I am a bit wary of Amazon reviews so I am asking here, are these books useful today? useful here means; are there any objective scientific practices outlined in them that we accept today? They are not fraught with misinformation to the point where it becomes advisable to stay away from them?

(1)The Original Fannie Farmer 1896 Cook Book

(2)The Boston Cooking School Cook Book 1918

Is it better to get something derived from these books such as Fannie Farmer Baking Book 1996 by Marion Cunningham and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook Anniversary Edition September 9, 1996 by Marion Cunningham? The older books are cheaper.

  • 1
    There are many varieties of "useful". What do you need/want these books for?
    – Marti
    Commented Nov 26, 2010 at 16:10
  • There were so many re-printings of the cookbook, that I would assume that they'd have corrected any recipe mistakes decades ago. If the issue is cost, you might look for a printing from the 1960s or after ... old enough to be cheaper, but gives them a few decades for any corrections. (I actually have a copy of the 1918 book, but haven't had a chance to sit down and read it cover to cover)
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


I have the 1896 version, and I voraciously read the thing cover to cover. It was terribly interesting, in an historical sense.

I have never, ever cooked out of it.


"Useful" is rather subjective. If you clarify what you mean by useful I can likely clarify and improve my answer as well.

One thing to keep in mind when using old cookbooks and recipes is that terminology changes a lot over time. You may have significant difficulty translating ingredients to their modern equivalents. You also may not be able to easily find the ingredients once you do translate them. A good example is this question.

Another thing you may need to be aware of is how much our knowledge has changed. You'll likely encounter a lot more misinformation than a more modern cookbook.

If you enjoy the extra work involved, then sure why not get the old ones. If you have trouble translating a recipe, you can always ask here! :)

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