Fruit for preserving should always be gathered in perfectly dry weather; it should also be free both from the morning and evening dew, and as much so as possible from dust. When bottled, it must be steamed or baked during the day on which it is gathered, or there will he great loss from the bursting of the bottles; and for jams and jellies it cannot be too soon boiled down after it is taken from the trees.
Portable French Furnace, with Stewpan and Trevet
No. I. Portable French Furnace. - 2. Depth at which the grating is placed.- 3. Stew van. - 4. Trevet.
The small portable French stove, or furnace,* shown above, with the trevet and stewpan adapted to it, is exceedingly convenient for all preparations which require either more than usual attention, or a fire entirely free from smoke; as it can be placed on a table in a clear light, and the heat can be regulated at pleasure. It has been used for all the preserves, of which the receipts are given in this chapter, as well as for various dishes contained in the body of the work. There should always be a free current of air in the room in which it stands when lighted, as charcoal or braise (that is to say, the little embers of large well-burned wood, drawn from an oven, and shut immediately into a closely-stopped iron or copper vessel to extinguish them) is the only fuel suited to it. To kindle either of these, two or three bits must be lighted in a common fire, and laid on the top of that in the furnace, which should be evenly placed between the grating and the brim, and then blown gently with the bellows until the whole is alight: the door of the furnace must in the meanwhile be open, and remain so, unless the heat should at any time be too fierce for the preserves, when it must be closed for a few minutes, to moderate it To extinguish the fire altogether, the cover must be pressed closely on, and the door be quite shut: the embers which remain will serve to rekindle it easily, but before it is again lighted the grating must be lifted out and all the ashes cleared away.
It should be set by in a place which is not damp.
* Called in France, Unforneau Economique. A baking-tin should he placed on the table for the furnace to stand upon, to guard 'against danger from the ashes or embers falling. American stoves or furnaces may be made in a similar manner.
Closed Furnace and Cover.
Form of, Trevet.
The German enamelled stewpans, now coming into general use, are, from the peculiar nicety of the composition with which they are lined, Better adapted than any others to pickling and preserving, as they may be used without danger for acids; and red fruits, when boiled in them, retain the brightness of their colour as well as if copper or bell-metal were used for them. The form of the old-fashioned preserving-pan, made usually of one or the other of these, is shown above; but it has not, we should say, even the advantage of being of convenient shape; for the handles quickly become heated, and the pan, in consequence, cannot always be instantaneously raised from the fire when the contents threaten to over-boil, or to burn.
It is desirable to have three or four wooden spoons or spatulas, one fine hair-sieve, at the least, one or two large squares of common muslin, and a strainer, or more of closer texture, kept exclusively for preparations of fruit, for if used for other purposes, there is the hazard, without great care, of their retaining some strong or coarse flavour, which they would impart to the preserves. A sieve, for example, through which any preparation of onions has been poured, should never, on any account, be brought into use for any kind of confectionary, nor in making sweet dishes, nor for straining eggs or milk for puddings, cakes, or bread. Damp is the great enemy, not only of preserves and pickles, but of numberless other household stores; yet, in many situations, it is extremely difficult to exclude it. To keep them in a "dry cool place" (words which occur so frequently both in this book, and in most others on the same subject), is more easily directed than done. They remain, we find, more entirely free from any danger of moulding, when covered with a brandied paper only, and placed on the shelves of a tolerably dry store-room; but they are rather liable to candy when thus, kept, and we fancy that the flavour of the fruit is somewhat less perfectly preserved than when they are quite secured from the air by skins stretched over the jars.
If left uncovered, the inroads of mice upon them must be guarded against, as they will commit great havoc in a single night on these sweet stores. When the slightest fermentation is perceptible in syrup, it should immediately be boiled for some minutes, and well skimmed; the fruit taken from it should then be brown in, and well scalded also, and the whole, when done, should be turned into a very clean dry jar: this kind of preserve should always be covered with one or two skins, or with parchment and thick paper.