Gruel Recipes - Food For The Sick  - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (2024)

These simple foods, the base of which is usually one of the grains, play an important part in the dietary for the sick, if properly prepared. Gruels are similar to porridge, but much thinner.

Gruels may be varied with flavorings of cinnamon, nutmeg, almond, or a little grated lemon-peel, and sugar. Sugar is mentioned with great hesitancy, for a sweet gruel is an abomination, and yet a gruel with a very little sugar has a pleasanter flavor than one without any.


Like other dishes prepared from the grains, gruel needs a long, continuous cooking. When done, it should be the very essence of the grain, possessing all its nutritive qualities, but in such form as to be readily assimilated. For the making of gruels, as for the cooking of grains for any other purpose, the double boiler is the best utensil.

If it is desirable to strain the gruel before serving, have a fine wire strainer of a size to stand conveniently within a large bowl or basin. Turn the gruel into this, and rub it through with a wooden or silver spoon, using a second spoon, if necessary, to remove that which hangs beneath the sieve. On no account use the first spoon for the latter operation, as by so doing one is apt to get some of the hulls into the gruel and destroy its smoothness.

When as much of the gruel as possible has been rubbed through the sieve, pour the strained liquid into a clean dish, reheat to boiling, and season as desired before serving. Gruels, like all other foods, should be retained in the mouth for proper salivation, and it is well to eat them with wafers or some hard food, when solid food is allowed.

Rub a dessertspoon of pure arrowroot to a thin paste in two tablespoons of cold water. Stir it into a half pint of boiling water, or if preferred, a cup and a third of boiling milk. Stir rapidly until thickened and clear. If desired, a little lemon peel for flavoring may be infused in the water or milk before adding the arrowroot. Sweeten, if allowed, and serve.

Wash three heaping tablespoons of pearl barley, drop it into a pint of boiling water, and parboil five minutes. Pour this water off and add a quart of fresh boiling water. Let it simmer gently for three hours. Strain, season, and serve. A small piece of lemon rind added to the gruel a half hour before it is done gives it a very agreeable flavor. Equal quantities of milk and barley gruel make a very nourishing drink. The milk, however, should not be added to the gruel until needed, as in a warm atmosphere it undergoes quite rapid change, and is likely to ferment. A little lemon juice, with sugar to sweeten to taste, is sometimes preferred as seasoning for barley gruel.

Heat a cup of milk to boiling, and stir into it one well-beaten egg mixed with one-fourth cup of cold milk. Stir constantly for a few minutes till thickened, but do not allow it to boil again. Season with a little salt, or if preferred and allowed, a little loaf sugar.*

*loaf sugar – sugar sold in a hard block, which has to be broken and then pounded into sugar granules.

Moisten two tablespoons of farina with a very little cold milk, and stir it into a cup of boiling water. Boil until it thickens, add a cup of new milk, turn into a double boiler, and cook again for twenty or thirty minutes. Strain if necessary, season with salt or sugar, and serve.

Rub one heaping tablespoon of whole-wheat flour to a thin paste with three tablespoons of cold milk. Stir it into a pint of boiling milk and cook for ten minutes. Season with salt, strain if necessary, and while hot, stir in the beaten white of one egg. The egg may be omitted if preferred, or the yolk of the egg and a little sugar may be used instead, if the patient’s condition will allow it.

Make a thin paste of one teaspoon of flour, two tablespoons of Indian meal,* and a little water. Stir this into a quart of boiling water, or milk and water in equal proportions, as preferred. Boil until the meal has set, stirring constantly. Then turn into a double boiler and cook for an hour and half or two hours. Season with salt, and strain. If too thick, thin with milk or cream.

*Indian meal – coarsely ground corn (cornmeal).

Pound one-half cup of coarse oatmeal until it is mealy. The easiest way to do this is to tie the oatmeal in a coarse cloth and pound it with a wooden mallet. Put it in a pint bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Stir briskly for a few moments until the water is white, then allow the meal to settle. Pour off the water, being careful to get none of the sediment. Fill the bowl a second time with cold water, stir thoroughly, let settle, and pour off the water as before. Do this the third time. Boil the liquid one half hour, strain, and serve hot. If very thick, a little cream or milk may be added.

The United States Dispensary recommends the following method of preparing oatmeal gruel for fever patients; “Rub one heaping tablespoon of fine oatmeal smooth in a little cold water. Stir this into three pints of boiling water. Cook until the quantity is reduced to two pints, then strain, and let it cool and settle. When it is quite cold, pour the clear gruel from the sediment, add the juice of a lemon, and sugar to sweeten slightly. If desirable to serve it warm, reheat before adding the lemon juice.”

