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Canned Fruit, Preserves, and Jellies：Household Methods of Preparation试读：
The common fruits, because of their low nutritive value, are not, as a rule, estimated at their real worth as food. Fruit has great dietetic value and should be used generously and wisely, both fresh and cooked. Fruits supply a variety of flavors, sugar, acids, and a necessary waste or bulky material for aiding in intestinal movement. They are generally rich in potash and soda salts and other minerals. Most fresh fruits are cooling and refreshing. The vegetable acids have a solvent power on the nutrients and are an aid to digestion when not taken in excess.
Fruit and fruit juices keep the blood in a healthy condition when the supply of fresh meat, fish, and vegetables is limited and salt or smoked meats constitute the chief elements of diet. Fresh fruit is generally more appetizing and refreshing than cooked. For this reason it is often eaten in too large quantities, and frequently when underripe or overripe; but when of good quality and eaten in moderate quantities it promotes healthy intestinal action and rarely hurts anyone.
If eaten immoderately, uncooked fruit is apt to induce intestinal disturbances. If eaten unripe, it often causes stomach and intestinal irritation; overripe, it has a tendency to ferment in the alimentary canal. Cooking changes the character and flavor of fruit, and while the product is not so cooling and refreshing as in the raw state, it can, as a rule, be eaten with less danger of causing stomach or intestinal trouble. If sugar be added to the cooked fruit, the nutritive value will be increased. A large quantity of sugar spoils the flavor of the fruit and is likely to make it less easily digested.
Nowhere is there greater need of a generous supply of fruit than on the farm, where the diet is apt to be restricted in variety because of the distance from markets. Every farmer should raise a generous supply of the kinds of fruit that can be grown in his locality. Wives and daughters on the farms should find pleasure in serving these fruits in the most healthful and tempting form. There are a large number of simple, dainty desserts that can be prepared with fruit and without much labor. Such desserts should leave the pie as an occasional luxury instead of allowing it to be considered a daily necessity.
In the season when each kind of fruit is plentiful and at its best a generous supply should be canned for the season when both fruit and fresh vegetables are scarce. A great deal of the fruit should be canned with little or no sugar, that it may be as nearly as possible in the condition of fresh fruit. This is the best condition for cooking purposes. A supply of glass jars does cost something, but that item of expense should be charged to future years, as with proper care the breaking of a jar need be a rare occurrence. If there be an abundance of grapes and small, juicy fruits, plenty of juice should be canned or bottled for refreshing drinks throughout the year. Remember that the fruit and juice are not luxuries, but an addition to the dietary that will mean better health for the members of the family and greater economy in the cost of the table.
FRESH AND PRESERVED FRUIT FOR THE MARKET.
If the supply of fruit is greater than the family needs, it may be made a source of income by sending the fresh fruit to the market, if there is one near enough, or by preserving, canning, and making jelly for sale. To make such an enterprise a success the fruit and work must be first class. There is magic in the word "Homemade," when the product appeals to the eye and the palate; but many careless and incompetent people have found to their sorrow that this word has not magic enough to float inferior goods on the market. As a rule large canning and preserving establishments are clean and have the best appliances, and they employ chemists and skilled labor. The home product must be very good to compete with the attractive goods that are sent out from such establishments. Yet for first-class homemade products there is a market in all large cities. All first-class grocers have customers who purchase such goods.
To secure a market get the names of several first-class grocers in some of the large towns. Write to them asking if they would be willing to try a sample of your goods. If the answer is favorable, send samples of the articles you wish to sell. In the box with the fruit inclose a list of the articles sent and the price. Write your name and address clearly. Mail a note and a duplicate list at the time you send the box.
Fixing the price of the goods is important. Make it high enough to cover all expenses and give you a fair return for your labor. The expenses will be the fruit, sugar, fuel, jars, glasses, boxes, packing material, wear and tear of utensils, etc., transportation, and commission. The commission will probably be 20 per cent of the selling price. It may be that a merchant will find that your prices are too high or too low for his trade, or he may wish to purchase the goods outright. In any case it is essential that you estimate the full cost of the product and the value that you place on your labor. You will then be in a position to decide if the prices offered will compensate you for the labor and expense. Do not be tempted, for the sake of a little money, to deprive your family of the fruit necessary to health and pleasure.
