Old recipes may call for a "cupful" of flour or "a tiny teaspoon" of salt, for example. If you follow the recipes in your vintage cookbook collection be sure to bookmark for future reference.This list will come in handy and it's an interesting read.
Enjoy and Happy cooking, Pam of Reading Vintage
"We live for Cookbooks."―
Acidulated – to make slightly acidic (sour).
Albumen – egg white or the protein contained in it.
Acid phosphate – a mixture of calcium, magnesium and potassium phosphate salts with a small amount of phosphoric acid, creating a lime taste. This was used for sodas and cocktails.
Alkanet root – a source of red dye from a plant in the borage family.
Alum – potassium alum is often used as a pickling agent or to purify drinking water.
Angelica – an herb which is a member of the parsley family. The leaves are dried and used in teas or as a seasoning.
Annatto – A red or yellowish red dyeing material, prepared from the pulp surrounding the seeds of a tree (Bixa orellana). It is used for coloring cheese, butter, etc.
Apron – the fat skin covering the belly of a goose or duck.
Arrow root – a starch obtained from the rhizomes (rootstock) of several tropical plants.
Aspic – a savory jelly made with meat stock, set in a mold and used to contain pieces of meat, seafood, or eggs.
Bain-marie – also called a water bath or double boiler.
Bay-salt – salt derived by evaporating seawater in the sun.
Bear an egg – to make a brine with enough salt so that an egg will float.
Beef olives – a British term for wrapping meat around a stuffing, browning it, and finishing it in a brown sauce; there are no olives in it.
Beef tea – a drink made by using low heat to steep all the nourishment from lean beef. Usually given to invalids.
Beetle – a wooden kitchen utensil about twelve inches long, used to mash food.
Bicarbonate of soda – baking soda, saleratus.
Bisque – a thick soup usually made from shellfish or game.
Bitter almonds – a variety of almond with a bitter taste sometimes used as flavoring or in oils. The almond variety sold by the food industry today is the sweet almond.
Black butter – a sauce made by heating butter until it is dark brown, often flavored with vinegar and herbs.
Bladder – the bladder from an animal was used to cover mincemeat, potted meat, etc., to exclude the air.
Blancmange – a sweet dessert made of milk or cream, thickened with gelatin, cornstarch, or Irish moss.
Blanch – to plunge vegetables or fruit in boiling water, then placing it quickly into cold or ice water. It is also a way to whiten poultry or to remove the skin.
Blood heat – 98 degrees Fahrenheit.
Boat – the name for a vessel containing gravy or sauce.
Bolete – a mushroom or toadstool with pores rather than gills on the underside of the cap. Boletes often have a thick stem, and several kinds are edible.
Bone marrow – a soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones.
Borax – traditionally used to coat dry-cured meats such as hams to protect them from becoming fly-blown during further storage. Also used as an insecticide.
Bouilli – stewed or boiled meat; especially beef.
Bouillon – a clear soup, stronger than broth, yet not as strong as consommé.
Bouquet garni – a bunch of herbs enclosed in cheesecloth to flavor a soup or stew
Bouquet of herbs – usually a sprig of parsley, thyme, and sweet marjoram, a bay leaf, and sometimes a stalk of celery, tied together and used to flavor a soup or stew.
Brawn – a British word for headcheese (see head cheese below).
Brine – water saturated with salt.
Browned flour – flour that is evenly browned in the oven, stored in a jar when cooled, and kept to stir into gravies to thicken and color them.
Bullock – another word for steer, raised for beef.
Bung – also called a stopper or cork. A cylindrical or conical object used to seal a container, such as a bottle, tube or barrel.
Buttermilk – the liquid left over after churning butter, using cream from fresh milk. Most modern buttermilk is cultured, using pasteurized milk.
Canapés – small slices of bread toasted or sautéd in butter and spread with a flavorful paste of meats, fish, or vegetables. Served as an appetizer, or as a first course for lunch or dinner.
Capers – the caper bush has edible flower buds (capers) and fruit (caper berries), both of which are usually pickled and used for seasoning.
Capon – a male fowl castrated for the purpose of improving the quality of the flesh.
