Salleretes Anyone?

On the outside of a sheet of paper with notes giving common English expressions, such as “Good Morning,” along with their German equivalents my great-great gradmother wrote recipes in Old German for ginger snap cookies and gingerbread. This was in the day before our modern baking powder.  So what was used in its place for leavening?  “Salleretes” or more properly Saleratus—aerated salt—made by exposing a carbonate substance to CO2. It was produced domestically from the middle of the 19thcentury.  The recipes, or receipts as they were called in those days, are rather sketchy, the assumption being made that the cook would already be familiar with what to do with the ingredients.

A teacup of molasses, half a cup of sugar, half a cup of butter, half a cup of warm water.

Melt the butter with a small teaspoon of “Salleretes” and make it quite thin. Then a large spoonful of ginger and make the dough stiff and put it in the mold.  [Most likely a cast iron cookie mold].


White ginger bread!  [white because it is made with white flour]

A cup of flour, a cup of butter, 1 1/2 cups molasses, a cup of milk, a big spoonful of “Saleretes”, a small spoonful of ginger, two eggs!


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