Monday, September 21, 2020

Peach Chutnee, India and Mrs. B. C. Howard

Jane Grant Gilmor Howard (1801-1890) wrote the charity cookbook Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen in 1873. This "East India receipt" is spiced with finely chopped garlic, ginger, red chili peppers, mustard seed, salt, cider vinegar, sugar and raisins. She had several family connections to India.

Robert Gilmor (1748-1822), Jane's grandfather from Scotland, started an extremely successful business in Baltimore which included shipping tea from India. In his 1788 painting by Peale, a ship and his warehouses can be seen through the window.

Jane's father William Gilmor (1775-1829) went at least once to India, in 1795-6. Thomas Twinning wrote about the return trip with him on one of Gilmor's three-masted ships, the "India" and a visit to the large Gilmor home on Water Street. William married in 1799 and built a three story mansion on Monument Square.

Benjamin Chew Howard (1791-1872) married Jane in 1818.  They lived in several homes including "Belvidere" and a country home "Roslyn" next to their nephew's home "Roseland" which had an orchard of 1,000 apple and peach trees. More info in link below.

Their only surviving son, William Gilmor Howard (1835-1877) lived in India for six years from 1860, married and grew tea. He said he was on the lookout for recipes for his mother and realized where his grandfather (and namesake) and the rest of the Gilmors learned to enjoy spicy food. They returned to Baltimore, his wife Annie died and William moved into his mother's home with his two young children, but died four years later. Jane raised her grandchildren with help from her unmarried daughters who lived with her. I like to think (with absolutely no primary sources, letters) that she continued to serve this to the next generations.


It is best made of peaches, but either may be used.
Peaches, twelve pounds,
Sugar, four pounds.
Raisins, two pounds.
Salt, one pound.
Green ginger, one pound.
Garlic, quarter of a pound.
Mustard seed, half a pound.
Red Chilis, half a pound.
Vinegar, four bottles.

Slice the peaches, and boil in two bottles of vinegar. Make the sugar into a syrup with the other two bottles. Malaga or seedless raisins, and mustard seed, washed and dried in the sun. Crush the seed slightly when dry. Throw away the seeds of the chilis, and grind the remainder, also the garlic and ginger; grind or pound them with vinegar.

Boil all together for twenty minutes.

The long red pepper may be used in place of the Chilis, if the latter cannot be procured.

Chutnee. A kind of acid sauce, (or marmalade).
Taylor, Joseph. A Dictionary, Hindoostanee and English. Calcutta: 1808

Past blog posts on Jane Howard, one on Belvidere HERE

Howard, Jane. Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen. Baltimore: 1873
Twinning, Thomas. Travels in India a Hundred Years Ago: With a Visit to the United States. London: 1893
Peale, Charles Willson.  Robert Gilmor 1788. Colonial Williamsburg.
Sully, Thomas. Jane Howard painting 1820 Maryland Historical Society.

©2020 Patricia Bixler Reber
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