East Midlands Food

East Midlands Food

Annatto, aerated flour and artificial foods…

Agricultural machinery, Museum of Lincolnshire Life

A week or two ago I did a blog on the working conditions of bakers in the 19th and early 20th century. This set me thinking of other occupations related to food – some of them obvious, others perhaps less so. Looking through an 1896 Kelly’s Directory of Lincolnshire, there are lots of bacon and ham curers and sellers, corn and flour dealers, cheese factors, fruit growers and preservers, dairymen and cow keepers, as you might expect. Several other occupations were related directly to agriculture, including owners of machinery such as threshing machines, drills and steam cultivators. Fish merchants, fishmongers and fried fish dealers also feature prominently, along with mineral water and fruit syrup manufacturers, and tea and coffee merchants. 

An ‘artificial foods dealer’ and a maker of ‘aerated flour’ – more familiar to us as self-raising flour – are also listed, along with a sausage skin dealer, a manufacturer of potted meats and a ‘butter colour manufacturer’. The latter suggests a consumer preference for yellow butter, the colour of which (I now know after looking it up) varies according to the breed of cow and the time of year. The natural yellow colour is produced by carotene from the green foods that they eat, and is thus stronger during the summer period – see http://www.internet-grocer.net/butrcolr.htm for an interesting discussion of this.

There was also a manufacturer of annatto, another food colourant commonly used (now as well as in the 19th century) to give cheese a deep yellow or orange appearance, and derived from the achiote tree found in tropical regions of North and South America. Like the Compagnie Francaise listed in Kelly’s Lincolnshire directory in 1896 as chocolate and cocoa manufacturers, and two vinegar manufacturers, the annatto makers were based in London, suggesting insufficient local demand to justify the necessary investment in production in Lincolnshire itself. Pig dealers and killers were likely to have a much more localised market – which reminds me that I must do a blog on pig clubs before the end of this East Midlands Food project…


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About this Sponsor

A research project that looked at various aspects of food in the East Midlands, linking them with museum displays and objects in the region, and making the results available to as many people as possible in different formats.