I have an old Betty Crocker cookbook and in
the section on yeasts it says:
old days, women made yeast at home--usually from
'hops' or, as
from the 'emptins' of the beer keg. " I haven't found
anything about Aunt
Dora emptying a beer keg, but she does say this:
In the fall we would
search for hops.
Mother made our yeast
by combining hops, cornmeal, potatoes, salt and sugar. She would spread this
mixture on a white cloth and place it in the sun to dry.
She used a small chunk of it each
time she baked bread.
She then goes on to talk about all the things they gathered from
the fields and fence
rows and I must say I am impressed.
Two things stand out, however,
there are no longer hazelnuts in the area and she never mentions hunting
mushrooms. Jerry Birkby
All summer we
hunted wild flowers, birds
There were wild gooseberries in the woods and we always
told Mother when they were ready to pick.
The first afternoon she could leave the
housework we would take a jug of water, some bread and butter or cookies
and go "Gooseberrying."
reached home again, the stemming of them was a long tedious job.
Lucy and I always
chose this time to feel sick.
In the fall, we would go into the woods back of
our house to gather our winterís supply of hazelnuts.
We scattered them on the porch roof
to dry and would shell them by hand without a care for the stain we would get
on our hands.
We gathered some catnip and horehound and hung it up to dry.
The former was used to make tea for babies and the latter to make a syrup or candy for
Father and Walter
would take a team and wagon to the woods to get
a load of black walnuts.
them on the ground to dry and would hull
them by hand or with a stick.
Later we used the hand corn sheller.
We kids would crack
and eat them about as fast as they would dry.
It usually took several weeks to get a barrel
ready for winter use.
At first the settlers of Southwest Iowa had to depend on the wild plums and
berries for their fruit, but soon all had apple orchards and a wild plum thicket.
We had to help pick apples in the fall.
After we got our fruit cellar we never
stored less than about three hundred bushels.
often thought since what geese we were to store so many when we never sold any,
couldn't give them away and never used half of them.
We sorted them over in the spring
and fed them to the hogs.
The farmers were economical souls and couldn't bear to see
anything go to waste except hard work.
Years after this when only John, my youngest
brother, and I were left in the old home, we still carried out this idea of thrift and would
store twenty-five bushels of apples every fall.
As John said, "Five to eat, ten to rot, and
ten to give away."