Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vintage Houshold Tips - Part I

Take a look at these vintage tips from Fowler's Household Helps in 1916. Please note my disclaimer that these 'hints' are for entertainment purposes only. Some of these hints sound like they were invented for today's 'green' kitchen. Isn't it funny how we take major steps forward, but always seem to come back to the old ways?


Use Sand Soap to Sharpen the Food Chopper—If the knives of your food chopper become black and dull, run a piece of sand soap, or scouring brick, through the chopper as you would a potato. It will brighten and sharpen the knives and they will cut like new. Use pulverized sand soap or the scouring brick with which you scour.

Kerosene for Water Bugs—A small quantity of kerosene poured down the drain pipe occasionally will stop annoyance from this pest.

To Prevent a Glass from Breaking when pouring hot water in it, first put a spoon in the glass. This method can also be used when pouring hot soup or any hot liquid in any fragile receptacle.

When Butter is Too Hard to spread easily, turn a heated bowl upside down over the butter dish for a few minutes. This will thoroughly soften the butter without melting it.

To Open Fruit Jars—Strips of emery board, about one inch wide and eight inches or so long, will be found useful to loosen obstinate fruit jar tops. Just place the strip around the edge of the top, and give it a twist.

To Keep Refrigerator Sweet—A lump of charcoal should be placed in the refrigerator to keep it sweet. When putting your best tea or coffee urn away, drop a small piece of charcoal in it and prop the lid open with a toothpick.

Currycomb for Scaling Fish—A currycomb is better than a knife for scaling fish, as it protects the hands.

Corn popper for Toasting Bread—The corn popper can be used for toasting odds and ends of stale bread which would otherwise be wasted.

To Prevent Stains Under the Nails—Dip the ends of the fingers in melted tallow before beginning a task which is likely to stain them.

To Remove Stains from the Hands, rub them with a piece of lemon.

Starch to Prevent Chapped Hands—Use starch which is ground fine to prevent chapped hands. Every time the hands are washed and rinsed thoroughly, wipe them off, and, while they are yet damp, rub a pinch of starch over their entire surface. Chapping is then not likely to occur.

Wisp Brush for Greasy Pans and Kettles—A small wisp brush is better for cleaning greasy pans and kettles than the string mop you use for the dishes. You can buy them two for five cents. A little soap powder sprinkled on them makes a fine suds for the tinware and cooking utensils.

Best Way to Strain Soup—When straining soup set a coarse strainer inside of a fine one and pour the liquid through both; you will thus avoid clogging the fine one with pieces of meat and broken bones.

How to Crack Pecan Nuts—Almost all housewives know how very hard it is to crack pecan nuts and get the meats out whole. Pour boiling water over the nuts and let them stand tightly covered for five or six hours. The nut meats may then be extracted easily without a trace of the bitter lining of the nut. Use a nut cracker and crack lightly all around the nuts. The work is quickly done and is not at all like the tedious process of picking out the meats from the dry nuts. The meats nearly always come out whole.

Lemon Squeezer for Making Beef Juice—When one has to make beef juice in small quantities which does not warrant buying an expensive meat-press, use instead a ten-cent lemon squeezer. This can be sterilized by boiling and kept absolutely clean. One can press out several ounces in a very few minutes.

Quick Way to Peel Carrots—Use a coarse grater to peel carrots. A few passes over the grater will rid the carrots of their skins quicker than any other method.

Proper Way to Slice Bacon—To slice bacon properly, always place it rind down, and do not attempt to cut through the rind until you have the desired number of slices. Then slip the knife under them and cut them free of the rind, keeping as close to it as possible.

When Cream is on the Turn—When the sweetness of the cream is doubtful and there is no more on hand and it must be used, a pinch of soda will keep it from curdling, even in hot coffee.

To Prevent Musty Teapot—When putting away a silver teapot, or one that is not in everyday use, place a little stick across the top underneath the cover. This will allow fresh air to get in and prevent mustiness.

Lemon or Orange Peel for Tea Caddy—Thoroughly dry the peel from an orange or a lemon, and place it in the tea caddy. This will greatly improve the flavor of the tea.

