THE HOME BOTTLING OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

THERE is every reason why every housewife should preserve every pound of surplus home-grown fruit or vegetables. I will go further and say that the store cupboard of every household should be filled with preserved fruits and vegetables sufficient to last the family until the fresh product is avail-able.

There are distinct advantages by 80 doing. One thereby prevents the waste of home-grown crops which one finds to be surplus to present requirements. One provides the family with a food which during the winter will definitely aid in the maintaining of perfect health. Ono saves much money by not having to purchase the imported foreign fruits and vegetables in tins.

Even if one has to buy fruits, etc., for preserving, that will still be a wise plan, for one should limit the purchases to those varieties which are at that time in glut form and those economically cheap.

The best possible method of preserving fruits and vegetables is by bottling, for by no other mode of procedure does one retain the fresh flavour, and the bright colour so well.

There is nothing dangerous, marvellous or tedious about bottling. One merely places the productinto the bottoms (or jars), kills the germs, moulds, and yeasts which are ever present there, and then ?ca!s so that no more can enter – and if the process has been earned out properly Lhc bottled product will keep perfectly good for a score of years or more!

Not one single food cannot be bottled successfully, so that one can provide for the family at Christmas if one desires, tomato soup, duck and green peas and new potatoes, and plum pie.

As a means of improving health, especially during the winter when life is at its lowest ebb, bottled fruits and vegetables do effeot this purpose. Vitamin A, vital for maintained health and vigour, and for normal growth in children, is present in apples, oranges, tomatoes, peas, carrots, spinach. Vitamin B, essential to maintenance of appetito and digestion, is found in oranges, plums, peaches, beans, peas, potatoes, asparagus, turnips, cauliflower and green vegetables.

Loss in weight and diminution of energy is due to lack of Vitamin C, and while tomatoes are the richest source, carrots, spinach, potatoes, onions and strawberries also contain it. Vitamin B2 is contained in turnips and carrots, tomaloes and greeu vegetables.

As well as vitamias. Bottled fruits and vegetables contain essential mineral salts, and cleansing acids.

BOTTLING APPARATUS

Although we can bottle in any available empty jars about the house , it is far better to purchase the special bottling jars because scaling is so much easier and more certain. This purchase of special bottles should be regarded as a wise expenditure.

Ono has the choice of two types – screw top and clip top, and the only advantage of the latter is that it requires no further adjustment after sterilizing by heating, whereas the screw top must be finally screwed right down. Both types seal equally well.

The screw-top type can be purchased with rest-on glass covers or with drop-over glass covers, and generally the former are cheaper (6d. Each nominal 2 lb. Size). Some screw tops have metal covers instead of glass and provided they are brass lacquered there is no possibility of contamination.

Spring-clip type jars having lacquered caps cost 6d. For nominal 2 lb. Size, these holding approximately 1-j lb. Fruit and 1–pinta liquid.

Jars of other sizes may be purchased as follows: 1 lb., height 3 inches, 6s. Dozen; If lb., height 6½ inches, Gs. 6d. Dozen; 3r lb., height 8 inches, 9s. 6d. Dozen.

Glass-topped jars using spring dips can be purchased and there is nothing more attractive or neater and they are popular for use at shows. They cost: If lb., 1 Is. 2 lb., 12s. 6d. And 2i lb., 14s. 6d. Dozen.

The -lb. Jar, height 3h inches, is suitable for peas, raspberries, loganberries, mushrooms and small and choice products.

The 1-lb. Jar is used for cherries and small fruits such as currants and gooseberries.

The 2-lb. Is the most popular size and will take most fruits and vegetables comfortably, while the 3-lb. Size is more suitable for families of 4-8 persuna. The 7 lb. Jar is the largest.

Sterilizer

This is a vessel in which the filled bottles are placed, covered with water and heated. Specially made sterilizers complete with false bottom cost 22s. 6d. To hold eight 1 ½ lb. Bottles, 2Cs. For twelve bottles and 47s. Gd. For twenty-four bottles.

If one does not care to go to this expense then there is certainly no need to, for one can generally find a suitable vessel already in the Idtchen. Any vessel which is deep enough to permit of the bottles steading in and being covered with water will dc splendidly. Mention may be made of fish kettles, deep saucepans, jam-boiling pane. Or even buckets and boiling coppers.

