Canning is so simple an operation that it is unfortunate that most people consider it difficult. The directions generally given are so troublesome that one can not wonder it is not attempted oftener; but it need be hardly more care than the making of apple sauce, which, by the way, can always be made while apples are plenty, and canned for spring use. In an experience of years, not more than one can in a hundred has ever been lost, and fruit put up at home is far nicer than any from factories.
In canning, see first that the jars are clean, the rubbers whole and in perfect order, and the tops clean and ready to screw on. Fill the jars with hot (not boiling) water half an hour before using, and have them ready on a table sufficiently large to hold the preserving-kettle, a dish-pan quarter full of hot water, and the cans. Have ready, also, a deep plate, large enough to hold two cans; a silver spoon; an earthen cup with handle; and, if possible, a can-filler,—that is, a small tin in strainer-shape, but without the bottom, and fitting about the top. The utmost speed is needed in filling and screwing down tops, and for this reason every thing must be ready beforehand.
In filling the can let the fruit come to the top; then run the spoon-handle down on all sides to let out the air; pour in juice till it runs over freely, and screw the top down at once, using a towel to protect the hand. Set at once in a dish-pan of water, as this prevents the table being stained by juice, and also its hardening on the hot can. Proceed in this way till all are full; wipe them dry; and, when cold, give the tops an additional screw, as the glass contracts in cooling, and loosens them. Label them, and keep in a dark, cool closet. When the fruit is used, wash the jar, and dry carefully at the back of the stove. Wash the rubber also, and dry on a towel, putting it in the jar when dry, and screwing on the top. They are then ready for next year's use. Mason's cans are decidedly the best for general use.
GENERAL RULES FOR CANNING.
For all small fruits allow one-third of a pound of sugar to a pound of fruit. Make it into a sirup with a teacup of water to each pound, and skim carefully. Throw in the fruit, and boil ten minutes, canning as directed. Raspberries and blackberries are best; huckleberries are excellent for pies, and easily canned. Pie-plant can be stewed till tender. It requires half a pound of sugar to a pound of fruit.
For peaches, gages, &c, allow the same amount of sugar as for raspberries. Pare peaches, and can whole or in halves as preferred. Prick plums and gages with a large darning-needle to prevent their bursting. In canning pears, pare and drop at once, into cold water, as this prevents their turning dark.
Always use a porcelain-lined kettle, and stir either with a silver or a wooden spoon,—never an iron one. Currants are nice mixed with an equal weight of raspberries, and all fruit is more wholesome canned than in preserves.
TO CAN TOMATOES.
Unless very plenty, it is cheaper to buy these in the tins. Pour on boiling water to help in removing the skins; fill the preserving kettle, but add no water. Boil them five minutes, and then can. Do not season till ready to use them for the table. Okra and tomatoes may be scalded together in equal parts, and canned for soups.
Preserves are scarcely needed if canning is nicely done. They require much more trouble, and are too rich for ordinary use, a pound of sugar to one of fruit being required. If made at all, the fruit must be very fresh, and the sirup perfectly clear. For sirup allow one teacup of cold water to every pound of sugar, and, as it heats, add to every three or four pounds the white of an egg. Skim very carefully, boiling till no more rises, and it is ready for use. Peaches, pears, green gages, cherries, and crab-apples are all preserved alike. Peel, stone, and halve peaches, and boil only a few pieces at a time till clear. Peel, core, and halve pears. Prick plums and gages several times. Core crab-apples, and cut half the stem from cherries. Cook till tender. Put up when cold in small jars, and paste paper over them.
Make sirup as directed above. Use raspberries, strawberries, or any small fruit, and boil for half an hour. Put up in small jars or tumblers; lay papers dipped in brandy on the fruit, and paste on covers, or use patent jelly-glasses.
Quinces make the best; but crab-apples or any sour apple are also good. Poor quinces, unfit for other use, can be washed and cut in small pieces, coring, but not paring them. Allow three-quarters of a pound of sugar and a teacupful of water to a pound of fruit, and boil slowly two hours, stirring and mashing it fine. Strain through a colander, and put up in glasses or bowls. Peach marmalade is made in the same way.
The fruit must be picked when just ripened, as when too old it will not form jelly. Look over, and then put stems and all in a porcelain-lined kettle. Crush a little of the fruit to form juice, but add no water. As it heats, jam with a potato-masher; and when hot through, strain through a jelly-bag. Let all run off that will, before squeezing the bag. It will be a little clearer than the squeezed juice. To every pint of this juice add one pound of best white sugar, taking care that it has not a blue tinge. Jelly from bluish-white sugars does not harden well. Boil the juice twenty-five minutes; add the sugar, and boil for five more. Put up in glasses.
This recipe, taken from the "New York Evening Post," has been thoroughly tested by the author, and found delicious.
"A recipe for orange marmalade that I think will be entirely new to most housewives, and that I know is delicious, comes from an English housekeeper. It is a sweet that is choice and very healthful. If made now, when oranges and lemons are plentiful, it may be had at a cost of from five to six cents for a large glass. The recipe calls for one dozen oranges (sweet or part bitter), one half-dozen lemons, and ten pounds of granulated sugar. Wash the fruit in tepid water thoroughly, and scrub the skins with a soft brush to get rid of the possible microbes that it is said may lurk on the skins of fruit. Dry the fruit; take a very sharp knife, and on a hard-wood board slice it very thin. Throw away the thick pieces that come off from the ends. Save all the seeds, and put them in one bowl; the sliced fruit in another. Pour half a gallon of water over the contents of each bowl, and soak for thirty-six hours. Then put the fruit in your preserving-kettle, with the water that has been standing on it, and strain in (through a colander) the water put on the lemon-seeds. Cook gently two hours; then add the sugar, and cook another hour, or until the mixture jellies. Test by trying a little in a saucer. Put away in glasses or cans, as other jelly."
Crab-apple, quince, grapes, &c., are all made in the same way. Allow a teacup of water to a pound of fruit; boil till very tender; then strain through a cloth, and treat as currant jelly. Cherries will not jelly without gelatine, and grapes are sometimes troublesome. Where gelatine is needed, allow a package to two quarts of juice.
Make a sirup as for preserves, and boil any fruit, prepared as directed, until tender. Let them stand two days in the sirup. Take out; drain carefully; lay them on plates; sift sugar over them, and dry either in the sun or in a moderately warm oven.
THE EASIEST WAY IN HOUSEKEEPING AND COOKING.
Adapted to Domestic Use or Study in Classes