Heat Lemons Before Squeezing—In using lemons, heat them thoroughly before squeezing and you will obtain nearly double the quantity of juice that you would if they had not been heated.

To Keep Teakettle from Rusting—A clean oyster shell placed in the teakettle will keep out rust.

To Clean Gas Stove Burners—Pick the holes open with a large pin and apply a vacuum cleaner to take out the particles of dirt.

Flour for Burning Kerosene—Wheaten flour is the best extinguisher to throw over a fire caused by the spilling and ignition of kerosene. This should be a matter of common knowledge, since flour is always within convenient reach.

Use for Old Newspapers—Old newspapers clean stoves beautifully, as well as being useful for polishing kitchen windows.

To Take Rust from Flat-Irons, tie some yellow beeswax or paraffine in a cloth, and when the iron is warm, but not hot enough to use, rub with the wax and then rub it through sand or salt.

A Good Stove Polisher—A piece of burlap is a very good polisher for the kitchen stove or range when it is hot. It does not burn readily, and for that reason is better than flannel or cotton cloth or paper.

Wire Rack for Use Under Pies—When taking pies from the oven, do not put them on the flat surface of the table to cool unless a high wire rack is put under them. The rack helps to keep the crust crisp and they will not be soggy.

Marble Slab or Plate Glass for Mixing Board—For mixing cake and pastry an old marble slab or a piece of plate glass is better than a wooden board.

To Prevent Cakes from Burning—Sprinkle the bottom of the oven with fine, dry salt to prevent cakes, pies, and other pastry from burning on the bottom.

Wooden Bowl When Washing Silver—When washing silver, use a wooden tub or bowl if possible. There will be less danger of the silver getting scratched or otherwise damaged.

Tissue Paper for Greasy Dishes—Very greasy dishes should be wiped with soft tissue paper before being washed.

To Skin Tomatoes Easily—Tomatoes nearly always have to be skinned before being used. To do this easily, place them in a basin and pour boiling water over them. Let stand a minute, and then drain.

Another method is to rub the tomatoes all over with the back of a knife to loosen the skins before peeling. This is said to be better than scalding.

To Peel Sweet Potatoes Easily—Before putting sweet potatoes in the oven, grease the skins and they can then be peeled easily and without any waste of the potato.

To Prevent Roasted Meat from Drying Out—To prevent roasted meat, which is to be served cold, from drying out and losing its flavor, wrap it in cheesecloth while it is still hot.

When Food is Too Salty—When you have put too much salt into cooking food, stretch a clean cloth tightly over the kettle and sprinkle a table-spoonful of flour over the cloth. Then allow the contents of the kettle to steam and in a few moments the flour will absorb the surplus salt.

To Remove Fish Odor from Hands—A few drops of ammonia in the water in which you wash your hands will remove all fishy odor from the hands after preparing fish for cooking.

To Remove Onion Smell from Pans—The disagreeable smell of onions which clings to pots and pans so stubbornly can be quickly removed by washing and drying the pans, then scouring them with common salt, and placing them on the stove until the salt is brown. Shake often, then wash the pans as usual.

To Prevent Onions from Making the Eyes Water—Scalding water poured over onions will keep the eyes from watering.

Hint When Baking Bread—When baking bread or rolls, put a saucepan full of boiling water into the oven. The steam rising from it will keep the crust smooth and tender.

To Make Meat Tender—A tablespoonful of vinegar added to tough meat while it is boiling or roasting will make it more tender.

To Keep the Lid on a Boiling Pot—A teaspoonful of butter dropped into the water in which you are boiling dry beans, or other starchy vegetables, will stop the annoyance of having the lid of the pot jump off, as it will otherwise do. The butter acts the same as oil on troubled waters and keeps it calm and manageable.

To Take Fish Taste from Forks and Spoons—To remove the taste and smell of fish from forks and spoons, rub them with a small piece of butter before washing. All taste and smell will thus be entirely removed.

