Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust, too

Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust

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Ivory Dust

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During the nineteenth century, jellied foods remained popular and a household staple. As a result, cooks used a variety of naturally occurring articles to to gel liquids. Ivory is bone and boiled bones create jelly.

Ivory was in high demand. As a result, dust generated from carving was abundant. Ivory dust sold well throughout Her Majesty’s kingdom and simultaneously in the west. Nineteenth century U.S. newspapers list ivory dust among imports.

Moreover, ivory sounded gorgeous and rich. Thus it’s no surprise that ivory dust was sold as a delicacy.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust for the Table, from The Marion Star, Marion, Ohio, September 15, 1893.

“An Extraordinary Delicacy,” Ivory Dust for the Table, from The Marion Star, Marion, Ohio, September 15, 1893.

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This 1893 article’s last paragraph provides instructions for ivory dusty jelly.

“The proportions are one pound of dust to a quart of water, boiled eight to ten hours. The product is a clear jelly, which is strained and flavored to taste, or diluted for soup.”

This basic method further appeared in nineteenth century cook books and newspapers:

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust, from Nashville Banner of Nashville, Tennessee, September 7, 1893.

Jelly from Ivory Dust, from Nashville Banner of Nashville, Tennessee, September 7, 1893.

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Ivory Dust Jelly Recipes: 1845 and 1846

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The following recipes are more than fifty years older than two 1893 sources above.

Two recipes for ivory dust jelly, below, are nearly identical.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory-Dust. An Ivory-Dust Jelly Recipe from Every Lady's Cook Book, 1845.

Ivory-Dust Jelly, from Every Lady’s Cook Book, 1845.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust, recipe from Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book, 1846.

Recipe from Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book, 1846, for Ivory Dust Jelly.

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Ivory Dust Jelly ~ for Invalids

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Entire sections of Victorian-era recipe books cover at length the care and feeding of invalids. Victorians took the nourishment of the ill and convalescing most seriously. To illustrate, see the 19th century claim to good nutrition,  “very strengthening to invalids.”

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust, for Invalids. Elk County Advocate of Ridgeway, Pennsylvania, May 4, 1871.

For Invalids: Ivory Dust Jelly. Recipe published in The Elk County Advocate of Ridgeway, Pennsylvania, May 4, 1871.

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Ivory: A Natural Resource

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust. Photograph of African elephant herd on green field.

“Elephant ivory is the most important source, but ivory from mammoth, walrus, hippopotamus, sperm whale, killer whale, narwhal and warthog are used as well.” ~ Wikipedia

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At the time of Queen Victoria’s reign, ivory had been associated with luxury for centuries. Quality knife handles, for instance. And ornate carvings, from cameo jewelry to battle scenes. Victorians purchased ivory products despite recognizing looming extinction. After all, species had been disappearing since before recorded time.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust. "Using Up the Elephants; a subject for serious reflection," published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St. Louis, Missouri, December 20, 1879.

“Using Up the Elephants; a subject for serious reflection,” published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St. Louis, Missouri, December 20, 1879.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Ivory Dust. 75,000 slaughtered elephants a year keep the world in Ivory... From The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts, February 23, 1896.

75,000 slaughtered elephants a year keep the world in Ivory… From The Boston Globe of Boston, Massachusetts, February 23, 1896.

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More Victorian Jelly to Come!

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Even more articles to follow.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian Jelly: Blog Post Series

Victorian Jelly: Blog Post Series

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Invitation

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What do you think of the Victorian fascination with ivory? Primarily in cooking?

Please scroll down and comment.

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