A false bottom must be fitted, however. And the best one I have found is easily made by bending a piece of I-inch mesh wire netting over on to itself to make a pad about ½ inch thick which it-rough Iy of the shape of the bottom of the chosen vessel. This should be hammered fiat so that the bottles stand firmly upon it.

A cheap 2s. Dairy thermometer is another essential and for comfort in working a pair of bottle tongs (Is.) is quite indispensable for lifting the sterilized hot bottles out of the water.

A long-handled packing spoon or a 14-inch-long piece of plaster (1 X ½ inch section), shaped to a spatula one end, and a point the other, will be necessary for cilicient packing of the products in the bottles.

SELECTING THE FRUITS

THE quality, flavour, colour and appearance of the finished bottle of fruit depend a great deal upon the quality of fruit chosen.

Conditions

The ideal fruit is exactly ripe but not full ripe and it is as well to try and use fruits in this state. Under-ripe fruits lack flavour and over-ripe ones squash down and the appearance is spoilt.

Each individual specimen must be perfectly sound, unblemished, free from disease and unbruised and the fresher it is the better will it bottle. It must be clean, freed of earth or dust and washed if necessary.

Should the greatest economy be de-manded, one can cut out diseased and blemished portions and discard them.

Should the fruit be dirty it should be washed, large fruit such as plums being individually wiped and small ones washed by placing them in a colander and allowing clean water to rush through them.

The brilliancy of the finished products is enhanced by further washing when the fruit is packed in the jar by filling the jar full of water, inverting over the fingers of the hand and allowing the water to drain away so.

To Skin

Plums and peaches (especially those varieties of which the skins harden on cooking) are often skinned. This is easily done by gathering up the fruit in a piece of butter muslin, holding in boiling water for 1 minute and cooling quickly by dipping at once into cold water. The skins will then leave the flesh easily.

The Best Varieties

Each variety of fruit has its own particular snag and to obtain the best results one should study the hints given below under the separate heading.

If one is purchasing fruits to bottle it is certainly best to buy only those of the varieties recommended, for there is no doubt but that they keep a better colour and retain their fresh flavour and appearance far the best. On the other hand, it would be foolish to purchase fruits from outside when one has plenty in ones own garden.

Apples

The Bramleys Seedling ifl the best of all varieties but Newton Wonder and Tom Putt are close. Early cookers such as Stirling Castle, Lord Suffield and Emneth Early retain their flavour well. Where one intends to bottle a mixture, e.g. Apple and Blackb erry or Apple and Plum, one can well use a variety of apple which is in season at that time.

Windfalls can be used so long as the bruised and decayed parts are cut away.

Apples may be cut into slices, halves, quarters or cored and bottled whole (for dumplings). They must be packed tightly for they will shrink otherwise. Early apples which turn brown quickly when cut may be kept perfectly white by a separate process known as Sulphuring.

This sulphuring is done previous to packing. Empty 2-lb. Jam jars are held over burning flowers of sulphur to collect the fumes which are kept in by a sheet of cardboard laid over each neck. To cause it to burn, about a teaspoonful is dropped on to an old metal spoon heated almost red hot in the fire.

Immediately each Apple is peeled and cut into slices, it is dropped into the jar of fumes and the cover replaced, filling up like this until the jar is £ full, when the cover is held on and the jar shaken about to ensure every surface of the slices receiving its duo share of the fumes. Three minutes under such conditions and the slices, etc., may be turned out and will always keep a brilliant white henceforth. Pears can be kcj)t white in the same way.

As an alternative, the slices as soon as cut, are dropped into slightly salted water (1 teaspoonful to the pint) and kept beneath the surface by a plate or board laid on the top.

An attractive apple packing is made by colouring the syrup around them with Plum or Blackberry juice. Crab Apples are delicious flavoured with an inch stick of cinnamon and G cloves in each 2-lb. Jar.

Apricots

These should be full ripo and are best not peeled, although they can be halved and the stones taken out if desired. They are the richest-flavoured fruit and for variety Shipley and Moor Park are excellent. A syrup should be used.

Blackberries

These should be fully plump, firm and juicy but not squashy. They should be washed to remove dry, loose hairs by rinsing in a colander before packing.

The garden varieties make attractive packs, especially Parsley-Leaved, Hoosao, Wilson Junior and Himalaya.

Cherries

For dessert purposes they should be fully ripe, plump and large, those with large stones and small flesh being discarded. A cherry stoner (costing Is. 6d.) is an efficient instrument for removing the stones, easily, but a few stones should be replaced and this is done to give their characteristic flavour.

