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  1. #1
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    Dec 2003
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    Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States
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    Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    ON THE SUBJECT OF:
    CONDENSED MILK FOR SOLIDERS

    BY
    MARK JAEGER
    PURDUE UNIVERSITY LIBRAIRIES
    SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

    Here's a recipe for home-made condensed milk I found in the Lafayette, Indiana "Daily Journal" for 30 June 1864:

    "The following is the process to condense milk for the soldiers: Place two quarts of new milk in a vessel over a slow fire, stir it to prevent burning, until it is about the thickness of cream, add one pound of sugar, a little at a time; stirring constantly till it becomes thick and stiff, then spread on plates and dry in the oven or the sun, and powder it with a knife or spoon. It can be sent in papers, and serves for both milk and sugar when dissolved in coffee or tea. Let our dairy women try it, and they will get the thanks of the "Sanitary [Commission]" and the soldiers."

    I presume "new" milk is milk straight from the cow?
    On a somewhat related note, I've also found advertisements for the civilian equivalent of "essence of coffee," beginning with the 17 January 1862 issue of the Indianapolis "Daily Journal":

    ECONOMY, ECONOMY! -- Economise these hard times, by using Hummel's Essence of Coffee, a 10 cent box of which will go as far as four pounds of coffee, with a finer flavor, and more wholesome. For sale at the "Cheap Corner
    Grocery," corner [of] Washington and Illinois streets [in Indianapolis].

    This product seems to have been popular (at least as a novelty) since the 20 January 1862 "Journal" also carries this:

    ESSENCE OF COFFEE. -- We are having a great run on Hummel's Essence of Coffee at the "Cheap Corner Grocery," corner of Washington and Illinois street[s]. The people like it, for its fine flavor, and great saving of coffee and money.

    Regards,
    Mark D. Jaeger
    Purdue University Libraries
    Special Collections
    Last edited by paulcalloway; 12-30-2006 at 06:08 PM.
    Paul Calloway
    Proudest Member of the Tar Water Mess
    Proud Member of the GHTI
    Member, Civil War Preservation Trust
    Wayne #25, F&AM

  2. #2
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    Dec 2003
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    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    I like that yellow label on that can of Essence of Coffee, since so many folks believe the only true color label was light blue. An interesting detail to note is how the paper label acts as a seal since it is glued over the edge of the lid. The reproduction labels we used a few months ago at the 2nd Bull Run NPS Living History were reproduced from those used by a Milwaukee contractor of the Hummel brand, and had preparation instructions in both English and German.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    france
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    15

    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Do you know if the bottom had a little hole in the middle close with pewter?

  4. #4
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    Dec 2003
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    Tuskaloosa, Alabama
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    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Charles,

    Given homemade essense of coffee, in the repro tins, and sealed with the paper label, what's your take on the following time spans, as far as the stuff being food safe? (And yes, I know that your reputation for 'food safe' is high, though palatability and appearance are examples of great creativity)

    Safe time from initial can seal to initial opening?
    Stored under what conditions?

    Safe time from opening to final consumption?
    Under what conditions?

    My problem being that I tend to pack a crate of period foods about twice a year, and use out of it until the groceries are gone, with said crate riding around in the back of my vehicle for weeks at a time. I haven't poisoned anyone yet, but I can't tell if this stuff is bad just by looking at it.
    Terre Hood Biederman
    Yassir, I used to be Mrs. Lawson. I still run period dyepots, knit stuff, and cause trouble.


    Wearing Grossly Out of Fashion Clothing Since 1958.

    ADVENTURE CALLS. Can you hear it? Come ON.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    356

    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Quote Originally Posted by bazoo View Post
    Do you know if the bottom had a little hole in the middle close with pewter?
    The Hummell's coffee essence cans on the Steamboat Bertrand had removable lids so they did not not need an exhaust hole.

    The cans that were the "hold in the top" cans and were processed in a hot water bath had the exhaust hole in the top and were closed with lead.
    Virginia Mescher
    vmescher@vt.edu
    http://www.raggedsoldier.com

  6. #6
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    Feb 2007
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    france
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    15

    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Did that(The Hummell's coffee essence cans on the Steamboat Bertrand had removable lids so they did not not need an exhaust hole. ) mean that cans aren't appertised by hot water?

