In my last letter I gave you some hints about the arrangement of the store-room, and I promised a few more ideas on the same subject, before proceeding to the management of the larder.
Firstly, then, label all the jars and canisters in which you store your groceries, such as currants, rice, etc., and place the jars on the shelves, with the small jars in front if there is room for a double row, so that all the labels may be readily seen. All brushes should be hung up. If they are allowed to lie on the floor, the bristles become flattened and dirty, the broom does not sweep as well, and wears out much more quickly.
Keep a slate hanging in the store-room with a sponge and a piece of pencil attached, in order that when you find anything running short you may make a note of it. A small dustpan and brush and also a duster should be kept in the store-room for the use of the mistress of the house. She can then keep everything tidy in the store-room.
Candles keep best if stored in tin boxes; old biscuit boxes answer the purpose very well. The same rule applies to matches. They are less likely to be affected by damp if kept in this manner.
And now I will add a short list of things which easily deteriorate in a damp place, and which, whenever possible, should be kept dry. Sugar, flour, oatmeal, baking-powder, salt, soda, botax and blue are all things easily spoilt by damp.
Housewives will find it a good plan to set aside a shelf in the store-room for empty jam-jars, and see that as soon as the jar is empty it is washed, dried and returned to the store-room. Corks from bottles of all sizes may also be stored, and often come in useful. They should first be carefully washed and dried before they are put away.
The larder now claims our attention. Let us hope that it has been built on the cool and shady side of the house, and that it has a stone or brick floor, because it can then be swilled out daily, which keeps it both cool and clean. If however, the floor and shelves are of wood, it is advisable to scrub them thoroughly with hot water and soap, and then wipe them over with a cloth dipped in cold water to which has been added a small quantity of disinfectant – Condy’s fluid, Sanitas, or carbolic, as preferred. This should be done at least twice a week.
It is a good plan during hot weather to have a jar of fresh barm standing in the larder; this sweetens the air. The barm should be renewed weekly.
Milk or vegetables should never be kept in the meat larder. Milk quickly takes up germs and becomes sour, and green vegetables soon become stale and unwholesome.
If the larder has only sash windows and no perforated zinc, it is a good plan to stretch a piece of coarse muslin over the open sash. This may be made wet from day to day either with a solution of Condy’s fluid and water or carbolic. This keeps out both flies and dust, while at the same time it allows a free passage of air through the larder.
Many larders have not been constructed to allow a current of fresh air to sweep through them. This current of fresh air is very necessary; so if there is only one window, a good plan is to cut out one of the upper panels of the door, and fill in the aperture with either wire gauze or perforated zinc.
RIGHT WAY TO HANG MEAT AND GAME.
I will now give you a few hints about hanging up meat and game. First, be careful that the hooks on which you hang the meat are scrupulously clean. As meat-hooks in the larder are often fixtures, I prefer to use the double iron hooks to hang the meat on. These double hooks can be hung on to the fixed hooks. The reason that I prefer the double hooks is that they can be more easily kept clean and disinfected. Wash the hooks thoroughly in boiling water, then dip them in a solution of Condy’s fluid before passing the hooks through the meat.
In hot or damp weather wipe the meat dry then powder it well all over with a mixture of flour and black pepper, being careful to powder well under the flaps and creases of the meat. The meat should be examined each day, and any part which may have become fly-blown cut away.
The rule for hanging meat is to pass the hook through the sinewy part, and allow the meat to hang with the heaviest part downwards. This prevents the drip of blood which would result if the hook were passed through a fleshy part of the meat. All joints should be hung in an airy part of the larder, not over a shelf or near the wall.
Winged game should be hung by a string attached to one leg. By adopting this plan you spread out the wings and legs, and also, as the feathers are reversed, it allows the air to circulate more freely round the bird. Before being hung up, the bird should be well peppered round the vent, under the wings and legs, and round any parts which may have been shot. The birds should be examined daily.
Every morning all the cold meat should be put upon clean dry dishes, and placed in the most airy part of the larder. All stocks and sauces should also be examined to see if they require boiling up. The extra boiling will prevent them from turning sour.
Soups should be boiled up each day. If they contain vegetables, in hot weather they quickly ferment.
Never allow stock or soup to remain over-night in a metal vessel. The metal is liable to corrode, and this makes the soup turn sour. Great care should be taken that every vessel in which soup or stock is kept should be scalded and dried before being put away.
Bread should be kept in an earthenware pan with a closely-fitting lid. This prevents the bread becoming dry, and also by excluding the air you render the bread more wholesome, as it is liable to absorb any gases arising from meat.
One of the most common sources of waste in a household is bread. A careful housewife should look into her breadpan every morning, and instil into her maids the desirability of using up the pieces before cutting a fresh loaf. It is sometimes difficult to gauge exactly the amount of bread which will be required in a household, and should it happen that there is too much stale bread, the following is an excellent way of rendering a stale loaf fresh. Dip the loaf for one moment in some fresh milk or milk and water, making the bread wet all over, but on no account let it soak. Place the loaf in a moderate oven for about fifteen minutes, then allow it to get cold.