How to Judge Mushrooms—Sprinkle a little salt on the gills of mushrooms to judge their fitness to eat. If the gills turn black the mushrooms are fit for food; if they turn yellow, the mushrooms are poisonous.

Orange Peel for Cake Flavoring—Do not throw away orange peel, but dry in the oven. Grate the yellow part and use for flavoring cakes. It will give a delicious orange taste.

How to Prevent Fish from Breaking Up When Frying—When frying fish, if the pieces are put in the hot fat with the skin side uppermost, and allowed to brown well before turning, there will be no possibility of the fish breaking up.

To Remove Cake from Tin—When taking a cake from the oven, place the cake tin on a damp cloth for a moment and the cake will turn out of the tin quite easily.

Lemon Juice for Boiling Rice—A few drops of lemon juice added to boiling rice will help to keep the grains separate and will make them white.

Onion for Boston Baked Beans—Bake a small onion with your Boston baked beans to prevent indigestion and add to their fine flavor.

Hint for Baking Gems—When filling gem pans with batter leave one pan without batter and fill with water. This will prevent the gems from burning on top.

Sandpaper for Cleaning Pots—Always keep a piece of fine sandpaper by the sink with which to clean pots.

To Prevent Cake from Sticking to Tins after baking, first grease the tins and then dust them with flour. Lightly beat out the loose flour, leaving only that which sticks to the grease. This does away with the old-fashioned method of lining the pans with greased paper.

To Peel Apples Easily—Pour boiling water over the cooking apples and they will be much easier to peel. This will be found a considerable saving of time when busy.

When Bread is Too Brown—When bread is baked in too hot an oven and the outside crust gets too brown, do not attempt to cut it off, but as soon as the bread gets cold rub it over with a coarse tin grater and remove all the dark-brown crust.

Mustard for Removing Odors from the Hands—Ground mustard is excellent for cleaning the hands after handling onions and other things with disagreeable odors.

Economy in Use of Candles—A candle which has burned too low to remain in the candlestick can be used to the very end if removed from the stick and placed on a penny or other small, flat piece of metal.

To Get Rid of Spiders—A good way to rid the house of spiders is to take pieces of cotton wool, saturate them with oil of pennyroyal and place them in their haunts.

To Rid the Kitchen of Flies—Take a cup of vinegar and place it on the stove where it will simmer enough to make an odor.

To Clear Beetles Out of Cupboards and larders, sprinkle a little benzine over the boards. This method will kill the eggs as well as the insects.

To Drive Cockroaches Away—Powdered gum camphor will drive cockroaches away if sprinkled about their haunts.

To Remove Egg Stains from Silver—Egg stains can be removed from silver by rubbing it with table salt on a wet rag.

To Polish Faucets—Nothing is better for scouring a faucet than the half of a lemon after the juice has been squeezed out. After scouring, wash it and it will shine like new. An orange peel will also give good results.

For Scorched Vegetables or Other Food—When vegetables or other foods become scorched, remove the kettle at once from the stove and put it into a pan of cold water. In a quarter of an hour the suggestion of scorch will be nearly if not entirely gone.

When Cake is Scorched—If a cake is scorched on the top or bottom, grate over it lightly with a nutmeg-grater instead of scraping it with a knife. This leaves a smooth surface for frosting.

To Make Muffins and Gems Lighter—Muffins and gems will be lighter if, after greasing your pans you place them in the oven a few moments and let them get hot before putting in the batter.

To Make Pie Crust Flaky—To make pie crust flaky, try adding half a spoonful of vinegar to the cold water when mixing.

To Make Apple Pie Tender—If you are in doubt whether the apples in your open-top pies are cooking tender, just invert another pie pan over the pie and the steam will serve to cook the apples thoroughly.

To Make Fowl Tender—After a turkey or chicken is cleaned, the inside and outside should be rubbed thoroughly with a lemon before the dressing is put in. It will make the meat white, juicy and tender.

To Prevent Meat from Scorching—When roasting meat, and there is danger that it will become too brown, place a dish of water in the oven. The steam arising from it will prevent scorching and the meat will cook better. A piece of greased paper placed over the meat is also considered good.

