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What is your oldest cookbook?

Do you cook from it?

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  1. There's a cookbook in NZ that I'd say 50% of houses have a copy of - The Edmonds Cookery Book. It's been put out by the company in some form or another since 1908. My current version is the 2008 centenary version, so the book itself is not that old, but it still has the same recipes in it as my Mother's 1955 version (plus updated 'modern' recipes).

    I tend to wheel it out when I want to make treats for the office that I can say have a NZ influence (I live in London now), but I don't tend to use it as a daily reference.

    So not that old in the grand scheme of things.

    1. The Settlement Cookbook. Came out around 1903 in NYC. I have the copy my grandmother got when she married in 1919. I still use it as a refernce from time to time. There have been many editions over the years, and my mother and aunts received them in the 1940s and my sister got one when she married in 1970.

      The cookbook was part of the instruction at a lower east side settlement house aimed at Eastern European Jewish immigrants. It had a definite German-Jewish slant to it (although it extensively deals with pork).

      4 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01

        I have my grandmother's copy, also an original. She purchased it when she emigrated to NYC, in the late 1920's. I cook several recipes from it. It's a treasure.

        1. re: nikkihwood

          I agree - it is awesome.

          I use it as a general reference and, I made my wedding challah from it (with her changes scribbled in the margins.)

          It's an incredible book.

        2. re: bagelman01

          I have a reproduction -- I love this book.

          1. re: bagelman01

            My Grandma gave my mom one in 1936 when she married my dad. Somehow it disappeared from her collection. I recently was able to purchase a 1936 edition in quite good condition. Made me very happy.

            I mostly use it for reference.

          2. My oldest cookbook is about 50 years old, and yes, I cook from it...Yankee Hill Country Cooking.

            This does not answer your question per se, but I often cook from recipe cards/notebooks (hand written) from the 1910's-1920's onward--my grandmothers' recipes jotted down after they came to America. My family weren't really "cookbook" people---I inherited all of my mom's and the whole collection is a half dozen books.

            1. Mum's Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium, dated 1954.

              No, I dont cook from it - the recipes are very old-fashioned and not at all what I want to eat, although young Harters no doubt did eat from it when it was brand new. There's lots of baking, much of it sweet pies and cakes - which makes sense as it was that year when sugar ceased to be rationed post war.

              1. Do you mean the cookbook itself or the recipes in it? I've got a copy of Archestratos cookbook, but the oldest printed cookbook is a 1900 copy of Mrs. Beetons.

                1. my oldest in terms of my first that I owned is - Moosewood by Katzen, I don't use it a lot but It did influence me a lot as I used it often in college when I started cooking and hung out with a bunch of veggie art students

                  the oldest in age is Jennie Day Reese "The Complete Cookbook" which dates to about 1900 that I picket up at a used bookstore - I find it fascinating but largely un-cookable

                  for historic American cookbooks I love this resource so I post it when I have the opportunity


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JTPhilly

                    Thanks for the link! I love reading/collecting classic American cookbooks.

                  2. The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, published somewhere between 1966-1971.

                    I cannot recall the last time I cooked from it, although no doubt there's some recipe I'd want to make again.

                    As you might expect given its age, it's in the most atrocious condition, binding fraying, pages all gone yellow, but it's the book I relied on when teaching myself to cook back in the day.

                    1. I have my grandmother's "receipt" book from @ 1900. It's her hand-written book of household advice and recipes. I have never cooked anything from it, but it is amusing. The oldest cookbook that I use regularly is my mother's original Joy of Cooking (1940's). I've got a newer version as well, but she has random recipes written by hand on the previously blank pages that I like to reference.

                      Then there is my grandfather's little notebooks from @ 1900. He was an apothecary in upstate PA, and has recipes in there for various concoctions including remedies for heaves (a cow/horse ailment), a recipe for gonorrhea paste (???), and one for ice cream. Priceless.

                      1. My oldest cook book is from 1885, Diet For the Sick. Lots of recipes for various gruel's and mush along with advise on making and administering dozens of different poultices and plasters.

                        I've never cooked from it. But it was very handy to begin thumbing through looking for dinner inspiration since that would prompt my ex to suggest dinner out!


                        1. My mother's wedding present cookbook, Il Cucchaio d'Argento (The Silver Spoon), from 1958. I think I use it more than she ever did; she was a good cook, but didn't enjoy it.
                          It has some recipes I've never tried. For instance, where would one buy cockscombs?

                          1 Reply
                          1. Mrs. Parloa's New Cook Book and Marketing Guide circa 1886

                            1. Actually don't go to cook books much anymore when I want a recipe... google. Got the classic red-plaid binder Good Housekeeping, I think as a shower/wedding gift MANY years ago. Though definitely dated, it has all the basics... especially for a new cook.

                              1. My oldest cookbook is from the 1750s. But that hardly gives me bragging rights since you can find a 1500 year old cookbook for free on the web.

                                I don't cook from either since I always eat out.

