Monday 22 October 2012

Adulterated Olive Oil


OLIVE OIL, or, as it is usually called in the household, salad oil, is extracted by pressure from the fruit of the Olea Europoea. This tree is a native of Asia (where it is named zituna) and the northern parts of Africa. It is also grown in France, Italy, and Spain, and requires a calcareous, rocky soil for its cultivation. The fruit of the olive, from which the oil is obtained, is smooth and oval, like a plum, and when ripe, its skin is of a deep violet tint. Inside the fruit is soft and fleshy, and of a whitish colour, containing a hard, long, pointed nut, and is of a bitter disagreeable taste.
    The olive tree commences to yield olives in its second year, and continues to improve until it is a centry old, after which it detiorates. The fruit is gathered in November; and great care should be taken that it is sufficiently ripe, otherwise the oil it yields will be bitter: but if the olives should be allowed to be too ripe, the oil will be thick, and containing much mucilage. The very best olive oil will be found to have fruity taste; thuis is due, not so much to the method by which the oil is obtained as to the quality of the olives used.
    To obtain the oil; the fruit is usually collected in heaps and allowed to ferment, during which process they rise considerably in temperature, Great care has to be taken, while the olives are fermenting, that the temperature does not reach as high as 100° Fahrenheit, otherwise the fruit will yield an inferior oil, which will have a rancid taste. The use of thus causing the fruit to ferment is to render the olives softer, and enable them to yield their oil the more easily. When the olives have remained in heaps for the proper period, they are crushed into a paste beneath heavy rollers (which are placed so far apart as not to crush the kernels) and then placed in bags or sacks made of rushes, Eighteen or twenty of these bags are then piled up in a powerful press, and compressed as tightly as possible. The oil thus obtained is of the best quality, and is known as virgin oil. When the oil ceases to flow, the olives are removed from. the sacks, broken up in hot water, and again compressed, to extract a further quantity of oil, but which is now of an inferior quality, and which issues from the press mixed with water. The oil is now separated from the water by collecting it in cisterns, and allowing the water which is mixed with the mucilage of the olives to collect at the bottom of the vessel, while the oil floats on the surface, from which it is removed by skimming it off. The olive oil thus obtained is known in commerce as oil of the second quality.
    Even after this has been done, the kernels of the olives contain a considerable quantity of oil. For the purpose of extracting this oil, the olives are removed from the sacks and mixed up with water, by which means the broken stones fall to the bottom of the vessel, and allow the kernels to float to the top. They are then collected by means of a sieve, dried at a gentle heat, rolled into a paste, put into bags, and again compressed, when they yield oil of the third quality.
    When olive oil is first expressed, it is always found to contain a considerable quantity of mucus. This is got rid of by allowing the oil. to remain at rest for three weeks, at a temperature of about 68° Fahrenheit, when the oil deposits the mucus at the bottom of the vessel, in the form of a white albuminous substance of a fibrous consistence.
    The best olive oil is imported into England in flasks, and is then known as salad oil, from being employed in the preparation of that dish. It is packed up in boxes, called half-chests. Sometimes—and this is especially the case with oil of an inferior quality—it is sent over in jars.
