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REMARKS IN GENERAL
I HAVE entitled this, comprehensively, the Jam Book; because when we think of preserved fruit, we mostly think of it as jam—i.e. fruit preserved in a heavy solution of sugar. But it is really designed to cover the preservation of fruit in all branches of that culinary art: jams, jellies, marmalades, preserves, conserves, cheeses; pastes, butters, chips; fruit crystallised, candied, and brandied; fruit dried and fruit bottled, with or without sugar, every possible means by which one can keep for a long while those fruits which are naturally shortlived things.
The object of preserving fruit is to ward off, exclude, or neutralise those bacilli which otherwise would cause its almost immediate decay. A heavy solution of sugar; a strong acid, like vinegar; or storage in sterilised jars (which is usually termed "bottling," or "canning") in which the fruit is externally heated to boiling-point—these are the three most popular methods. The preservation of fruit in syrup is sometimes, but not always, a blend of Nos. 1 and 3. The drying of fruit is but little practised in Britain.
It has been well said by an eminent authority on diet, that preserved fruit is an essential both as food and to health: not a luxury, but "one of the most useful and economical foods in existence." Preserved fruit conveys the acids, mineral salts, and other medicinal properties of the fruit in question, plus its concentrated food value, with or without the very important item of sugar. It is extremely palatable and pleasant, and it provides a means of saving illimitable quantities of perishable material.
This is one of the most important branches of human industry—and one of the most neglected, since people took to purchasing instead of preserving. The purchasable commodity has, hitherto, been very little dearer, and sometimes much cheaper, than what one could provide for one's self. Yet in no possible respect can the former compare with the latter, where inherent value is concerned. The constituents of bought jam are not the constituents of home-made jam, and the chemical preservatives employed in the making of the one, are happily unknown in the concoction of the other. But, by some means or other, it is certain that jam must be procurable. We cannot do without preserved fruit in some form.
The present volume is intended to deal, not only with the ordinary domestic methods of fruit-preserving, which, to a greater or less extent, are to be found in all cookery books, but with those means which do not necessitate the use of sugar, and which, therefore, are specially to be invoked at the present time. It is imperative that we should waste nothing—that fruits hitherto allowed to fall should be harvested, that fruits hitherto largely ignored or neglected should contribute their quota towards the help of human needs. The reader will probably be surprised to find how many fruits, whether singly or in combination, may be preserved by economic methods and with satisfactory results. She would probably be far more surprised, could she realise the appalling wastage, to be reckoned probably in thousands of tons, which goes on yearly throughout this kingdom, owing to inertia, lack of knowledge, sparsity of enterprise, and want of co-operation.
If the possessors of good preserving-pans shared these utensils with less fortunate neighbours, and if country people well supplied with tree fruit combined in the joint purchase of a "steriliser" for bottling, or an "evaporator" for desiccating, there would be no loss, but vast profit, to everybody concerned; and the "kindly fruits of the earth" would not be thrown away upon us as they so long have been. We import enormous quantities of dried foreign fruit; we might utilise our own, with a minimum of trouble and expenditure. There is no apple on earth, for instance, to beat the English apple; yet it is left to rot upon a million trees, whilst our more frugal Transatlantic kinsfolk turn their apples into dried rings and so forth, and—sell them to us—at a very good price!
The same remarks apply to fruit-pulp—of which a vast amount is annually imported from the Continent by our jam factories, which could be chiefly well supplied by English fruit-growers. All that is needed is common sense, knowledge, and collaboration. There are fortunes to be made over fruit-pulp by those who have a fraction of "push-and-go."
However, this book is mainly intended for the individual housewife, who will, it is hoped and believed, be able to avail herself with ease and economy of the very large number of recipes for preserving fruit.
(Indispensable for preserving on a small scale)
Copper, bell-metal, or enamel-lined preserving-pan.
Small enamelled pans.
Coarse and fine sieves.
Jelly-bags of flannel and of butter-muslin.
Earthen or crockery bowls (deep).
Earthen jar with lid.
Wooden spoons (also termed spaddles and spatulas).
Parchment, waxed paper, bladder, labels, string.
Glass jars or bottles, and white pots, of various sizes.
Large fish-kettle or boiler.
(Indispensable for preserving on a larger scale)
Large boiler or iron pot to hold at least twenty-four bottles.
Dipper and funnel.
Fruit bottles with rubbers and screw-tops.
Many other utensils are advisable, but the above are absolutely necessary.
No iron or tin utensil should be allowed to come in contact with raw fruit. It should be prepared with a silver or a sharp steel knife; stirred with a wooden spoon; cooked in a preserving-pan of copper or bell-metal, or enamel-lined. Preliminary stewing for jellies should be done in earthenware vessels; fruit left to stand overnight in sugar must never be put into a metal receptacle.
For drying plums, apples, cherries, etc., an evaporator can be purchased, in varying sizes, from 30s. to £3. Larger ones can be had up to £20.
