Much of the excellence of stewed fruit depends upon the manner in which it is cooked. As it is served, in nine cases out of ten, it has a medicated "tang" that is far from agreeable - produced by the cooking of the sugar with the fruit. She who is familiar with this form of the sweetmeat alone has no conception of how palatable a dessert it makes if properly prepared. Served with plain or sponge cake it is a convenient dessert for Sunday night's supper, or for the dainty family luncheon. But the housekeeper who would have her stewed fruit really good must be willing to be a little careful - perhaps fussy - in the preparation thereof. Apples that are a little tough, pears that are rather tasteless when raw, green or hard peaches and sour plums may, with the help of the stewing kettle and the housewife's ingenuity, be converted into tender, toothsome morsels. Use always an agate-iron or porcelain-lined preserving kettle, as the action of the acid upon tin or iron darkens the fruit.
Nearly all fruits prepared according to recipes given herewith may be kept for months if sealed hot in glass cans, as one would can vegetables or unsweetened fruits. They are more wholesome than the pound-for-pound preserves.
Peel and core firm apples, dropping them into cold water as you do so, that the color may be preserved. Put them over the fire with enough boiling water to cover them, and let them simmer gently until very tender, but not broken. With a perforated skimmer remove them carefully from the water and arrange them in a deep dish. Strain the liquor and return it to the fire, putting into it a large cupful of granulated sugar for every dozen apples you have cooked. Boil to a syrup, add the juice of one lemon and pour over the apples. Cover closely and set in a cold place until wanted. These apples will keep in the ice-box for several days.
From a dozen medium-sized apples remove the peeling with a sharp knife, taking care to have the parings as thin as possible. Take out the cores;put the apples, side by side, in a deep pudding-dish, and pour over them enough water almost to cover them. Invert a plate, or pan, over the pudding-dish, set it in the oven and steam the contents until each apple can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and lay the apples carefully in a deep dish. Set the pudding-dish containing the liquor from the apples on top of the range, add to it a cupful of granulated sugar, and bring to a boil. Simmer for twenty minutes, then add a dash of grated nutmeg and a pinch, each, of mace and ground cloves. Boil to a syrup and pour over the apples. Eat cold.
Peel and quarter a dozen large pears and remove the cores, laying the quartered fruit in cold water as you do so. Put them over the fire with a pint of boiling water and stew until tender. Remove the fruit and add to the liquor a cupful of sugar, a stick of cinnamon, one of mace, and a teaspoonful of lemon juice. Boil until thick, strain the syrup and pour it over the pears. Cover closely until they are cold. Seckel pears, peeled and stewed whole according to this recipe, are delicious.