Friday, March 16, 2018

Benjamin Franklin's Mushroom Catsup (1817)

  • 1-1/2 lbs "past their prime" mushrooms, slightly soft
  • 2 tspns salt
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 12 whole allspice berries
  • 1-1/2 tbspns brandy
Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth and chop into small bits. The smaller the bits, the easier it will be for the salt to bring out their juices. Mix with the salt, and let stand in a cool place overnight.

Strain the juices through a fine sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard to extract as much as you can. Discard the mushrooms. Add the peppercorns and allspice berries and simmer for 20 minutes.  Cool and put in a jar in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Strain the catsup through a very fine sieve to remove the residual solids. Add the brandy. 

Although colonial cooks kept mushroom catsup for months, I am skeptical of its safe longevity, even in the refrigerator for longer than a couple days.  I freeze it in an ice-cube tray so I can pop out 1-tablespoon cubes for recipes.

(Origin - "Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin - A Founding Father's Culinary Adventures" by Rae Katherine Eighmey, published by Smithsonian Books, 2018.)

More "Lost" Historic Recipes
Martha Washington's Nutmeg Custard Pie (1770)

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