Recipe books are often personal records kept by female members of wealthy families. The books act as memory aids, to record favourite dishes and new culinary experiences.
Recipe books displayed in our food history exhibition dated from the 17th century to the 1940s, and include manuscripts such as:
- Sarah Reddie's recipe book — started in 1847
- Malcolm of Burnfoot family books — written by four generations of the Malcolm family
- Elgin Pastry Book, 1734.
Preservation was a very important part of Scots cookery in the days before refrigerators.
Fish was salted and smoked, meat was cured, and jams, chutneys and preserves ensured surplus seasonal produce was preserved for future use.
Included in the recipes on display were Scottish traditional dishes which many will still recognise today.
Other dishes in the exhibition are now less well-known: mock turtle soup and powsowdie (sheeps heid broth) have now faded in popularity. Such dishes often highlight frugal times, where all parts of an animal were used in cooking and nothing was wasted.
Recipe books were on show in 'Lifting the lid', our exhibition on Scotland's food history, which ran at the National Library from 12 June to 8 November 2015.