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May 25, 1977


The eating habits of this nation have changed drastically in the last 100 years...particularly in the last 25. With more mowen workng, the trend has been to "eat out", prepared foods, and less and less preparation and preservation of food in the home.

Today's senior citizens will remember when they were kids, food consumed by the family was more simple...prepared in the home and void of preservatives and artificial ingredients...and it was more economical too.

Corn meal was more widely used 50 to 100 years ago in a variety of ways instead of the white flour which is common today. There was corn bread, sometimes called corn pone or johnny-bread. There was corn meal mush, served hot, like a cooked cereal. That portion not used was allowed to setup, and then sliced and fried for breakfast, topped with homemade brown sugar syrup. When served with eggs, it made a filling nutritious breakfast to start the day.

Toast was made on the electric toasters. No orange juice..none of the fancy cereals kids have today. However, Kellogg's corn flakes was on the market. Our hot cereal was often whole wheat, ground at Franke Bros. Fostoria City Mills, right here in Fostoria. It was good and nourishing.

I remember those delicious corn (pan) cakes, stirred up from scratch, with yellow corn meal as the main ingredient. Aunt Jemima was unheard of then.

My grandmother, like other women of that era always had a couple sugar sacks of home-dried corn and apples. No preservatives...just water added to reconstitute.

The fruit room shelves years ago were always lined with glass jars filled with tomatoes, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, mixed vegetables for soup, pickles of all kinds, beets, beans, etc.

A 5 to 10 gallon crock of homemade sauerkraut was on hand to see you through the winter; also a crock of mangoes or sweet peppers, stuffed with grated cabbage, preserved with sweetened vinegar.

If the grape harvest was plentiful there were glass jars filled with them for pies, and either jars or bottles of delicious homemade grape juice. And, plenty of homemade grape jam and jelly.

Even noodles were homemade in the old-days.

The main staples that were purchased at the grocery store were flour, sugar, salt, pepper, dried beans, rice, coffee, tea, meat and butter.

If you were lucky enough to live on a farm, then you butchered a hog or two, and perhaps a beef, and supplemented the food larder with home-smoked bacons and ham. Sausage and other cuts of meat were usually preserved in glass jars. Hog lard, from the butchering, was used for frying and baking instead of the vegetable shortening as it is today.

Bushels of potatoes and apples were usually stored in bins in the fruit celler, along with onions, carrots, turnips, parsnips and squash.

To the young readers of this column, the subject matter of this article may sound more like an "Alice in Wonderland" story, or a figment of my imagination. I assure you it is the truth. In fact, at our house, we still practice some...I repeat some...of the food preservation habits of the past.

There's more that could be written on this subject, but I'll save it for another time.



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