logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Ingredients available in the rationing
& austerity of 1940s wartime Britain

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Various other foodstuffs are worth a place in this group of pages about meals during World War Two and the years of austerity afterwards.



Flour in bags was always available. This led to an increase in home cooking. Cakes, pies, tarts, dumplings were all cooked at home - using dried eggs in place of fresh eggs. I can't ever remember having 'shop made' cakes or pies. Much of this grain for the flour came from Canada at a great cost in human life for merchant seamen. If we left anything on our plates, we were reminded of the men who had died in getting it to us.

Spotted Dick was a regular dessert, either served with custard or by itself. It was flour, lard and water, with some dried currents or sultanas added if available. This was all mixed together and formed into a long roll. It was then rolled up into a clean tea cloth and made secure by tying it up with string. Then it was placed into a saucepan of water and boiled till solid. If there was no dried fruit or sultanas available, the spotted dick was made plain and served with a dollop of jam.

Peter Johnson

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Custard powder always seemed to be available. It came in a tin just marked 'Custard';. I suppose it was a way of preserving eggs. So it was custard with everything - or nearly everything. It was often thin and watery.

Peter Johnson

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As no fresh fruit was imported we ate what was in season, either fresh or cooked: apples with custard, apple pie with custard, apple fritters, etc. There was also rhubarb which which grew in most gardens, and was either boiled with custard or put in a pie with custard. Even with plenty of sugar - which was of course on ration - it still made teeth feel funny.

Now and again there were dried figs, peaches and prunes that came in large wooden boxes, but they were on ration. They were soaked in water overnight, and boiled the next day. Then on went the custard.

Peter Johnson

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Adults drank their tea, what tea there was, without sugar and frequently without milk.

Michael Sullivan


My parents drank sweetened coffee just before going to bed at night. The 'coffee' was something called 'coffee and chicory' which had to be perculated in a perculator for what seemed to me at least 20 minutes. The 'sugar' for sweetening was a saccharin tablet. My parents got so used to the taste of this brew that they continued with it even when rationing and shortages were in the past.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

Treat drinks for children

My grandmother used to give us children what she called 'raspberry tea'. It was a spoonful of her homemade jam in hot water, probably rather today's Ribena.

Pamela Brierley