Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/611

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THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

pany was assembled to eat them." Both were found good, but a decided preference given to that cooked in the roaster; "it was much more juicy, and was thought better tasted." Both were fairly eaten up, nothing remaining of either that was eatable, and the fragments collected. "Of the leg of mutton which had been roasted in the roaster, hardly anything visible remained, excepting the bare bone; while a considerable heap was formed of scraps not eatable which remained of that roasted on a spit."

This was an eloquent experiment; the six per cent gained tell of juices retained with consequent gain of flavor, tenderness, and digestibility, and the subsequent testimony of the scraps describes the difference in the condition of the tendonous, integumentary portions of the joints, which are just those that present the toughest practical problems to the cook, especially in roasting.

But why are these roasters not in general use? Why did they die with their inventor? I will take up these questions in my next.

 
XII.

Returning to the question suggested by my last paper, Why has Rumford's roaster fallen into disuse, notwithstanding the fact, mentioned in his essay, that Mr. Hopkins, of Greek Street, Soho, had sold above two hundred, and others were making them?

Those of my readers who have had practical experience in using hot air or in superheating steam, will doubtless have already detected a weak point in the "blow-pipes." When iron pipes are heated to redness, or thereabout, and a blast of air or steam passes through them, they work admirably for a while, but presently the pipe gives way, for iron is a combustible substance, and burns slowly when heated and supplied with abundant oxygen, either by means of air or water, the latter being decomposed, its hydrogen set free, while its oxygen combines with the iron and reduces it to friable oxide. Rumford does not appear to have understood this, or he would have made his blowpipes of fire-clay or other refractory non-oxidizable material.

The records of the Great Seal Office contain specifications of hundreds of ingenious inventions that have failed most vexatiously from this defect; and I could tell of joint-stock companies that have been "floated" to carry out inventions involving the use of heated air or superheated steam that have worked beautifully and with apparent economy while the shares were in the market, and then collapsed just when the calls were paid up, the cost of renewal of super-heaters and hot-air chambers having worse than annulled the economy of working fuel described in the prospectus. Thus a vessel driven by heated air, as a substitute for steam, was fitted up with its caloric engine, and crossed the Atlantic with passengers on board. The voyage practically demonstrated a great saving of coal; patent rights were purchased accordingly for a very large amount, and shares went up buoy-