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Liverpool Blitz: Wartime mealtimes and keeping animals

The limited range and quantity of food available in wartime Liverpool meant each mealtime was an effort. People had to make food that was tasty and nutritious.

Damage to the overhead railway line
Damage to the overhead railway line at Sandon dock. 12/13 March 1941. Damage to transport routes sometimes delayed food deliveries.
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Lord Woolton, the Minister of Food, employed dieticians to come up with recipe suggestions using the ingredients everyone would have, eg Woolton pie. These were distributed along with advice on:

Recycling - bones for soap, glue and fertiliser; bottles for glassmaking; milk bottle tops for aluminium to make Lancaster bombers

Over cooking - cooking just enough makes you healthier and saves fuel, space on transport ships etc.

New foods - people were encouraged to eat unusual fish and meat including whale and horse. People in the countryside were encouraged to try hedgehog, badger and even snake.

Any waste food or peelings had a use as well; to feed locally kept animals. Many people kept rabbits and hens in their backyards. Rabbits and roosters were kept for meat, hens for eggs and dead birds for their feathers and fat.

Groups of people could keep a pig, with clubs becoming quite popular. Waste was collected in the pig bin and fed to the animals, with many people benefiting when the animal was slaughtered in the cold months (Nov-Feb). Every part of the pig could be used, even the trotters. They also produced manure that could be used on gardens.

Shop-bought food changed as well. Firstly, there was less choice, with one type of biscuit where there had been ten before. Secondly, food changed shape to reduce transport costs, eg meat was de-boned or dehydrated, and eggs were dried and powdered. Some food was replaced with not very nice substitutes, eg milk and sugar. The national loaf arrived, made with lower quality flour and added calcium and vitamin B1. The war years also saw the arrival of products from the USA like Spam, which was very popular due to its versatility.

Damage to the Cooperative Mill's runway
The Cooperative Mill's runway over the canal is damaged. 20/21 December 1940
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Food shortages weren't the only problem for hungry people. Bombed out houses left people with little equipment, like cookers, pans and plates with which to cook and eat food.

Activity

Try one of these wartime recipes

Woolton Pie - named after the Minister of Food.

2.5lb potatoes
1lb cauliflower
1lb swede
1lb carrots
1tsp marmite
2oz oatmeal
4 spring onions
2oz cheese

Cut up and boil in salt water half the potatoes and all the cauliflower, swede and carrots.
Take 200ml of the vegetable water, add the marmite and oatmeal then boil until thick.
Put the liquid, strained vegetables and spring onions in a pie dish.
Cook and mash the rest of the potatoes with the cheese.
Cook in a moderate oven for about an hour

Sweet Potato Pudding

8oz cooked chopped potatoes
1oz cooking fat (butter or lard)
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 dessertspoons honey
2 chopped sticks of rhubarb or any fruit in season

Mix all the ingredients together then cook in a moderate oven for 45 mins.

 

Audio

audio

Morgan Wood talks about eating pigeons, damaged tins and pig bins
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)

Dorothy Edwards talks about her wedding cake
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)

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