The Mince Meat Throwdown

Per a suggestion on a previous post, my next adventure into historic cooking will be with a mince meat pie. (Thanks for the suggestion, David!) While I can’t say whether or not I would recommend this recipe, hopefully the results will speak for themselves. Having never had mince meat pie before, I feel I may be doing a disservice to the dish by starting with an historic recipe. If it turns out disastrously, I promise to still give a modern pie a chance.
The recipe above come from the 1871 edition of Henry Hartshorne’s The Household cyclopedia of general information, containing over ten thousand receipts, in all the useful and domestic arts; constituting a complete and practical library, relating to agriculture, angling, bees, bleaching, book-keeping, brewing, cotton culture, crocheting, carving, cholera, cooking, calico printing, confectionery, cements, chemical receipts, cosmetics, diseases, dairy, dentistry, dialysis, decalcomania, dyeing, distillation, enamelling, engraving, electro-plating, electrotyping, fish culture, farriery, food, flower gardening, fireworks, gas metres, gilding, glass, health, horsemanship, inks, jewellers’ paste, knitting, knots, lithography, mercantile, calculations, medicine, miscellaneous receipts, metallurgy, mezzotints, oil colors, oils, paintings, perfumery, pastry, petroleum, pickling, poisons and antidotes, potichomania, proof-reading, pottery, preserving, photography, pyrotechnics, rural and domestic economy, sugar raising, silvering ,scouring, silk and silk-worms, sorghum, tobacco culture, tanning, trees, telegraphing, varnishes, vegetable gardening, weights and measures, wines, etc., etc. Containing the improvements and discoveries up to date of publication. Quite the title!

Based on the author’s career, I’m going to put a lot of trust in his mince meat pie recipe. I’m not trusting that it will necessarily taste good, but I’m pretty sure it will not kill me. Hartshorne (1823 – 1897) was a physician and medical teacher from Philadelphia. Some of his career highlights include opening a private medical practice in Philadelphia, chairing the medical department at Pennsylvania Medical College, and teaching positions at Pennsylvania Medical School, Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, and Haverford College, to name a few. He even volunteered his medical services during the 1854 cholera outbreak in Philadelphia, as well as on the battlefield at Gettysburg. As Hartshorne was compiling his Household cyclopedia, he was Professor of Hygiene at the University of Pennsylvania. Not the kind of person you’d expect to compile a cookbook, but according to the title, his Cyclopedia is obviously so much more. But for now, let’s just concentrate on the cooking.

If anyone else decides to give the recipe a go, let us all know how it turns out. I’ll be reporting back on my culinary efforts next week. Happy cooking!

For more posts on historical cooking, click here.

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Tracey Kry

Assistant Curator of Manuscripts and Assistant Reference Librarian, American Antiquarian Society

2 thoughts on “The Mince Meat Throwdown”

  1. I already commented a couple of posts ago, but still, quite the job you have there! Congrats. We miss you here but can see that you bigger fish to fry!! Literally.

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