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No part of the United States produces this article but the Carolinas and Georgia.  Spain and Portugal took a considerable quantity, but the great quantity of American rice is in the northern parts of Europe.  All that went thither was first landed in Great Britain…A ship lately arrived at Lisbon from South Carolina, laden with rice, the demand for that article was so little there  that it would have been at a much better market if it had come to England.  – Sheffield, John.  Observations on the Commerce of the United States.  1784.  London.

Woman selling bread

Woman selling bread

In 1800, contrary to the previous source, southwest Louisiana reported some 170,000 acres were planted in rice.  – Louisiana Sugar Cane Planter’s Assoc., The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer.

The preceding book said that Portugal had begun growing rice in Brazils which was considered superior (to them, at least) to the American rice, and subsequently prohibited the importation of rice into Portugal from the Americas.

The U.S. exported 134,468 barrels and 53 bags, larger exportation than any other crop including tobacco and wheat, in 1783.

Rice was used in a number of ways, not the least of which was pudding.  In 1800, instructions were for a quarter of a pound of rice, an egg, a pint of milk, sugar and nutmeg.  For that small amount of liquid the rice had to have been precooked, although instructions did not make that clear. 

Eliza Smith’s 1739 rice pudding was flavored with cinnamon and mace, and made rich with the addition of sugar, half a pound of butter, and 10 or 12 eggs, minus f0ur egg whites from that quantity. – The Compleat Housewife. 

Hannah Glasse gave a receipt for baked rice pudding in 1744 in which she specified much better than the previous source how to construct the pudding.  A quarter of a pound of rice was to be boiled in a quart of milk until it thickened, then allowed to cool before adding a quarter of a pound of butter, sugar to the taste, and freshly grated nutmeg.  The pudding was then baked.

Another receipt from her book used the same amounts of ingredients as the first recipe, in 1744, but gave good instructions on how the pudding was to be made.  She instructed the cook to use a quarter of a pound of flour of rice, and a pint of milk which were to be stirred constantly so as not to scorch during cooking.  When it thickened it was to be taken from the fire and poured into an earthen pan with a pint of cream or new milk, and sweetened to taste, and flavored with freshly grated nutmeg or lemon zest.  Six egg yolks and two of the whites were beaten, and added to the rice mixture.  The mixture was then boiled in china dishes, and turned onto a plate with melted butter, a little sack, and sugar put over it.  – The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.

Bread was commonly made using rice.  A quarter of a lb. of  rice was put into a sieve to drain and then allowed to cool.   The cool riced was mixed with 3/4 lb. of flour, a teacup full of yeast, a teacup full of milk, and a tablespoon of salt.  The mixture was allowed to stand about three hours, then kneaded up, rolled in flour, and put to bake.  The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1794, &  Burke, Edmund.  The Annual Registry.  1800.

Rice was commonly used in soup through the 18th and 19th century, either as a main ingredient, or as a thickener.  Dishes of rice and fowl, called pillow, pilau, pilaf, or some similar spelling was a commonly prepared dish, and in the South remains popular today.

In Charlotte Mason’s version the rice was boiled with pepper, mace, and cloves, then dished around and over a boiled fowl, and garnished with tender cooked onions and halves of boiled eggs.  – The Lady’s Assistant.  1787.

Rice was versatile enough it could be used in many dishes, and it increased enough in bulk upon cooking that it was economical enough for even simple families.  Because it took little space to carry, and did plump so much with cooking increasing its bulk considerably, it was also recommended emigrants pack it for ocean voyages. 

[see www.thistledewbooks.com for ordering information for Soup Through the Ages:  A Culinary History With Period Recipes.]

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