Castor sugar – the British name for what is usually called Superfine sugar in the U.S. This type sugar dissolves almost instantly.
Celeriac – also called celery root, knob celery, and turnip-rooted celery. It is often used in soups, but also roasted, stewed, blanched, etc.
Charged water – soda water.
Chervil – a plant of the parsley family.
Chine – the backbone with the meat attached.
Chitterlings – the smaller intestines of a pig.
Chump – a British word for a cut of mutton, between the loin and leg.
Cistern – a large waterproof tank often built to catch rain water.
Citron – a large fruit similar to a lemon, but with flesh that is less acidic and peels that are thicker and more fragrant. The rind preserved in sugar is also called citron.
Clabbered milk/loppered milk – fresh raw milk that has been left out several days until it has turned thick. The cream is skimmed off and the milk remaining is slightly sour, but still good to use.
Clarify – to purify or refine, like with meat drippings; to strain or skim, like with sugar and syrup.
Clotted / clouted cream – a thick cream made by heating full-cream cow’s milk to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly. The cream rises to the surface and forms “clots” or “clouts”.
Cloven – split or divided in two.
Cochineal – a red dye for coloring foods made of the dried and pulverized bodies of female cochineal insects.
Collop – a slice of meat or meat cut in small pieces.
Consommé – clear soup or bouillon boiled down till very rich in flavor.
Cornflour – finely ground cornmeal in the U.S.; or cornstarch in the U.K.
Corning – a process similar to brining or pickling, using large grained rock salt; also called “corns” of salt.
Cracklings – crisp, fried bits of fat pork.
Crop/craw – a pouch in a bird’s gullet where food is stored or prepared for digestion. Not all birds have a crop.
Croquettes – a savory mince of fish or meat with other ingredients, patted into a flat shape and fried.
Cruller – a small cake made of rich, sweetened dough twisted or curled, and fried in deep fat.
Curdle – milk that congeals, sours, clots, or ferments. Curdling is intentional in making cheese, but not in sauces and custards.
Curds – a soft, white substance formed when milk sours, used as the basis for cheese. The increased acidity causes the milk proteins to tangle into solid masses, or curds.
Dessertspoon – two teaspoons.
Dover egg beater – a hand operated rotary egg beater patented by the Dover company in 1873.
Drachms/dram – a unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries, equivalent to 60 grains or one eighth of an ounce.
Draw – to remove the entrails (internal organs); as to draw a chicken.
Drawn butter – butter melted until it foams and the solids sink. Foam is skimmed off and the solids discarded, leaving clear butter.
Dredge – to lightly coat a food in a dry ingredient, such as flour, cornmeal, or bread-crumbs.
Dredging box – a box with holes in the lid used for scattering sugar or flour.
Dripping/drippings – the fat and juices from the roasting pan when cooking meat.
Dripping crust – pie crust made with meat dripping.
Dripping pan – a pan for catching the drippings from roasting meat.
Dust – to sift just a little flour or salt, etc. over food.
Dutch oven – a large, heavy cooking pot with a lid serving as a simple oven, heated by being placed under or next to hot coals.
Egg shirrers – small stone or china dishes that hold one or two eggs.
Entrails – intestines/internal organs.
Faggot – a small bundle, such as herbs. Also, a baked meat loaf.
Farinaceous – mealy, having starch, tasting like meal.
Farina-kettle / double boiler ~ two saucepans, one fitting inside the other. Water boils in the lower pan, which allows steam to slowly cook food in the top pan.
Firkin – 9 gallons dry measure in the U.S. In Britain, 56 pounds or 25 kilograms to measure butter and cheese.
Flat-iron – a heavy metal iron heated by a fire or on a stove.
Flitch – salted and cured side of meat.
Flyblown – contact with flies, their eggs, or larvae
Forcemeat – a mixture of ground raw or cooked meat, poultry or fish, mixed with vegetables, bread crumbs and spices or seasonings.
Fortnight – a period of two weeks.
Fresh milk – milk fresh from the cow; not pasteurized.
Fricassee – to prepare (poultry or meat) by cutting into pieces and stewing in gravy.
Gall – an animal’s gallbladder.
Gallipot – a small pot made from glazed earthenware or metal.
