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Water And Prepared Beverages

( Originally Published Early 1900's )


Pure water is the most important of our foods. We could live without bread and meat for weeks, but we would die of thirst in a few days.

Water may contain impurities that come from decaying vegetable or animal matter, or it may carry the germs of disease, or minute insects or their eggs, such as the hookworm. As it flows it gathers these impurities from the soil. It may also collect impurities from the dust of roofs and deposit them in cisterns. Where shallow wells are used water may wash filth into them, or seepage from closets or sinks may enter under the ground. In deep wells properly protected from insects and animals by high curbs, the water is usually pure because the many layers of soil, gravel, and rock through which it has filtered have taken out the impurities. It has been said that running water purifies itself. This is true in a measure only, and it is a very slow process. Certain kinds of bacteria destroy some of the organic impurities, some of the solid impurities settle, and some of the germs are destroyed by strong sunshine or light. One cannot be sure', however, that all the dangerous germs have been removed by the flowing of water.

EXPERIMENT I. To test for impurities in water. Pour a pint of water into a glass jar, fasten the top on tightly, put in a warm place for three days, then open it. If there is any foul odor it is an indication that decaying vegetable or animal substance is present.

Even apparently pure water may contain germs only visible under the microscope. If there is any question as to the purity of the water, send a sample to the state health laboratory or to a chemist for analysis.

To Destroy Disease Germs. If water is muddy let it settle, then pour off the clear water and boil it hard for five minutes. Put it into ,clean glass jars or bottles, cover it closely, and keep it cool. If it is exposed to dust when cooling, germs may be collected. Boiled water is flat because the air is driven off, and may be aerated by being poured from a pitcher held at some height into a drinking receptacle. Distilled water, if bottled under cleanly conditions, is very useful in times of typhoid or epidemics of like nature.

Hard and Soft Water. "Hard water" is water that contains a considerable amount of minerals. Very hard water is not good for drinking, as it disturbs the digestion and may cause kidney trouble. Hard water does not dissolve dirt as well as soft water does, and its minerals form an insoluble compound with soap put into it. In order to soften it add washing soda or borax before putting in the soap.

Soft water is best for cleaning purposes and for many cooking operations. Cistern water, if caught in clean cisterns, is very good, as it is perfectly soft.

General Suggestions. Drink plenty of clean, cool water, but do not have it very cold. If overheated, drink a little very slowly. Use individual or clean drinking cups, and pour the water from a pitcher or use a cooler. Never dip your cup into the vessel containing the general supply. Diphtheria, mumps, and other diseases may be contracted from a common drinking cup.

It is better to take an abundant supply of water half an hour before eating than to drink a quantity at meals. Much water, cool enough to be agreeable, if taken with food will lower the temperature of the stomach and dilute the digestive juices.

The connecting pipes from the street main to the house in cities and towns may be of lead. Water standing over night may dissolve some of the lead, so that it is important to let the water from pipes run for several minutes before using it in the morning, or after a house has been unoccupied for some time.


What can you say of the importance of water? What impurities may be found in water? How do they enter? What diseases may be carried in water? Give a test for decaying matter in water. (See Experiment I.) What is the source of your water supply? Is it safe? Mention different sources from which water is obtained in your locality. Which is safest? How should a well be protected? A cistern? Visit a system of water works and find out the source of the supply. Is it pure? If not, how is it purified? What is a filtration plant? How may unsafe water be sterilized? Why is cistern water desirable? Why is an excess of minerals dangerous? What is meant by hard water? Soft water? Is the water at your home hard or soft?- Why let the water in a city water system run through the pipes for several minutes before using it? Why are individual drinking cups needed? Have you individual cups and a cooler or sanitary fountains, in your school? Is the common drinking cup used? How much would it cost to change the conditions if they are objectionable? What can you say of drinking water with meals?


One of the most important substances with which we have to deal in cooking is water. We use it to soften the fibers and to carry heat. It has likewise the power of dissolving many substances, and so is both a carrier of flavor and a valuable cleansing agent.

EXPERIMENT II. Put a teaspoonful of salt in a glass of cold water and stir until dissolved. Repeat the experiment, using hot water. In which did the salt dissolve more rapidly?

