The requisites for making jams and jellies are enamelled or iron pre serving-pans (no other should be used), a wooden spoon, a hair-sieve, and a jelly-bag; copper and brass pans are dangerous on account of the chemical action of the fruit acid on the metal; doubly-galvanized iron or block-tin pans are safe, but they are apt to injure the colour of the preserves.
The sugar used for jams is called preserving sugar, it is a coarse white, and costs about 5d. per pound at present; it takes three-quarters of a pound of sugar to one pound of fruit for preserving, with the exception of damsons, which require equal weights of sugar and fruit.
The great secret of preserving well is the boiling, which must be sufficiently long; and sufficiently quick. The following general directions will, it is hoped, suffice in a work of this kind.
Gather the fruit in sunshine if possible, if not, in perfectly dry weather, and without dust. Pick the fruit off its stems, etc., top and tail gooseberries; boil all fruit for jellies or jams alone for twenty minutes, to evaporate the water they contain; skim carefully. Make the sugar warm before the fire meantime, then add it to the fruit and stir gently but continually, removing the scum as it rises till the jam is done thoroughly. Then put it in white jam-pots to cool. Next day cover with paper saturated with white of egg or starch.
Different fruits require different times for boiling. Excellent directions for every one of them will be found in the "Model Cookery Book".
Keep jams in a cool place, or they will be liable to ferment. Examine the pots now and then. If the paper at the top is stained, or the jam has run over the sides of the jar, it must be opened and the jam boiled up again.
Clarifying sugar for sweetmeats is a confectioners art; it will be found in the "Model Cookery Book," p. 594.
Candying fruits is done by first preserving the fruit in sugar syrup, then washing the syrup off in hot water, drying the fruit before the fire, and sifting double-refined sugar over it till it is quite white; it is then put in a moderate oven to dry.
For jellies the juice only of the fruit is boiled with the sugar, and finally strained through the jelly-bag.
This mode of preserving fruit depends wholly on the exclusion of the air from the bottle in which they are put. The following is the best plan: -
Nearly fill a dry bottle with dry fruit, say cherries (do not break the fruit in any way - cut off the stalks), add to every pound of cherries three ounces of sugar; tie them tightly down with starched paper covered with bladder, keep them in the oven all night, putting them in at nine o'clock in the evening. Remove them next mornine before the fire is lighted; put them in a dry, cool, dark cellar, or bury them in the garden head downwards and at least a foot deep, mark the spot and dig up when required.
The fruit must be pricked with a fine needle, sugar strewn over it, and the glass bottle filled up with brandy or wine, as required. See "Model Cookery" for individual recipes.
There is very little economy in home-made jams in London, or indeed anywhere else unless the housemother has a garden and home-grown fruit. Crosse and Blackwell's jams and jellies are excellent, and allowing for fire, labour, and possible failure, it is as cheap to buy jams and jellies as to make them; but in the country and with a good fruit garden this is, of course, not the case, and the good housekeeper will do well there, in making jams and jellies, according to good recipes, for household use.