This section is from "Every Woman's Encyclopaedia". Also available from Amazon: Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.
Continued From page 1617, Part 13
Choose soap that is not too soft, highly coloured, or highly scented. Ordinary yellow soap sold in bars is most economical for ordinary household use. Purchase it in as large quantities as your purse and storeroom will allow, for it dries with keeping, and so wastes less in the water.
For cooking, purchase only the best Lucca, or olive oil. Inferior oils are most unpleasant, if not unwholesome.
Loaf sugar should be white, heavy, and sparkling. Beetroot sugar has a yellower tint, and is dull looking. The best sugar is the cheapest, for it is far sweeter.
Moist brown sugar should not be too powdery or sand-like, but should have a crystalline look. Sugar of inferior quality is often infested with a tiny insect.
Icing sugar should be fine and soft. If very hard and lumpy, it will be troublesome to sieve, and less satisfactory to use.
Both sweet and bitter almonds should be hard and crisp, and quite free from any tiny holes or powdery substance, as these latter signs denote the presence of tiny grubs.
If these are very hard, the colours dimmed, and the sugar very noticeable, they are not new season's fruit, and should be very much lower in price. These fruits are quite good enough for adding to cakes, ice puddings, fruit salad, etc., as they can be softened first by soaking them in warm water or syrup.
Mace should be a pretty golden brown shade, horny and semi-transparent. A variety which is inferior in flavour and smell is of a dark, reddish brown.
Tinned Foods. Avoid any tins that bulge outwards or that appear rusty. The tops and bottoms of the tins should be slightly concave - that is, have a slightly sunken appearance. Should a tin emit a rush of air on being opened, it is, of course, unfit for food. When opened, an inrush of air with a kind of sucking sound should take place. Never patronise low-priced goods, as, if nothing worse, the contents of the tin are often of inferior quality.
All tinned foods except sardines, which are preserved in oil, should be turned out of the tins immediately they are opened.
Dried herbs should, when possible, be bought in bottles. If put up in paper or cardboard, the flavour and aroma greatly deteriorate; and as so much more will be required to bring about the desired result, the penny packets cannot be regarded as truly economical.