Galvanized – applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron, to prevent rusting.
Gammon – ham that has been cured or smoked like bacon.
Gelatin – a water-soluble protein prepared from collagen made from animal connective tissue, and used as the basis of jellies.
Gems – small cakes, originally shaped like gems.
Giblets -the liver, heart, gizzard, and neck of a chicken or other fowl, often used to make gravy, stuffing, or soup. In the past, the head and feet were also considered giblets.
Gill/jill – a liquid measurement; four ounces in the U.S. and five ounces in the U.K.
Gizzard – a type of stomach, found in birds.
Glucose – grape sugar.
Graham flour – ground wheat from which the bran has not been removed.
Gravy beef – a cut of meat that comes from three main areas; the hind leg and the front leg (also known as shin) plus the neck area.
Green corn – refers to the husks of the corn being green. Sweet, fresh corn, not field corn fed to animals, or popcorn.
Gridiron – a frame of parallel metal bars used for grilling meat or fish over an open fire.
Griddle – an iron pan, broad and shallow, used for baking cakes.
Griskin – a British word for the lean part of a loin of pork.
Gristle – tough, inedible tissue in meat.
Groats – whole grains that include the cereal germ, bran, and endosperm.
Gum arabic – a natural gum consisting of the hardened sap the acacia tree. It is edible and used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer.
Hair sieve – a strainer with a wiry fabric bottom usually woven from horsehair.
Hardwood – wood from a broad leaved tree (such as oak, cherry, apple, ash, or beech). They tend to burn hotter and longer than softwoods like pine or cedar.
Haslet / harslet – pork offal (heart, lungs, liver, stomach, and other edible viscera). Also, a cold meat dish of minced pork offal compressed into a loaf before being cooked.
Haunch – the leg and loin of an animal, as food.
Head cheese – the meat and tissue found on an animal’s skull (typically a pig or cow) that is cooked, chilled and set in gelatin.
Hearth – a brick or stone-lined fireplace used for heating and cooking food. Also the floor or area in front of the fireplace.
Hob – a flat metal shelf at the side or back of a fireplace used especially for heating pans.
Hock – the joint in a hind leg between the knee and the fetlock, the angle of which points backward; usually referring to a pig.
Hogshead – a large wooden cask usually used to hold alcoholic beverages in colonial times. In the U.S., a hogshead was equal to 63 gallons (238 liters).
Hot/quick oven – about 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
House lamb – a lamb raised for slaughter that lives its entire life inside a building.
Iceboxes – wooden boxes lined with tin or zinc, insulated with various materials, and containing a large block of ice were called “refrigerators” until the modern electric refrigerator was developed. Then they were referred to as “iceboxes.”
Indian corn – the maize plant.
Indian meal – coarsely ground corn (cornmeal).
Indigo – a dye naturally produced from plants in the genus indigofera, native to the tropics. Most indigo dye made today is synthetic.
Ironmonger – a dealer in iron and hardware.
Isinglass – a kind of gelatin obtained from the swimming-bladders of fishes, used in making jellies and as an ingredient in food and medicine.
Irish moss – a thickener, emulsifier and stabilizer. A reddish purple moss found in the Atlantic Ocean coastline, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
Ironmonger – a dealer in iron and hardware.
Jill/gill – a liquid measurement; four ounces in the U.S. and five ounces in the U.K.
Jowl – a cut of pork from a pig’s cheek.
Junket – a milk-based dessert, made with sweetened milk and rennet (see rennet below). Some older cookery books call the dish curds and whey.
Lard – fat from the abdomen of a pig that is rendered and clarified for use in cooking
Larding or to lard- inserting strips of fat or bacon in meat by means of a larding-pin or larding-needle, before cooking to keep it from drying out.
Larding needle or pin – a steel instrument about a foot long, sharp at one end and cleft at the other into four divisions, which are near two inches in length, and resemble tweezers.
Larder – a room or large cupboard for storing food.
Lardon/lardoon – a piece of salt pork or bacon used in larding.
Leaf fat/leaves – dense fat occurring in layers around the kidneys of some animals, especially pigs.
Lights – lungs of livestock used in cooking.