    Most of the olive oil imported into England is sent from the port of Gallipoli, where it is stored in huge cisterns cut out of the solid rock. It is found that the quality of the oil is much improved by this treatment, and that when thus stored it has kept good for more than seven years. The best olive oil is said to be made in Provence, and its great excellence is supposed to be due to the care taken in cleaning the olives previous to using them.A considerable quantity of the oil imported into England, however, comes from Lucca and Florence. Olive oil is also sent over from Sicily, but is of an inferior quality, and has a resinous taste, which has been attributed to the nature of the soil on which the olives were grown.
    The oil is a compound of two principles, named oleine and margarine. Oleine is a thin and oily liquid, of which seventy-two parts are contained in each hundred of oil. Margarine is a solid substance, which, although soluble in oleine at the ordinary temperature of the atmosphere, is deposited when the oil is exposed to cold. This principle constitutes twenty-eight per cent. of olive oil.
    When olive oil is kept for a long period—and especially if exposed to the action of the atmosphere at a warm temperature—it becomes partially decomposed, sebacic acid is formed, and the oil acquires a disagreeable taste and odour, and becomes what is commonly known as rancid. And, at the same time, the oil deposits stearine, becomes becomes thick, and of a dark brown colour. This is especially the case if it has been adulterated with poppy oil.
     Olive oil, when of good quality and free from adulteration should have scarcely any smell, and have a bland and pleasant taste. Owing, however, to its value, olive oil is much adulterated with poppy oil, cocoa-nut oil, and rape oil. The oil procnred by expression from the seeds of the Sesamum orientate, and which is commonly known as teel, sesame, or gingelly oil, is also employed for adulteration.
 The most ready way ef detecting these adulterations and also of ascertaining the nature of the oils employed  is to place a small quantity—from ten to twenty  drops—on the middle of a slip of colourless glass, and drop on the centre of it a very small drop of sulphuric acid. If the olive oil is perfectly pure, it will assume a pale yellow appearance, which gradually changes to a yellowish green. If the olive oil has been adulterated with poppy oil, it becomes of a deeper yellow, which at length becomes almost opaque. When rape oil has been used, a ring of greenish blue forms round the acid, with some yellow-brown streaks in the centre, If whale oil (train oil) has been employed, the addition of the acid produces a movement in the centre, gradually extending over it, and at length assuming a red tint, with violet at the edges. Or if lard, or tallow oil, has been added, the liquid becomes of a brown appearance, which, if linseed oil had been used, would be almost black.
    Another way to detect whether olive oil has been adulterated with other oils, is to mix it with a solutionof the nitrate of mercury. This solution is prepared by adding eleven parts of mercury to eight parts of nitric acid in a small flask or test tube. A gentle heat should applied until the metal is dissolved, and then fourteen parts of water are to be added. To use this solution, a small stoppered phial must be half filled with the suspected oil; then half that quantity of the solution of nitrate of mercury is to be added, the stopper placed it the mouth of the phial, and the whole well shaken together for five minutes. The vessel is then to be allowed to remain at rest for a short time. again well shaken and afterwards placed on one side for some hours. At the end of that time, if the oil is perfectly pure, it will be found. converted into a solid mass; but if it contains one part in twenty of other oils, it will remain fluid. The solid mass thus produced by the action of the nitrate of mercury is due to the production of a solid fat named elaidine.