                                1. The one I've had the longest? It's either Bracken's The I Hate to Cook Book ( I don't cook from it, but it's fun to read) or Claiborne's Herb and Spice Cookbook, both of which I bought in college decades ago.

                                  The oldest actual cookbook is a 1920s edition of The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tardigrade

                                    I love The I Hate to Cook Book. That's the one that has Wacky Cake in it, and I've made it dozens of times.

                                  2. Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cook Book, 1968. But I don't cook from it.

                                    1. 1858. "Inquire Within". Along with hundreds of recipes it has endless advice on general household maintenance (care of kerosene lamps, care of horses, care of lace gloves), care of the sick, manners ("Spit as little as possible and never upon the floor"), legal advice, everything a person might need to know.

                                      3 Replies
                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          "Spit as little as possible and never upon the floor"

                                          Still a useful rule!

                                          This time capsule aspect of cookbooks is a large part of why I love them. In this age of inexpensive paper we forget how expensive books used to be. Many households had only a few books if any so the books they did own tended to be packed full of useful information.

                                          1. re: Querencia

                                            I have several old 'receipt" books that have formulas for all kinds of things--ink, paint, medicines. They are interesting, but I can't say that I have ever actually used them. Maybe when the zombie apocalypse comes.

                                          2. I have really old cookbooks that are reprints (100's of years old) and I don't cook from them, they are for reference.

                                            I have a prohibition Better Homes and Gardens that I adore as it has no liquor and very little extracts (as they were booze!) Great reading.


                                            I do have my grandmothers settlement cookbook (1929 version, I think) and I do cook from it often. I checked the newish reissues that were from the Settlement and not nearly as good.

                                            And my go to cookbook is a 1975 issue of Joy of Cooking. Still rocks.

                                            1. Until I inherit all the family cookbooks, it's How to Cook Everything (Mark Bittman), circa 2002. Too bad the binding is so shitty, because it's a great book. I have re-copied versions of some family recipes, but make no mistake, if something happens to the keepers of recipes in my family, I will swoop in to ensure that the heirlooms are preserved.

                                              1. The Joy of Cooking, Irma Rombauer, 1946, my mothers cookbook. I glance through it on occasion for ideas, but usually alter the recipes to what is available at the market or on hand at home.

                                                1. First edition Mastering the Art of French Cuisine, or whatever that Julia Child's & Simone Beck's first cookbook was.... And no, i dont cook from it as I gave it back to my Mom, after I had JC autograph it for her.... :)

                                                  1. The Cookery Year, by Readers' Digest. When I was teenager, I did a lot of babysitting, and one of my clients (well, technically the parents!) had a copy of this book. It's a mixture of recipes and a whole section on basics - cuts of meat, techniques, ingredients etc. I asked for a copy as a present from my grandparents when I went to University in the mid 1970s. It was a source of amusement to my flatmates that this was the only cookbook I had (I should say that thanks to my mother and grandmother, I was already a reasonable cook). The recipes often included ingredients we had no way of affording, but there were also some gems which became part of our menus. I don't cook from it directly, but some of the recipes, like navarin of lamb, are seared into my memory so I don't need the book.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. Several cookbooks came to me when my mother died:
                                                      "My Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook", dated 1936. A three-ring binder, it's falling apart but has Mum's handwritten notes and several of her own recipes, with clippings of recipes inserted here and there;
                                                      "The Good Housekeeping Cook Book", dated 1937. My daughter has both these books now for nostalgia only.

                                                      In my personal library I have:
                                                      "The Art of Italian Cooking" by Maria Lo Pinto and Milo Miloradovich, 1948;
                                                      "The All Italian Cookbook", Wilma Reiva La Sasso, 1955. This an interesting cookbook in that there are menus for all the feast days and other important dates an Italian family might celebrate. Although it was published in the '50s Ms La Sasso includes some very old recipes.
                                                      Both these books are now used for reference only, although I have cooked from both in the past.

                                                      1. I have a reprint of the 1896 Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I don't cook from it, but it is a fun browse.

                                                        1. I have a lot of old cookbooks, but my favorite old cookbook is Louella Shouer, Quick and Easy Meals for Two (Holt,1952) - it's a great cookbook, fun read, and I actually cook from it all the time. It's surprisingly modern-seeming. Available on amazon, ebay etc you should all buy it.

                                                          1. I have a handwritten book from 1820 that is all cakes. It came in a box at an auction that I bought for something else.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: wekick

                                                              How serendipitous! I once bought a century old kitchen table at a Vermont flea market and later found in the draw a diary that dated back to the day the table was purchased. It contained itemized lists of household and farm items with the date when they were bought and the quantities. Alas, no recipes. I keep it in the same draw. It's about 130 y/o now.