    Geraudie, don't forget to sign your posts with your full name. Thanks. - Charles Heath, one of those moderators.
    Last edited by Charles Heath; 06-18-2007 at 06:30 PM. Reason: Newbie forgot the signature rule

  7. #7
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    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Quote Originally Posted by Spinster View Post
    Given homemade essense of coffee, in the repro tins, and sealed with the paper label, what's your take on the following time spans, as far as the stuff being food safe?
    Is that safe for normal human beings or CW reenactors?

    A number of reenactors use original Hummel's tins complete with original labels, and just refill the tins with their own homemade Essence of Coffee concoction. At least one that I know used the last of the original essence in one of those tins to make coffee, and the results were brown, hot, and poor. None of these folks tend to be having gastric distress.

    The latest group of culinary lab rats were the folks at Vicksburg last weekend, and the coffee went over well. That particular batch of essence was 10 months old, and had been kept on a cupboard shelf in one of those steel cut oatmeal tins. A pint or quart paint can would work well for storing the "coffee depot" resupply at home. These are available from any home improvement or paint store. The essence still had a good appearance, but was a bit stiffer than the batch Pat Landrum made just a short time before the event. A handful of lads even tried the essence straight from the can, as did a few boys at the recent Wilderness NPS LH.

    How long will it last in the back of a black 1963 Rambler station wagon during a Gulf Coast summer? Danged if I know, but the effort required to make the essence is more than compensated by the lack of volume, weight, and, most of all -- grounds! Most of our food service items are stored in the underground garage, the back room, or in the kitchen. The latter two places are temperature controlled, and the former tends to be a bit cool and damp.

    Since I have no more living history cooking modules scheduled for 2007, the next time we'd crack open a can of essense will most likely be at the White Oak Museum work day in December. We'll see if it has eaten through the tin by then, and if not, we'll boil up a batch of brew to see if it tastes fairly good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spinster View Post
    (And yes, I know that your reputation for 'food safe' is high, though palatability and appearance are examples of great creativity)
    I have to wonder about some of the explicit and implied directions in the US Army recipes - generally stolen from European armies of the time. The period accounts often blamed the cooks, but some of the recipes just don't make a great tasting dish. Some of the lads do start backing away from the serving line when the phrase "mule feed" is uttered.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    85

    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Going back to the original topic - condensed milk - the period recipe furnished by Mark Jaeger seems to describe powdered (dry) "condensed" milk. I had thought that Bordens, and like companies, produced liquid condensed milk in cans during the CW years. Was I wrong, or is this simply another, more convenient, mode of preparation?
    Dan Munson
    Co. F, 1st Calif. V.I.
    5th Wisc./10th Va.

  9. #9
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    Feb 2004
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    356

    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Quote Originally Posted by bazoo View Post
    Did that(The Hummell's coffee essence cans on the Steamboat Bertrand had removable lids so they did not not need an exhaust hole. ) mean that cans aren't appertised by hot water?
    From what I've read about Hummell's Essence of Coffee and seen of the labels and advertisements, it must have been a powder so the can did not need to be processed in a hot water bath. One early advertisement indicated that the product came in a box rather than a can.

    The following came from one the advertisements for Hummel's. "To make a half gallon middling strong coffee, take one tablespoon full of ground coffee and half a tea-spoonful of this Essence, and boil the coffee as desired; more or less quanitity of coffee must be made after this proportion; for very strong coffee take some more of this Essence." Instructions were also in German. It stated that one box would equal 4# of coffee and cost 12 1/2 cents."

    Also in answer to one of your eariler questions, the early hole in the top cans were sealed with lead solder, not pewter.
    Virginia Mescher
    vmescher@vt.edu
    http://www.raggedsoldier.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    356

    Re: Making Condensed Milk by Mark Jaeger

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Munson View Post
    Going back to the original topic - condensed milk - the period recipe furnished by Mark Jaeger seems to describe powdered (dry) "condensed" milk. I had thought that Bordens, and like companies, produced liquid condensed milk in cans during the CW years. Was I wrong, or is this simply another, more convenient, mode of preparation?
    This is the first recipe I've seen for making powdered milk at home.

    There was a product of the American Solidified Milk Company called Solidified Milk, The milk was heated to condense it and sugar was added to produce a more stable product; it was first produced in 1855. At first it was made in tablets but by 1859 it was found that by granulating the milk/sugar mixture after it became solid, it kept better. I found several ads for the product but then it seemed to disappear from the market.
    Virginia Mescher
    vmescher@vt.edu
    http://www.raggedsoldier.com

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