PACKING AND SHIPPING.
Each jar or jelly glass must be wrapped in several thicknesses of soft paper (newspapers will answer). Make pads of excelsior or hay by spreading a thick layer between the folds of newspapers. Line the bottom and sides of the box with these pads. Pack the fruit in the padded box. Fill all the spaces between the jars with the packing material. If the box is deep and a second layer of fruit is to go in, put thick pasteboard or thin boards over the first layer and set the wrapped jars on this. Fill all the spaces and cover the top with the packing material. Nail on the cover and mark clearly: GLASS. THIS SIDE UP.
The great secret in packing is to fill every particle of space so that nothing can move.
PRINCIPLES OF CANNING AND PRESERVING.
In the preservation of foods by canning, preserving, etc., the most essential things in the processes are the sterilization of the food and all the utensils and the sealing of the sterilized food to exclude all germs.
BACTERIA, YEASTS, AND FERMENTATION.
Over one hundred years ago François Appert was the first to make practical application of the method of preserving food by putting it in cans or bottles, which he hermetically sealed. He then put the full bottles or cans in water and boiled them for more or less time, depending upon the kinds of food.
In Appert's time and, indeed, until recent years it was generally thought that the oxygen of the air caused the decomposition of food. Appert's theory was that the things essential to the preservation of food in this manner were the exclusion of air and the application of gentle heat, as in the water bath, which caused a fusion of the principal constituents and ferments in such a manner that the power of the ferments was destroyed.
The investigations of scientists, particularly of Pasteur, have shown that it is not the oxygen of the air which causes fermentation and putrefaction, but bacteria and other microscopic organisms.
Appert's theory as to the cause of the spoiling of food was incorrect, but his method of preserving it by sealing and cooking was correct, and the world owes him a debt of gratitude.
In their investigations scientists have found that if food is perfectly sterilized and the opening of the jar or bottle plugged with sterilized cotton, food will not ferment, for the bacteria and yeasts to which such changes are due can not pass through the cotton. This method can not be conveniently followed with large jars.
Bacteria and yeasts exist in the air, in the soil, and on all vegetable and animal substances, and even in the living body, but although of such universal occurrence, the true knowledge of their nature and economic importance has only been gained during the last forty years.
There are a great many kinds of these micro-organisms. Some do great harm, but it is thought that the greater part of them are beneficial rather than injurious.
Bacteria are one-celled and so small they can only be seen by aid of a microscope. The process of reproduction is simple and rapid. The bacterium becomes constricted, divides, and finally there are two cells instead of one. Under favorable conditions each cell divides, and so rapid is the work that it has been estimated that one bacterium may give rise, within twenty-four hours, to seventeen millions of similar organisms. The favorable conditions for growth are moisture, warmth, and proper food.
Yeasts, which are also one-celled organisms, grow less rapidly. A bud develops, breaks off, and forms a new yeast plant. Some yeasts and some kinds of bacteria produce spores. Spores, like the dried seeds of plants, may retain their vitality for a long time, even when exposed to conditions which kill the parent organism.
Yeasts and nearly all bacteria require oxygen, but there are species of the latter that seem to grow equally well without it, so that the exclusion of air, which, of course, contains oxygen, is not always a protection, if one of the anaerobic bacteria, as the kinds are called which do not require oxygen, is sealed in the can.
Spoiling of food is caused by the development of bacteria or yeasts. Certain chemical changes are produced as shown by gases, odors, and flavors.
Bacteria grow luxuriantly in foods containing a good deal of nitrogenous material, if warmth and moisture are present. Among foods rich in nitrogenous substances are all kinds of meat, fish, eggs, peas, beans, lentils, milk, etc. These foods are difficult to preserve on account of the omnipresent bacteria. This is seen in warm, muggy weather, when fresh meat, fish, soups, milk, etc., spoil quickly. Bacteria do not develop in substances containing a large percentage of sugar, but they grow rapidly in a suitable wet substance which contains a small percentage of sugar. Yeasts grow very readily in dilute solutions containing sugars in addition to some nitrogenous and mineral matters. Fruits are usually slightly acid and in general do not support bacterial growth, and so it comes about that canned fruits are more commonly fermented by yeasts than by bacteria.
