“Take a large calf’s foot, cut out the great bones, and boil them in two quarts of water, then strain it off, and put to the clear jelly half a pint of thick cream, two ounces of sweet almonds, and an ounce of bitter almonds, well beaten together. Let it just boil, then strain it off, and when it is as cold as milk from the cow, put it into cups or glasses.“
Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife, Or Complete Woman Cook (1796)
Boiling up the bones from a calf’s foot (the book this recipe is taken from is called The Frugal Housewife and you don’t get much more frugal than that) is probably a little too much effort to go to when you can buy a packet of gelatin, which has to be the substance that the foot-boiling stage is meant to extract, surely?
The gelatin is used to thicken the almond-flavoured double-cream, which is then allowed to cool into what I think must amount to a blancmange? So: foot-butchery aside, this seems a pretty simple recipe to make, although without any added sugar, the resulting dessert might be a little bland?
If you’d prefer a vegan-friendly alternative, Mrs Carter also provides a recipe for ‘Oatmeal Flummery’, although it does seem to be rather more labour-intensive:
“Put oatmeal (as much as you want) into a broad deep pan, cover it with water, stir it together, and let it stand twelve hours; then pour off that water clear, and put on a good deal of fresh; shift it again in twelve hours, and so on in twelve more. Then pour off that water clear, and strain the oatmeal through a coarse hair sieve, pour it into a saucepan, keeping it stirring all the time with a stick, till it boils and becomes very thick. Then pour it into dishes. When cold, turn it into plates, and eat it with what you please, either wine and sugar, or milk. It eats very well with cider and sugar.“
I don’t know about that version. It seems like an awful lot of effort to go to for what is essentially a cold porridge that you have to wait over thirty-six hours to eat and apparently needs to be flavoured with wine or cider and sugar to have any sort of taste to it at all. I think I’ll stick to jumbo oats with milk and water, heated in a pan until thick and creamy, served with lashings of stewed fruit and mixed nuts (call me crazy, but it’s how I like it…)
Having said that, if you are inspired to make Flummery – the calf’s foot gelatin or flavourless oatmeal version, as you prefer – then please do let me know how you get on. Leave a comment below, or email me with notes and photos.