfast food fresher and conserve cupboard space.
  40. A smooth shiny egg shell is a sign of old age. Fresh eggs have a chalky rough shell (also see How To Tell If An Egg Is Fresh).
  41. When in doubt about an egg, make this test: add 2 tsps. salt to a cup of water and put the egg in it. A fresh egg will sink, a doubtful egg will float.
  42. Lemons will stay fresh longer if you store them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge. They’ll keep up to 3 months this way.
  43. Leftover beef stew can be blenderized to a puree and used as a base for Scotch broth and other soups.
  44. A little salt sprinkled in the frying pan will keep fat or lard from splattering.
  45. Getting the catsup out of the bottle: insert a drinking straw, push it to the bottom of the bottle, and then remove. Enough air will be admitted to start an even flow.
  46. Separate hamburger patties bound for the freezer with the wax paper liners from old cereal boxes, cut to size. Nice and thick, they peel off the frozen patties without ripping.
  47. Warm Brazil nuts in the oven before cracking them.
  48. Make an economical gelatin dessert at a fraction the cost by combining canned fruit syrup, unflavored gelatin powder and a little coloring.
  49. For a quick, refreshing dessert: stir 1 cup dairy sour cream into a pound of seedless green grapes. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  50. Stuffing poultry is a snap if you put the dressing into a well-greased cheesecloth bag before packing it into the cavity. You’ll get every smidge out.
  51. To prevent your cream pitcher from dripping on the clean tablecloth, put a bit of butter, margarine or an unflavored fat on the tip of the spout.
  52. If there is too much canning juice to serve with the food, pour it into a separate pan and cook it down. Then heat the canned food briefly in this liquid and season to taste. Boiling the juice down enriches the flavor and preserves nutrient qualities that would otherwise be wasted.
  53. To make peeling hard-cooked eggs easier, butter your thumbs.
  54. A damp cloth under any bowl or dish in which you are stirring or beating something will keep it from sliding around.
  55. Oil can openers and other kitchen gadgets with olive or cooking oil. Glycerin will work too.
  56. When working with hot peppers and the heat gets into your hands, wash your hands in diluted bleach to stop the burn.
  57. Use vanilla extract to sooth kitchen burns and to keep them from blistering. Cider vinegar also helps–just dab on the burn, reapply if necessary.
  58. Place a jar lid on the bottom of the double boiler. It will rattle when the liquid gets too low.
  59. Neutralize strong cooking odors by boiling three teaspoons of ground clove in two cups water for 15 minutes. You can also heat vinegar on the stove top to clear the smell. See also Fragrant Home: 13 Simmering Pot Recipes.
  60. Use a plastic knitting needle to use as a plunger in a narrow funnel opening that thick sauces won’t go through easily.
  61. Use an egg slicer to slice butter into individual pats. This tip also works for fresh mushrooms.
  62. Don’t throw fat away even if it was used for frying fish and has retained the odor, simply fry a slice of potato in the fat and the potato will absorb the odor.
  63. Mark eggs to use up first with a pencil before filling tray with fresh eggs.

*Previously published on separate pages and combined here for better organization

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    • Chris | HealthyGaming

    Thanks, nice post! I’m really curious to try that peanut butter orange trick!

    • Mama Bear

    These are GREAT! Thank you!

    • Penny

    **comment deleted as requested

    • TipNut

    Hi Penny, I’ve presented these just as they are: tips from the 40’s and 50’s shared by women. That’s what life was back then and that’s what women did–share household/kitchen tips with each other. I don’t feel the need to present them as something that they’re not (to make them politically correct or clearly gender friendly), but nowhere did I say these are just for women, they’re for everyone to enjoy :).

      • Penny

      noted, my poor knee-jerk reaction. please delete my comment as it was inappropriate. cheers.

        • TipNut

        No problem Penny, I deleted your comment as requested :).

    • megz

    I like these! I’ve had strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar, recipe from an old cook book… they were very good. Will have to try with grapes next time.

    One question though, what is a trouser hanger?

      • TipNut

      megz they’re smaller in width than regular hangers and have clips on top (or a full clamp) to hold pants. You can see some examples in Google Images here.

    • Dougall

    I always like tips! Sharing hard won knowledge is a great pleasure. Here’s what I do with cheese: We often buy large sticks of cheese (about eight inches long) as they are a lot cheaper (in Canada anyway) but if they end up going bad before they are used up – not much saving there!

    To preserve cheese best:
    1. Don’t touch cheese you don’t use – hold it by the package, and cut through the cheese and the plastic with a sharp knife – you can then slice the piece you have cut off. I’ve found that if you handle it, or expose it to the air when you don’t need to, it will go mouldy faster.
    2. If you are grating cheese, uncover enough to grate, and hold the rest of the stick by the wrapper.
    3. To keep it fresh, keep it in a freezer bag, and squeeze out the air before re-sealing it.

    Also, if you are cooking with cheese, add a little dry mustard. It brings back the cheese flavour, which can be muted by heating.

    • mjb

    Wow – this is excellent, reminds me of tips from my grandma decades ago.
    I’m a single dad of two girls – this is priceless domain knowledge about cooking and home ec!

    • Kitchen tips

    Excellent tips and ideas ..Regarding your idea “For a quick, refreshing dessert: stir 1 cup dairy sour cream into a pound of seedless green grapes. Sprinkle with brown sugar. “, I used it with yogurt and small pieces of ripe peaches, worked great…Not only refreshing and light but healthy as well.Thanks

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