Prune making can be carried out by means of shallow trays in an ordinary oven; or by a special apparatus, costing about £3.
An outfit for fruit bottling can be procured at (from) 10s. to 50s. It includes kettle and complete outfit, with up to six dozen bottles (valve and screw-top).
A sterilising apparatus on a larger scale may also be had, costing from £5 upwards.
[Most of above can be obtained from manufacturers such as Messrs. Fowler & Lee (Reading); Messrs. Lumley; Messrs. Young & Hodgson, etc.]
The fruit chiefly available (in this country) for preserving is dividable into seven main groups, the members of which may be treated very much alike in general respects, with slight individual variations. They are:
(1) The Apple or Malus group, including apples, crab-apples, * pears, * quinces, and medlars. *
(2) The Orange or Citrus group, comprising oranges, Seville oranges, tangerines, etc., lemons, limes, grapefruit, citrons.
(3) The Raspberry or Rubus group, among which are raspberries, * blackberries, * loganberries, wineberries, etc.
(4) The Plum or Prunus group: plums,* peaches, apricots, damsons, bullaces, * cherries, * etc.
(5) The Gourd or Cucurbita group, including cucumbers, melons, vegetable marrows, squashes, etc.
(6) The Currant or Ribes group, responsible for currants, * of various colours, and gooseberries. *
(7) The Cranberry or Vaccinium group: cranberries, * whortleberries, * blaeberries, * etc., etc.
The following stand by themselves: the grape, the banana, the fig, the date, the pineapple, the mulberry, the barberry, * the guava, and the strawberry. *
Of the above, it is surprising how many are wild natives of Britain (those marked with an asterisk) and how many others are, by long residence, naturalised aliens.
Certain other plants or trees also provide material for preserving: celery and rhubarb (stalks), tomato (fruits), elder (berries), hawthorn (berries), ginger (root), rose (petals and berries), etc.
Speaking generally, some of the best fruits for preserving purposes, if to be procured, are:
Apples: (for jelly or jam) Early Victoria, Bismarck, Lane's Prince Albert, Wellington, Newton Wonder, Lord Derby, Warner's King, Stirling Castle, Bramley's Seedling; (for bottling) Ribston Pippin, Blenheim Orange.
Apricots: Moor Park.
Cherries: (for preserving) May Duke, Flemish Red; (for bottling) Morello, Kentish Red.
Currants, Red: (for preserving) Red Dutch; (for bottling) Raby Castle; Black: (for preserving) Black Naples, Boskoop Giant; White: (for preserving) White Dutch.
Gooseberries: (for preserving) Red Champagne, Warrington, (Green) May Duke; (for bottling) Whinham's Industry.
Plums: (for both purposes) Victoria, Pershore Egg, White Magnum Bonum.
Greengage Plums: Reine Claude, Oullin's Golden Gage.
Damson Plums: Prune Damson, Damascene.
Pears: Catillac, Verulam, Bellissime d'Hiver.
Strauberries: Stirling Castle, British Queen, Royal Sovereign. The above list, however, is optional.
Fruit for jam should be dry, sound, and ripe; picked in dry weather. Damp fruit will subsequently ferment or become mildewed, no matter how carefully preserved.
The maturity of the fruit is an important matter. As a rule, every fruit is better just on the verge of ripe; full-ripe is not so satisfactory, because pectin, the gelatinous principle which produces "setting," or "jelling," practically does not exist in over-ripe fruit, and is at its best in under-ripe. The only exceptions to this are greengages and most apples, which should be fully and exactly ripe for use. Most gooseberries should be gathered about half-ripe.
Do not let any soft fruit, such as strawberries or raspberries, be placed in a tin vessel.
For bottling purposes, all must be as uniform in size as possible. Small fruits must, of course, be kept whole; but large stone fruits may be halved and the stones removed. Apples and pears. must be cored and peeled, gooseberries topped and tailed, and currants stalked.
Nearly all fruit requires a certain amount of cleaning: either wiping with a soft cloth or actually washing and drying; very soft fruits, of course, will only bear this if not fully ripe. Gooseberries, cherries, berries, and currants should always be carefully washed, a few at a time, in a colander standing in a bowl of cold water, and placed on a dry cloth to drain.
Certain fruits and juices, especially in bad seasons, will not "set"; they remain liquid and syrupy. This may be counteracted by adding one of the following:
(1) Boil down one pound of apples (not cored or peeled) in a teacupful of water, strain off the juice, and add it to the rest.
(2) The same may be done with rhubarb juice; but this should be extracted very slowly.
(3) The same may be done with red currant juice: add one pint of juice to four pounds of fruit.
The very best fruits, the choicest and most perfect, should be preserved whole, by bottling, with or without syrup. The second-best in quality—but still absolutely sound and good—should be made into jams and marmalades. Third-grade fruit and windfalls can be converted into fruit pulp, which is the basis of most "shop" jam.
All bruises and blemishes must be cut out, and no really over-ripe or squashy fruit is any use for making a preserve—i.e. it won't keep.
