11.20.2021

It's Just the Coffee Talking: Florence Nightingales recipe for coffee for the troops (camp coffee for 100 men) and the use of it and other foods in the hospital

Good Morning...

This morning around 5:30 I was awake but not ready to get up so I was reading in bed instead.  I was ready to start a new book but didn't feel like delving into anything heavy.  Instead, I reached for a historic book from 1861.

The book is "Directions for Cooking By Troops, in Camp and Hospital" which was published by the order of the Surgeon General at the time and the essay was written by Florence Nightingale.  

 

"Directions for Cooking By Troops, in Camp and Hospital" which was published by the order of the Surgeon General at the time and the essay was written by Florence Nightingale.
 

The first thing I noted and chuckled a tiny bit over was the fact that the very first opening chapter of the book and the first first item of importance listed was... COFFEE for the troops!


 

"Directions for Cooking By Troops, in Camp and Hospital" which was published by the order of the Surgeon General at the time and the essay was written by Florence Nightingale.

Nightingale's directions in cooking in camp for coffee for 100 men involve 12 gallons of water into a suitable vessel over the fire, adding 3 lbs. coffee when it boils and mixing well then leaving on the fire a couple minutes, removing, and pouring in 1/2 gallon cold water.  Let it stand until the dregs subside; about 5 or 10 minutes, then pour off and add 6 lbs. sugar.  You can add milk (12 pints) but you diminish the water by the amount of milk you are adding.

_________________________


For hospital use, Nighingale notes a few tidbids about coffee.  One of which is that a bit of coffee is good for those recovering, but not too much or it might interfere with their appetite or make them restless at night.  But also, quoted Lehman, who was quoting Dr. Christison that a bit of coffee is good for those with 'waste' issues as it will help diminish the waste in the body by one-fourth....


 "...Lehman, quoted by Dr. Christison, says that, among the well and active, "the infusion of 1 oz. of roasted coffee daily will diminish the waste going on in the body by one-fourth," and Dr. Christison adds that tea has the same property. Now this is actual experiment. Lehman weighs the man and finds the fact from his weight. It is not deduced from any "analysis" of food. All experience among the sick shows the same thing.[ 8]"
Florence Nightingale. Directions for Cooking by Troops, in Camp and Hospital / Prepared for the Army of Virginia, and published by order of the Surgeon General, with essays on "taking food," and "what food." (Kindle Locations 261-265). 


If you've read historical books in any form, even stories in which they've mentioned coffee-at-the-time even in passing, you'll note that people had to be careful of unscrupulous sellers and importers cutting the coffee with other cheaper ingredients - often, that ingredient was chicory, although many times ground up acorns, old coffee grounds, chickpeas or barley were added.  This started when coffee was scarce and things were added to make it 'go further' but it soon spread so much that intelligent housewives grew to find ways to test their coffee grounds to be sure they were not adulterated, or, as Florence Nightingale suggests, only purchase your coffee in berry form and grind it yourself to be sure you are getting real coffee. 


"...In making coffee, it is absolutely necessary to buy it in the berry and grind it at home. Otherwise you may reckon upon its containing a certain amount of chicory, at least. This is not a question of the taste, or of the wholesomeness of chicory. It is that chicory has nothing at all of the properties for which you give coffee. And therefore you may as well not give it."
Florence Nightingale. Directions for Cooking by Troops, in Camp and Hospital / Prepared for the Army of Virginia, and published by order of the Surgeon General, with essays on "taking food," and "what food." (Kindle Locations 312-315).


If you are interested in reading even more "About Coffee" another book of interest is available for free through Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/28500/pg28500-images.html) which includes a lot of interesting tidbits on the history of coffee.

And although there is really, absolutely no reason for this post, it's just chit-chat while I sipped two cups of coffee and you know... it's just the coffee talking again anyway.