Berries and all ripe, mellow fruit require but little cooking, only long enough for the sugar to penetrate. Strew sugar over them, allow them to
stand a few hours, then merely scald with the sugar; half to three-quarters of a pound is considered sufficient. Harder fruits like pears, quinces, etc., require longer boiling. The great secret of canning is to make the fruit or vegetable perfectly air-tight. It must be put up boiling hot and the vessel filled to the brim.
Have your jars conveniently placed near your boiling fruit, in a tin pan of hot water on the stove, roll them in the hot water, then fill immediately with the hot, scalding fruit, fill to the top, and seal quickly with the tops, which should also be heated; occasionally screw down the tops tighter, as the fruit shrinks as it cools, and the glass contracts and allows the air to enter the cans. They must be perfectly air-tight. The jars to be kept in a dark, cool, dry place.
Use glass jars for fruit always, and the fruit should be cooked in a porcelain or granite-iron kettle. If you are obliged to use common large-mouthed bottles with corks, steam the corks and pare them to a close fit, driving them in with a mallet. Use the following wax for sealing: One pound of resin, three ounces of beeswax, one and one-half ounces of tallow. Use a brush in covering the corks and as they cool, dip the mouth into the melted wax. Place in a basin of cold water. Pack in a cool, dark and dry cellar. After one week, examine for flaws, cracks or signs of ferment.
The rubber rings used to assist in keeping the air from the fruit cans sometimes become so dry and brittle as to be almost useless. They can be restored to normal condition usually by letting them lie in water in which you have put a little ammonia. Mix in this proportion: One part of ammonia and two parts water. Sometimes they do not need to lie in this more than five minutes, but frequently a half hour is needed to restore their elasticity.
To one pound of peaches allow half a pound of sugar; to six pounds of sugar add half a tumbler of water; put in the kettle a layer of sugar and one of peaches until the whole of both are in. Wash about eight peach leaves, tie them up and put into the kettle, remembering to take them out when you begin to fill up the jars. Let the sugared fruit remain on the range, but away from the fire, until upon tipping the vessel to one side you can see some liquid; then fill the jars, taking them out of hot water into which they were put when cold, remaining until it was made to boil around them. In this way you will find out if the glass has been properly annealed; for we consider glass jars with stoppers screwing down upon India-rubber rings as the best for canning fruit in families. They should be kept in a dark closet; and although somewhat more expensive than tin in the first instance, are much nicer and keep for years with careful usage.
Fruit must be of fine flavor and ripe, though not soft, to make nice canned fruit.
Peaches should be thrown into cold water as they are peeled, to prevent a yellowish crust.
There is no fruit so difficult to can nicely as the grape; by observing the following instructions you will find the grapes rich and tender a year from putting up. Squeeze the pulp from the skin, as the seeds are objectionable; boil the pulp, until the seeds begin to loosen, in one kettle, having the skins boiling, in a little water, hard in another kettle, as they are tough. When the pulp seems tender, put it through the sieve; then add the skins, if tender, with the water they boil in, if not too much. We use a large coffeecupful of sugar for a quart can; boil until thick and can in the usual way.
After the berries are picked over, let as many as can be put carefully in the preserve kettle at once be placed on a platter. To each pound of fruit add three-fourths of a pound of sugar; let them stand two or three hours, till the juice is drawn from them; pour it into the kettle and let it come to a boil and remove the scum which rises; then put in the berries very carefully. As soon as they come thoroughly to a boil put them in warm jars and seal while boiling hot.
TO CAN QUINCES.
Cut the quinces into thin slices like apples for pies. To one quart jarful of quince, take a coffeesaucer and a half of sugar and a coffeecupful of water; put the sugar and water on the fire, and when boiling put in the quinces; have ready the jars with their fastenings, stand the jars in a pan of boiling water on the stove, and when the quince is clear and tender put rapidly into the jars, fruit and syrup together. The jars must be filled so that the syrup overflows, and fastened up tight as quickly as possible.
For six pounds of fruit, when cut and ready to can, make syrup with two and a half pounds of sugar and nearly three pints of water; boil syrup five minutes and skim or strain if necessary; then add the fruit and let it boil up; have cans hot, fill and shut up as soon as possible. Use the best white sugar. As the cans cool, keep tightening them up. Cut the fruit half an inch thick.
CANNED FRUIT JUICES.
Canned fruit juices are an excellent substitute for brandy or wine in all puddings and sauces, etc.
It is a good plan to can the pure juices of fruit in the summer time, putting it by for this purpose.
Select clean ripe fruit, press out the juice and strain it through a flannel cloth. To each pint of juice add one cupful of white granulated sugar. Put it in a porcelain kettle, bring it to the boiling point, and bottle while hot in small bottles. It must be sealed very tight while it is hot. Will keep a long time, the same as canned fruit.
