Fruit for preserving should be sound and free from all defects, using white sugar, and also that which is dry, which produces the nicest syrup; dark sugar can be used by being clarified, which is done by dissolving two pounds of sugar in a pint of water; add to it the white of an egg and beat it well, put it into a preserving kettle on the fire and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as it begins to swell and boil up, throw in a little cold water; let it boil up again, take it off and remove the scum; boil it again, throw in more cold water and remove the scum; repeat until it is clear and pours like oil from the spoon.
In the old way of preserving, we used pound for pound, when they were kept in stone jars or crocks; now, as most preserves are put up in sealed jars or cans, less sugar seems sufficient; three-quarters of a pound of sugar is generally all that is required for a pound of fruit.
Fruit should be boiled in a porcelain-lined or granite-ware dish, if possible; but other utensils, copper or metal, if made bright and clean, answer as well.
Any of the fruits that have been preserved in syrup may be converted into dry preserves, by first draining them from the syrup, and then drying them in a stove or very moderate oven, adding to them a quantity of powdered loaf sugar, which will gradually penetrate the fruit, while the fluid parts of the syrup gently evaporate. They should be dried in the stove or oven on a sieve, and turned every six or eight hours, fresh powdered sugar being sifted over them every time they are turned. Afterwards they are to be kept in a dry situation, in drawers or boxes. Currants and cherries preserved whole in this manner, in bunches, are extremely elegant and have a fine flavor. In this way it is, also, that orange and lemon chips are preserved.
Mold can be prevented from forming on fruit jellies by pouring a little melted paraffine over the top. When cool, it will harden to a solid cake, which can be easily removed when the jelly is used, and saved to use over again another year. It is perfectly harmless and tasteless.
Large glass tumblers are the best for keeping jellies, much better than large vessels, for by being opened frequently they soon spoil; a paper should be cut to fit and placed over the jelly; then put on the lid or cover, with thick paper rubbed over on the inside with the white of an egg.
There cannot be too much care taken in selecting fruit for jellies, for if the fruit is over ripe, any amount of time in boiling will never make it jelly - there is where so many fail in making good jelly; and another important matter is overlooked - that of carefully skimming off the juice after it begins to boil and a scum rises from the bottom to the top; the juice should not be stirred, but the scum carefully taken off; if allowed to boil under, the jelly will not be clear.
When either preserves or canned fruits show any indications of fermentation, they should be immediately re-boiled with more sugar, to save them. It is much better to be generous with the sugar at first than to have any losses afterwards. Keep all preserves in a cool, dry closet.