Some vegetable foods have so much acid and so little nitrogenous substance that very few bacteria or yeasts attack them. Lemons, cranberries, and rhubarb belong to this class.
Temperature is an important factor in the growth of bacteria and yeasts. There are many kinds of these organisms, and each kind grows best at a certain temperature, some at a very low one and others at one as high as 125° F., or more. However, most kinds of bacteria are destroyed if exposed for ten or fifteen minutes to the temperature of boiling water (212° F.); but, if the bacteria are spore producers, cooking must be continued for an hour or more to insure their complete destruction. Generally speaking, in order to kill the spores the temperature must be higher than that of boiling water, or the article to be preserved must be cooked for about two hours at a temperature of 212° F., or a shorter time at a higher temperature under pressure. Yeasts and their spores are, however, more easily destroyed by heat than bacteria spores. Hence, fruits containing little nitrogenous material are more easily protected from fermentation than nitrogenous foods in which in general fermentation is caused by bacteria. Of course, it is not possible to know what kinds of organisms are in the food one is about to can or bottle; but we do know that most fruits are not favorable to the growth of bacteria, and, as a rule, the yeasts which grow in fruits and fruit juice can be destroyed by cooking ten or fifteen minutes at a temperature of 212° F. If no living organisms are left, and the sterilization of all appliances has been thorough, there is no reason why the fruit, if properly sealed, should not keep, with but slight change of texture or flavor, for a year or longer, although canned fruits undergo gradual change and deterioration even under the most favorable conditions.
When fruit is preserved with a large amount of sugar (a pound of sugar to a pound of fruit) it does not need to be hermetically sealed to protect it from bacteria and yeasts, because the thick, sugary sirup formed is not favorable to their growth. However, the self-sealing jars are much better than keeping such fruit in large receptacles, from which it is taken as needed, because molds grow freely on moist, sugary substances exposed to the air.
MOLDS AND MOLDING.
Every housekeeper is familiar with molds which, under favorable conditions of warmth and moisture, grow upon almost any kind of organic material. This is seen in damp, warm weather, when molds form in a short time on all sorts of starchy foods, such as boiled potatoes, bread, mush, etc., as well as fresh, canned, and preserved fruits.
Molds develop from spores which are always floating about in the air. When a spore falls upon a substance containing moisture and suitable food it sends out a fine thread, which branches and works its way over and into the attacked substance. In a short time spores are produced and the work of reproduction goes on.
In the first stages molds are white or light gray and hardly noticeable; but when spores develop the growth gradually becomes colored. In fact, the conditions of advanced growth might be likened to those of a flower garden. The threads—mycelium—might be likened to the roots of plants and the spores to the flower and seeds.
Mold spores are very light and are blown about by the wind. They are a little heavier than air, and drop on shelves, tables, and floor, and are easily set in motion again by the movement of a brush, duster, etc. If one of these spores drops on a jar of preserves or a tumbler of jelly, it will germinate if there be warmth and moisture enough in the storeroom. Molds do not ordinarily cause fermentation of canned foods, although they are the common cause of the decay of raw fruits. They are not as injurious to canned goods as are bacteria and yeasts. They do not penetrate deeply into preserves or jellies, or into liquids or semiliquids, but if given time they will, at ordinary room temperature, work all through suitable solid substances which contain moisture. Nearly every housekeeper has seen this in the molding of a loaf of bread or cake.
In the work of canning, preserving, and jelly making it is important that the food shall be protected from the growth of molds as well as the growth of yeasts and bacteria.
To kill mold spores food must be exposed to a temperature of from 150° F. to 212° F. After this it should be kept in a cool, dry place and covered carefully that no floating spore can find lodgment on its surface.
To sterilize a substance or thing is to destroy all life and sources of life in and about it. In following the brief outline of the structure and work of bacteria, yeasts, and molds, it has been seen that damage to foods comes through the growth of these organisms on or in the food; also that if such organisms are exposed to a temperature of 212° F., life will be destroyed, but that spores and a few resisting bacteria are not destroyed at a temperature of 212° F., unless exposed to it for two or more hours.
Bacteria and yeasts, which are intimately mixed with food, are not as easily destroyed as are those on smooth surfaces, such as the utensils and jars employed in the preparation of the food.
