Looks like I spoke (er, wrote?!) too soon. Kinda. Sorta. You see,
I HAVE found a pre-19th century American receipt for tomatoes.
HUZZAH! However, it’s not in a published cookbook of that era,
but in a family manuscript cookbook: Harriott Pinckney Horry’s
receipt book of 1770, published as A Colonial Plantation Cookbook
in 1984. It’s not for a sauce, but rather is for preserving tomatoes
to use later as soup. The book’s editor, Richard J. Hooker, notes
that the receipt “could well be the earliest reference to tomatoes
in any American cookbook.” He also agrees with what I mentioned
previously that tomatoes were not widely accepted in America
until the early 19th Century.
Of course, this presents us with yet more pieces to the tomato
receipt puzzle. Where did Harriott get this one? From what
person or outside source did she receive it? After all, her
mother was born and lived her early years in the West Indies.
Does that play a role? Harriott lived in South Carolina. Were
tomatoes more accepted, and accepted earlier, in the South
for some reason? So many questions, but so few answers!
Here, now, is Harriott’s receipt:
To Keep Tomatoos for Winter use
Take ripe Tomatas, peel them, and cut them
in four and put them into a stew pan, strew
over them a great quantity of Pepper and
Salt; cover it up close and let it stand an Hour,
then put it on the fire and let it stew quick
till the liquor is intirely boild away; then
take them up and put into pint Potts, and
when cold pour melted butter over them
about an inch thick. They comonly take
a whole day to stew. Each pot will make
N.B. if you do them before the month
of October they will not keep.
Did you notice the spellings? “Tomatoos” (love that) and “tomatas.”
What a hoot!