To Keep Eggs from Popping When Cooking—Mix a tablespoonful of flour in the hot grease in which eggs are to be cooked, and break the eggs into this. You will also find that the flour gives the eggs a better flavor.

To Remove Egg Shells When Cooking—If a piece of shell gets into the egg when breaking eggs into a bowl, just touch it with a half shell and it can easily be removed.

To Keep Yolks of Eggs Fresh—Yolks of eggs which are not wanted for immediate use can be kept good for several days by dropping them into cold water and keeping in a cool place—the cooler the better.

To Prevent Boiling Eggs from Cracking—The four following suggestions are given in regard to boiling eggs. Use the one best suited to the purpose:

When Boiling Eggs, wet the shells thoroughly in cold water and they will not crack.

To Prevent Eggs from Bursting While Boiling, prick one end of each of the eggs with a needle before placing them in the water. This makes an outlet for the air and keeps the shells from cracking.

If Eggs Which You Are About to Boil Are Cracked, add a little vinegar to the water and they can then be boiled as satisfactorily as undamaged ones.

A Spoonful of Salt should be added to the water in which slightly cracked eggs are boiled. The salt will prevent the white of the egg from coming out.

Worn-Out Broom for Floor Polisher—When a long-handled broom becomes worn out, instead of throwing it away, tie a piece of felt or flannel cloth around the head and make a good floor polisher. It will make work much easier and also keep linoleum in good condition. Footmarks can be rubbed off at any time without stooping.

To Clean a Slender Flower Vase fasten a piece of an old sponge onto a stick and push it down into the vase; this will also be found useful for cleaning decanters and water bottles.

To Keep Bread Fresh—Wash a potato, wipe it dry and put it in your breadpan. It will keep the bread fresh for several days.

To Freshen Old Lemons—Lemons that have become old and dry can be made fresh and juicy again by putting them in a pan of hot water and keeping the water at an even temperature for about two hours.

A More Effective Dishcloth for Cleaning—In knitting dishcloths it is a good plan to put in several rows of hard-twisted cord. This hard part of the cloth will clean many surfaces on which it is not advisable to use scouring soap or metal.

To Clean Linoleum, use skimmed milk instead of water. It will keep it glossy, and will not rot it as water does.

A Good Remedy for Burns—Cover a soft cloth with a thick layer of scraped raw potato (Irish) and apply it to the burned part. The potato should be renewed as often as necessary to keep it moist.

For Burns and Light Scalds—At once coat the burned or scalded spot with mucilage and the smarting will cease almost instantly. If the burn is quite deep, keep it covered with a paste made of cold water and flour; do not allow the paste to get dry until the smarting stops.

Brush for Removing Silk from Corn—When preparing corn on the ear for the table, or for canning purposes, use a small hand brush to remove the silk. It will do the job more thoroughly and quicker than it can be done with the fingers.

To Remove Grease Spots from the Kitchen Floor—Apply alcohol to the spots and you will be surprised to find how easily they can be removed. The small amount of alcohol necessary to be used need not soil the hands.

To Open a Jar of Fruit or Vegetables Which Has Stuck Fast—Place the jar in a deep saucepan half full of cold water; bring it to a boil and let it boil for a few moments. The jar can then be opened easily.

To Identify Dishes Which Have Been Loaned—When taking dishes or silver to a picnic or other public gathering, place a small piece of surgeon’s plaster on the bottom of each dish and on the under side of the handles of spoons and forks. On this plaster mark your initials (in indelible ink if possible). The plaster will not come off during ordinary washing, but can later be removed by putting it in a warm place until the adhesive gum melts.

Tablet or Slate for Kitchen Memoranda—Keep in the kitchen a tablet with a pencil tied to it, or a ten-cent slate and pencil hung upon the wall. The day’s work is easier and smoother if you plan each morning the special tasks of the day and jot them down, checking them off as accomplished. Planning the day’s meals in advance results in better balanced menus. Writing down all groceries and household supplies as needed will save time when you go to the store or the order boy calls.

