For the next week I’m going to be participating in a challenge with Beamish Museum to live on a diet of 1951 rations. It should be a lot of fun and I’m going to be blogging about it daily. Check the #rationweek on my social media for updates throughout the day too!
I fully admit, I’m writing this while getting in a final plate of pasta and a few glasses of wine. I’m normally quite an adventurous cook. For me the challenge will be sticking to period appropriate recipes. As my father said to me, “My mother was a plain cook but we never wanted for anything.” That’s the story I hear from everyone I’ve asked who remembers rationing, which only ended in 1954! They were never hungry but there just wasn’t the variety that there was today. That and potatoes. Potatoes in everything! They weren’t rationed so they found their way into every meal of the day!
So, what was the 1951 ration? For the challenge this week I will have:
|Bacon and ham||4oz / 113g|
|Meat||4oz / 113g|
|Sugar||8oz / 226g|
|Tea||2oz / 57g|
|Cheese||2oz / 57g|
|Butter||2oz / 57g|
|Margarine||4oz / 113g|
|Cooking fat||4oz / 113g|
|Sweets||3oz / 85g|
Food obtained through the points system:
Either of (for the week)
– 1 can of meat or fish or
– 2lb (900g) dried fruit or
– 8lb (3.6kg) split peas or similar
- Vegetables – these should be based on what was generally grown at the time; carrots, turnips, cabbage (savoy and red), spring greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower , sea kale, peas, French and runner beans
- Offal, sausages [4oz] and fish [6oz] (though these would all have been in fairly short supply).
- Chicken, rabbit and game
As you can see, there’s a good amount of food there. What I am worried about is the lack of meat and coffee. I live off coffee! Don’t get me wrong, tea is a wonderful beverage but my mornings just don’t start until that coffee has filtered into my bloodstream! Apparently you could get really bad instant coffee but my daily caramel latte will have to go!
One thing that really shocked me was that eggs were still rationed to 1 a week! I can quite easily go through 2 a day! So that constrains what type of baking you could do too. One of my challenges this week is to try out some heritage baking recipes and see how they taste. You could still get powdered egg and powdered milk, but as with everything, supplies were limited. I live in the countryside so it was possible to supplement your egg ration with those from hens you kept yourself and I know my grandmother did so (this is also how our family got chicken meat!). I keep quail so any eggs from them I’m going to include.
I’m lucky in that I grow my own veg down the allotment so I have a ready supply of everything that is in season. There was a boom in allotments over the war years, thanks to the Dig For Victory campaign, which continued afterwards before tapering off again so growing your own vegetables to supplement what you could get in the shops wasn’t unusual.
One thing I am going to tweak is my sugar ration. I’m thinking of cutting this in half. The reason being that I already make a lot of my own preserves and cordials. The sugar for making those had to come from somewhere so you had to save your ration if you were going to do things like that with it. However, I am also a beekeeper. So I’m going to see how I can use honey as a sugar substitute to make up the loss.
Wish me luck! An if you have any food memories from 1951 please do share them!