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Two Romantic Vintage Salad Recipes

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Sadly, no pictures of the finished products of these vintage recipes.  I think that reading them should present enough of a visual image for most of you.  That, and I have never in my life enjoyed jello salad, especially the sort made before it was called Jello.

So, what is gelatin?  According to the wikipedia site it is :  “Gelatin is a mixture of peptides and proteins produced by partial hydrolosis of collagen extracted from the skin, boiled crushed horn, hoof and bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, chickens, pigs and horses.  Food-grade gelatin is produced mainly from two raw materials, beef skin and pig hide.   Photographic and pharma grades of gelatin are generally made from beef bones, although some beef bone gelatin is used by the food industry. Gelatin is an animal protein unlike many other gelling agents used by the food industry.”  YUM!

Back in the days before purified gelatin was available in the stores, you got to make your own by boiling a calves foot.  Thus, the “calves foot jelly” really is just a jello salad made from the gelatin extracted from the foot of a calf.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Now, to be fair, sensibilities back in the day were a bit different than now.  Most people weren’t as far removed from their food as we currently are (save for the few farm kids, which I am proud to say I am a member of).  Even if you did grow up on a farm and raise the calves from babies that you were later to eat at dinner like I did, we still never boiled a foot to make desert.  And regardless, it was never the source of the gelatin that made it unpalatable for me – it was the texture.  There are some instances where it is fine but most of the time I just can’t do it.  My brother however – he loves the nasty stuff.  And my mother, as most moms of the 70’s and 80’s did – she seemed to make a lot of it.  It was an easy way to get fruit into the meal I think and was easy for pot lucks.

Now, I do have to say that my mom has a fabulous cranberry jello salad that I WILL eat.  That recipe will come on another day when I have time to make it.

For now, you get two very romantic gelatin recipes taken from the 1948 owners manual of the Westinghouse Refrigerator.  I found my copy of this little cookbook at a local antique store and knew it had to be a part of my tiny little collection.  And the romantic recipes?  Yesterday I was married 8 years to my amazing husband.  I think it was gift enough that I didn’t make either recipe for him!

And as an aside… most fruit used in jello recipes are canned or cooked first.  Fruit like pineapple, kiwi, figs and papaya all have proteases in them that chemically cut the gelatin resulting in a jello that never sets which is why it is important to used canned or cook the fruit before making the salad.  Bananas are lacking in these proteases so those are usually used fresh in salads.  Just in case your favorite salad, like that of the greatly esteemed Mr. Cosby, is boiled calves foot jelly.

Sweetheart Salad

2 c crushed pineapple                                              2 T lemon juice

1/2 c sugar                                                                  2 T cherry juice

1 1/2 T granulated gelatin                                       6 ounces cream cheese

1/4 c cold water                                                         1/2 pint whipping cream

12 cherries

Heat pineapple with sugar, add gelatin which has been softened in 1/4 cup cold water.  Stir until melted.  Add lemon and cherry juice, cool.  Mash cream cheese, add cherries which have been cut fine, mix with pineapple, adding a small amount of pineapple mixture to cheese at a time.  Chill until slightly thickened.  Whip cream and blend with pineapple mixture.  Mold and chill.  This makes 12 small servings.

Valentine Vitamin Salad

1 package strawberry gelatin                                 1/2 c shredded carrot

1 c hot water                                                              1/2 c celery, sliced fine

1/4 t salt                                                                      2 ripe bananas

3/4 c ice cubes and water                                        2 T lemon juice

1/2 c pineapple

Dissolve gelatin in hot water and add cold water to cool.  Shred carrots, slice celery, and cut bananas into cubes.  Sprinkle lemon over the bananas.  Add the salt to the hot gelatin.  When cool, and it begins to thicken, add the vegetables.   Mold in decorative molds and serve with mayonnaise on shredded lettuce, garnished with water cress.  Serves 6.