Pure white loaf (cane) preserving sugar is undoubtedly the best. I have experimented with other sugars, and always regretted it. The next best is white granulated. Cheap and inferior sugar, and beet sugar very often, not only spoils the colour and flavour of the jam, but requires an inordinate amount of skimming, and in skimming you are bound to lose so much jam every time. Moreover, cheap sugar deteriorates the keeping quality of the jam, so it is no economy at all in the long run.
The sugar should always be heated (without dissolving), separately, before being added to the jam, and especially in the case of jelly. This is a fact but rarely known. You will see, however, that the sudden addition of a lot of cold material to boiling jam not only checks the boiling, but prolongs the process of jam-making. The sugar can be heated in the oven. Remember that it is the fruit which requires cooking; the sugar only needs to dissolve. This remark does not, of course, apply to syrups.
It is therefore best, as a general axiom in jam-making, to boil the fruit first and let it get thoroughly well cooked before you put the sugar to it. Authorities differ about this, and you will see a considerable variance in the recipes; but if (as some people recommend) you put in the sugar before the fruit, the sugar gets overboiled long before the jam is done, and the result is a sticky, treacly mass. (Again this does not apply, of course, to fruits preserved whole in syrup.) If the fruit and sugar be put in together, as is sometimes advised, the same result may accrue. But in certain cases—e.g when the sugar has been strewn on the fruit overnight—this is unavoidable, and the sugar has by that time mostly dissolved. You must stir very carefully, that's all. I leave this matter more or less of an open question; but it seems to me that commonsense must suggest, where feasible, the boiling of the fruit first, and the jam is certainly much less likely to ferment if such be the case.
In adding the sugar, do it very gradually; and don't let the fruit thicken too much, beforehand, or the sugar will be unable to dissolve properly. By adding the sugar to the fruit, you will, of course, gain the full benefit of its sweetness; a certain proportion is bound to be wasted if both are boiled up together from the first. The sugar does not need to boil along with the fruit for more than twenty minutes; and this period varies—five, or ten, or fifteen minutes will suffice, according to the particular fruit in question. This refers to jam. Jelly often takes longer.
As to the proportion of sugar, the old rule of pound for pound of fruit, or pound for pint of jelly-juice, is a very good one if the jam is to keep a long while. For what you intend to eat soon, a less quantity will be needed; twelve ounces of sugar to the pound of fruit is ample in most cases. Stone fruit usually requires pound for pound; soft fruit, such as strawberries, is very often too sweet with that amount of sugar. When the fruit is boiled first, as above recommended, less sugar is required, and you will probably find twelve ounces of sugar to the pound of fruit sufficient. But the character, quality, and sweetness of every fruit varies so much with the season, and with the exact amount of sunshine it has imbibed, that one cannot lay down an exact rule in the matter of proportions. The point to recollect is this, that the sugar is the preservative for the cooked fruit, which will not keep without that preservative.
As to skimming, by this means you remove the unprofitable part of the sugar, and any impurities which it contains. Don't skim more than is absolutely needful, or you waste the jam. Don't skim the froth from the fruit before the sugar is in—that is not scum.
It is possible to substitute liquid glucose (which is made from starchy materials such as maize) for sugar. Glucose should be added in the proportion of one and a quarter to one and a half parts of syrup for each one part of fruit. Or you can substitute from a quarter to a third of glucose for the total amount of sugar indicated in the recipe. This is a cheap method, and glucose is said to be easier to digest than sugar; but most people prefer sugar.
Another alternative is to allow twelve ounces of sugar and one teaspoonful of glycerine to every pound of pulp or juice. This is supposed to ensure less waste in scum, more clearness in the jam or jelly, and better keeping properties. It is certainly cheaper than having all sugar.
Fruits can also be preserved whole in a syrup of sugar and honey with water, allowing half a breakfastcupful of sugar and four ounces of honey to each pint and a half of water. This is enough for a two-pound jar. The syrup must be boiled down by one-third. Carefully skimmed saccharine may be likewise employed; but I do not recommend it.
For drying fruit in sugar, finely powdered or even icing sugar should be employed. Brown Demerara sugar can be employed in certain cases with good results, chiefly for spiced fruits.
All sugar should be kept absolutely dry, in tin or wooden boxes, in a dry place.
Excerpted from Jams and Jellies by May Byron. Copyright © 1975 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted August 17, 2014
Blueberries (1 bit per pound)<br>Strawberries (1 bit per pound)<br>Grapes (2 bits each)<br>Blackberries (2 bits per pound)<br>Red Raspberries (1 bit per pound)<br>Apples (1 bit each)<br>Pears (1 bit each)<br>Apricots (2 bits each)<br>Mangoes (1 bit each)<br>Oranges (2 bits each)<br>Bananas (1 bit each)<br>Tangerines (2 bits each)<br>Watermelons (5 bits each)<br>Pineapples (3 bits each)<br>Kiwis (1 bit each)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.