Wash half a cup of rice very thoroughly in several waters. Put it into a saucepan with three cups of cold water and boil for half an hour. Strain off the rice water, season with salt if desired, and serve.

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What Do You Eat When You’re Sick? Please Leave a Comment Below.


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Gruel Recipes - Food For The Sick  - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (2024)


What are the ingredients in gruel? ›

Gruel is a food consisting of some type of cereal—such as ground oats, wheat, rye, or rice—heated or boiled in water or milk. It is a thinner version of porridge that may be more often drunk rather than eaten. Historically, gruel has been a staple of the Western diet, especially for peasants.

How to make Victorian gruel? ›

Method: Slowly add the oatmeal to a pan of boiling water, stir till mixed in, bring back to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes then stir in the treacle and serve. Makes one pint. NOTE: Gruel should be served quickly and not kept warm for a long period or reheated.

What was gruel in the 1800s? ›

It includes a recipe for gruel – a watery porridge consisting of oatmeal, treacle, water and salt.

What is the difference between grits and gruel? ›

Gruel is basically thin porridge that is often drank instead of eaten with a spoon. Mush is a type of thick porridge while grits is basically thick porridge made from corn. Oatmeal is porridge made from oats. Many Civil War soldiers would have eaten porridge, gruel, mush, grits, and oatmeal.

How healthy is gruel? ›

Staying on an all-gruel diet long-term could have health risks as this plan severely lacks adequate protein (especially for someone looking to build real mass), which is vital in the body's metabolic pathways. Another important macronutrient it's missing is fat.

What's the difference between gruel and porridge? ›

The difference between gruel and porridge is that gruel is a thin, watery porridge while porridge is a type of thick soup or stew, especially thickened with barley. Pottage is a term for a thick soup or stew made by boiling vegetables, grains, and, if available, meat or fish.

What did rich Victorian children eat for breakfast? ›

Many Victorian meals were served at home as a family, prepared by cooks and servants who had studied French and Italian cookbooks. Middle and upper class breakfasts typically consisted of porridge, eggs, fish and bacon. They were eaten together as a family. Sunday lunches included meat, potatoes, vegetables and gravy.

What did rich Victorians eat for breakfast? ›

Victorians with more money enjoyed mutton, bacon, cheese, eggs, sugar, treacle and jam as part of their meals. Breakfast may involve ham, bacon, eggs and bread.

What did poor people eat for breakfast in the 1800s? ›

What was food like in a Victorian workhouse?
  • Breakfast and supper: 7oz of bread and either 1½ pints of porridge or 2oz cheese.
  • Lunch: It could be 5oz cooked meat and 12 oz potatoes; 6oz bread and 1½ pints of soup; or 16oz meat and potato pie and 14oz of suet or rice pudding.
Nov 6, 2021

What did gruel taste like? ›

It tastes like porridge but it's very plain," said Irina Orlova, 30, an administration assistant from Moscow. As a special treat, Oliver got raw onion in his gruel twice a week, and those sampling the gruel outside the RSC's building were not spared either. "I prefer the version with the onions," added Ms. Orlova.

What did Americans eat for breakfast in the 1800s? ›

Fresh fruit was hard to find on the trail west, but dried apples were plentiful, so dried apple pies became standard breakfast fare in the Midwest during the 1800s. Butter was scarce, but Native Americans taught the settlers to make butter from crushed green hickory nuts to spread on their corn bread.

Is oatmeal A gruel? ›

Oat porridge, or oatmeal, is one of the most common types of porridge. Gruel is a thinner version of porridge and congee is a savoury variation of porridge of Asian origin.

Is gruel like oatmeal? ›

Gruel: "Gruel" is a type of porridge that is typically thinner and less creamy than oatmeal. It is made by cooking grains (such as rice, barley, or oats) in water or milk until they are soft and the mixture becomes a thin, often bland, and easily digestible dish. Historically, gruel was a simple and economical food.

What is gruel slang? ›

"To get one's gruel" was 1700s slang meaning "to receive one's punishment." Even back then gruel had a bad rap. Definitions of gruel. a thin porridge (usually oatmeal or cornmeal) types: congee, jook.

What is gruel made of for dogs? ›

puppy food and goat's milk and is a perfect step. between moms milk and regular dog food.

What is gruel made of in Oliver Twist? ›

The barely-palatable meal composed of water, oats and milk, plus an onion, has been recreated from the novel and other old sources by the Royal Society of Chemistry to offer passers-by on Piccadilly the day before the great musical Oliver!, starring Rowan Atkinson, opens in the West End.

What is gruel vs oatmeal? ›

Oat porridge, or oatmeal, is one of the most common types of porridge. Gruel is a thinner version of porridge and congee is a savoury variation of porridge of Asian origin.

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