Many herbs were used in the eighteenth century for cooking and also medicinal purposes. Here are some uses for some of the more common 18th century herbs.
|Mint||Flavouring e.g. Mint sauce||Antiseptic, aid to digestion|
|Sage||Sauces||Indigestion (to prevent and to cure)|
|Comfrey||Dressing for ulcers and wounds|
|Hyssop||Tea||Rheumatism, coughs, sore throats|
|Lavender||Soothing properties, clean smells for sanitation, personal hygiene|
Make your own lavender bag
You will need:
• Remnants of fabric
• Lavender from a health food shop or access to a garden with lavender. Collect this lavender (August is the best time for this when the flowers have finished). Leave it to dry out in a warm place.
Cut some squares of material using a remnant of cotton or muslin if available. Fill the centre with some dried lavender. Fold in the four corners until you have a little pouch. Tie it together with string or cotton and ensure it is secure. You can decorate with ribbon or dried flowers. Place the bags in your clothes drawers – your clothes will smell nice all year round. (These also make nice presents).
Juniper was an important ingredient of gin, which was made very cheaply and drunk like water by many people, particularly the poor, in the eighteenth century. Hogarth made an etching Gin Lane to show the ‘idleness, poverty, misery and ruin’ that gin can cause. He made the prints very cheap (a shilling each) so that people could afford to buy the picture and perhaps be encouraged to stop drinking.
In the eighteenth century, tea recently imported from China was subject to large taxes and was very expensive. Many households kept theirs locked up and drank it very weak without milk. It was also a common commodity for smuggling. Drinking tea meant making new cups so the pottery industry flourished. Coffee shops for men were already popular, but when Thomas Twining opened his tea shop for women in 1717 followed by the opening of a tea garden in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, drinking tea became a fashionable pursuit.
Make a Pot Pourri
By the middle of the eighteenth century pot pourri were used to create scents in rooms.
You will need:
Use as many of the following ingredients as you are able to collect: rosemary, rose petals and buds, lavender, scented geraniums, cloves, cinnamon, allspice.
Spread the flowers on trays in a warm and dark place like an airing cupboard, turning regularly. When they are dry mix them with the spices (crush the cloves). (you can bind them with pot pourri maker which you will find in many chemists of gift shops.) Either wrap the mixture in soft material bags which you can make or decorate yourself (The material needs to be soft enough for the smells to penetrate through. Alternatively take a jar or small pot which you can paint and decorate and fill with the mixture.
This will make any room smell perfumed.