Cassells Household Guide, c.1880

Thursday 11 October 2012

Japanese Food

This is marvellous in so many ways ... the Victorians review a Japanese restaurant ... 

INTERNATIONAL HEALTH EXHIBITION. Last evening the Japanese Restaurant, which is located upstairs in Messrs. Bertram and Roberts's smoking pavilion above the end of the western quadrant, nearest to the Exhibition-road entrance, was formally opened to the public. On the previous day his Grace the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, chairman to the exhibition, and a party of ladies and gentlemen partook of a dinner here on the occasion of what might be termed the formal inauguration of this singular but interesting establishment. It cannot be said that Japanese cooking is quite so much to our tastes as even the Chinese. The rather embarrassing custom of serving the whole menu at once is apt to confuse people accustomed to a procession of dishes following each other in well-regulated, not to say time-honoured, fashion of precedence, soup, fish, entree, fowls, and roast, winding up with sweets and fruit. The Chinese begin by sweets and end with soups, but this is a trifling disarrangement of our customs, and can be tolerated even by the most fastidious. The Japanese bring all up at once, each guest being provided with a charming lacquer tray, and each dish, moreover, being served in a pretty little lacquer saucer with appropriate cover. The menu on Wednesday consisted of sea cucumber and raw turnip salad. Miso soup (miso, a fermented mixture of soy beans, wheat, and salt), broad beans, and aralia pinnatifida. Kuchitori, a side dish of mushrooms, radishes, and tomato mixed. Hachimono, a grilled or roast. Choku, dressed vegetables in vinegar. Han, boiled rice. Wanmori, soup of meat with vegetables. Sunomono, salad. Konomono,vegetables, salted or preserved in miso. Saké, a Japanese wine. The pervading flavour of all these dishes is what the French term aigre-doux - bitter sweet. There is very little taste of the meat or fish left, it all being apparently carefully extracted and concentrated in the soups, which are excellent, but we English are not in the habit of taking two soups at once at the same dinner, as is evidently the Japanese custom. The saké is identified with the Chinese beverage of the same name, and very refreshing, but rather stronger and more intoxicating than most people would imagine. The dinner is served by European waitresses, but under the direction of the Japanese Commissioners, with much elegance. Chop-sticks are given to each guest, supplemented, however, with knives and forks. Paper napkins and charming fans are also presented to the ladies, with the 'kind compliments' of the hosts of this unique restaurant, which far surpasses the Chinese in point of originality. It might be suggested, however, that a good curry or stew of a substantial character—and surely there must be such in the Japanese cuisine—could with advantage be added to the present menu, which to the majority, unaccustomed to the extreme recherché and ultra aestheticiem of the Japanese cookery, proves rather, to say the least, unsatisfactory. Several, on the occasion above alluded to, openly expressed their keen desire for a "stake" and one or two of the guests were still hungry enough to partake of an extra meal elsewhere. The soups are admirable, the pickled salmon also notable, being pungent enough to have pleased Sarah Gamp herself. It remains, however, to be seen whether the average Englishman will ever develop a great relish for raw turnip salad and sea-weed stew. The tea, wherewith the meal is brought to a close, is exquisite. There are no sweet dishes or preserves of any kind, and as fruit is not eaten at dinner in Japan, this important item of most Menus is left out, so also is cheese. The names of the Japanese cooks to whose art is due the fact that we in London can now dine as well according doubtless to Japanese notions as if we were in Yeddo, are Ki-i-ti, son of Ise-gen, and Gen-Suke, chief cook of Ise-gen. It is certainly one of the things to do at the Exhibition to dine a la Japanoise ; and no one ought to omit partaking of at least one dinner in this aerial restaurant, which is perched so high up that it commands a splendid view of the gardens and buildings.

The Morning Post 12 September 1884

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Important to Muffin Munchers

IMPORTANT TO MUFFIN-MUNCHERS. - The march of modern legislation has in some matters kept pace with the march of intellect. The combined wisdom of both House of Parliament has succeeded in putting a stop to the slumber-breaking cry of "sweep" but as yet has signally failed in silencing that terrific to the tympanum tintinabulary clamour, the dustman's bell. As one great step towards this desirable consumation measures have at length been successfully adopted against its diminuitive mimic, the muffin-bell, and henceforth the lover of the tea delicacies of muffins and crumpets will have on Sundays to supply themselves otherwise than through those humble purveyors, who have time out of mind monopolised that branch of traffic. To those who rejoice in the partial extinction of their morning miseries, it will give pleasure to learn that the police have received orders to devote all their energies to the extirpation of that muffin merchants' calling and their exertions las Sunday have been crowned with great success. The magistrates Mr. Conant and Mr. Hall were applied to by the police for advice in an unlooked-for dilemma. In discharge of their new duties between four and five o'clock yesterday afternoon they heard the prohibited cry of 'Hot muffins' and on reaching the spot laid hold of the astonished muffin maker and took from him his stock, about 100 large and small. The Act of Parliament which legalised this seizure did not clearly specify the manner in which the property was to be disposed of, and it therefore became a point whether the muffins were to be devoted to feeding the police or the parish paupers.
     Mr. Conant inquired if the muffinman was present? for on looking at the Lord's Day Act, he found he was also liable to a penalty for trafficing in his commodities.
    The muffinman, however, was too good a judge to make his appearance, and the decision of the bench was that the man was to have his basket and the paupers were to have the muffins.

Morning Post, 1 November 1836

Tuesday 9 October 2012

A Wealthy Pauper

A WEALTHY PAUPER - A man named Lewis, who had been nearly a quarter of a century an inmate of the workhouse of St. Martin in the Fields, some time back became possessed of a funded property amounting to 300l. and upwards, but found himself so comfortable in the poor-house that he preferred reamining there, and handed over his dividends to the parish authorities for hsi support, the maximum allowed for such purposes being 1s. 7d. per week. In December last he died, bequesting various sums to the different parish officers; the doctor, Mr. Bainbridge, being appointed residuary legatee. He refused to leave a mite to any of his companions, with whom he never was a great favourite, and among whom he was called "Money Lewis."

Examiner, 18 January 1845