Some of the world's oldest known recipes are available in online archives. These cookbooks are adventures in themselves! Some are easy to read--and even to use as cooking guides--others are intriguing to explore for historical and cultural insights, even if you can't completely understand them!
Over 10,000 Historic Cookbooks - From 17th Century recipes to 20th Century recipes, this online archive has a variety of historic cookbooks for any occasion, mainly from European countries and the USA. Text is searchable.
Mexican Cookbook Collection - These handwritten recipe books provide an intimate view of domestic life and Mexican culinary culture. Spanish language only. Example...
The collection includes the extremely rare 1828 cookbook, Arte nuevo de cocina y repostería acomodado al uso mexicano, once owned by Mexican culinary diva, Diana Kennedy.
Ryōri Monogatari - This is an English translation of what is thought to be the oldest surviving Japanese cookbook, published in 1643. The translation, however, also requires knowledge of Japanese words expressed in English characters. To explore the cookbook, click on the link, then use the Ryōri Monogatari heading at the top of the page that opens to navigate through the book. Example of a page of the original, from which the English translation comes...
Historical Islamic Cooking: Andalusian and Baghdadi Recipes - These are actual recipes going back all the way to the 10th Century, when Baghdad was the seat of the Islamic Caliphate, in the Golden Age of Islam in the East. The Andalusian recipes go further into the 15th Century, just before the fall of Granada. See also this additional story, which provides background on one of these cookbooks: The 10th-Century Baghdad Cookbook That’s a Poetic Tome to Food.
Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts and Cookbooks - Explore a collection of handwritten American and European recipes from the 1600s to the 1960s. This is the real deal...like deciphering your grandmother’s handwriting on a recipe card! Scanned images of the actual pages are accompanied by transcriptions of the text. Example...
Recipe from the Carr Family Cookbook, (c. 1741-1753)
Receipt for Pickling Plums
Mrs Prome 4 pounds Sugar. 7 do of Plums 4 oz of Cloves and Cinnamon 1 quart of vinegar Scald the ingredients and pour over the Plums three mornings - Boil the spices in a bag -
Mrs Bunsters receipt - 4 lb Sugar to 8 do of Plums - 2 1/2 spices 1 pint vinegar - Scald the Plums in the vinegar and sugar, until the skins cracks - then skin them out - pour over the vinegar hot - (Pound the spices & put in the vinegar)