This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, when leaving Baden Baden, after a sojourn there in 1876, brought with her a noted Apple-cake, and the recipe for making it, "AEpfel kuchen mit Rahm Guss." 'The kitchen there boasted an excellent cook named Marie, and it was she who first made this capital cake for our late Queen. Marie has since then gone over to the great majority, but her excellent Apple-cake lives on. "Line a round baking-sheet which has been buttered, with a paste (not made too thick) composed with one pound of sifted flour, half a pound of fresh butter, six hard-boiled yolks of eggs (having passed the same through a fine wire sieve), six raw yolks of eggs, half a pound of castor sugar, some ground cinnamon, a little ground cloves, and a few tablespoonfuls of cream; mix thoroughly and roll out thinly; the paste should be of the colour of cocoa. In lining the baking-sheet, bring the pastry slightly above the edge. Wash, and pick equal quantities of currants, and sultanas; peel some Wellington apples, and cut them into quarters, which are to be cut again into the thinnest possible slices, so as to well cover the base of the paste with these slices of apples, and with the currants, and sultanas.
Now place three-quarters of a pound of castor sugar in a basin, and work well into this nine yolks of eggs, and whip the whites. Mix in lightly half a pound of finely-sifted flour, adding a little ground cinnamon, putting in the whipped whites last. Fill up the paste containing the apples, currants, and sultanas with this mixture, and bake in a moderate oven, being very careful that the bottom paste is well cooked. When the cake is done, sprinkle it over with fine cinnamon-sugar, cut it out in pieces, and serve cold in a napkin".
Pears are a colder fruit than Apples, having an astringent quality, with an earthy substance in their composition. Their cellular tissue contains minute stony concretions which make the fruit in most of its varieties bite short, and crisp. Pears owe their special taste to an amylacetate; they also contain malic acid, pectose, gum, sugar, albumin, mineral matter, cellulose, and water. When peeled they constipate, but with their skins on they are somewhat laxative. Lemery told about Pears (1675): "They create an appetite, and do fortify the stomach; those that be of a sour and harsh taste are more binding than the others, and fitter to stop a looseness." Perry is a fermented drink brewed from the juice of Pears; it is described by Gerarde as "a wine made of the juice of Pears, called in English, Perry, which purgeth those that are not accustomed to take thereof, especially when it is new. Notwithstanding, it is a wholesome drink (being taken in small quantities) as wine; it comforteth, and warmeth the stomacke, and causeth good digestion." The Barland Pear, which was chiefly cultivated in the seventeenth century, still retains its health, and vigour; the identical trees in Herefordshire which then supplied excellent liquor, continuing to do so in this, the twentieth century.
During Henry the Eighth's reign a "Warden" Pear ("wearden," because long-keeping) was commonly grown in orchards. Evelyn, in his Pomona, says: "Pears are nourishing, especially the baked Wardens, edulcorated with sugar, and are exceedingly restorative in consumptions; the Perry being a great cordial." The chemical gout of Pears can be artificially imitated in the laboratory, and an essence made thus is used for flavouring Pear-drops, and other sweetmeats; the said acetate-amyl essence being got as an ether from vinegar, and potato oil. Perry owns about 1 per cent of alcohol over cider, and a slightly larger proportion of malic acid, so that it is somewhat more stimulating, and better calculated to produce the healthful effects of vegetable acids in the body. Pears were deemed by the Romans an antidote to poisonous fungi; and for this reason (which subsequent experience has confirmed) Perry is still reckoned the best thing to be taken after partaking freely of mushrooms. A time-worn maxim directs that after eating Pears wine must be drunk as a corrective, or else mischief may ensue: "Apres le poire ou le vin, ou le pretre." When Jersey Pears, or other such superior fruit, are gathered in the autumn, being fully grown, they are then woody, and acid, and unfit for food; but by being stored for one, two, or three months they become lusciously tender, and sweet; the woody fibre is converted by fermentation into sugar (as happens with ensilage), and the harsh acids are neutralized, the air having been excluded by the thick rind, whilst the fibre is closely packed.
A crop of small Pears grown in Switzerland, which ripen in September, is made into the wholesome "Birnen-bonig," as found on every hotel breakfast table. "Pear puddings" were fashioned in Shakespeare's day, but not containing any Pears; they consisted of cold chicken chopped up with sugar, currants,, and spices, being moulded into shapes like Pears. The statesman Hume, when at St. Stephens, never purchased food from the kitchen there, but took thither with him a pocketful of Pears as refreshment. The Pear tree loves a sunny house-front, some sweet old-fashioned country mansion with ancient gables, where the fruit may be reached through the lattice.
The remedial constituent principles of other fruits available for curative purposes may be stated in brief thus: Much acid (citric, and malic) which is astringent, and helpful against sluggishness of the liver, as in the Cranberry, belonging to the Bilberry tribe. This is a small fruit, brilliantly red in colour when ripe; it makes a delightful jam, with a keen flavour, somewhat bitter, and useful as a tonic. There is likewise an aromatic acid in the Medlar (Mespilus germanica) whilst passing into the early stages of decay; but this fruit when first gathered is hard, harsh, and uneatable. In Shakespeare's As you like it occurs the passage, "You'll be rotten ere you be half ripe; and that's the right virtue of the Medlar." "This fruit," says Culpeper, "is old Saturn's, and very retentive." The small stones found within the Medlar, when dried, and powdered, will help to dissolve gravel in the kidneys, or bladder. Again, the Currants (Ribes), black, red, and white., by their fresh juices exercise salutary actions; these juices are anti-putrescent, containing citric, and malic acids. Both red, and white Currants give help in most forms of obstinate visceral obstruction, and they correct impurities in the blood.