Was or, gasp, is there such a thing as toast water?
One thing is clear: toast water is all over Victorian to early 20th Century recipe and potion books.
Albert A. Hopkins starts our toast post with his 1919 guide: ‘Home Made Beverages. The Manufacture of Non-Alcoholic and Alcoholic Drinks in the Household’.
‘Toast 1 crust of bread very brown and hard, but do not burn it, or it will impart a disagreeable flavor to the water. Put it into a jug, pour over it 1 pt. of cold water; let it soak for 1 hour, then strain and use.’
The British Isabella Beeton of ‘Mrs Beeton’s 1861 Book of Household Management’ offers her own recipe for liquefied toast in Chapter 39, Invalid Cookery.
To Make Toast-And-Water
‘Ingredients – A slice of bread, 1 quart of boiling waterMode: Cut a slice from a stale loaf (a piece of hard crust is better than anything else for the purpose), toast it of a nice brown on every side, but do not allow it to burn or blacken. Put it into a jug, pour the boiling water over it, cover it closely, and let it remain until cold. When strained, it will be ready for use. Toast-and-water should always be made a short time before it is required, to enable it to get cold: if drunk in a tepid or lukewarm state, it is an exceedingly disagreeable beverage.’
The word ‘disagreeable’ seems to be coming up a lot here.
‘If, as is sometimes the case,’ Beeton continues, ‘this drink is wanted in a hurry, put the toasted bread into a jug, and only just cover it with the boiling water; when this is cool, cold water may be added in the proportion required,–the toast-and-water strained; it will then be ready for use, and is more expeditiously prepared than by the above method.’
Édouard Manet. Woman Reading. 1878-89
Joseph F. Edwards gets toast-fancy in his 1884 ‘Annals of Hygiene’. First:
Simple Toast Water – ‘Toast water simple, good in cases of thirst and diarrhea, is about one fourth of a pound of bread toasted slowly to a very brown color (not burned), broken into a hot mug or pitcher, with a quart of boiling water poured upon it, covered close until cold. Serve ice cold.’
Edwards also offers helpful tips to zhuzh up Toast Water for General Drink.
‘The above may be improved by adding a tart apple, that has been baked with a teaspoonful of brown sugar, or stewed apple pulp and a little lemon peel, to the toast before the boiling water has been poured upon the toast; cover close, let stand an hour, strain and sweeten. Some persons, particularly old gentlemen, like toast water warm and sweetened with good molasses.’
Header: Édouard Manet. Luncheon in the Studio. 1868