Speaking broadly, we eat fruits more for the sake of their flavours, and sweetness, than for the actual nourishment which they afford. Of the various sorts, apples, apricots, bananas, dates, figs, grapes, plums, prunes, raisins, strawberries, and raspberries are best supplied with substantial proteid; whilst the fattening, and warming principles are chiefly found in the dried sweet fruits containing laevulose, and vegetable gums; cranberries being the most acid fruit. The mineral constituents are chiefly salts of potash, united with the acids (citric, malic, and tartaric), which give a pleasant flavour, but do not cause sour digestion. When converted by the heat of the blood into foods, the acids are burnt off into carbon, and the alkaline bases remain to circulate. Moreover, as fruits ripen the acids diminish to some extent. Cooking renders fruit more digestible, by softening the cellulose, and by converting the gums into a gelatinous form; but a great loss is sustained unless the fruit-juice is eaten with the fruit (stewed for preference), and then it proves of service against constipation, or inactivity of the liver. Uncooked fruits should be warmed for easier digestion by weakly persons.

As to taking cane sugar with fruit, if gouty acids, as urates, are already in the blood of those who live freely, or indulge in alcohol, and if these acids are ready to cause fermentation within the digestive organs, such fruits will start this fermentation anew, and further gouty salts will accrue; but if by judicious abstinence the blood is set free from urates, and they be not provoked again, then cane sugar may be taken with impunity as a welcome addition to fresh fruits (though their more exquisite flavours will be masked thereby).


Compotes are fresh fruits stewed with sugar. First make a syrup of three and a half cups of sugar, and two and a half cups of water, and boil for five minutes from the time of its beginning to boil; when it is boiling drop the fruit in carefully, a few pieces at a time, so that it shall not break; cook until tender, but firm enough to keep their shape; remove with a skimmer, and arrange daintily on a dish; then boil down the syrup until thick, and pour it oyer the fruit; let this cool before serving. Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, and oranges may all be cooked in this wholesome way. Charles Lamb, in his early story (a sweet, homely, pathetic pastoral), of Rosamund Gray, draws the moral: "Shall the good housewife take such pains in pickling, and preserving her garden fruits, her walnuts, her apricots, and quinces: and is there not much spiritual housewifery in treasuring up our mind's best fruits - our heart's meditations in its most favoured moments?" "Eating strawberries out of season," said Washington "invariably produces mental depression.

I do not believe there would be so many suicides (more frequent in the spring than at any other time of the year) if people would not eat strawberries until they are ripe at home." The use of fruit will materially help to diminish a craving for alcohol. Lord Chesterfield, in one of his celebrated letters to his son Philip Stanhope, when in Italy (1749), wrote: "Fruit when full ripe is very wholesome, but then it must be within certain bounds as to quantity, for I have known many of my countrymen die of bloody fluxes by indulging in too great a quantity of fruit in those countries where from the goodness, and the ripeness of it, they thought it could do them no harm." Scientists now find that cherries, strawberries, and some other fruits tend to lessen the quantity of uric acid in gouty subjects by the action of their quinic acid, or "China saure".

Fruit soups are to be commended as agreeable, and useful; they can be made by boiling fresh, or dried fruits in water (with or without the addition of sugar, lemon-peel, etc.), and then freeing them from the solid residue by pressing, and straining off. These soups are pleasant to some persons as drinks, being sustaining, because they will contain quite a small amount of albuminates, rather more carbohydrates, and certain of the organic acids. Apples stewed with raisins make an excellent dish for overcoming constipation: Pare, core, and cut into quarters a dozen, or more, of medium-sized apples; clean thoroughly as many raisins of good quality as equal in weight one-fourth of the apples employed, and pour over these raisins one quart of boiling water; then let them steep until well swollen; stone them, and add the apples, proceeding to cook them until tender. Some sugar to sweeten may be added if desired, although scarcely needed unless the apples are very tart. Dried apples soaked overnight may be stewed with raisins in the same way for about forty minutes. As already noted (page 51), apples from which the juices have been artificially evaporated, and then used independently, are sometimes sold in the shops as dried apple-rings, or snitz.

These "snitz" are bleached with sulphur to prevent them from turning brown.

An old recipe of 1754 by the Duke of Bolton's chef ordered: "For making blackcaps, take a dozen good pippins, cut each of them into halves, and remove the cores; then place them on a right mazarine dish with their skins on, the cut sides downwards; put to them a very little water, and scrape on them some loaf sugar; put them in a hot oven till the skins are burnt black, and your apples tender.; serve them on plates, strewed over with sugar." To make a simple apple-water, as an excellent fever-drink, "slice up thinly three or four good apples, without peeling them; boil these in a clean saucepan with a quart of water, and a little sugar, until the slices of apple are soft; the apple-water must then be strained through a piece of clean muslin into a jug, where it should be left until cold. For apple-jelly, "take some cooking apples, and cut them in quarters, but without paring, or coring them; put them to boil, one quart of water to every pound of fruit; when they are boiled to a pulp, strain through a sieve, or bag; then to every pint of juice put one pound of sugar, and boil till it jellies, stirring all the time".