Canning tomatoes is quite a simple process. A large or small quantity may be done at a time, and they should be put in glass jars in preference to those of tin, which are apt to injure the flavor. Very ripe tomatoes are the best for the purpose. They are first put into a large pan and covered with boiling water. This loosens the skin, which is easily removed, and the tomatoes are then put into the preserving kettle, set over a moderate fire without the addition of water [Pg 441]or any seasoning, and brought to a boil. After boiling slowly one-half hour, they are put into the jars while boiling hot and sealed tightly. They will keep two or three years in this way. The jars should be filled to the brim to prevent air from getting in, and set in a cool, dark closet.
TO CAN CORN.
Split the kernels lengthwise with a knife, then scrape with the back of the knife, thus leaving the hulls upon the cob. Fill cans full of cut corn, pressing it in very hard. To press the corn in the can, use the small end of a potato masher, as this will enter the can easily. It will take from ten to a dozen large ears of corn to fill a one-quart can. When the cans are full, screw cover on with thumb and first finger; this will be tight enough, then place a cloth in the bottom of a wash boiler to prevent breakage. On this put a layer of cans in any position you prefer, over the cans put a layer of cloth, then a layer of cans. Fill the boiler in this manner, then cover the cans well with cold water, place the boiler on the fire and boil three hours without ceasing. On steady boiling depends much of your success. After boiling three hours, lift the boiler from the fire, let the water cool, then take the cans from the boiler and tighten, let them remain until cold, then tighten again. Wrap each can in brown paper to exclude the light and keep in a cool, dry cellar and be very sure the rubber rings are not hardened by use. The rings should be renewed every two years. I would advise the beginner to use new rings entirely, for poor rings cause the loss of canned fruit and vegetables in many cases. You will observe that in canning corn the cans are not wrapped in a cloth nor heated; merely filled with the cut corn. The corn in the can will shrink considerable in boiling, but on no account open them after canning.
TO CAN PEAS.
Fill the can full of peas, shake the can so they can be filled well. You cannot press the peas in the can as you did the corn, but by shaking the cans they may be filled quite full. Pour into the cans enough cold water to fill to overflowing, then screw the cover tight as you can with your thumb and first finger and proceed exactly as in canning corn.
To every pound of plums allow a quarter of a pound of sugar. Put the sugar and plums alternately into the preserving kettle, first pricking the plums to prevent their breaking. Let them stand on the back of the stove for an hour or two, then put them over a moderate fire and allow to come to a boil; skim and pour at once into jars, running a silver spoon handle around the inside of the jar to break the air-bubbles; cover and screw down the tops.
CANNED MINCE MEAT.
Mince meat for pies can be preserved for years if canned the same as fruit while hot, and put into glass jars and sealed perfectly tight, and set in a cool, dark place. One glass quart jar will hold enough to make two ordinary-sized pies, and in this way “mince pies” can be had in the middle of summer as well as in winter, and if the cans are sealed properly, the meat will be just as fine when opened as when first canned.
CANNED BOILED CIDER.
Boiled cider, in our grandmothers’ time, was indispensable to the making of a good “mince pie,” adding the proper flavor and richness, which cannot be substituted by any other ingredient, and a gill of which being added to a rule of “fruit cake” makes it more moist, keeps longer, and is far superior to fruit cake made without it. Boiled cider is an article rarely found in the market, nowadays, but can be made by any one, with but little trouble and expense, using sweet cider, shortly after it is made, and before fermentation takes place. Place five quarts of sweet cider in a porcelain-lined kettle over the fire, boil it slowly until reduced to one quart, carefully watching it that it does not burn; turn into glass jars while hot and seal tightly, the same as canned fruit. It is then ready to use any time of the year.
Pumpkins or squash canned are far more convenient for ready use than those dried in the old-fashioned way.
Cut up pumpkin or squash into small pieces, first cutting off the peel; stew them until tender, add no seasoning; then mash them very fine with a potato masher. Have ready your cans, made hot, and then fill them with the hot pumpkin or squash, seal tight; place in a dark, cool closet.
Pare ripe peaches and put them in a preserving kettle, with sufficient water to boil them soft; then sift through a colander, removing the stones. To each quart of peaches put one and one-half pounds of sugar, and boil very slowly one hour. Stir often and do not let them burn. Put in stone or glass jars, and keep in a cool place.
PEACHES DRIED WITH SUGAR.
Peel yellow peaches, cut them from the stone in one piece; allow two pounds of sugar to six pounds of fruit; make a syrup of three-quarters of a pound of sugar and a little water; put in the peaches, a few at a time, and let them cook gently until quite clear. Take them up carefully on a dish and set them in the sun to dry. Strew powdered sugar over them on all sides, a little at a time; if any syrup is left, remove to fresh dishes. When they are quite dry, lay them lightly in a jar with a little sugar sifted between the layers.