Since air and water, as well as the foods, contain bacteria and yeasts, and may contain mold spores, all utensils used in the process of preserving foods are liable to be contaminated with these organisms. For this reason all appliances, as well as the food, must be sterilized.
Stewpans, spoons, strainers, etc., may be put on the fire in cold or boiling water and boiled ten or fifteen minutes. Tumblers, bottles, glass jars, and covers should be put in cold water and heated gradually to the boiling point, and then boiled for ten or fifteen minutes. The jars must be taken one at a time from the boiling water at the moment they are to be filled with the boiling food. The work should be done in a well swept and dusted room, and the clothing of the workers and the towels used should be clean. The food to be sterilized should be perfectly sound and clean.
As in this bulletin we have only to do with fruits, it will not be necessary to say anything more about long cooking at a high temperature.
In canning fruits it is well to remember that the product is more satisfactory if heated gradually to the boiling point and then cooked the given time.
UTENSILS NEEDED FOR CANNING AND PRESERVING.
In preserving, canning, and jelly making iron or tin utensils should never be used. The fruit acids attack these metals and so give a bad color and metallic taste to the products. The preserving kettles should be porcelain lined, enameled, or of a metal that will not form troublesome chemical combinations with fruit juices. The kettles should be broad rather than deep, as the fruit should not be cooked in deep layers. Nearly all the necessary utensils may be found in some ware not subject to chemical action. A list of the most essential articles follows:
Two preserving kettles, 1 colander, 1 fine strainer, 1 skimmer, 1 ladle, 1 large-mouthed funnel, 1 wire frying basket, 1 wire sieve, 4 long-handled wooden spoons, 1 wooden masher, a few large pans, knives for paring fruit (plated if possible), flat-bottomed clothes boiler, wooden or willow rack to put in the bottom of the boiler, iron tripod or ring, squares of cheese cloth. In addition, it would be well to have a flannel straining bag, a frame on which to hang the bag, a sirup gauge and a glass cylinder, a fruit pricker, and plenty of clean towels.
The regular kitchen pans will answer for holding and washing the fruit. Mixing bowls and stone crocks can be used for holding the fruit juice and pared fruit. When fruit is to be plunged into boiling water for a few minutes before paring, the ordinary stewpans may be employed for this purpose.Fig. 1.—Wire basket.
Scales are a desirable article in every kitchen, as weighing is much more accurate than the ordinary measuring. But, knowing that a large percentage of the housekeepers do not possess scales, it has seemed wise to give all the rules in measure rather than weight.
If canning is done by the oven process, a large sheet of asbestos, for the bottom of the oven, will prevent the cracking of jars.
The wooden rack, on which the bottles rest in the washboiler, is made in this manner: Have two strips of wood measuring 1 inch high, 1 inch wide, and 2 inches shorter than the length of the boiler. On these pieces of wood tack thin strips of wood that are 1½ inches shorter than the width of the boiler. These cross-strips should be about 1 inch wide, and there should be an inch between two strips. This rack will support the jars and will admit the free circulation of boiling water about them. Young willow branches, woven into a mat, also make a good bed for bottles and jars.Fig. 2.—Wire sieve.
The wire basket is a saver of time and strength (fig. 1). The fruit to be peeled is put into the basket, which is lowered into a deep kettle partially filled with boiling water. After a few minutes the basket is lifted from the boiling water, plunged for a moment into cold water, and the fruit is ready to have the skin drawn off.Fig. 3.—Fruit pricker.
A strong wire sieve is a necessity when purées of fruit are to be made (fig. 2). These sieves are known as purée sieves. They are made of strong wire and in addition have supports of still stronger wire.
A fruit pricker is easily made and saves time (fig. 3). Cut a piece half an inch deep from a broad cork; press through this a dozen or more coarse darning needles; tack the cork on a piece of board. Strike the fruit on the bed of needles, and you have a dozen holes at once. When the work is finished, remove the cork from the board, wash and dry thoroughly. A little oil on the needles will prevent rusting. With needles of the size suggested there is little danger of the points breaking, but it is worth remembering that the use of pricking machines was abandoned in curing prunes on a commercial scale in California because the steel needles broke and remained in the fruit.