EXPERIMENT III. Put a cup of water in a small saucepan and heat gradually. When the water first begins to heat, small bubbles of air form at the bottom and rise part of the way toward the top, but break as they reach the upper layer of cold water. As the water gets hotter, the air bubbles reach the top and break. As it gets still hotter, larger bubbles form. These are steam bubbles, which as they reach the cooler water at the top, turn back into water. This process, which goes on for some time, is called simmering. If you have a thermometer, take the temperature of the water when it is bubbling this way. You will find that it is about 185° F. The water will grow still hotter, and finally the bubbles will reach the top and break, forming steam. The water is then boiling.

The Boiling Point of Water. The boiling temperature of water is 212° F. at the sea level, but in a higher altitude the steam will form before the water reaches this temperature, as the pressure of the air is less. For most places we may consider that water boils at 212° F. The true steam that forms at the spout of the teakettle is invisible. After the steam is cooled a little, it makes vapor—a gas that we can see.

Two kinds of thermometers are in use—the Fahrenheit with the freezing point at 32° and the boiling point at 212° at the sea level, and the Centigrade with 0' for freezing point and 100° for boiling point. The Fahrenheit thermometer is more generally used, but the Centigrade is used in most scientific work on account of the simplicity of its markings. How many degrees are there between the freezing and boiling points on the Fahrenheit scale? On the Centigrade? How many degrees F. equal 100 C? How could you change F. to C.? How C. to F.?

EXPERIMENT IV. Add two tablespoonfuls of sawdust to one cup of water, bring to the boiling point, and test the temperature. For this purpose, use a high temperature thermometer with the tip of each end protected by a cork. Notice the movement of the sawdust. What does this prove?

EXPERIMENT V. Add two tablespoonfuls of salt to one cup of water, bring to the boiling point, and test the temperature.

Compare the boiling temperatures in Experiments III, IV, and V. Which was hottest? Which is hottest—boiling water, syrup, or mush? When would contents of double boiler become hotter, over a kettle containing boiling salted water, or over plain boiling water?

Effect of Heat on Water. Fresh water contains air, which gives it a fresh, pleasant taste. When it is heated the air is gradually driven off, and after long continued heating it loses so much air that it becomes flat. For this reason water that has just reached the boiling point should be used for leverages and for other cooking purposes.

Evaporation of Water. The changing of water to a gas or vapor is continually going on from the surface of lakes, river and streams. During this change much heat is absorbed and the air and surroundings are cooled. This is noticeable when a lawn or porch is sprinkled on a hot day. The higher the wind the more rapid the evaporation. Why? People in hot climates where ice-is scarce make use of the principle of evaporation in cooling food and beverages. You may have seen a Mexican water cooler made of porous earthenware so that the water may slowly escape through its pores and evaporate, thus cooling the contents. The desert water bag, made of heavy porous cotton, acts on this principle and is much used by travelers in the West. Again, when a wet cloth is wrapped about a jar of butter to keep it cool, this principle is applied. In the Southwest a substitute for a refrigerator is made on this plan.

Ice. Water may be found as a liquid—the form in which we know it best; as a gas—in steam and clouds; and as a solid—in ice. It becomes a solid from the erect of cold, or rather from the loss of heat. The freezing point of water is 32° F. Ice is of great use in preserving food. By mixing it with salt a freezing mixture is made. We are all familiar with the fact that water pipes burst from being frozen. Let us see why this is so.

Contraction and Expansion. In cooking, it is necessary to understand the principles of contraction and expansion due to a change of temperature. Contraction is the drawing together of the fine particles that make up a substance. Expansion is the spreading apart of these particles. We say that cold con-tracts and heat expands. For example, pastry is made by using ice cold water and by retaining as much air as possible. When the mixture is put into a hot oven it rises to several times its first height. This is an example of expansion by heating. If a toy balloon filled with gas is brought from the cold outdoor air into a warm room, the gas expands so that it bursts the covering.

Water contracts with cold like other substances until it is near the freezing point, when it suddenly expands, resulting in more ice than the original amount of water. This is the reason that pipes burst when water in them freezes.

Boiling Water. Keep the teakettle clean. If in a region where lime is deposited in the kettle, it may be soaked occasionally in moderately strong vinegar over night to soften the lime. Keep it covered and the steam will be condensed so that heat will be saved. When making tea or other beverages be ready to use the water the moment that it boils. Why? Never use water from hot water pipes in preparing food. Why?


Tea is the dried leaf of the tea plant, a shrub that grows in China, Japan, and India. A very little tea is raised in South Carolina, also. Tea is of different grades, depending on the stage at which it is picked : the tender fresh leaves or buds just unfolding form the Pekoes; those a little older make Souchong, and those still older, Congou. Trade names are given to the different teas according to the method of preparation.

