Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac was introduced to Salem, North Carolina in 1828 by an enterprising business man by the name of John Christian Blum . This almanac has been around for 190 years and still continues being printed today. A new volume of the almanac is printed each year and contains contemporary information about gardening, astronomical data, and recipes, along with the best suggestions for one’s household .
Salem, North Carolina is located about 167 miles southwest of Chapel Hill. Although this almanac was written in reference to Salem, the living conditions and food practices were similar to that of Chapel Hill during 1870. In this piece from Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac for the year 1870, Blum is sharing how to save fruit from late spring frost. This topic was important to mention during the nineteenth century expansion period because families had seasonal food that they would frequently eat. Fruits were mostly common in the spring and summer seasons . People had to find a way to preserve their fruits in order to have a greater quantity and quality of food. Many times, fruits, vegetables, or other crops would rot because the people did not know how to protect or maintain their food. This piece in the almanac enlightens the population by letting them know that “freezing fruit does not necessarily destroy it” because thawing it slowly helps them maintain a fresh taste . Blum talks about how apples and Irish potatoes can be used and preserved when they are frozen if they are “buried until the frost is extracted”. Blum then goes into detailing how to create and maintain a fire that restores delicious peaches and apples. He indicates the time and location where the fire should be built, as well as the size of the fire to produce the most excellent results. Blum points out that unless his methods are carefully and exactly followed, people will surely see failure during their attempt.
Earlier era’s may have benefited from this information because preparing and cooking was a crucial part of the survival of the people. Farmers had to grow their food, tend to their farms, and ensure that their crops were not failing. In the earlier era’s, life revolved around food, while days were planned around preparing and eating meals. In today’s time, few have to experience the laboring work of a farmer because food is much easier to obtain and can be bought nearly anywhere. Although still important today, meals have lost some of the significance it carried for the people of earlier era’s because they appreciated the work that had to go into creating one simple dish. This section in the almanac sheds light on the food practices in Chapel Hill during 1870. It displays the lengths that people had to go to for their food and survival, showing why each bite had so much meaning to them. During this time, food was a translation of the character, hard work, knowledge, and ideas of the people preparing and cooking it.
- The History of Blum’s Almanac, Accessed October 06, 2018. http:// http://www.blumsalmanac.com/contentstatic.asp?StaticID=1
- Hybarger, Courtney. “Cooking in the 1800s (from Tar Heel Junior Historian).” Weapons in the War of 1812|NCpedia, 2007. Accessed October 06, 2018. https://www.ncpedia.org/culture/food/cooking-in-the-1800s.
- Blum, John Christian. “Blum’s Farmers’ and Planters’ Almanac: for the Year 1870.”Blum’s Farmers’ and Planters’ Almanac: for the Year 1870, 33.
– Sofia Perez