"When the time comes the latest fruits also ripen."
For preserving use the best sugar and avoid that of a bluish cast. The utensils used should be kettles, colanders, and ladles of porcelain-lined or granite ware, spoons of wood or silver, earthenware bowls, and glass tumblers. The jelly bag may be made of felt, thin flannel, coarse linen, or fine cheesecloth. It is better shaped like a cone, with strong tapes run around the neck for suspending it to drip. Do not squeeze the dripping fruit. The boiling sirup may be poured directly into glasses without danger of their cracking if they are rolled in hot water and then left standing on a damp cloth. A silver spoon left in the glass will also prevent cracking, as the silver is a good conductor of heat. The jelly should be allowed to remain undisturbed, as moving about is apt to disturb the process of solidifying.
In making jelly it must be borne in mind that the less stirring the better. If stirred too much, the jelly will not be clear, while the tendency of sugar to granulate is also increased by stirring.
A good test for the consistency of jelly when boiling is when two drops form on the edge of a spoon held side wise.
In the case of most fruits, canning with a little sugar is to be preferred to canning with a large quantity of sugar. There are, however, some fruits that are only good when preserved with a great deal of sugar. Of course, such preparations of fruit are desirable only for occasional use. The fruits best adapted for preserving are strawberries, sour cherries, sour plums, and quinces. Such rich preparations should be put up in small glasses or jars.
The method of canning fruit has superseded that of preserving.
This is due not only to the fact that it is more economical, requiring less or no sugar, but because many tastes prefer fruit which is not too highly sweetened. Fruits for canning should be solid and not overripe.
Vegetables should be as fresh as possible. Fruits canned without the use of sugar will require the addition of sugar when served and will probably take more of it in the end, but the products will keep just as well when canned in water as in sirup, if twenty per cent, is added to the time requirement for sterilization. Use jars of clear white glass. Wide-mouthed jars are better than narrow-mouthed ones, because the fruits may be put in place so easily. Good rubbers are also essential. These should stretch and come back into position and be bent sharply back and forth without cracking or breaking. Label the jars and store them in a cool, dry place.
Drying fruits and vegetables is an important adjunct to canning. Practically all vegetables and fruits may be dried.
Pickles are classed in two general ways - sweet and sour. For the latter pure cider vinegar is always used, while for the former, any good pure vinegar answers admirably.
Pickles are like all other preserves; the best materials alone should be used, the vegetables chosen should be sound, ripe, but not overripe, and freshly gathered on a dry, and if possible warm day.
Metal spoons and copper pans must be carefully avoided; un-glazed stoneware is the safest for anything connected with vinegar, and clean, wooden spoons only should be used. The brine in which pickles are to be stored should be strong enough to float an egg. Two cups coarse salt to four quarts water is the usual proportion.