The green teas were formerly colored, but this is now illegal. They are no longer bright but a dull yellow green. Green tea is not fermented in preparation for drinking; it therefore makes a harsh tea. It contains a high per cent of tannic acid, a sub-stance that, in large quantity, interferes with digestion. Gun Powder, Young Hyson, Imperial, Green Japan, and uncolored Japan are some of the green teas.

The black teas undergo a process of fermentation by which some of the tannic acid is rendered insoluble. Because of this they are less apt to disturb digestion. English Breakfast, Pekoe, and Oolong are important black teas. All teas are mildly stimulating, as they contain theine, which has the effect of quickening or stimulating the action of the nerves.

Selecting Tea. In buying tea, choose the variety most pleasing to your taste. It should be free from stems and from fine powdered particles. When put in boiling water the leaves should not entirely unroll in a short time. Soak a pinch of tea, unroll the leaves, and note their size and shape. Also note proportion of large to small leaves and stems. A very low priced tea is not really cheap. More is needed to give the required strength than with more expensive teas and it also yields more tannin, which we wish to avoid. Tea does not keep well, so it should be bought in small quantities and kept in air tight glass jars.


Coffee is the berry of the coffee shrub which grows in Arabia, Abyssinia, other parts of the eastern hemisphere, and in Central and South America. It is sold under different names that once denoted the region from which it came. Mocha coffee once came from Arabia but the name is now used to denote a certain type of berry—a small, dark, high-grade berry of great strength. A large pale berry is of the Java type. Santos is a South American coffee of this type. Most of the ready roasted coffee is a blend a mixture of different varieties.

Coffee, like tea, is a stimulant. It contains caffeine, the stimulating effect of which is very much the same as that of the stimulating element of tea. It also contains tannic acid, although when quickly made it probably has less tannic acid than tea. To some persons coffee is very irritating to the digestion on account of the oil it contains. Children do not require stimulants and should avoid tea and coffee.

Selecting Coffee. If coffee is to be roasted at home it is well to buy a year's supply at one time as raw coffee improves with keeping. Coffee roasted to a rich brown color gives the best flavor. Spread the coffee on a large pan, place it in a moderately hot oven, and stir frequently. Roasted coffee should be bought in small quantities as it deteriorates rapidly. Keep coffee in air-tight jars and grind as needed.

EXPERIMENT IX. Adulterated Coffee. Some ready ground coffee is adulterated by the addition of chicory or cereals. To test for these impurities add a spoonful of ground coffee to a glass of cold water. If the coffee is pure it will float and will not discolor the water for several minutes. If adulterated, it will sink to the bottom, leaving a brown stain in the water.

Making Coffee. Select well ripened, freshly roasted coffee of a good grade, and use a perfectly clean enameled or aluminum coffee pot. Coffee contains an oil that quickly becomes rancid if the pot is not thoroughly cleaned each time after using. A pot with a lip is easier to clean than one with a spout. For use in a drip pot or percolator, coffee should be finely ground ; for boiled coffee the berry should be ground to a medium fineness. Serve coffee in warm cups while it is fresh and hot. If milk or cream is-used it should be warmed before it is poured into the coffee.

Boiled Coffee (Class Recipe 1/2)

1/2 c. ground coffee 2 1/4 c. water

Scald the coffee pot. Put in the coffee and add 2 cups cold water. Stir. Then boil for two minutes. Push it to the back of the stove. Pour out a half cup of coffee; return it to the pot. Add 1/4 cup cold water and let stand for ten minutes to settle.

Coffee may be cleared with egg. Take one tablespoonful of egg-white, or 1 teaspoonful and the shell. (If the shell is to be used, wash the egg thoroughly before breaking.) Mix coffee, egg, and 2 tablespoonfuls of cold water, and stir well. Add the water and proceed as above. Why does adding egg to coffee clear it? (See Clearing Soup Stock,

Filtered Coffee

1 c. coffee 6 c. boiling water

Use percolator or French drip pot.

Scald the drip coffee pot, put in the coffee, and add the water a cup at a time. Keep warm over hot water till ready to serve. If a percolator is used, follow the directions accom-COFFEE PERCOLATOR paying it.

Coffee Substitutes. Some of the coffee substitutes are Iowgrade cereals combined with waste coffee. Others are purely cereal and have none of the stimulating properties of pure coffee except the mild stimulation due to the hot water they contain.

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