How can I save an old cookbook?
June 29, 2012 7:38 AM   Subscribe

So I've been given a well-loved copy of the 1937 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Along with the cookbook are a bunch of recipes handwritten on random scraps of paper, such as napkins and envelopes. What should I do with all this?

The cookbook is mostly intact; the cover's dirty and torn but the contents are in good shape. The handwritten recipes are pretty fragile.

I've really enjoyed thumbing through the recipes but although I'm an avid cook, I've been afraid to actually use them because of their condition.

Ideally, I'd like to preserve as much of it as I can, in a state that I can use rather than something to store on a shelf. Any thoughts, Hive Mind?
posted by jcatus to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it were me, I would scan the handwritten recipes and then print them out so I could get to look at them in their "natural" state. Then I would probably try to artfully mount them or put them in a frame somehow so that I could display them on the wall.
posted by cabingirl at 7:45 AM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Put the scraps of paper into clear page protectors, the kind that have holes punched at one edge for a three-ring notebook, and buy a notebook to store them in. This will protect them against handling, but not against falling apart due to age. Best to photocopy them or scan them into the computer for that.
posted by Ery at 7:45 AM on June 29, 2012

Since the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook is usally in a 3 ring binder, just put each page lovingly into a plastic, pre-punched sheet, and now, cook away!

It's a fantastic cookbook, my sister got my Mom's 1962 version, but I got a similar vintage one at a yard sale, so there you go!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:54 AM on June 29, 2012

If I received this, I would keep the book but toss the hand-written recipes UNLESS it was my mother's, or from some other relative. Random recipes from some stranger, I'd never get around to using. Just decoding the hand-writing would be a chore.
posted by Rash at 8:25 AM on June 29, 2012

Or instead of "using" I should say "testing" since given an unknown source, who's to say those recipes are any good?
posted by Rash at 8:27 AM on June 29, 2012

I second scanning the recipes into a file and printing them out in their native state if you can. I probably wouldn't frame them, but I'd archive them in some way or another just to have them 'cause I like to vicariously look into the past vis–à–vis with other people things. I'm sure if they've been kept in the cookbook this long, they're probably all right to use. I know I'd want to test them out.
posted by patheral at 9:16 AM on June 29, 2012

Call up a bunch of friends (even internet friends). Explain that you have this old cookbook and need people to transcribe scanned pages into typed format. You could even use a google forms page so that everyone formats it the same way. Then, when you have all of these cool recipies catalogued in a way that is more manageble, take votes on what everyone thinks would be fun to cook or eat. Then throw a dinner party with these fun vintage recipies!
posted by JimmyJames at 10:13 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm sure there are mefites who would be happy to help transcribe a old recipe or two :)
posted by JimmyJames at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2012

You could have a cue-card file of recipes and transcribe the handwritten ones.
posted by windykites at 8:44 AM on June 30, 2012

Thanks for the ideas, everyone! I think I'll start with scanning the recipes and then cataloging them online.
posted by jcatus at 6:57 AM on July 2, 2012

post them on a webpage, let us know!
posted by irish01 at 3:32 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

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