WITHOUT the use of sugar and with only the simplest apparatus, fruits can be home-preserved as satisfactorily as by any of the complicated rituals involving the use of expensive appliances. It can be done with the minimum fuss and the maximum gain. Alethods are explained here.
Bruised or otherwise blemished apples which cannot go into store, and apples which cannot be stored whole because of lack of storage space, can be dried in the form of rings.
Cooking varieties are best for the purpose. The apples should be peeled, bruised portions cut away, the cores scooped out and the fruit then sliced into ½ in. thick rings. These are then to be dried to a leathery – tough but not hard – condition, in a linen airing cupboard, or in an oven which has just been used for cooking, or on the plate rack above a lighted gas stove, or in front of an open fire.
The time taken to complete the drying will depend upon the periods when the mild heat is available. The process may need to be continued over several days, the apple rings being withdrawn and replaced as other cooking arrangements may require. The point is that drying must be completed slowly and no attempt made to shorten the period by using too great heat.
During the drying the rings may be threaded on short sticks, the ends of the latter to be supported in any way convenient so that the rings hang clear and can be turned occasionally. Or the rings can be placed in shallow boxes, these to be without tops and with bottoms formed of coarse canvas or muslin. The simplest form of drying box (or tray) consists of four slats of wood nailed together in the shape of a square or oblong, with canvas or muslin nailed over the bottom.
To prevent the apple rings discolouring before being dried they should be placed, directly they are cut, in salt water for five or six minutes; the solution is made by stirring two tablespoonfuls of salt in a gallon of water. When the rings are taken out of this they should be placed on a clean dry cloth to get rid of the moisture. They are then ready to go into the drying boxes or on to the sticks.
Pears for drying are dealt with in exactly the same way as apples, except that they are cut into halves or quarters – according to their size – and not ringed. They should be almost ripe. Pears so ripe that they are soft are not suitable for drying.
Storing Dried Apples and Pears.
When the leathery condition has been reached the dried fruit should be cooled off for about twelve hours in a cupboard or room free from flies, wasps and other pests. If these are present the fruit should be protected by covering it over with sheets of newspaper.
The apple rings or pear sections can then be stored, until wanted for use, in any dry place in tins, jars or paper bags. Exposure to damp or heat must be avoided. The time for which they will keep depends on observance of these points and the thoroughness of drying.
Using Dried Apples or Pears.
When wanted for cooking a sufficient quantity of the rings or portions should be placed overnight in a bowl or basin and boiling water be poured over them. This all-night soaking will plump them up to their original size.
Apples, Pears, Bottled in Water.
Clean glass jars, boiling water and a moderate oven (temperature about 250 degrees Fahrenheit) are required for this method.
The apples should be peeled, cored and cut into slices ½ in. thick. The pears (dessert varieties only and nearly ripe) should be peeled, cored and cut into halves or quarters according to size of fruit.
After being soaked in salt water, as explained under ‘Apples, Dried,’ to prevent discoloration, the prepared apples or pears are packed tightly (uncooked) into the jars so that these are completely filled. The packing can be done with fingers, the narrow end of a spoon, or with a piece of wood.
The filled bottles are then placed in the moderate oven for about thirty minutes, then taken out, filled with boiling water and sealed with airtight covers. If clip tops or screw tops are used these should be warmed first. Or covers can be made by dipping three layers of greaseproof or tissue paper in paste or gum and tying these, while still wet, over the mouth of the jar with string. It is essential that the jars be kept airtight.
To prevent jars being cracked by heat they should stand on a piece of wood or an asbestos mat while in the oven; and when brought out for tying down they should be placed on a similar base. The water in the jar must be boiling as it is sealed.
Store in a cool, dry place, not in warmth.
For water-bottling, plums and damsons must be dry and firm, not over-ripe. Big plums, such as the Victoria variety, should be halved and the stones taken out. A half-dozen stones may be broken and the kernels put in with the plums; this gives them a nice nutty flavour.
They should then be dealt with as advised for bottled apples, but allowed to remain in the moderate oven until the fruit begins to split.
Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines.
These are water-bottled in the same manner as plums, but the skins should first be removed. To expedite this job the fruit should be dropped into boiling water and allowed to remain there for a couple of minutes.
Cherries. Sweet cherries for bottling should be of the deep red or near-black varieties. The lighter-coloured ones lose their taste in the process, which is the same as for plums.
Gooseberries, Blackberries, Loganberries, Raspberries.
These can be water-bottled in die manner advised for plums. Gooseberries should be hard and green, not ripe and soft, and be topped and tailed and washed. They should tender. While still boiling the fruit and water is poured into hot jars or bottles (hot, to prevent them being cracked) and sealed immediately. After scaling, place the jars in a pan of hot water with a false bottom (this can be a layer of hay or straw, the idea being to keep the jars from contact with the intense hot metal bottom and so avoid possibility of breakages), bring to the boil and keep so for about five minutes. This makes doubly sure that the sealed jars are airtight.remain in the moderate oven until they begin to split.
Blackberries, loganberries, raspberries should be washed in salt water – two tablespoonfuls of salt to the gallon – to induce any maggots there may be in the berries to wriggle out. The packed jars should remain in the moderate oven for about twenty-five minutes.
The prepared fruit (any of the kinds mentioned in this section) is placed in a saucepan and just covered with cold water, which is brought gradually to the boil. Gentle boiling continues until the fruit is quite
An alternative method is to pack the prepared fruit into jars, fill up with cold water, fix on the lids (screw-top or clip lids – paper covers will not do) then place the jars into a vessel filled with cold water. The water is to come about two-thirds up the jars.
If screw tops are used they should not be screwed tightly, and the vessel should be a saucepan deep enough to take the jars, or a fish kettle, or a proper sterilizing vessel. It should be fitted with a false bottom (hay or straw will do). The water is brousht gradually to 165 degrees F., in the space of one and a half hours, and kept at that temperature for ten minutes, in the case of apples, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums (ripe and whole), damsons, gooseberries, blackberries, loganberries and raspberries. For halved or unripe plums the same temperature should be maintained for twenty minutes. Cherries should be raised, in one and a half hours, to 190 degrees, and kept at that for ten minutes. Pears should be raised to 190 degrees, in one and a half hours, and kept at that for 20 minutes.
If a bottling thermometer is not available, the water should be raised, in one and a half hours, to simmering point (when small bubbles are seen coming up from the bottom) and maintained at simmering point for the periods given in the preceding paragraph.
When the jars are removed from the vessel (and placed on wood or an asbestos mat), clip lids will have automatically tightened themselves; screw tops will need to be screwed up, finally, as tightly as possible.
A Preserving Solution.
Chemists sell tablets (with directions for use) for preparing Camp-den solution, no heat being required in this method of fruit preservation. Cleaned and dried, the fruit is packed in jars or any non-metal vessel that can be made airtight, and enough solution made up from the Campden tablets to cover the fruit is poured in.
The airtight cover, non-metal cap or lid, in place, the fruit will keep as long as required. The fruit must be cooked before use, the preservative being got rid of during the heating.