Liquor/pot liquor – the nutritious leftover water of boiled meat; pot liquor usually refers to leftover water from boiled greens.
Loaf sugar – sugar sold in a hard block, which has to be broken and then pounded into sugar granules.
Loppered milk – also called clabbered milk (see above).
Lye – water which has percolated through ashes, earth, or other substances, dissolving and absorbing a part of their contents.
Mace – a spice made from the waxy red covering that surrounds nutmeg seeds. The flavor is similar to nutmeg with a hint of pepper.
Made-mustard (prepared mustard) – made from mustard seeds and/or powder.
Marrow – a soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones, often used in soups.
Methylated spirits – denatured alcohol.
Middling – of medium size. Also, pork or bacon cut from between the ham and shoulder of a pig.
Milk-warm – temperature as it comes from the cow.
Mince – to chop very fine.
Moderate oven – about 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Morels – an edible fungus (mushroom) that has a brown oval or pointed body with a honeycombed surface.
Mush – corn meal boiled in water.
Mush-stick – a round stick about half a yard long, flattened at the lower end.
Mustard flour – dry mustard, ground mustard seed, or mustard seed powder.
Nasturtium – a flower whose seeds can be pickled and used as a substitute for capers.
Neat’s tongue – a cow’s tongue.
Nut butter – butter browned in the pan.
Offal – the organ of a butchered animal. Does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, but usually excludes any muscle.
Oleo – margarine (also called oleomargarine).
Ox-tail – the tail of cattle, usually slow-cooked, and a traditional stock base for soup.
Oyster plant / salsify – a popular vegetable in the 1800s. It’s supposed to taste slightly like an oyster, but some people say it tastes more like an artichoke.
Panada – a dish consisting of bread boiled to a pulp and flavored.
Paper spill – spills are made of tightly rolled paper tapers and used to light fires
Paraffin paper – wax paper; paper that has been made moisture-proof by applying wax.
Parboil – to partly cook food by boiling.
Pare – to remove the outer covering or skin of a fruit or vegetable with a knife.
Paste – crust or dough, like for pies.
Patty pans – similar to muffin tins, but a little taller and with rounded bottoms.
Pearl barley – whole grain barley that has had the fibrous outer hull removed.
Pearlash – the white powder that remains when potash is baked in a kiln.
Peasemeal – pea flour; meal made from dried peas.
Peck – measurement for dry volume; a peck is two gallons or eight dry quarts. Four pecks make a bushel.
Pellicle – a thin skin, membrane, or film.
Pestle – a tool for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar.
Piccalilli – mustard pickle, a British relish of chopped pickled vegetables and spices.
Pick and draw (fowls) – plucking the feathers off and drawing/pulling out the internal organs.
Pickle – to preserve food in a solution of brine (water saturated with salt) or vinegar.
Pig’s pluck – larynx, trachea, lung, heart and liver.
Pimento – sweet red peppers used as a vegetable, a salad, or a relish.
Pinch – the amount that can be ‘pinched’ between your thumb and index finger. Typically used to measure small amounts of spices.
Pinion – the outer part of a bird’s wing including the flight feathers.
Pin feathers – immature feathers growing out to replace an old feathers that a bird has shed.
Pippin – a red and yellow dessert apple.
Potassium bitartrate – cream of tartar.
Potage – a thick soup in which meat and vegetables are boiled together with water until they form into a thick mush.
Potted meat – a way to preserve cooked meat by placing it in a pot, excluding the air, and covering with hot fat.
Pounded sugar – sugar used to be sold in cones or loaves. You would cut some off and pound it to a specific amount for a recipe.
Poult – a young fowl, as of the turkey, the pheasant, or a similar bird.
Pudding basin / bowl – dishes designed particularly for steaming puddings in. They have thick walls to provide steady heat and tall, thick rims to allow a cover to be tied securely on top.
Pudding cloth or bag – a large square of cloth usually made of linen or cotton cloth, to hold a pudding securely in a boiling water bath.
Puff paste – pastry made of equal parts of flour and butter. Processed by repeated rolling and folding after each addition of butter and baked at a high temperature, causes it to puff in leaves or flakes.
Pullets – female chickens are called pullets for their first year or until they begin to lay eggs.
