Soups are on the menu for this coming Thursday’s Fireside Feasts
program out at Wyckoff. One of the receipts (recipes) we’ll be using
states at one point,
take it [the soup] off the fire, and
put in…a little mushroom catchup.
So, we’ll need mushroom catchup. What fun! Now, I could just get some
Worcestershire Sauce, as that’s what most other hearth cooks would use.
If time wasn’t of the essence, I could order it (the catchup) from Deborah’s
Pantry. Or, I could make my own. Being eager to experiment, I decided
on the latter. Of course, I needed a receipt (recipe), so I browsed through
my library of historic cookbooks and found several, most of which were
nearly identical. Finally, I selected “To make Ketchup,” from Hannah
Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. Then the fun began….
First, I had to purchase the mushrooms. Now, a fungi connoisseur
I’m not. So I again called my friend Clarissa Dillon, to find out what
type she uses. The answer: button. Of course, I went to my local
grocery store, and there were several different types, but none
of them button. I had looked it up on the Internet and gotten
a couple of “also known as,” but I didn’t find those, either. This
is where I wish my dad was still around; he adored mushrooms,
particularly morels. He’d be able to tell me what to use, or which
would taste the best and all, and he’d be amazed that I’m actually
making something out of mushrooms and…sorry, I digress. In any
event, I figured it couldn’t (shouldn’t?) make THAT much difference
which I chose, so I bought three boxes of sorta dirty-white mushrooms.
Oh, and they were already sliced.
Now, the first step of the receipt is to lay them all out in “a broad
earthern Pan,” but it doesn’t say to leave them whole or to first cut
them up. Later on, it states “with your Hand brake [sic] them….” So
I figured, if they’re going to be mushed up eventually…. The second
instruction is to “strow [strew] a good deal of Salt over them,” which
I did, (a GOOD “good deal”). Then I began to worry that my ketchup
will be WAY too salty, particularly since slices were being covered and
not the whole. Only time will tell, I guess.
Well…now the mushrooms have to sit overnight. So…stay tuned.
Spread out in “a broad earthern Pan” and salt scattered over:
They’re on their way to becoming ketchup (hopefully!):
Incidentally, I looked at a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce
that I have in my cupboard, and I was
struck by the fact that there’s not a single
mushroom in it. There’s vinegar, molasses,
onions, garlic, a couple of spice extracts,
anchovies, and so on, but no mushrooms.
And none of those above ingredients are
in mushroom ketchup. Turns out, the only
ingredient in both is cloves! So, I must say,
I’m puzzled as to why other hearth cooks
deem it a proper substitute for mushroom
catchup. Maybe it’s the taste? Or…what?
Interestingly, there are historic receipts
for various sauces that DO match more
closely ingredient-wise. Just NOT those
for mushroom catchup.
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