Take the stalks from the fruit, which should be of a highly flavoured sort, quite ripe, fresh from the beds, and gathered in dry weather; Weigh and put it into large glass jars, or wide-necked bottles, and to each pound pour about a pint and a half of fine pale white wine vinegar, which will answer the purpose better than the entirely colourless kind sold under the name of distilled vinegar, but which is, we believe, the pyroligneous acid greatly diluted. Tie a thick paper over them, and let the strawberries remain from three to four days; then pour off the vinegar and empty them into a jelly-bag, or suspend them in a cloth that all the liquid may drop from them without pressure; replace them with an equal weight of fresh fruit, pour the vinegar upon it, and three days afterwards repeat the same process, diminishing a little the proportion of strawberries, of which the flavour ought ultimately to overpower that of the vinegar. In from two to four days drain off the liquid very closely, and after having strained it through a linen or a flannel bag, •weigh it, and mix with it an equal quantity of highly-refined sugar roughly powdered; when this is nearly dissolved, stir the syrup over a very clear fire until it has boiled five minutes, and skim it thoroughly; pour it into a delicately clean stone pitcher, or into large china jugs, throw a folded cloth over and let it remain until the morrow; put it into pint or half-pint bottles, and cork them lightly with new velvet corks; for if these be pressed in tightly at first, the bottles would be liable to burst: in four or five days they may be closely corked, and stored in a dry and cool place.
Damp destroys the colour and injures the flavour of these fine fruit-vinegars; of which a spoonful or two in a glass of water affords so agreeable a summer beverage, and one which, in many cases of illness, is so acceptable to invalids. They make also most admirable sauces for common custard, batter, and various other simple and sweet light puddings.
Strawberries (stalked), 4 lbs.; vinegar, 3 quarts: 3 to 4 days. Vinegar drained and poured on fresh strawberries, 4 lbs.: 3 days. Drained again on to fresh fruit, 3 to 4 lbs.: 2 to 4 days. To each pound of the vinegar, 1 lb. of highly-refined sugar: boiled 5 minutes. Lightly corked, 4 or 5 days.
Where there is a garden the fruit may be thrown into the vinegar as it ripens, within an interval of forty-eight hours, instead of being all put to infuse at once, and it must then remain in it a proportionate time: one or two days in addition to that specified will make no difference to the preparation. The enamelled German stewpans are the best possible vessels to boil it in; but it may be simmered in a stone jar set into a pan of boiling water when there is nothing more appropriate at hand; though the syrup does not usually keep so well when this last method is adopted.
Dissolve in a quart of spring water two ounces of citric acid, and pour it on as many quite ripe and richly-flavoured strawberries, stripped from their stalks, as it will just cover; in twenty-four hours drain the liquid closely from the fruit, and pour on it as much more; keep it in a cool place, and the next day drain it again entirely from the fruit, and boil it gently for three or four minutes, with its weight of very fine sugar, which should be dissolved in it before it is placed over the fire. It should be boiled, if possible, in an enamelled stewpan. When perfectly cold put it into small dry bottles for use, and store it in a cool but not damp place. It is one of the most delicate and deliciously flavoured preparations possible, and of beautiful colour. If allowed to remain longer than the eight-and-forty hours before it is boiled, a brisk fermentation will commence. It must be well secured from the air when stored.
Water, 1 quart; citric acid, 2 ozs.; strawberries, 2 to 3 lbs.: 24 hours. Same quantity of fruit: 24 hours. Equal weight of sugar and this liquid: 3 to 4 minutes at the utmost.