Today I put out a call on Twitter asking for open access recipe resources of all sorts. I completed my MA dissertation on early modern recipe books so was familiar with some resources already out there, but I’ve been surprised by how many wonderful resources (and people!) I hadn’t come across. I thought I would list these resources here. I’ll definitely be adding to this as I explore my topic further and I will potentially make a separate section that focuses more on the medicinal side of my research too. If you’re working on a recipe resource and it’s not on this list, please let me know via Twitter, @booksandguts.
I hope this can be of use!
Pario Gallico is a YouTube channel dedicated to ancient cooking methods.
Historical Italian Cooking is a cooking blog which has recipes spanning ancient to modern.
Medieval Cookery draws recipes from a range of online sources.
Grene Boke has many medieval recipes. Scroll down to the bottom of each recipe to see sources.
Foods of England has online recipe books from the 14th to 20th centuries.
Wellcome Library has a vast collection of digitised manuscript recipe books (16th-19th century), which can be found here. The British Library has just (end of Sept 2020) released some wonderful guides to their culinary manuscripts: 17th century, 18th century, 19th-20th century.
The National Library of Scotland has digitised recipe books, here.
Folgerpedia has a ‘Recipe books at the Folger Shakespeare Library’ resource and many of the digitised recipe books also have transcriptions by the wonderful EMROC.
RMIT university has open access material from The Emily McPherson College of Domestic Economy which opened in 1927 was for many years the only institution in Victoria offering courses in domestic economy, cookery and dress making. The University of St Andrews has an online recipe book collection. The National Archives have resources relating to UK war rationing.
Culinary Historians of Canada have a great resource, Canadian Cookbooks Online, which posts the cookbooks that tell us about the foods Canadians cooked, ate and shared in the past.
Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales has a digital version of Welsh Fare originally published in 1976.
18th century notebooks has a webpage dedicated to English, Scottish and American printed recipe books and household management guides.
Clare Gordon Bettencourt is a PhD candidate at UC Irvine studying America’s food identity standards, and a pedagogical fellow at UCI’s Division of Teaching Excellence. She has put together a handy list of American online primary resources.
This year (2021) the Museum of London is working on Arts Council England funded project called London Eats. It is described as follows:
Over the course of the year, the project aims to understand and reflect upon Londoners’ relationship with food and drink through new collecting.We’ve started to consult community groups and school children to find out what food means to them. We’ve also looked at audience research commissioned over the past ten years, to understand people’s feelings towards food and drink. These insights and discussions will help inform the objects and stories we collect over the coming months.We’re also researching in more detail food items in our collection. Which objects do we have, which stories they tell, and what is their relevance to Londoners today? Here we share some of these objects, and how they relate to the contemporary food issues we’re discussing with others.
The Folger also has some great projects that look at historical recipes. You’ll definitely want to check out the amazing Before Farm to Table website. It is described as ‘a buffet of delightful memories for the collaborative research team that worked on the project for four years’. There you will ‘exciting prompts for cooking experiments together with insights into the sometimes familiar, possibly difficult, and often overlooked histories of foodstuffs, trade routes, enforced labor practices, and the influence of taste-makers.’
Colleen Kennedy compiles a great list of her favourites here. This list includes the fabulous Cooking in the Archives, which is one of my personal favourites too. You can also find Cooking in the Archives on Twitter @Rare_Cooking
Cooking in the Archives sets out to find, cook, and discuss recipes from cookbooks produced between 1600 and 1800. This project is situated at the intersection between the practice of modern cooking and the history of early modern manuscript and printed recipe books. I believe these recipes belong in the modern kitchen as well as the historical archive. After all, what are recipes if not instructions for cooking?
Continuing on with the early modern, there is also EMROC.
Organized in 2012, the Early Modern Recipes Online Collective (EMROC) is an international group of scholars and enthusiasts who are committed to improving free online access to historical archives and quality contextual information. We see the importance of linking hundreds of texts in repositories that may be thousands of miles apart, as well as creating a space for dialogue about the ideas and research generated around these texts.
The Recipes Project is also invaluable, international resource which is interested in the history of recipes, ranging from magical charms to veterinary remedies. Recipe Project is on Twitter @historecipes
The Recipes Project blog is a collaborative international research community that brings together and showcases interdisciplinary research on recipes across broad temporal and geographic spans. The project features case studies from across time and place: from the ancient world to China and Japan to Renaissance Italy, nineteenth-century America, and more. We cover a range of thematic areas from medicine to alchemy to art technique to food. We also provide resources, thematic series, and we highlight the wonderful ways in which community members use recipes in their teaching.
The Recipes Project also has an amazing Zotero page, which is a shared bibliography of historical recipe collections and recipe-related secondary readings.
Early Modern Maritime recipes examines recipes circulating before 1800 in print and manuscript in the area now defined as Canada’s Maritime provinces.
Early Modern Maritime Recipes examines recipes circulating before 1800 in print and manuscript in the area now defined as Canada’s Maritime provinces. Early modern recipe writing focused on food and medicine, but recorded a range of other practices associated with alchemy, cosmetics, veterinary, medicine, and laundry, amongst other things. These recipes are texts about knowledge exchange and social networks. They reflect the commercial, social, and familial relationships involved in the acquisition of knowledge, record the use of goods in making products, and connect domestic practices and institutionalized learning. Early Modern Maritime Recipes compiles a record of extant recipes by digitizing and transcribing recipes from archival collections throughout the Maritime provinces.
Nursing Clio is just a fantastic resource all round. A quick search using the term food or recipe brings up a wealth of interesting articles, including Margret Boyle’s article on early modern Spanish recipes.
For information on where to find historical Mexican recipes, see this Smithsonian article.
Historic Food is a working early modern kitchen at Wreay Farm, a seventeenth century house in Cumbria. Their website has recipes and information on historical kitchenware.
Townsends is a YouTube channel dedicated to 18th century American Life.
See also a video on pottage by Historic Echoes
The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies showcases ‘curious recipes and hidden histories from Westminster City Archives’
The Regency Cook is great on Twitter but also has posts on A Day in the Live of a Regency House. For groups using historical recipes to teach or teach historical cooking see: The Time Travelling Cook and Historic Food
If you like podcasts, then Lady Science has a very funny and digestible intro to recipes (especially women’s recipe knowledge) called ‘What recipes tell us about women’s knowledge and lives‘. A really great starting point if you want to start looking into recipes, from early modern to 20th century, but aren’t sure where to start!
Egham Museum’s podcast, Egham Oddities, has an episode on Tips for Tea, a 1907 manual for hosting a great tea by Mabel I Rivers. It’s a really great episode that looks at women’s authorship and authority over their recipe knowledge and why you shouldn’t look over unassuming looking museum objects! This podcast features Dr Katie Carpenter.
Here is a blog on the history of fish fingers featured on the Tavistock Institute’s blog.
Reddit has a r/old_recipes which is a great resource for old cookbooks. It’s also really lovely for seeing how old recipes, especially family ones, can help people connect with each other.