Moore, Stephen. undated. “Series 3. Other Loose Papers, 1797, 1828, 1835, and Undated.”

Sunflower Oil Recipe and Mangel-Wurzel Cultivation

This primary source is a series of loose papers from the Stephen Moore papers that dates back to around the late 1700’s, and more specifically a recipe for sunflower oil and the instructions for cultivating mangel-wurzel, which is a scarce root vegetable. The recipe for sunflower oil calls for a bush of sunflower seed and a gallon of oil to create the product. The sunflower oil can be used in various ways such as a salad dressing or as a medicine; it is also good in paint varnish. The directions on growing mangel-wurzel start with explaining to plant seeds early in the spring about three inches apart. Once the leaves are about a foot long, they can be gathered. The leaves can be used as a vegetable for the table and are useful for feeding cattle, allowing the animals to produce good milk. The roots must be gathered when there is a frost; it is important to strip all the leaves and beware of bruising. In order to propagate the seed, choose roots that have smooth skin and are rose in color, without white spots. [1]

These pieces are relevant to the Chapel Hill story since the collection of loose papers were written and implemented in the areas surrounding Chapel Hill such as Raleigh and Person county. They exemplify the time period of which they are from because they display how methods of growing and creating were incredibly valuable since they were handwritten and passed down rather than published in a book or online. Directions similar to these took time and thought to create, and it was tradition to share and teach these techniques to others. As explained in the third chapter of American Appetites, many techniques of early American cuisine were inspired and influenced by the Native Americans and the Europeans due to overlapping cultures.[2] These primary sources are most likely no exception seeing that they were in use during the early days of American life. Specificities of a recipe or methodology for growing a crop come from experience, and Native Americans had vast amounts of knowledge pertaining to growing foods and creating recipes in America. Therefore, it is rational for many methods to be inspired by those who were experienced. It is also notable that in the source regarding growing mangel-wurzel there is a section on how to use the leaves rather than just the root. This shows that there was little food waste during this time compared to today.

[1] Moore, Stephen. undated. “Series 3. Other Loose Papers, 1797, 1828, 1835, and Undated.”

[2] Wallach, Jennifer, and Lindsey Swindall. 2014. American Appetites. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press.

Abigail Parker