FROM those who advocate a diet of only fruit and nuts to those who take time to enjoy three square meals a day, people are coming more and more to realize the importance of fruit in the daily meal. In general it may be said that fruits are wholesome, palatable and attractive additions to the menu. Fresh fruits, of course, are largely composed of water; but dried fruits and many preserves are much more concentrated, comparing favorably with cereals and dried vegetable foods. Fruits contain carbohydrates, considerable mineral matter and acid, and when eaten raw do much to stimidate a sluggish intestine.
The methods of preparing include drying or evaporating, baking, boiling and stewing. Many fruits, too, are used in the preparation of puddings and other dishes and are made into jellies, preserves, beverages and ices. Even persons with delicate stomachs who find raw fruit indigestible can usually take it when properly prepared in some way.
Several methods of preparing fruit for the table will be discussed in this chapter and others will be found in the chapters on "Appetizers," "Puddings and Desserts," "Salads" and "Canning and Preserving."
Wash and core and if desired pare the apples. Place them in a shallow baking dish and fill the cavities with sugar, sugar and spice, sugar and seeded raisins, or sugar and chopped nuts. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the apples; cover the bottom of the pan with water and bake about thirty minutes or until tender. Serve with cream or with lemon or wine sauce.
See chapter on "Sauces."
Cut slices a half inch thick across the apple, removing neither skin nor core; or cut the apples in quarters, removing both skin and core. Saute them in butter or drippings until tender; serve with crisp bacon.
Pare and quarter the peaches, discarding the stones. Bring to the boiling point one cup of sugar and one cup of water; cook four minutes; add the peaches and cook until tender.
Pears, plums and apricots may be cooked in the same way, though the plums may require more sugar.
Plunge the peaches into boiling water to loosen the skins. Remove the skins; cut the peaches in half, discarding the stones, and lay them, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish. Fill the cavities with butter and sugar, a few drops of lemon juice and a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg. Bake twenty minutes and serve on buttered toast or crackers.
Wash the pears, and unless they are small quarter and core them. Place them in a deep pudding dish, well sprinkled with sugar. Add water sufficient to keep them from burning; cover and bake for two or three hours in a slow oven. If desired, a piece of stick cinnamon may be put in the pan with the pears; this will improve the flavor.
Wash, quarter, core and pare the quinces. Place them, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish, filling the cavities with sugar, mixed with a little grated lemon rind or lemon juice. Cover the bottom of the dish with water and bake in a moderate oven until soft, basting frequently. Serve hot with butter and sugar.
Wash the quinces, pare and core them and cut them into eighths. Cover with cold water and let them come slowly to a boil, removing the scum that rises. When nearly soft add one cup of sugar for every pint of fruit and one cup of apples, pared and cut into eighths. Boil until both apples and quinces are tender.
Select the strawberry rhubarb in preference to the white; wash it, and unless it is very old, do not peel it. Simply remove the ends and cut the stalk into small pieces. Pour boiling water on the rhubarb; drain and put it in a saucepan over the fire, covering it well with sugar and adding only enough water to keep it from burning. Cook until soft but not until the pieces have lost their identity. The quantity of sugar will have to be varied according to the age of the rhubarb.
Wash and stem the blackberries; add a little water and stew until tender. Just before they are done sweeten to taste.
Some cooks thicken the juice with a little cornstarch thinned in water. If this is done the blackberries must boil for an extra minute or two until the cornstarch is cooked.
Follow the recipe for Stewed Blackberries.
Select pie cherries, preferably the morello cherries; stone them or not as desired and follow the directions for Stewed Blackberries.
See chapter on "Sauces."
To cook dried fruits thoroughly they should after careful washing be soaked over night. Next morning put them over the fire in the water in which they have been soaked; bring to a boil; then simmer slowly until the fruit is thoroughly cooked but not broken. Sweeten to taste. Very much less sugar will be needed than for fresh fruit.
If desired cook a little stick cinnamon or other spice with the fruit. Pears, which are apt to be insipid, are especially improved by this addition.
½ cup sugar 1 lemon
1 ounce butter 1 egg
Beat the butter and sugar to a cream and add the beaten egg; then add the lemon, juice and rind, and stir over hot water until the mixture thickens. Remove from fire and stir until cool.
½ cup sugar
½ tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon butter ½ cup water 1 egg
Mix the sugar and cornstarch; add the juice and rind of the lemon and the butter; then add the water and cook over hot water until the cornstarch clarifies. Pour the mixture on the beaten egg,: return to the fire and stir until it thickens.