'Bake do and mend'

A National dried milk tin on display at Rainham Hall

During November 2017, we held a series of weekly talks and tastings featuring recipes from the 1940s, such as the war-time ‘National Loaf’. We shared recipes that would have been served up during the Hall's day nursery years between 1943-1954. Please note these are past events.

Our Stables Café team delved into the archives to research recipes popular in the 1940s and 1950s, when the Hall operated as a state-run day nursery for local children. We invited visitors to join us on Wednesday mornings in the Hayloft at Rainham Hall, for a talk and tasting of rationing era recipes. Thank you to all the visitors who attended our talks.

War-time rationing

During the Second World War everyone received a Ration Book – brown covers for adults, green for children. The coupons entitled you to a certain amount of a product, in a specified time period, at a set price, from licensed shops where you registered. You still had to pay, but the Government controlled the prices of most items, as well as production and supply.

The Ministry of Food invented various products - National Butter, Standard Margarine, Government Cheddar, National Dried Egg. If fresh milk was unavailable, the nursery children at Rainham Hall were given National Dried Milk. White flour was banned and only a high fibre National Flour was available. It made a rather heavy National Loaf, jokingly called ‘Hitler’s Secret Weapon’. 

Some foods were never rationed – such as fish and fresh fruit. They were simply hard or impossible to get. No wonder the nursery children remember with excitement receiving oranges at Christmas time. In 1944, pineapples were selling for ridiculous amounts and onions were exciting gifts and prizes in raffles. There were long queues at fish and chip shops, which branched out into meat pies. Whale and horse meat were not rationed but were not well-received either. SPiced hAM, SPAM, a tinned meat from America, was very popular.