Greened - Gruel strainer

Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.

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A method of making various PICKLES more attractive to the market by artificially greening ones that would otherwise be a less attractive colour. As Mrs Raffold commented, 'Nothing is more common than to green pickles in a brass pan' . Skill, the LONDON 'Purveyor General & Oilman', slated the practice of adding ingredients like COPPERAS to the pickle, declaring that he did not use them as they 'cannot fail of corroding the Stomach, and in every other way imparing the Constitution' [Tradecards (1800)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1769 for 'to green' in this sense

Sources: Tradecards.


[green gage]

A variety of PLUM of roundish shape, green colour, and a fine flavour. During the eighteenth century, in London at least, they were available having been PRESERVED in some fashion [Tradecards (1800)].

OED earliest date of use: 1724

Sources: Tradecards.


[green heart]

The name of various lauralaceous TIMBER trees found in the WEST INDIES and South America, characterized by their exceptional HARD WOOD. Greenheart was used particularly in ship building and turnery [Webster (online)], and according to a quotation dated 1887 in OED to make FISHING RODs.

OED earliest date of use: 1756

Sources: Acts.
References: Webster (online).


Thomas Greenough was a maker of patented and branded QUACK MEDICINE including a TINCTURE patented in 1744 for cleansing and preserving the teeth [Newspapers (1789)], a remedy for pains and disorders in the stomach ..., patented in 1757, and SAMARITAN WATER patented in 1779. He also made his own brand of TOLU - LOZENGE, volatile SALT OF VINEGAR, ISSUE PLASTER, ORANGE PEA and MAGNESIA ALBA. The perfumers Bayleys and Blew of London, under the heading 'MEDICINES', offered no less than nine branded products bearing Greenough's name [Tradecards (1790s)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.


Greens in trade are elusive. Before 1660 'greens' was a common variant of GRAINS, and has not been noted at that time in any other sense. By the eighteenth century the term was applied to green VEGETABLEs such as are grown in the kitchen garden and cooked for the table. Greens were sold on the Thames in London in the mid-eighteenth century from BUM BOATs along with FRUIT and GINGERBREAD, but there is no indication of which vegetables were generally included under the term [Acts (1761)]. One gardener in the Dictionary Archive had a variety of gardening equipment including 'a parcell of Greens Tubbs & Earthen potts' [Inventories (1723)], which is equally unhelpful as to the precise meaning. Hannah Glasse used the term apparently applying it to SPINACH, CABBAGE, BROCCOLI, CAULIFLOWER, FRENCH BEANS and ASPARAGUS. 'You should always be careful', she wrote, 'that your Greens be nicely pick'd and wash'd', before laying them 'in a clean Pan for fear of Sand and Dust, which is apt to hang around wooden Vessels', and boiling them 'in a Copper Sauce-pan by themselves with a great Quantity of Water' [Glasse (1747, facs. 1983)]. The advice of Eliza Smith and her choice of vegetables was very similar; so much so that one suspects copying from a common source [Smith (1758, facs. 1994)]. Richard Bradley, while listing much the same vegetables as greens, only explicitly recommended them for April, though he commented that the garden was 'very rich in Eatables' in June, without going into further detail [Bradley (1736, facs. 1980)]. His April entry fits well with a secondary meaning of the term as used in London of the young sprouts of cabbages [OED, Green].

Some seedsmen were offering a good variety of green-vegetable seeds. For example, John Kingston Galpine in 1772, although specializing in ornamental plants, had 'Seeds of Greens' including eleven varieties of cabbage (including cauliflower), three of broccoli and eight of SAVOY [Galpine (1983)].

The term 'greens' was also applied in a quite different context to green DORNICK. It seems unlikely the 'green' applied merely to its colour, as other GREEN LINEN CLOTH from Scotland was available, in which the descriptor seems to have meant only unbleached and ready for whitening. Probably green dornock should be interpreted in the same way.

It is probable that 'Greens' was more widely applied elliptically, although the only other example noted in the Dictionary Archive is for GREEN HIDEs.

OED earliest date of use as green vegetables: 1725

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (late), Rates.
References: Bradley (1736, facs. 1980), Galpine (1983), Glasse (1747, facs. 1983), Smith (1758, facs. 1994).


