Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Vintage Summer Recipe

Here’s another interesting scrap of paper I found in the Voegtly family scrapbook. I’m not sure I understand the reason for keeping it, now that I've learned what it really is. Can you guess?

Let milk stand 12 hours after milking. Rerun (or remove) all the cream.

Cream, 2 parts, 14 oz.
Udder(?) Milk, 1 part, 7 oz.
Water, 2-1/2 parts, 17-1/2 oz.
Lime Water, 1/2 part, 3-1/2 oz.

Divide among 6 bottles. To each add 2 heaping teaspoons sugar of milk.

My research began with only a few clues:

Clue: it is written on apothecary paper

Fact: it’s medicine

Clue: the ingredients are to be split into six bottles

Fact: it’s for babies

Clue: it was with my great-grandmother’s papers

Fact: it’s from the early 1900’s

I can’t quite read all the ingredients, but the one that solved the mystery for me was lime water. Lime water is the common name for saturated calcium hydroxide solution (didn't know I was a chemist did you?). The term lime refers to the mineral, not the sour fruit. And, when exposed with carbon dioxide, lime water turns into a milky solution.

Have you figured it out yet?

This is a recipe to treat infants affected by Summer Diarrhea, as it was commonly known, around the turn of the 20th century. I read from the source below that in the summer of 1904 in New York City, there were 3,800 deaths from diarrhea. I presume that this statistic wasn’t isolated to NYC and that other towns and cities were also stricken with this “preventable” food disorder. According to MSCNY Medical News, NYC registered more deaths in 1904 from diarrhea than from any other infection.

Children were most susceptible to getting sick. “The anomalous death-rate of infants from diarrhea last summer was due to the unjustifiable use of cereals at a time when nature had not supplied the digestive juices necessary for the proper preparation of such material.”

One ounce of this mixture was to be given every four hours to children under three months of age. Filtered, un-boiled water was used, and if at the end of twenty-four hours the child continued to improve, then an ounce of this liquid would have been given every two hours.

So if you've run out of Imodium, now you can mix up your very own homemade remedy using this century-old recipe. Maybe this is the only remaining copy of this recipe and now I've just shared it with all of you. Consider this post a public service.

Okay, seriously, it's time for me to go home. I'm pooped.

Information (not photos) obtained from Medical News, Medical Society of the County of New York, Sept. 9, 1905

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