Skip to content

Personal tools

In the Kitchen

“As soon as milk comes into the house it should be boiled, as it is a notorious carrier of disease germs....Use an earthenware pitcher and let the milk remain standing in the same after cooling....Boiling and cooling it rapidly afterwards will keep it sweet for 24 hours...and the time may be further extended by keeping the milk pitcher set in a dish of cold water.”
 
— MRS. MARY HINMAN ABEL,
AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION, 1890
 
 
Interior of a tenement, showing the cooking corner, Boston, circa 1914
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library
City tenement dwellers purchased what milk they needed a day at a time. In crowded living conditions, with no refrigeration other than, perhaps, a box in the window during cold weather, milk bought in a nearby store or from a milkman one day might last until breakfast the next morning.
 
 
 
IN THE KITCHEN
Traditional New England cooks in the 1800s incorporated butter, cheese, milk, and cream into everyday dishes such as cereal, coffee and tea, mashed potatoes, creamed vegetables, and desserts. They didn’t, however, consider regular servings of milk essential in the diets of any but small children and invalids. At the turn of the century, women who wished to increase the status and knowledge of homemakers applied science to nutrition and cooking. Cookbooks quoted the nutritional values of the fats, proteins, and minerals in milk. Cooking schools and books like the first edition of Fannie Farmer’s now-classic Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (1896) taught food handling, cooking, and eating as chemistry. Such scientific cooking laid the groundwork for nutritionists who would declare milk essential for the health of children and adults.
 

 

In the Kitchen