"A Boocke of Very Good medicines . . ." with receipts for "Preserveing and Coockery," begun by Katherine Packer, 1639

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[Library Title: A boocke of very good medicines for seueral deseases, wounds, and sores both new and olde / Katherine Packer, 1639]

Manuscript Location
Folger Shakespeare Library, Manuscripts
Holding Library Call No.
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
Date of Composition
1639-ca. 1650
This book is in two parts. The front of the book is inscribed "A Booke of Very Good medicines for severall deseases wounds and sores both olde and new / Reade gather and make carefull practice /  Katherine Packer anno 1639 Dominie." Following the inscription there are 96 pages of medical recipes (numbered to 273, on page 91); two pages of practical recipes, apparently added much later, on pages 97-8; and an index on pages 116 to 162. This section appears to be in the inscriber's hand through the middle of page 21; the remainder of the section is in several other hands. The second part of the book begins on page 175, which is headed "Preserveing and Coockery Katherine Packer her booke." This section comprises 177 numbered recipes written on pages 175-268 and an index from page 320 to 365. The recipes through page 189 appear to be in Katherine Packer's hand, the remaining recipes in several other hands, at least one which is also present in the medical section of the volume. A line (or sometimes an "X") is drawn through most of the entries in both of the sections, and a few entries are written in cipher shorthand. Several pages of advice are written between the sections.

The second section of the book is mostly given over to fruit preserving. However, it does contain some recipes of other kinds, particularly on pages 220-231 and 244-268. These recipes mostly focus on small dessert cakes and dessert creams, although there are also a few meat dishes and puddings, as well as an interesting pie of sliced potatoes (almost certainly sweet), with dates, beef marrow, and a great deal of butter and spice (page 221). "Mace Cakes" (page 267) are cookie-like thin dessert cakes with "shredded" whole mace rather than pounded, as was typical. "To make quidany of creame of any colour" (page 220) appears to be a recipe for tinted flummery or blancmange, written before those terms became current in this context. The trifle outlined on page 250 is a seventeenth-century type, as are the boiled-then-baked anise "jumballs" on page 264, suggesting that the entire collection is of the seventeenth century.