American Cookery/Roots and Vegetables
We proceed to ROOTS and VEGETABLES--and the best cook cannot alter the first quality, they must be good, or the cook will be disappointed.
Potatoes, take rank for universal use, profit and easy acquirement. The smooth skin, known by the name of How's Potato, is the most mealy and richest flavor'd; the yellow rusticoat next best; the red, and red rusticoat are tolerable; and the yellow Spanish have their value--those cultivated from imported seed on sandy or dry loomy lands, are best for table use; tho' the red or either will produce more in rich, loomy, highly manured garden grounds; new lands and a sandy soil, afford the richest flavor'd; and most mealy Potato much depends on the ground on which they grow--more on the species of Potatoes planted--and still more from foreign seeds--and each may be known by attention to connoisseurs; for a good potato comes up in many branches of cookery, as herein after prescribed.--All potatoes should be dug before the rainy seasons in the fall, well dryed in the sun, kept from frost and dampness during the winter, in the spring removed from the cellar to a dry loft, and spread thin, and frequently stirred and dryed, or they will grow and be thereby injured for cookery.
A roast Potato is brought on with roast Beef, a Steake, a Chop, or Fricassee; good boiled with a boiled dish; make an excellent stuffing for a turkey, water or wild fowl; make a good pie, and a good starch for many uses. All potatoes run out, or depreciate in America; a fresh importation of the Spanish might restore them to table use.
It would swell this treatise too much to say every thing that is useful, to prepare a good table, but I may be pardoned by observing, that the Irish have preserved a genuine mealy rich Potato, for a century, which takes rank of any known in any other kingdom; and I have heard that they renew their seed by planting and cultivating the Seed Ball, which grows on the tine. The manner of their managing it to keep up the excellency of that root, would better suit a treatise on agriculture and gardening than this--and be inserted in a book which would be read by the farmer, instead of his amiable daughter. If no one treats on the subject, it may appear in the next edition.
Onions--The Madeira white is best in market, esteemed softer flavored, and not so fiery, but the high red, round hard onions are the best; if you consult cheapness, the largest are best; if you consult taste and softness, the very smallest are the most delicate, and used at the first tables. Onions grow in the richest, highest cultivated ground, and better and better year after year, on, the same ground.
Beets, grow on any ground, but best on loom, or light gravel grounds; the red is the richest and best approved; the white has a sickish sweetness, which is disliked by many.
Parsnips, are a valuable root, cultivated best in rich old grounds, and doubly deep plowed, late sown, they grow thrifty, and are not so prongy; they may be kept any where and any how, so that they do not grow with heat, or are nipped with frost; if frosted, let them thaw in earth; they are richer flavored when plowed out of the ground in April, having stood out during the winter, tho' they will not last long after, and commonly more sticky and hard in the centre.
Carrots, are managed as it respects plowing and rich ground, similarly to Parsnips. The yellow are better than the orange or red; middling fiz'd, that is, a foot long and two inches thick at the top end, are better than over grown ones; they are cultivated best with onions, sowed very thin, and mixed with other seeds, while young or six weeks after sown, especially if with onions on true onion ground. They are good with veal cookery, rich in soups, excellent with hash, in May and June.
Garlicks, tho' used by the French, are better adapted to the uses of medicine than cookery.
Asparagus--The mode of cultivation belongs to gardening; your business is only to cut and dress, the largest is best, the growth of a day sufficient, six inches long, and cut just above the ground; many cut below the surface, under an idea of getting tender shoots, and preserving the bed; but it enfeebles the root: dig round it and it will be wet with the juices--but if cut above ground, and just as the dew is going off, the sun will either reduce the juice, or send it back to nourish the root--its an excellent vegetable.
Parsley, of the three kinds, the thickest and branchiest is the best, is sown among onions, or in a bed by itself, may be dryed for winter use; tho' a method which I have experienced, is much better--In September I dig my roots, procure an old thin stave dry cask, bore holes an inch diameter in every stave, 6 inches asunder round the cask, and up to the top--take first a half bushel of rich garden mold and put into the cask, then run the roots through the staves, leaving the branches outside, press the earth tight about the root within, and thus continue on thro' the respective stories, till the cask is full; it being filled, run an iron bar thro' the center of the dirt in the cask and fill with water, let stand on the south and east side of a building till frosty night, then remove it, (by slinging a rope round the cask) into the cellar; where, during the winter, I clip with my scissars the fresh parsley, which my neighbors or myself have occasion for; and in the spring transplant the roots in the bed in the garden, or in any unused corner--or let stand upon the wharf, or the wash shed. Its an useful mode of cultivation, and a pleasurably tasted herb, and much used in garnishing viands.
Raddish, Salmon coloured is the best, purple next best--white--turnip--each are produced from southern seeds, annually. They grow thriftiest sown among onions. The turnip Raddish will last well through the winter.
Artichokes--The Jerusalem is best, are cultivated like potatoes, (tho' their stocks grow 7 feet high) and may be preserved like the turnip raddish, or pickled---they like.
Horse Raddish, once in the garden, can scarcely ever be totally eradicated; plowing or digging them up with that view, seems at times rather to increase and spread them.
Cucumbers, are of many kinds; the prickly is best for pickles, but generally bitter; the white is difficult to raise and tender; choose the bright green, smooth and proper sized.
Melons--The Water Melons is cultivated on sandy soils only, above latitude 41 1/2, if a stratum of land be dug from a well, it will bring the first year good Water Melons; the red cored are highest flavored; a hard rine proves them ripe.
Muskmelons, are various, the rough skinned is best to eat; the short, round, fair skinn'd, is best for Mangoes.
Lettuce, is of various kinds; the purple spotted leaf is generally the tenderest, and free from bitter--Your taste must guide your market.
Cabbage, requires a page, they are so multifarious. Note, all Cabbages have a higher relish that grow on new unmatured grounds'; if grown in an old town and on old gardens, they have a rankness, which at times, may be perceived by a fresh air traveller. This observation has been experienced for years--that Cabbages require new ground, more than Turnips.
The Low Dutch, only will do in old gardens.
The Early Yorkshire, must have rich soils, they will not answer for winter, they are easily cultivated, and frequently bro't to market in the fall, but will not last the winter.
The Green Savoy, with the richest crinkles, is fine and tender; and altho' they do not head like the Dutch or Yorkshire, yet the tenderness of the out leaves is a counterpoise, it will last thro' the winter, and are high flavored.
The Yellow Savoy, takes next rank, but will not last so long; all Cabbages will mix, and participate of other species, like Indian Corn; they are culled, best in plants; and a true gardener will, in the plant describe those which will head, and which will not. This is new, but a fact.
The gradations in the Savoy Cabbage are discerned by the leaf; the richest and most scollup'd, and crinkled, and thickest Green Savoy, falls little short of a Colliflour.
The red and redest small tight heads, are best for slaw, it will not boil well, comes out black or blue, and tinges, other things with which it is boiled.