[greening weed]

Greenweed was the popular name for GENISTA tinctoria. The special name 'tinctoria' indicates its use as a DYESTUFF, while 'greenweed' indicates the colour produced. In fact, greenweed gives a rather fugitive YELLOW, and was mainly used to give a green to fabrics already dyed blue, although the obvious disadvantage of this method was that the yellow faded, causing materials so dyed to revert to blue. The only example of greenwood in the Dictionary Archive was among the stock of a coverlet weaver, who had a dye house and so was presumably dyeing some of his own products [Inventories (1678)]. One alternative name for greenweed was WOADWAXEN variously spelt.

OED online earliest date of use: 1597 under Dyer

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Grey wheat

A variety of WHEAT mentioned by John Houghton, though he gives no details about its distinctive characteristics [Houghton].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Houghton.

Grinding lathe

A LATHE adapted for grinding. Randle Home has an illustration of 'the Needle makers Grinding Stone and Wheel' [Holme (2000)], which is probably a version of this so-called lathe under a different name. The mechanism consisted of two wheels, the one operation the grindstone, the other providing the power, apparently produced by a second worker. In this it is similar to the POTTERS LATHE. The grinding in this case involved two types of grinding; the first on a 'fine Greet, or Free-stone' to produce a rough finish, and then a wheel 'of Wood; Which with oyle and Tripillo'. This was to harden 'it so, that any hard substance may be burnished upon it'. In the Dictionary Archive, grinding lathes have been noted only in the eighteenth century and have been noted among the eqipment of a TOY maker [Inventories (1764)], and a 'Button and Toy-maker' [Newspapers (1780)].

No earliest date of use in the OED

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000).


A term used by John Houghton when describing the making of PAPER. It seems to denote quality of RAG used to make paper. He wrote: 'At the paper-mills they are again sorted to make the grobin fine, grobin second, and grobin woolsey, for among the rags will be some linsey-woolsey, which the dirt makes indiscoverable, till they are once washed' [Houghton].

Not found in the OED

Found described as FINE, Second, WOOLSEY

Sources: Houghton.

Gross ginger

[gros ginger]

In the single example noted in the Dictionary Archive, 'gros' GINGER is found along with BLACK GINGER and WHITE GINGER [Inventories (1700)]. With this in mind, it might be thought that gross ginger was an alternative for GREEN GINGER, often found in conjunction with the other two. This is straining the meanings of gross, which is more likely here to mean 'large'. So gross ginger is probably a synonym for LARGE GINGER, just as PETTY GINGER is of SMALL GINGER.

Sources: Inventories (late).

Ground ginger

[grun ginger; ground ging'r; gronginger; ging'r ground; ginger in rece or ground]

DRIED GINGER that was GROUND ready for use. It could be in the form of either BLACK GINGER or WHITE GINGER. It was probably beaten or razed first and then ground in a PESTLE and MORTAR. Dried ginger is an intractable material, but it was essential to reduce it to a powder for use in many recipes. There is slight evidence that it was mainly processed in this country [DUST GINGER].

OED earliest date of use: 1866

Found described as BLACK
Found in units of BOX, C, LB, QUARTER

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Tradecards.

Ground pine

The herbaceous plant Ajuga CHAMAEPITYS is said to be named from its resinous smell. The leaves of ground pine were still listed in the eighteenth-century Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)], and were an ingredient in VENICE TREACLE [Recipes (Pemberton)]. The tops and leaves have been noted as an ingredient of a TINCTURE to relieve 'all epidemical and bilious fevers and also against endemic disorders' [Diaries (Turner T.)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1551

Sources: Diaries, Recipes.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Ground rice

RICE prepared by grinding it, either into fine granules as today, or more finely into RICE POWDER. It was used in the kitchen; for example Thomas Turner used it to thicken 'a cheap kind of soup' [Diaries (Turner)]. It may also have been used as a HAIR POWDER. In one advertisement it was contrasted with INDIAN RICE [Tradecards (1800)]. This suggests it was usually made from CAROLINA RICE, which may have contained more starch.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Diaries, Tradecards.

Gruel strainer

Gruel was a light liquid food, often made for invalids composed of OATMEAL or other farinaceous material boiled in water, with the possible addition of other ingredients like spices and sugar. It is difficult to make without some lumps, so a gruel STRAINER would have been desirable. They have not been noted in kitchens but one retailer sold them in at least two sizes [Inventories (1745)].

Not found in the OED

Found described as LARGE, less

Sources: Inventories (late).