Sunday, July 29, 2012

Household Odors: Not Just a Modern Problem

I've always loved old cookbooks. I can spend an afternoon perusing yellowed pages filled with grease stains and musty smells just as easily as I can spend time on Pinterest. It's like stepping back in time for a few hours. Some of the recipes start with directions to feed your live soon-to-be supper certain things in the weeks before you butcher it. That's some serious slow food!

If you're a fan of these old tomes, you know anything published before the early part of the 1900s contained medical advice and housekeeping tips, as well as recipes. These are my absolute favorites.

One of my favorite cookbooks was given to me by a dear friend in North Carolina. She had a copy of  The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook (Rand McNally & Company, 1963) that I borrowed. The book was long since out of print, but she knew I loved it, so she found one on e-Bay and gave it to me as a gift. (Have I ever mentioned that I worked with the nicest, classiest bunch of women back then? These days, I'm thinking about going back to work out of the home and I wish it could be there!)
Front & Back Cover of the Pepperidge Farm Cookbook - The book is not actually bent at an awkward angle, it's an optical illusion within the artwork. 

Anyway, it seems Margaret Rudkin had a thing for antique cookbooks, too. She devoted a chapter to the treasures she found in their pages. One particular section gives ancient recipes for making "sweet smells". Our ancestors didn't have Plug-ins and other chemical odor controls. They could eat their air fresheners if they desired.

Here's a recipe for King Edwards Perfume from 1663:

Take twelve spoonfuls of right red Rose water, the weight of six pence in fine powder of sugar, and boil it on hot Embers and Coals softly, and the house will smell as though it were full of Roses; but you must burn the sweet Cipress wood before, to take away the gross air. 

Here's a modern recipe for sweet smells from Tipnut:

Simmer apple juice, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks on the stove top. This will not only make the air smell lovely, but will add some needed humidity to the home in the winter months.

Typically, the homemade recipes are going to be less expensive than your average chemical-in-a-can air freshener. You'll be able to breathe easy, knowing you're not inhaling things that could compromise your health. 

What's your favorite way to get the "gross air" out of your home?


  1. This is a good blog message, I will keep the post in my mind. If you can add more video and pictures can be much better. Because they help much clear understanding. :) thanks Cavalieri.

  2. I've done the apple juice and cinnamon stick thing, it definitely works, especially good to take out weird cooking smells from your home. As far as smells on things, I've found baking soda really works (sinks, sponges etc)