Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/799

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
779
THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

bosch, or, if preferred, as "oleomargarine," or "butterine," or any other name that shall tell the truth. In order to render such commercial honesty possible to shopkeepers, more intelligence is demanded among their customers. A dealer, on whom I can rely, told me lately that if he offered the bosch or butterine to his other customers as he was then offering it to me at 812d. per pound in twenty-four-pound box, or 9d. retail, he could not possibly sell it, and his reputation would be injured by admitting that he kept it; but that the same people who would be disgusted with it at 9d. will buy it freely at double the price as prime Devonshire fresh butter; and he added, significantly, "I can not afford to lose my business and be ruined because my customers are fools." To pastry-cooks and others in business, it is sold honestly enough for what it is, and used instead of butter.

Before leaving the subject of animal food I may say a few words on the latest and perhaps the greatest triumph of science in reference to food-supply—i.e., the successful solution of the great problem of preserving fresh meat for an almost indefinite length of time. It has long been known that meat which is frozen remains fresh. The Aberdeen whalers were in the habit of feasting their friends on returning home on joints that were taken out fresh from Aberdeen and kept frozen during a long Arctic voyage. In Norway, game is shot at the end of autumn, and kept in a frozen state for consumption during the whole winter and far into the spring.

The early attempts to apply the freezing process for the carriage of fresh meat from South America and Australia by using ice, or freezing mixtures of ice and salt, failed, but now all the difficulties are overcome by a simple application of the great principle of the conservation of energy, whereby the burning of coal may be made to produce a degree of cold proportionate to the amount of heat it gives out in burning.

Carcasses of sheep are thereby frozen to stony hardness immediately they are slaughtered in New Zealand and Australia, and then packed in close refrigerated cars, carried to the ship, and there stowed in chambers refrigerated by the same means, and thus brought to England in the same state of stony hardness as that originally produced. I dined to-day on one of the legs of a sheep that I bought a week ago and which was grazing at the antipodes three months before. I prefer it to any English mutton ordinarily obtainable.

The grounds of this preference will be understood when I explain that English farmers who manufacture mutton as a primary product kill their sheep as soon as they are full grown, when a year old or less. They can not afford to feed a sheep for two years longer merely to improve its flavor without adding to its weight. Country gentlemen who do not care for expense occasionally regale their friends on a haunch or saddle of three-year-old mutton, as a rare and costly luxury.