Purée – cooked foot, usually vegetables, ground or pressed to the consistency of a soft creamy paste.
Quicken – add fuel; make a fire hotter.
Quick or hot oven – about 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Quince – a fruit that is yellow when ripe, but with an astringent taste and not edible when eaten raw.
Ragout – a highly seasoned dish of meat cut into small pieces and stewed with vegetables.
Ramekin – a preparation of cheese and puff paste or toast, which is baked or browned. Sometimes refers to the dish in which this mixture is cooked.
Rasher – a portion or serving of bacon, usually three or four slices.
Raspings – scrapings of the outside of hard bread.
Ratafia – a liqueur flavored with almonds or the kernels of peaches, apricots, or cherries, or an almond-flavored cookie like a small macaroon.
Receipt – another word for recipe.
Refrigerator – wooden boxes lined with tin or zinc, insulated with various materials, and containing a large block of ice were called “refrigerators” until the modern electric refrigerator was developed. Then they were referred to as “iceboxes.”
Rennet – the rennin-containing substance from the stomach of the calf, used to curdle milk, as in making cheese, junket, etc. Prepared Rennet is a mass-produced rennet that became available in the 1860s.
Rissole – a compressed mixture of meat and spices, coated in bread crumbs and fried.
Rotary beater – a beater having single or double metal blades that rotate when a geared wheel with which they are meshed is operated by hand.
Roux – a thickening made with butter and flour.
Rusk – twice-baked bread used as extra filling; for example in sausages.
Sack – a sweet wine fortified with brandy (known today as sherry) or a
Sago – edible starch that is obtained from a palm plant or tree.
Salamander – a circular iron plate to which a long handle is attached. It is made red hot in the fire and held over the article to be browned, being careful not to have it touch.
Saleratus – sodium bicarbonate (or sometimes potassium bicarbonate) as the main ingredient of baking powder. Substitute 1-1/4 tsp of baking soda for each tsp of saleratus.
Sal-Prunelle / prunella – nitrate of potash (a version of potassium nitrate) which is fused together and cast into round molds to look like little plums (or prunelle). This enables the curing process to start more quickly.
Salsify (oyster plant) – a popular vegetable in the 1800s. It’s supposed to taste slightly like an oyster, but some people say it tastes more like an artichoke.
Sal soda – sodium carbonate, washing soda, soda ash.
Salsify – a vegetable also called oyster plant or vegetable oyster, due to its distinct oyster flavor.
Salt-cell / salt cellar – containers holding salt for table use before salt became free-flowing and salt shakers were created.
Saltpeter / saltpetre – potassium nitrate, an early food preservative, but rarely used now.
Salt pork – the layer of fat, usually with some streaks of lean, that is cut from the pig’s belly and sides. Salt pork is salt-cured and usually must be blanched to remove the excess salt before use. Salt pork is often confused with fatback, which is unsalted.
Saltspoon – a miniature spoon used with an open salt cellar for individual use before table salt was free-flowing. One saltspoon equals one-fourth teaspoon.
Sandsoap – a gritty general-purpose soap.
Scald – to heat liquid almost to a boil, until bubbles begin to form around the edge.
Scant – not quite a full measure (i.e. a scant cup of butter).
Score – to make shallow cuts in the surface of meat, fish, bread or cakes.
Scouring brick – pumice stone.
Scrag-end – the inferior end of a neck of mutton, often used in soups and stews.
Scrapple – scraps of pork or other meat stewed with cornmeal and shaped into loaves for slicing and frying.
Semolina – the portions of hard wheat kernels not ground into flour by the millstones.
Shortening – a general term for butter or other fat used to make pastry or bread.
Simmer – to cook a liquid or in a liquid at or just below the boiling point; about 180 degrees.
Sinew – a piece of tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle to bone or bone to bone; a tendon or ligament.
Sippets – bits of dry toast cut into a triangular form.
Sizing or size – a substance applied to or mixed with other materials like paper and textiles and used as a protective filler or glaze.
Skim – scoop away a substance floating on a liquid surface.
Skim milk – milk made when all the cream (or milkfat) is removed from whole milk.
Skins – the intestine or membrane of an animal used to hold puddings, sausage, etc.
