Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Old Time Foods

Omer C. Addington
Historical Writer

     Pickle beans were made much like kraut was made except one had to pour water over them and add salt. Beans were dried on a string and hung behind a wood burning cook stove. They rattled like dry shucks. Hence the name shuck beans.

     Corn probably originated in Mexico. There is evidence that it was used by ancient people. Field corn of different varieties, both white and yellow.

     Sweet com is of recent origin. It first attracted attention in New England during the 1820s.It is said the people got the seed from Indiana. Sweet com was preserved by canning corn on the cob in one-half gallon cans, cutting it off the cob and canning it and by pickling sometimes it was pickled with beans.

     Celery is one of the salad crops which came from Europe to America. It did not become popular in America until after 1880. The celery stalks were blanched by pulling soil up around the stalks. Sometimes boards were placed around the stalk. This process of blanching makes celery more tender and crisp and makes the flavor milder.

     Beets were believed to have originated in Asia. They were grown and pickled in homemade apple vinegar.

     Carrots originated in western Asia. They weren't popular when first brought to America. Now they are used in many forms. They contain a yellow pigment that is good for the eyes.

     Wild summer grapes were gathered to make wine and jelly. Wine is mentioned in the Bible several times.

     Vinegar was made from apples on the farm. The apples were picked, washed and sliced thin, heated-and the juice pressed out. The cider was put in a wooden tub covered and left to turn to vinegar.

     Lots of apple butter was made along with pumpkin butter. Some people sweetened their apple butter with molasses.

     A small squash was called roasters. They were peeled, cut in rings and a stick run through them and hung up to dry. When the squash rings were to be cooked they were soaked in water until they were soft. After cooling they were sometimes sweetened with maple sugar or maple syrup.

     Grandma Addington would go up in the ridge and pick wild plums. She would peel them and scrape off the fruit on to a clean white cloth. after it was dried they called in plum leather. After drying it slipped easily from the cloth and when properly served it was very delicious, a delicacy.

     Sage and hot peppers were grown in the garden. They were picked, dried and made ready for sausage making time.

     Relish back then was called chow-chow and was made from cucumbers, onions, green tomatoes and sweet pepper. If hot relish was made hot pepper was added. After cooking the mixture it was pickled in homemade apple vinegar.

     Cane molasses were better than they are today and had a better color. When the juice was put in the pan it was heated just enough to raise the skimming. Juice was skimmed until the scum was removed. Then the juice was brought to a hard boil. Not many molasses was made at one time - three or four gallons.

     Milk and butter was kept in a springhouse. When you wanted milk and butter for dinner you had to go to the springhouse and get it. Some women did their churning at the springhouse.

     A lady went to visit another lady in the neighborhood and a little boy was in the yard playing. She said to him, 'Where is your mother?" The boy replied, "She is down at the springhouse patting butter."

     People in the long ago saved their ashes in an ash hopper which was built v-shaped and covered with boards. They saved them to two reasons. One to dust their cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes and beans. When the ashhopper was full of ashes water was poured over them to get the lye. The lye was caught in a wood trough made from poplar or linden wood. The lye was used in making soap. People saved all their meat scraps and mixed them with the lye and boiled it until soap was formed. After the mixture got so thick it could not be stirred, it was poured into a flat pan and left to age. After it aged it was cut into cakes.

     Ash lye was used in making hominy. The corn was put in the lye water and brought to a boil to remove the husk. After the husk was removed the hominy was washed in cold water many times to remove any remaining lye. Hominy was fried in hog lard or bacon grease.

     I could have written much more about the days long gone in Scott County, but would have made the paper too long. I think what I have written can be applied to all of Southwest Virginia.

 

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