Gram’s Cookbook – Page 22 Fruit Salad

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Fruit salad.  Honestly, not my favorite thing for some reason.  Still, it’s a popular dish and appears to have been made for a long time.  This is what is on page 22 of Gram’s Cookbook.

Fruit Salad

1 lb marshmallows

1 lb English walnuts

1/2 lb white grapes

1 small can pineapple

Quarter the marshmallows with scissors.   Half and seed the grapes.  Cut pineapple in small pieces and mix together.

Heat 1/2 cup sweet milk.  Add the beaten yolks of 4 eggs, 1/4 tsp ground mustard and cook until thick.  When cool add 1 pint of whipped cream and the beaten whites of 4 eggs.  Pour the mixture over the fruit and let stand 12 hours.


Did you know that there are different species of walnuts?  English Walnuts – Juglans regia and is native to the  mountains of  central Asia, including parts of China, Tibet, Nepal, India and Pakistan.  The word “walnut” in English means “foreign nut” – it was introduced into western and northern Europe probably before the Roman era and to the United States (by English colonists) in the 1600s.

These are different than Julans nigra, or Black Walnut, which is native to the midwest and east central United States.  The Black Walnut was introduced into Europe in 1629 and is cultivated there and in North America as a forest tree for its high quality wood.   Apparently, the Black Walnut has a stronger taste than the English Walnut, which may be why the English was specified in the recipe.

It states on the wikipedia site that the shell of the black walnut is used as an abrasive and in cosmetics…  And no doubt, this is true.  Gram used to use the black hull of the black walnut as a natural hair dye back in the day – though I have no idea how she went about preparing and using it for this purpose.

As for the grapes – can you imagine having to take the seeds out of all of those?  Yet, I remember when I was little that Gram would buy the very expensive (because they had just come out onto the market) seedless grapes for me when I visited.  I LOVED them.  These days, you hardly think twice about grapes not having seeds, but really, it is rather odd that any exist that DON’T.  That is possible due to mutations that cause seeds not to form in the fruit and that grapes can be asexually propagated through grafting.  So basically, they’re clones.

Know of any other seedless fruit like that?  A few are common ingredients in modern fruit salads, though not listed in this recipe.   Bananas, watermelon and oranges!  See, you learn something new every day on this blog.  🙂

As for the marshmallows… now days, it’s easy enough to buy a bag of corn syrupy campfire fun at the store.  100 years ago?  Nope, not a chance.  Marshmallow is actually a plant,  Althaea officinalis, and was originally used to treat sore throats.   Marshmallows as a treat first came about as a candy in France in the 1800s using the sap of the marshmallow plant  and adding sugar and a lot of work.  In the late 1800s, the French came up with a slightly easier way to make them using gelatin and egg whites (but notice the lack of an electric mixer – so all of the beating and whipping of all of it was by HAND)….  The modern, extruded round marshmallows that we find in plastic bags at the grocery store weren’t invented until 1948 and didn’t have a company to make them like this until 1961.   (And, they usually don’t ever contain any marshmallow extract anymore…)

Picture by Nina Hale, wikipedia

Picture by Nina Hale, wikipedia

So, Gram most certainly would have either had to buy hand made marshmallows (possible) or make them herself… And you can make your own at home, too!  OK, so I haven’t done that yet… as we’re in like the worst drought in a million years here in Texas, it’s just a given that there will never be a campfire allowed again.  BUT, if you are interested in giving it a go, there’s a great recipe over at the blog, Smitten Kitchen.

So, as you might guess, I didn’t try this recipe.  I know, it looks easy, but I really don’t like milk much and especially not on fruit and… and the sauce looks icky.  I’m sorry, it’s true.  Milk and egg yolks and whipped cream?  I know that the mustard sounds like a really strange ingredient, but it is commonly used as an emulsifier – or something that keeps things like oil and vinegar from separating… so that was probably its purpose in this recipe, too.  Sooo…. if YOU try this recipe, I’d love to know what you think about it!

Have a great week…