Skipper – the cheese fly (Piophila casei).
Slaked lime – when lime/quicklime is mixed, or slaked with water. Also called hydrated lime, caustic lime, builders’ lime, slack lime, or pickling lime.
Slow oven – about 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Smallage – wild celery.
Soda – baking soda.
Soda-water – baking soda mixed in water.
Sorrel – a garden green with a tart, lemon flavor. The larger leaves were used for soups and sauces and the young leaves for salads.
Soubise – a thick white sauce made with onion purée.
Sour milk – fresh whole milk that was left to ferment and sour by keeping it in a warm place for a day, often near a stove. Pasteurized milk may spoil rather than sour.
Souse – a type of head cheese pickled with vinegar. Head cheese is a meat jelly usually made from the flesh of a calf’s or pig’s head.
Speck – the tiniest amount; smaller than a pinch.
Spider – a skillet with a flat bottom, straight shallow sides, a short handle and three legs. It was high enough to stand above hot coals pulled out from the fire.
Spins a thread (for a sugary recipe) – to take a small amount of cooked syrup from a pot onto a spoon, and letting it drip back in. If it spins a long thread, like a spider web, it’s ready.
Sponge – made of flour, water, and yeast and allowed to ferment until it reaches a desired growth; then it is added to bread dough.
Standing crust pie – the crust serves as its own cooking, serving, and storage vessel.
Stock – the liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients; meats and/or vegetables and removing all the solids, leaving a highly flavored liquid.
Stone – to remove the stones of fruit, such as the seeds in raisins and plums. Raisins and plums were sold with the seeds in the 1800s.
Strew – to scatter or spread untidily over a surface or area.
Suet – the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals, used to make foods including puddings, pastry, and mincemeat.
Sultanas – white or yellow seedless grapes, grown in Corinth.
Sweetbreads – an organ meat from the thymus gland or pancreas, usually from veal and lamb.
Sweetmeats – sweet delicacies made with sugar, fruit, and/or nuts and usually eaten by hand.
Sweet milk – whole milk; it was called sweet milk to distinguish it from buttermilk.
Sweet oil – olive oil.
Tartaric acid – an acid from cream of tartar; a naturally-occurring antioxidant found in wine and fruits
Teacup – same as a jill or gill; four ounces in the U.S. and five ounces in the U.K.
Terrine – an earthenware container for cooking and serving food.
Timbale – a dish of finely minced meat or fish cooked with other ingredients in a pastry shell or in a mold.
Tin kitchen / tin roaster – a reflector oven used from the mid-18th century through the 19th century, designed primarily for hearth cooking. They cook food more efficiently than using a spit over an open fire.
Top and tail – to cut off the hard parts of gooseberries at each end before you prepare them for cooking.
To turn – to spoil (as with milk).
Treacle – molasses.
Tried out – melting fat to skim out the impurities so it is clean to cook with.
Tripe – beef tripe is usually made from the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach; the fourth stomach is not used.
Truss – to tie string around the body or skewer the wings or legs of a fowl before before roasting it.
Tuber – a solid, fleshy, roundish root, like the potato.
Tumbler – one-half pint.
Turbid – cloudy, opaque, or thick with suspended matter (of a liquid).
Turn – to sour (as with unpasteurized milk).
Unslaked lime – lime/quick lime in powdered form.
Vent – where the egg comes out of a hen.
Verdigris – a green pigment that develops on unlined copper pieces through a reaction with acidic ingredients.
Verjuice – a sour juice made from crabapples, unripe grapes, or other fruit.
Water glass – liquid sodium silicate, an old way of preserving eggs. Can also be used to seal concrete floors, as an adhesive, or for cleaning purposes.
Wether mutton – a castrated male sheep (ram).
Whey – the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained (as when making cheese).
White stock – a soup stock of veal bones, vegetables, herbs, and seasonings: used as the basis for sauces and soups.
White-wash – a type of paint made from slaked lime or chalk calcium carbonate.
Wine glass – one-fourth cup.
XXX sugar – super fine sugar, but not powdered sugar.
Yeast powder – this is not yeast. It is a name used for an early baking powder. Substitute baking powder.
Zwieback – bread toasted twice.