Antique Staffordshire Toast Water Jug or Pitcher

Back in the early 19th C, Toast Water was touted as a nutritious drink for invalids, and as the century progressed, it also became quite popular as a 'refreshing' drink to be served cold, particularly when the weather was warm. And just to prove the adage that 'everything old is new again', I have found a restaurant in England that was serving a Toast Water Sorbet just a couple of years ago. Never heard of it? Well, neither had I until I found this marvelous old Staffordshire jug, essentially, it's a tea made by steeping very well toasted bread in water.

Condition is great, the jug is clean and bright, and the beautiful floral finial, the piece that is always so vulnerable to damage, is perfect. There is a fire crack where the bottom of the handle attaches to the jug, it is original to the manufacture, and quite common on old pearlware like this. The only aftermarket issue appears to be one teensy repair on the back edge corner of the lid (last photograph)... really not a big deal considering the otherwise perfect and pristine condition, and not something that compromises either the beauty or function of this beautiful piece. Rather large, I guess it would have to be to hold all that toast and water, it measures 9 1/8" tall to the top of the finial, 9 1/2" from handle to spout, and approximately 7" in diameter. Unmarked, but unmistakeably from the Staffordshire region.

So if you're looking for something novel to serve to your guests this coming holiday season, why not try some Toast Water? No? Well, this lovely jug would also serve admirably for any number of celebratory beverages, particularly if they contain pieces of fruit or even ice that need to be strained out. This is a lovely piece, completely covered as it is with impressed blossoms, and the finial is a little miniature sculpture all by itself. Just beautiful. Bon Apetit!

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Following are two recipes excerpted from 19th C cookbooks, the first from the middle of the century, the second a bit later:

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From the 1849 cookbook "The Modern Housewife Or Menagere" by Alexis Soyer:

"The ease and simplicity of making this popular drink is probably the cause of its not being well made one time in ten, that is, in private families ; the bread is too much or too little done, or there is too much or not half enough water, or more or less bread ; I venture to say that if any person would take the trouble to go from house to house, where there are patients, and taste toast and water at each, they would not find two of the same flavor, and perhaps not any of it properly made. To make it to perfection, proceed as follows : cut a piece of crusty bread, about a quarter of a pound in weight, place it upon a toasting-fork, and hold it about six inches from the fire ; turn it often, and keep moving it gently until of a light yellow color, then place it nearer the fire, and when of a good brown chocolate color, put it into a jug, and pour three pints of boiling water over ; cover the jug until cold, then strain it into a clean jug, and it is ready for use : never leave the toast in it, for in summer it would cause fermentation in a short time. I would almost venture that such toast and water as I have described would keep good a considerable time in bottles. The idea that bread must be burnt black to make toast and water is quite a popular delusion, for nothing nourishing could come from it: if your house was burnt to ashes, it would be valueless ; and the same with burnt bread, which merely makes the water black, but the nutriment of the bread, intended to relieve the chest, has evaporated in smoke by being burnt."

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Recipe from "Household Cookery and Laundry Work" by Mrs. Black circa 1880's - Recommended for invalids.

"Toast the quarter of a slice of bread till it is quite brown in every part without being in the least burned. Have a jug, with three breakfast-cupfuls of cold water in it in which put the bread, and allow it to stand for a few hours. Hot water is frequently used instead of cold, but the water is scarcely so clear and nice. In this case it must cool before being used. The water is put in the jug first and the bread put in, otherwise the bread gets crumbled. It is a most refreshing drink."

Item ID: RL-762


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Marni Bakst, Verbank, NY   

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