To Fasten Food Chopper Securely—Before fastening the food chopper to the table, put a piece of sandpaper, large enough to go under both clamps, rough side up, on the table; then screw the chopper clamps up tight and you will not be bothered with them working loose.

To Remove Insects from Vegetables which are being washed, put a pinch of borax in the water. It will bring any live insect to the surface at once.

To Clean Rust and Stains from Tin—Tins that have become rusty or stained may be cleaned by rubbing well with the cut surface of a raw potato which has been dipped in a fine cleaning powder.

To Polish Glass—After washing glass, polish with dry salt.

Lemon Juice for Cut Glass—Lemon juice is fine for polishing cut-glass tumblers. These pretties are so delicate there is always danger of breaking the stems. Fill a pan half full of cold water, place a cloth in the bottom and then add the juice of an entire lemon. Just dipping a tumbler about in this cleans and polishes it and it only needs drying with soft linen.

Many Uses of Ammonia—As a time saver it is unequalled when washing woodwork and windows. It is fine for cleaning carpets on the floor. They should be swept well and the broom washed; then brush again with water. They will look much brighter, and if there is a lurking moth in the carpet this treatment will destroy it. Ammonia will set color, remove stains and grease, and soften fabrics.

A light soap suds with a few drops of ammonia added will give a sparkle to ordinary pressed glass and china impossible to secure without it.

Hints for Oil Lamps and Chimneys—The five following paragraphs contain some good suggestions for the use of oil lamps:

Put a Small Lump of Camphor Gum in the body of an oil lamp and it will greatly improve the light and make the flame clearer and brighter. A few drops of vinegar occasionally is said to give the same results.

To Prevent Lamp Chimney from Cracking—A common hairpin placed astride the top edge of a lamp chimney will keep it from cracking from the heat, and will greatly prolong its life.

Gas and Lamp Chimneys, earthenware and baking dishes can be toughened before using by putting them into cold water which is heated gradually until it boils and then cooled slowly.

When Washing Your Lamp Chimneys, lift them out of the water and set them on the hot stove; they will not break. Let them steam; then wipe on a clean cloth and they will be as clear as crystal.

Take Your Lamp Wicks When New and soak them thoroughly in good apple vinegar and you will be delighted with the result. Do not wring them out, but hang them near a stove or lay out on a plate until dry. This treatment will double the lighting power of your lamps or lanterns. With wicks prepared in this way, only one cleaning each week is necessary, as the wicks will not smoke and the chimney and globe will not blacken around the top.

To Mend Broken China, Etc.—The four following methods of mending china, etc., are all considered good:

To Mend Broken China—Mix well a teaspoonful of alum and a tablespoonful of water and place it in a hot oven until quite transparent. Wash the broken pieces in hot water, dry them, and while still warm coat the broken edges thickly; then press together very quickly, for it sticks instantly.

To Mend Broken Crockery—White lead is one of the few cements that will resist both heat and water. Apply it thinly to the edges of the broken pieces, press them tightly together and set aside to dry.

A Cheap Cement for Broken China is lime mixed with the white of an egg. Take only sufficient white of an egg to mend one article at a time, and mix thoroughly with a small quantity of lime.

To Mend China successfully melt a small quantity of pulverized alum in an old spoon over the fire. Before it hardens rub the alum over the pieces to be united, press them together and set aside to dry. After drying they will not come apart, even when washed with hot water.

Embroidery Hoops and Cheesecloth for Cooling Dishes—When putting puddings or other dishes out of doors to cool, use a cover made of embroidery hoops of proper size with cheesecloth put in as a piece of embroidery is. The contents will be safe from dust and at the same time the air can circulate freely. The hoops will keep the cloth from getting into the contents and also weigh just enough to keep it from blowing off.

To Clean Mica in Stove Doors—To clean the mica in stove doors, rub it with a soft cloth dipped in equal parts of vinegar and cold water.

To Clean Tarnished Silver, use a piece of raw potato dipped in baking soda.

For Tarnished Silverware—If the silverware has become badly tarnished, put it in an aluminum dish, cover it with water, and boil it up for a short time. It will come out bright and clean.

