Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1514

This page has been validated.

meat and afterwards prevent them coagulating. A more savoury and palatable preparation is the convalescents' beef-tea, usually made by subjecting either shin or neck of beef to a long, slow stewing process. In the preparation of beef-tea for invalids, juicy meat, such as buttock steaks, or top-side alone should be employed, for these parts contain the most albumen and other soluble matters, which are the nourishing constituents of the meat. Beef-tea that sets to a jelly when cold contains a smaller percentage of these constituents; and more gelatine, of which the shin of beef has a comparatively large proportion. Although gelatine possesses neither the stimulating nor nourishing properties of albumen, it has considerable value as a food substance, inasmuch as it replaces albumen in many processes in the human economy, but it is altogether unsuitable when a concentrated, nourishing liquid food is required.

Albumen, which is the life-sustaining element in the meat, is very like white of egg in its properties. White of egg will mix freely with water, as also will the juices of the meat when extracted by means of cold water. This water may be gently heated, and the albumen will still remain in solution, but when heated to about 120º or 130º F. the albumen coagulates and separates into brown particles, which are strained out of the beef-tea, the almost valueless liquid being given to the patient.

Meat Juices and Extracts.—These may be bought ready prepared; some contain little more than the salines and extractives of the meat; others may be regarded as a valuable stimulant and restorative, easily prepared and always at hand, but in serious cases none of them can replace beef-tea containing soluble albumen.

Fluid meat consists of lean meat liquified by artificial digestion, and in a fit state for immediate absorption into the body. In severe illness it is a most valuable food, and is also used for nutrient enemata. Dr. Pavy recommends the following mixture when used for this purpose: 2 ozs. of white sugar, 6 ozs. of mucilage of starch or arrowroot, with 2 tablespoonfuls of fluid meat.

Beef peptonoids and peptonised beef-jelly are also most valuable preparations for the sick-room. Unlike beef-tea and beef extracts, which consist only of the juice of the meat, more or less perfectly extracted, they are the meat itself in a fluid form, fit to be taken at once into the body without any work for the feeble digestion of the invalid.

Variety is an Essential.—In sick-room cookery, except in very serious cases, veal-tea, mutton-tea or broth, or chicken broth, should occasionally replace the beef-tea in order to prevent the patient becoming tired of it. Soups thickened with yolk of egg and cream are very nourishing, but they are also very rich, and should therefore be given sparingly even when the patient is convalescent. Meat teas, soups and broths all offer nourishment in an easily digested form, and