The May Duke is the best Cherry for keeping its red colour, followed by Morclle and Kentish Red, all these being sour varieties. Blackhcart cherries keep a much better colour than whileheaxta and the tested varieties are Black Eagle, Turk, Napoleon Bigarreaa and Caroon.

Cranberries

These make excellent tarts and ought to be more popular than they are at present. Thoy hold large quantities of air inside themselves, and should be soaked for 2 hours in cold water before packing. When packed the bottles are filled with water or syrup and a hour allowed for the further escape of air from the berries, any diminution of the syrup level being made good.

Cranberries make a splendid mixture with Apples.

Currants, Black

Black Currants are particularly nice bottled, their characteristic flavour being well preserved. The larger the berry the better the final flavour.

Excellent varieties are Baldwin, Bos-koop Giant, Edina, Seabrooks Black, Victoria and Daniels September. Wash in a colander or wire basket and pack b jarring the half-filled bottle upon the hand. Some fresh bruised leaves may be placed in the jars to increase the flavour still more.

Rhubarb and Black Currants make an excellent mixture.

Currants, Red and White, and Raspberries

In Red Currants, Raby Castle, Fays Prolific and Red Dutch give splendid results, especially if one waits until the fruits are full juicy, but still firm, as that is the ideal condition. Packing must be as tight a3 possible without breaking and the half-filled bottles should be jarred on the hand to shake the berries down. If packing is I0030 the berries will rise to the top after sterilizing, and the appearance will be spoilt.

A mixture of Currants and Raspberries has a better flavour than either alone.

Damsons

These equal Black Currants in the splendid way in whioh thoy retain their vigorous flavour. Merryweather and Common English are excellent but the Prune Damson has the richest damson flavour.

They should be picked when firm-ripe, but not before the deep purple colour has appeared.

Figs

Green figs should havt added to them the juice of one lemon to each pint of water used to cover them. Brunswick and White Marseilles are excellent.

Gooseberri es

Ripe Gooseberries burst and their skins are tough so it is best to bottle under-ripe, green ones to be used only for culinary purposes. Keepsake, Careless, Reveller, and Whin-hams Industry are the best sorts. Bubbles will be found to adhere to the berries after sterilizing, hut these will disappear and are no detriment.

Loganberries

These are one of the specially good fruits for bottling. If they contain maggots, the berries should be soaked in salted water (1 teaspoonful to the pint) for 1 hour when the maggots can be rinsed away with clean water.

Any hybrid-berried fruits bottle well, particularly the Laxtonberry, Lowberry, Veitchberry, Phenomenal Berry and the Newberry.

Mulberries

Freshness is essential here or the fruit goes mouldy quickly and is then useless. Just under-ripe berries in which every particle is firm are best.

Peaches and Nectarines

Pooling these is done easily by dipping in boiling water . The deep-coloured peaches are the most attractive when bottled and are: Duke of York, Stirling Castle, Peregrino and Waterloo. A nutty flavour may be given by blanching a few kernels from the stones and adding them to the peaches in the bottle.

Pears

The Pear corresponding to the Barlctt – sold in tins – is the William and this is without equal as a bottler. The varieties which brown quickly can be sulphured . They may lie bottled whole, in halves or in thin slices and may be used as cold dessert or heated for pies, etc.

The hard cooking varieties should be stewed first in a syrup of £ lb. Sugar to 1 pint of water until tender and thou packed in the bottles. Ginger or lemon can be added to flavour, allowing 1 lemon and 1 oz. Ginger root to 3 lb. Of pears.

Plums

This is the most popular of ill fruits for bottling. They should be barely full ripe and the skins should be pricked to prevent excessive bursting. Victoria, yellow and purple Pershore, Greengage, Rivers Early, and Ponds Seedling are the best varieties.

Rhubarb

The sticks grown early in the year are the best. For flavour, choose Daws Champion and Champagne and for colour Bedford Scarlet, Victoria and The Sutton.

Mixtures of Rhubarb and Oranges, or Lor:;nberries or Black Currants are great delicacies which rnuet be indulged in to be believed.

Strawberries

Owing to the quantity of water in these, they must be sterilized half the time first when they will be seen to have shrunk. The bottles are then filled up one from another and finally sterilized. Strawberries lose their colour and one teaspoonful of cochineal can be added to each 2-lb. Jar. The Paxton is the best variety and the Royal, Sovereign next.