London – Christmas pudding has long been a staple of Londoners’ festive tables. Traditionally incorporating dried fruits, spices, sugar and alcohol this festal favourite is a representation of extensive British trade – and of the exotic bounty brought through London’s docks at the peak of Empire. So in Victorian London, how far would your Christmas pudding ingredients have travelled? Let’s take a look at a traditional Christmas pudding recipe, from Eliza Acton’s 1845 Modern Cookery for Private Families.
“To three ounces of flour, and the same weight of fine, lightly grated breadcrumbs, add six of beef kidney-suet, chopped small, six of raisins weighed after they are stoned, six of well-cleaned currants, four ounces of minced apples, five ofsugar, two of candied orange-rind, half a teaspoonful of nutmeg mixed with pounded mace, a very little salt, a small glass of brandy, and three whole eggs. Mix and beat these ingredients well together, tie them tightly in a thickly-floured cloth, and boil them for three hours and a half. We can recommend this as a remarkably light small rich pudding: it may be served with German wine, or punch sauce.”
Flour • Though home grown British flour was freely available, Canada has long been famous for its wheat production and still produces some of the finest flour in the world. Territories that would become part of modern Canada were under British rule from the 16th century.
Raisins • Raisins, known as ‘plums’ in pre-Victorian England (hence the name ‘plum pudding’) arrived in London via South Africa and California.