                                                            2. I really enjoy old cookbooks, to cook from and to just peruse. Thank you for this thread. Lots of ideas here. I have product cookbooks from the 1950's and 60's that I cook from (Milnot being the one that comes to mind). I really enjoy those. I have cookbooks from the 1800's but don't cook from them. My oldest is a reprint from 1760's and even following the directions is difficult, let alone getting the ingredients (e.g. guinea fowl -umm... not prevalent where I live).

                                                              My first cookbook, which would be my "oldest" that I used to cook from was Good Housekeeping's. A paperback that I have carried with me around the world as I lived in different countries. That would be some sort of 1980's edition when I first started living outside of the US. It sits on my shelf still, and although I don't actively cook from it, it was a huge influence on my cooking as a young adult.

                                                              1. Leviticus, reprint

                                                                I also have a Settlement cookbook from Minneapolis, circa 1935 and an Edmonds from NZ circa 1970.

                                                                1. "European and American Cooking" by Gesine Lemcke, Appleton & Co 1903. Next oldest is an Oscar of the Waldorf cookbook, copyright 1896, 1908 edition. I have quite a few from the 'teens through the '30s, and several later editions of Escoffier's books. The postwar pioneers, James Beard and Julia (of course!) are my most-used ones. One treasure that I don't use so much as admire is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's "Cross Creek Cookery," a 1942 first edition. The dealer sold it to me cheap because it is "missing its dust jacket"! What he didn't know is that wartime books had printed covers and no jackets to save paper, and the vividly colored buckram cover on mine is in gorgeous condition.

                                                                  I don't cook much from any cookbook, but I love the old ones – especially Escoffier's – for the good advice and many changes on each single theme.

                                                                  1. I don't cook from any cook book. I own many. I own many 'books for cooks' as well. I use some of them for inspiration.
                                                                    My oldest is also my favourite. Tselementés.



                                                                    1. The Country Cookbook by Lutes 1938, Sheila Hibben's American Regional Cooking 1955, and I can't lay my hands on it at the moment, Marion Flexner's Out of Kentucky Kitchens. I believe it was published in the '40's

                                                                      1. I don't know if you mean the oldest, physically, or the oldest as in when it was originally written.

                                                                        My oldest actual cookbook is the 1976 print of The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon. My uncle had brought 3 copies of it from Australia for his 3 sisters when it first came out. My mom still has hers, and one of my aunts was not using her copy so she said I could have hers. I do use it from time to time.

                                                                        The oldest cookbook I have writing wise is the Joy of Cooking, even though I have a newer edition.

                                                                        1. Sunset magazine put out some cookbooks half a century ago. I have one from the 1950's which is fun to read because it sets you right into that era. For example, it has seven recipes for tamale pie.

                                                                          1. The oldest cookbook I own is the Neues Stuttgarter Kochbuch, the 1925 edition (on the title page, it states that it is the 36th printing). It belonged to my great-aunt, who was a professional cook before she married and emigrated to the United States. It's printed in fraktur, an old-style typeface (sometimes difficult for me to read). I haven't used it, except to look up a kohlrabi recipe. But it reminds me of my great aunt Theresa and brings me closer to her, as she is the one who really ignited my interests and passions with respect to cooking.

                                                                            1. I have my grandmothers joy of cooking - a version from the 1960s. She also gave me culinary arts institute encyclopedic cookbook also from the around 1960. My god the illustrations!

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Siegal

                                                                                Along with THAT illustration, my grandmother advised me "If you can just get an onion cooking, your husband will think dinner is on the way." Ha ha!

                                                                                1. re: wekick

                                                                                  Shes so right. My husband has come home before a few times when all I had cooking was onions and he said dinner smells great

                                                                                  1. re: Siegal

                                                                                    My bf is the same way. Funny how something so simple can get your appetite going. I used to go to an Italian restaurant that would sauté a pan of garlic and walk it around the restaurant just before they opened the doors each night. Another one here used to bake the garlic bread in an oven right by the hostess stand so you walked in to the smell of fresh baking bread.

                                                                              2. Do you mean oldest in terms of chronological age of the book -- or are you referring to the cookbook we've owned the longest?

                                                                                Or could it be the book (even if a later edition) that's been in publication the longest?

                                                                                Each of these brings a different answer.

                                                                                Sorry if I'm complicating things!

                                                                                1. Hi, Peaches:

                                                                                  "The Cook's Own Book" (1832) by Mary Middleton Rutledge Fogg.


                                                                                  1. I have a copy of "A Treasury of Great Recipes" by Mary and Vincent Price which is from sometime in the late 60's. I mainly bought it just because I love Vincent Price but it has some good recipes. I don't cook from it often but its a fun time capsule back into the worlds fine dining in 1965. Since the book is basically just a collection of recipes amassed on Vincent Price's travels it features plenty of great storytelling and personal touches that make it great for Vincent Price fans. I just wish he had narrated it as a book on tape.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MucousMembrane

                                                                                      Vincent Price recorded a series of 12 cassette tapes called, “The Beverly Hills Cookbook,” later titled, “Push Button Cookery,” in the '70's. You can listen to them on line: