How to Jelly Small Fruits

This is the second article in June of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on June 13, 1909, and is an article on the development of canning jellies and jams. Mrs. Harland also comments on the use of slang reguarding the shortening of words like ‘jelly.’

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

How to Jelly Small Fruits

IMPRIMIS, don’t sey “jell!”

Although the young housewife in Miss Alcott’s inimitable “Little Women” did bewail her evil case when her currants wouldn’t “jell,” take time to say “jelly.” At this point I digress from the main line to entreat correspondents to snatch, or make, time in writing to me to use the little personal pronoun “I.” Don’t say, “Would like to ask” or “Would say” in beginning a sentence. Write, “I should like to ask” and “I would say.” I have to supply the missing pronoun in putting MSS into printable shape. Say, likewise, in writing a recipe, “Let it stand,” instead of “Let stand.”

I believe “jell” to be a New England provincialism. Hence, “Meg’s” use of it. I have heard the shaking mold of translucent conserve offered to the guest in a Massachusetts farmhouse spoken of as “jell.” The monosyllable falls lawfully into line with other curtailed words under the new regime of orthography. When we cut off and drop into the waste basket the stately terminations of “prologue” and “catagloue” and make “thru” do service for “through,” we may be thankful to have the body of our “jelly” left to us.

A few prefatory words to the directions for putting up small fruits in this form may not be superfluous.

Not Overripe.

The berries must be fully ripe, but not what is called “dead ripe.” The old saying that currant jelly will not be firm unless put up before the Fourth of July has this proviso of perfect ripeness as a warrant. The housemother who understands her profession has learned that, in most instances there must be acid in the fruit she would jelly. Blackberries, strawberries and red raspberries, even the wild blackcap, if really ripe, do not jelly easily. The mixture of currants and raspberries, of which I shall speak presently, owes form, as well as flavor, to the red juice of the tart berry. Blackberry and strawberry jelly, if there be no addition of lemon juice or other acid, must be set in uncovered glasses in the hottest June sunshine or the vertical rays of the July sun for several days, hat evaporation may “boil down” the conserve to the right consistency. I have never been successful with peach jelly, except when lemon juice was added to the over-sweet syrup. This is the reason why the small fruits and before the sugared juice would be cooked into cloying sweetness.

Red Currant Jelly.

Gather the fruit on a sunny day. It is not necessary to strip it from the stems on which the cluster grow. In fact, the succulent stems contain an acid of their own that adds to the flavor of the jelly. Wash the fruit well, draining it in a colander, and pack into a stout stone or agate-iron jar. Put on a close cover and set the jar in a pot of cold water. The water should come more than two-thirds of the way to the top of the crock. Set the pot on the side of the range and go about your other duties for an hour or more. Then look into the jar, and crush down the heating berries with a wooden paddle. Move the kettle to a warmer place and close the jar again.

I usually heat the fruit all night, setting the pot over a very slow fire that will die down before morning. Before breakfast I visit the kitchen and examine the fruit. It is invariably broken all to pieces and, if not cold, quite cool enough to handle with comfort. It is then turned into a bag of doubled cheesecloth and suspended over a wide bowl to drip. A long-legged, backless chair is set, heels upward, on a table; the four corners of the bar are lashed to the inverted legs high enough up to allow the bowl to stand beneath. While we are at breakfast the juice drips steadily, and by the time the meal is over the pulp, or “pomace,” is almost dry. The residue of the juice is expressed by squeezing. If there be a pair of manly hands which are both willing and strong they are coaxed into service for this park of the work. A few dexterous twists of the crimsoned cloth and half a dozen mighty squeezes leave the pomace juiceless. The pulp is emptied into the garbage pail and the bag thrown into cold water to soak.

Measure the strained juice and put it over the fire in a preserving kettle. Weigh out as many pounds of sugar as you have pints of juice. Divide the sugar into three or four portions and spread each upon a platter or a shallow pan. Set these in the oven, leaving it open for the first 10 minutes and stirring several times. Close the oven when the juice in the kettle begins to simmer, but watch the contents of the platters, lest the hot sugar begin to melt. Stir often. When the juice boils hard skim off the scum, and when the boil has lasted 20 minutes dump in the hot sugar as fast as you can, stirring vigorously. After it has dissolved, which will be very soon, let the syrup boil exactly one minute.

Pour the jelly into small tumblers which you have rolled over and over in hot water to prevent cracking as the jelly fills them. The glasses must be taken directly from the hot water and filled while wet. At this stage of the process an assistant is needed to fish out the glasses and pass them to the main worker. If these rules be followed, and the fruit be ripe and not overripe, the jelly will form by the time it is in the glasses. Let it get perfectly cold; pour melted paraffine on the top of each glass and fit on metal tops or, if you have none, paste paper covers on them.

In over 45 years of jelly-making I have never lost a glass put up according to this recipe. The flavor of the fruit is preserved far better than when juice and sugar are cooked together in the old way and boiled down thick. The jelly is clear and sparking.

Keep in a cool, dry place.

Black Currant Jelly.

Make as above. It is highly recommended for coughs and as a tonic. It is more palatable if the black are mixed with a third as many red, ripe currants.

Gooseberry Jelly and Jam.

