Plum pudding 18th century cooking with Jas Townsend and Son S4E6
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Plum pudding 18th century cooking with Jas Townsend and Son S4E6

Today I’m going to be doing something a
little different. A dish that was popular all the way from the
mid-18th century to the 20th century, found in British cookbooks and also popular in colonial
America. We’re going to be making a hunter’s pudding. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century
Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son. A hunter’s pudding is a type of plum pudding
and a plum in this context means raisins. Plum puddings were often associated with special
occasions, served during certain holidays or when visitors came to visit. The name hunter’s pudding may be a bit deceiving. We need to be careful about assuming that
it was a favorite dish for backwoodsmen. Rather, a hunter’s pudding was likely a
pudding that would have been reserved for various special occasions such as a formal
hunt, but that’s not to say ordinary people didn’t enjoy a hunter’s pudding on occasion. Hunter’s puddings were popular from the
mid 1700’s up until the beginning of the 20th century. Let’s get started. We’re going to be making a recipe from “The
Lady’s Assistant”, a 1775 cookbook published from Charlotte Mason’s manuscripts. We’re making half batches today, so if you
want to make a full size batch, all you’ll need is double the ingredients. It will change the cooking time, so we’ll
talk about that as we cook it, but to start, let’s look at the ingredients. I’m using a half pound of flour and a half
pound of suet. Now when I say suet, I mean kidney fat. In a previous episode, we explored the difference
between suet and hard muscle fat and when it comes to making puddings, there’s a huge
difference, so if you go to your butcher to ask for suet, make sure he gives you kidney
fat. If you can’t find kidney fat to use or if
you have neither the time nor the inclination to render it yourself, Jas Townsend and Son
now carries Atora shredded suet. This suet is made from rendered kidney fat. It’s stabilized with a little flour. Because it’s rendered properly, it doesn’t
need refrigerating. In addition, we’re using a half a pound
of currants. Unlike the fleshy red berries that go by the
same name and are related to the gooseberry, these currants are small dried seedless Corinthian
grapes. Also in our pudding we’ll be using about
4 ounces of raisins. Now raisins in the 18th century had seeds
in them so they had to be cut open and seeds removed before they could be used in a recipe
like this. There were different kinds of raisins in the
18th century. The best of the raisins were dried in the
sun as opposed to dried in ovens. These were called raisins of the sun and most
of the time they were imported in jars so they would be many times called jar raisins. The best of these raisins were called Malaga
or Muscato raisins. They were grown in Spain and imported throughout
much of Europe and North America. Our modern raisins are similar in quality
to a midlevel jar raisin of the 18th century while having the convenience of being seedless. Next we’re going to be adding a couple of
tablespoons of candied orange peel and candied citron. Our recipe will also use about a teaspoon
of nutmeg and 3-4 tablespoons of brandy. Now here’s something interesting about the
addition of brandy into these puddings, it started to be added in the second half of
the 18th century and in many of the recipes they find that the addition of the brandy
helped in the preservation of the pudding and many times its noted that the puddings
can be kept for up to 6 months if you keep the pudding still wrapped in its pudding cloth
and kept up out of reach. This allowed cooks to make multiple puddings
at once, serving one immediately and the others later on. Finally, back to our recipe, we’ll need
4 eggs and 1 cup of cream. Now that’s it for the ingredients. Now that we’ve gathered them up, let’s
put this pudding together. Preparing this pudding’s going to be very
easy. We’re just going to add all of our dry ingredients
plus our sweetmeats. And don’t forget to add the nutmeg. That’s mixed quite well. Okay, now that our dry ingredients are done,
let’s move on to our wet ingredients. Let’s whisk our eggs together. And then we’re going to add in our cream
and our last wet ingredient, our brandy. Now let’s add this to our dry ingredients. It should make a pretty thick paste. Now when you’re going to boil a pudding,
there are a few things you have to have ready to go. You need a couple of pots of water boiling. Our large one will be for boiling the pudding
itself. The smaller pot we’ll use to refill the
water as the water boils away. You’ll also need a clean piece of cloth. One for each of the puddings you’re going
to boil. Linen makes a really good pudding cloth. The water makes the fibers swell up and the
weave even tighter. You can also use cotton osnaburg. Go ahead and scald these cloths. You’ll also need a stout cord to tie the
cloth off with. Remove the cloths from the boiling water and
dust each with a little flour, then set each one aside, flour side up, into a bowl. Gather your pudding dough and place it on
top of the cloth. Tie the bag tightly around the dough. Now it’s time to put this in the boiling
water and boil it for 3 hours. You want to make sure to only replenish this
water with boiling water. You want this water to not stop boiling at
any time, because that will increase your cooking time. Now like I said, this is a half size pudding. If you’re going to be doing a full size
pudding, you’ll want to boil this for 4 hours. Okay, the hunter’s pudding has boiled 3
hours. You’ll need a bucket of cold water on hand. By dipping the hot pudding in the cold water
for a few seconds it will make it easier to get the cloth off without damaging the surface
of your pudding. If you don’t want to spend 4 or 5 hours
boiling a pudding at your next event, you can cook these ahead of time. You can cook these the week before if you
leave them in their pudding cloth, then you can take them to the event, when you’re
ready to use them, you can either boil them for an hour right before you need them or
you can slice them cold and then either fry them or broil them. These puddings were usually served with a
sauce and the sauce we’re using here is the most common type which is equal parts
of butter, sugar, and sac. Let’s give these a try. And they’re a very dense and rich kind of
food here. These are chalk full of raisins and they’re
nice and sweet. In fact, compared to today’s palate, 18th
folks were not used to such sweet things, so it’s likely that this would be the sweetest
thing they would eat all year long. These would make a great addition or finish
to a nice period meal and because you can fix them the week ahead of time, they’re
a perfect kind of thing you can pull out of the hat and fry these up from something that’s
been prepared without spending the 4 hours of boiling them at the event. You should really try these. These are wonderful dishes. Very nice. This recipe and many others are available
on our cooking blog. We also have an image reference blog of 17th
and 18th century paintings and drawings called Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel
so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. And finally, our online catalog and our printed
catalog that has hundreds of 18th and 19th century men’s and women’s clothing, historical
cooking items, and camping items. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

About Earl Carter

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2 thoughts on “Plum pudding 18th century cooking with Jas Townsend and Son S4E6

  1. My husbands nana has a Christmas pudín recipe that's been passed for so many generations and it is so similar. The only difference is that her recipe doesn't have eggs and they can keep it dry for up to a year. That is one of the reasons why my family looks forward for our Christmas lunch, and I normally get one to take home I get to eat it in July. What a wonderful channel!

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