To Clean White Knife Handles—To clean and whiten ivory-handled knives which have become yellow with age, rub with fine emery paper or sandpaper.

To Prevent Rust in Tinware—If new tinware is rubbed over with fresh lard and thoroughly heated in the oven before being used, it will never rust afterward, no matter how much it is put in water.

To Remove Rust from Tinware—To remove rust from tinware, rub the rusted part well with a green tomato cut in half. Let this remain on the tin for a few minutes; then wash the article and the rust will have vanished.

Kerosene for Tinware Stains, Etc.—Kerosene removes stains from tinware, porcelain tubs and varnished furniture. Rub with a woolen cloth saturated with it; the odor quickly evaporates.

To Preserve Enamel Pans—If new enamel pans are placed in a pan of water and allowed to come to a boil and then cooled, they will be found to last much longer without burning or cracking.

To Prevent Dust When Sweeping—Wet the broom before starting to sweep; it makes it more pliable and less hard on the carpet’s pile and also prevents dust from arising.

To Clean Paint or Rust from Linoleum—When linoleum becomes spotted with paint or rust it may be cleaned by rubbing with steel shavings or emery paper.

Linseed Oil for Kitchen Floor—Boiled linseed oil applied to the kitchen floor will give a finish that is easily cleaned. It may also be painted over the draining board of the sink; this will do away with hard scrubbing. It should be renewed twice a year.

Window Cleaning Hints—The six following paragraphs will be found useful when cleaning windows:

After Polishing Windows, moisten a clean rag with a very little glycerine and rub it over the pane. Windows polished in this way do not “steam” and will stay clean much longer.

A Cold-Weather Cleaner for Windows—Dampen a cheesecloth with kerosene and you can clean your windows quickly in cold weather when water can not be applied to the glass without freezing.

Window Cleaning Help—Before starting to clean windows carefully brush all dust off the frames. Add a few drops of kerosene to the water used for cleaning and it will give the glass a much brighter and more crystal-like appearance.

To Clean Windows—First wash the glass with water to which a little ammonia has been added and then polish with a chamois which has been dipped in water and wrung as dry as possible.

Cloths for Cleaning Windows Without Use of Water can be made with a semi-liquid paste of benzine and calcined magnesia. The cloth, which should be coarse linen or something free from lint, is dipped into this mixture and hung in the air until the spirits have evaporated and it is free from odor. This cloth may be used again and again and is a great convenience. When soiled, wash it and redip.

To Remove Paint from Window Panes—Paint can be removed from window panes by applying a strong solution of soda.

To Clean a Glass Bottle, cut a lemon in small pieces and drop them into the bottle; half fill with water, and shake well.

Old Stocking Tops for Dusters or Dustless Mop—Old stocking tops make good dusters when sewed together. They also make good polishing cloths for oiling and rubbing down floors and furniture.

Several old stocking tops cut into strips and dipped in paraffine oil make a fine dustless mop for hardwood floors.

Cheap Stain for Wood Floors—Ten cents’ worth of permanganate of potash will stain a wood floor. When dry polish it with some beeswax and turpentine. It will look as though it had been that color for years. Put the permanganate of potash in an old tin and pour about one quart of boiling water over it; then, with a brush, paint over the floor, after it has cooled. When thoroughly dry, polish. The floor will look like oak.

Cheap Polish for Varnished Floors or Linoleum—Take equal parts of kerosene, linseed oil and turpentine to make an inexpensive polish for oiled or varnished floors. An application of this polish to the kitchen linoleum with soft cloth or mop will keep it like new.

Varnish for Linoleum—To make linoleum last much longer and have a better appearance, give it a good coat of varnish every few months.

To Make Wallpaper Waterproof—To varnish the paper back of the sink, or other places, so it may be wiped with a damp cloth, coat with a mixture made with one ounce of gum arabic, three ounces of glue, and a bar of soap, dissolved in a quart of water. This amount will coat quite a wide surface.

1 comment:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great list Marge.. I'm going to copy and paste it and print it. I know a bunch of them--but ehre are some I have never heard before. Thanks!