Top and tall the berries and beat them as for other jelly. They are very juicy, and if all the liquor that will flow from them after adding sugar were put with the jam it would be too thin. Therefore, turn the berries when soft and broken into a colander; let them drain without pressing or shaking. When most of the juice has run into the bowl below, empty the colander into a preserving kettle after measuring the berries. Bring to a boil; add a pound and a quarter of sugar to each pint of berries; stir to dissolving and cook steadily half an hour. Put up in jam pots, covering with paraffine, then fitting on tops.

For the jelly, strain the juice through a cheesecloth bag to get rid of the seeds that have escaped through the colander; measure it and heat as for other jelly. When it has boiled for 20 minutes stir in the heated sugar, a generous pound to each pint of juice, gooseberries being very acid.

Currant and Raspberry Jelly.

Allow one part of red currants to two of the red raspberries; heat both kinds of fruit together and proceed as I have directed.

The flavour is exquisite. It is particularly nice for jelly roll or for layer cake.

Green Gooseberries.

These may be put up in like manner, making delicious jelly for meat. The jam made of the reserved and unpressed pulp, or “pomace,” needs nearly a pound and a quarter of sugar for each pint of berries.

Red Raspberry and Pineapple Jelly.

Wash a ripe pineapple and cut it small without paring, the skin holding a peculiarly fine flavor. Set it over the fire in a farina (double) boiler and cook very tender. At the same time heat red raspberries enough to give out twice as much juice as you get from the pineapple. When all are cooked to pieces, strain and press out the juice from berries and from pineapple; mix in the proportions I have indicated and boil 20 minutes before adding heated sugar, pint for pound.

The blended flavors and acids produce a delicious jelly.

Blackberry Jelly.

This is made in the same way and subject to the same infirmity as that which attends the strawberry. It is worth putting up in liberal quantities for family use. The flavor is fine and it is extremely wholesome, also curative in cases of summer complaints. As the contents of the glasses shrink in evaporating fill one from the other. Out of a dozen glasses you may get nine when they have been sunned into consistency.

Don’t try to boil it down. You will injure the taste, darken the color and, ten chances to one, succeed in producing syrup, not jelly.

Strawberry Jelly.

Make according to the rules given for currant jelly. It is but fair to warn you that you may have to set the glasses in the sun for two or three days before the jelly will form.

Marion Harland

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Meals for a Week

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Sunday.

Breakfast.
Berries, cereal and cream, lamb chops, johnny cake, toast, tea and coffee.

Luncheon.
Caviare on toast, cold tongue, tomato and shrimp salad, thin graham bread and butter, crackers and cheese, cake and lemonade.

Dinner.
Asparagus soup, brown fricassee of chicken, green peas, mashed potatoes, berry shortcake, black coffee.

Monday.

Breakfast.
Berries, cereal and cream, bacon and eggs, graham bread toast, white toast, rolls, tea and coffee.

Luncheon.
Asparagus rolls (tips left over from yesterday), plain omelet, baked potatoes, crackers (heated) with cheese, bread pudding, tea.

Dinner.
Chicken soup (based upon fricassee), liver and bacon, pea soufflé (a left-over), baked rice, cheery pie, black coffee.

Tuesday.

Breakfast.
Red bananas, cereal and cream, soufflé of rice (a left-over), rolls, toast, tea and coffee.

Luncheon.
Mince of liver on toast (a left-over), Welsh rarebit, cress and salad and crackers, cream pie, tea.

Dinner.
Chicken and okra soup (a left-over), beefsteak and mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, berries and cream cake, black coffee.

Wednesday.

Breakfast.
Berries and cream with dried rusk, broiled bacon and green peppers, muffins, toast, tea and coffee.

Luncheon.
Spanish omelet, lettuce salad, cheese, biscuits, stewed rhubarb and cookies, tea.

Dinner.
Cream-of-lettuce soup, beefsteak and kidney pie (partly a left-over), stewed potatoes, young onions, mashed new turnips, berry roll with brandy sauce, black coffee.

Thursday.

Breakfast.
Berries, cereal and cream, bacon, fried mush, toast, tea and coffee.

Luncheon.
Calf-s brains (fried), stuffed potatoes, turnip soufflé (a left-over), baked cream toast, canned peaches, gingerbread, tea.

Dinner.
Scotch broth, blanquette of veal, green peas, spinach, strawberry float, sponge cake, black coffee.

Friday.

Breakfast.
Grapefruit, cereal and cream, pan-fish, hot biscuits, toast, tea and coffee.

Luncheon.
Curried eggs, boiled rice, lettuce and green pea salad (a left-over), macaroons and iced bananas, tea.

Dinner.
Potato soup without meat, boiled cod with lemon sauce, whipped potatoes, spinach a la crème, chocolate ice cream and cake, black coffee.

Saturday.

Breakfast.
Berries, cereal and cream, mince of veal (a left-over), waffles, toast, tea and coffee.

Luncheon.
Scalloped cod in shells, potatoes a la Lyonnaise, grapefruit salad, Cassava biscuits, Camembert cheese, thin bread and butter, junket, jelly roll, tea.

Dinner.
Salmon bisque, mutton chops en casserole, green peas, string beans, tutti-frutti in grapefruit shells, jumbles, black coffee.