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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1641

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GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON BEVERAGES

 
CHAPTER XLVIII
 

Bevrages may be broadly divided into four classes: (1) Water and milk; (2) Beverages of a simple character, generally infusions or decoctions; (3) Beverages consisting of mineral waters drawn from natural springs, or water containing a considerable quantity of carbonic acid gas; (4) Beverages containing alcohol.

Water.—To whichever class our beverages belong, water is the basis of them all. Even our solid food contains a large proportion of water; and nothing is of more importance to the housekeeper than to obtain an ample supply of sufficiently pure water. We say "sufficiently pure," for absolutely pure water, consisting only of 2 parts of hydrogen to 1 of oxygen, does not exist in nature; and when it is obtained by the distiller's art, it is flat and distasteful to those who have not accustomed themselves to its use. Water, as we get it, is never pure; the important point is its freedom from impurities dangerous to health. Dissolved air and gases make it bright and sparkling; they are driven off by boiling, and hence the insipid taste and dull appearance of boiled water

From whatever source water is obtained, it once existed in the form of rain. In the country it may pass through the air to the ground in a pure state, but in manufacturing towns considerable impurities are added to it in its passage. Whatever its condition as it falls upon the surface of the earth, it is rapidly changed in its passage through it. Some rocks, like granite, are insoluble, some, as for example chalk, are readily soluble, especially in water containing carbonic acid gas, which rain washes down out of the air. So, while one kind of water may contain only ½ a grain of mineral matter in a gallon, another has many grains in the gallon. We call the latter a "hard" water, and object to it for cooking purposes for several reasons. It tends to make the meat and vegetables cooked in it hard; it wastes soap; it deposits "fur" on saucepans and kettles. The "fur" is the mineral matter once dissolved in the water, now thrown down in the saucepan: (1) because the water has boiled away and gone off in steam, leaving behind it the mineral that could not be vapourized; (2) because

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