Coddled Apples Apple Sauce
A. Class Experiment. The Spoiling of Fruits.
Put three test tubes, with corks to fit, in a pan of cold water and heat slowly to boiling. Empty the tubes and half fill with uncooked fruit cut in small pieces.
1. Fill up the first tube with cold water, cork, and seal with paraffin or wax.
2. Cover fruit in the second tube with water and boil for three minutes. Fill up with boiling water; cork and seal.
3. Repeat (2), but do not cork the tube.
4. Take a tube which has not been boiled. Cook a little fruit separately and, when it is cooled, put it into the tube. Add enough of the fruit and juice to fill it; cork and seal.
Note results at the end of twenty-four and forty-eight hours, and after several days. Under which conditions does the fruit keep?
B. Keeping Fruit from Breaking while Cooking.
1. Pare a peach. Cook half of it in half a cup of water. When it is tender, add two tablespoons of sugar.
2. Make a syrup of half a cup of water and two tablespoons of sugar, and cook the other half of the peach in it.
Compare the results.
C. Prepare coddled apples and apple sauce, using one apple.
The apple may be washed and pared, and cooked whole or quartered and cored; but the whole apple or the piece, whichever is used, should keep its shape. Therefore cook gently. Use one-third as much sugar as water for the small quantity. When shall the sugar be added? A bit of stick cinnamon may be cooked with the apple.
Wash, pare, core, and cut up an apple. Use about one-third of a cup of water to an apple, and one-third as much sugar as water. Here the apple should not keep its shape. When shall the sugar be added? One-half teaspoon of lemon or nutmeg or cinnamon may be added.
The botanist defines fruit as the seed-bearing parts of a plant. However, we commonly call some of the fruits vegetables; as, for example, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. Then there are a few vegetables, such as rhubarb, which we use and think of as fruit. Only a few years ago it was hard to obtain fresh fruits in winter. Bananas could be obtained only in the larger cities, and oranges and lemons were very expensive. Now conditions have changed. Transportation is so much more rapid that with the development of refrigeration we can have fruit shipped from a distance and so are enabled to have fresh fruit all the year round.
Composition of Fruits.
Fruit is sometimes classified from a nutritive standpoint, as flavor fruit and food fruit. Some fruit contains so much water that there is comparatively little nourishment to be had from it. Watermelons and strawberries, for example, contain more than ninety per cent water. But nearly all fruit has real food value. Many of the fruits which we think of as flavor fruits contain considerable nutrition. A large-sized orange will furnish as much nourishment as an egg, or as a banana, or as two apples, mainly on account of the large amount of sugar present.
The flavor of different fruits is due to sugars, acids, and "ethereal" bodies. These ethereal bodies, or volatile oils, as they are called, are present in such small quantities that they are sometimes impossible to detect chemically, but it is undoubtedly due to their presence that different fruits have distinctive flavors. The acids present are known as organic acids. In fruits these are such acids as malic, tartaric, and citric. Some of these are burned in the body, just as other food is, and form carbon dioxide and water. They do not have to be excreted as do the mineral acids, and so, in the body, we need hardly consider them as acids at all.
The salts which are present in fruits are valuable. We count the fruits, then, as foods which furnish alkaline elements, and these help in keeping the blood in proper condition.
Dried fruits are, of course, more nutritious, pound for pound, than fresh fruits. A pound of fresh fruit will give about six ounces when dried. A pound of dried fruit, then, will be nearly three times as nutritious as a pound of fresh fruit. We must take facts like these into account when we consider whether dried or fresh fruit is more expensive. We pay more for a pound of raisins than for a pound of grapes, but since the raisins contain so much less water we really are paying less for the amount of food material to be obtained from them.
Fruits are particularly desirable in the diet because of their flavor. They may increase greatly the palatability of an otherwise somewhat tasteless meal. Jam on our bread appeals to all of us. This increased palatability probably means increased digestibility, so that, for this reason alone, we should feel justified in including fruit in the diet. However, the salts and acids present are so important that we need fruits for this reason also, even if their palatability does not tempt us. The salts and acids in some fruits have a laxative effect. Prunes and figs are examples of this class. Blackberries and peaches are not laxative. Most other fruits rank between these two groups.
The amount of fiber present in fruits is small compared with the amount in vegetables, but there is enough to make some varieties distinctly more easily digestible if cooked. Cooking softens the fruit. Fruit is also cooked to preserve it. Cooked, dried, and preserved fruits have all the advantages in the diet of fresh fruits.
Among the fruits considered the most digestible are grapes, oranges, lemons, cooked apples, figs, peaches, strawberries, and raspberries. Some people, however, cannot eat strawberries. Only a little less digestible are raw apples, prunes, pears, apricots, bananas, and fresh currants. Bananas contain a good deal of starch if they are unripe, and so in this condition are not very digestible unless cooked. When they are kept until the skins are dark, the starch is largely changed into sugar and the fruit is more digestible. The "strings", sometimes left on the banana when it is peeled, are indigestible. As a whole, fruits are digestible, although some people have idiosyncrasies which make a particular fruit disagree with them. Over-ripe or green fruit is, of course, harmful.
Since much of our fruit is eaten raw, fruit should be kept as clean as possible while it is marketed. All fruits should be washed before being eaten, even fruits like bananas and oranges, the skins of which we do not eat, because we are apt to handle first the skin and then the fruit. Such fruits as apples and oranges may be washed and rubbed with a cloth to clean them. Fruits that have sticky surfaces, especially if these have dried, are harder to clean and need to be washed in two or three waters. It is better to select packages of dates or figs which are protected from the dust, even if they cost slightly more, than to buy those that are exposed to dirt and flies.
Fruit, then, should not be considered merely as a luxury; and some fruit should be included in every diet. If it is necessary to count the pennies, choose the cheaper varieties, which, fortunately, are as good for us as the more expensive.
U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Farmers' Bulletin No. 293. "Use of
Fruit as Food." Year Book U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Separate 610. "Raisins,
Figs, and Other Dried Fruits and Their Use."
1. What is the value of fruit as food?
2. Are these values retained in cooked and preserved fruits?
3. Why is it better to use a silver knife in preparing fruit?
4. Make a list of dried fruits in common use and their cost per pound.
5. Make a list of the common fresh fruits, giving their seasons and usual cost when in season.