Teaching Cleveland
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Middle School Edition: 6-8

Lesson 13

Saleratus, Lamp Black, and Sugar of Lead: Recipes and Home Remedies in Mid-nineteenth Century Cleveland


To familiarize students with examples of recipes and home remedies used in Cleveland during the mid-nineteenth century. To allow students to make comparisons between recipes and home remedies used in mid-nineteenth century Cleveland, with those of today.


blister indian meal saleratus
borax logwood soft water
bullock's gall lamp black sugar of lead
drachm laudanum suet
gill pearlash unbolted wheat flour
green copperas poultice whey
hartshorn sal ammonica white lead


  1. What were some examples of recipes and home remedies used mid-nineteenth century Cleveland?
  2. How do these recipes and remedies differ from those of today?


General Instructions: Review the vocabulary terms with which students might not be familiar. Either the teacher or students in the class could find a modern recipe for gingerbread, baked pudding, or any of the other recipes for the students to make comparisons.

Have students read through the recipes and complete the following activities:

  1. Compare and contrast the recipes from 1846 with ones from today. Students should particularly note the different types of measurement used as well as the difference in the quantity of the finished dish. Students should decide whether any of the home remedies or helpful hints might be useful today.
  2. Have students research additional home remedies from the time period. Ask the students if they know of any home remedies that their parents or grandparents might still use today.
  3. Have the students convert the recipe measurements to their modern equivalents.
  4. Have students compare the ingredients in recipes used by today's health conscious Americans vs. those of the mid-nineteenth century. How do the recipes differ? Students might want to compare the ingredients in a package of prepared gingerbread vs. a from-scratch recipe.
  5. Have the students convert the recipe for "Buckeye" pudding to modern equivalents and then bake a pudding.

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