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Dales Plants and Gardens 1900-1960: growing food

Article Index

  1. Dales Plants and Gardens 1900-1960: growing food
  2. Interviewee backgrounds
  3. Land and weather
  4. Gardens and allotments
  5. Gardening practicalities
  6. Help in the garden, tasks for children
  7. And from the wild
  8. Cooking the produce
  9. Storage inside and outside
  10. Conclusion
  11. Endnotes and sources
  12. All Pages


Cooking the produce

Before electricity, candles and paraffin lamps lit essential tasks. All cooking was done on an open-range fire fuelled by either peat or coal, with a copper of hot water on one side and an oven on the other. A primus stove was used for quickly boiling water for a pot of tea.

Food was energy. Suet rendered from pig for puddings, crappings (similar to scratchings), fat bacon, blood pudding, dripping on bread, fruit pies and oatcakes were cheap to fill people up.

Mrs Raw, Richmond, Swaledale, circa 1945. Mrs Raw in her kitchen, Richmond, Swaledale, in about 1945. Photograph copyright: British Council.

Food was plain due to the sheer effort of providing enough for large families,  all of whom worked physically hard on the land. It was not easy to coax meals for large, hungry families from a temperamental range with its live flames, over which food was boiled and oatcakes were griddled, or ovens that might burn food one moment and if the wind changed direction didn’t cook them thoroughly the next.

Few of the houses had mains water. Water was supplied via hand pumps, either in the house or on the street, together with water-butts with charcoal in the bottom. Most farmhouses stood close to streams or springs to ensure a good water supply.