Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another in a Series of Self Portraits with Produce

self portrait with watermelon

There were four this year in the garden. This is the second we've harvested so far. The bad news: the girls, having been raised on seedless watermelon, found the seeds not joyful for spitting but extremely bothersome, to the point of despising this poor defenseless fruit.


xan said...


Peel small-sized pears, leave the stem one inch long, weigh them, and allow one pound of sugar to one of fruit; put one pint of water and one teaspoonful of citric acid to every four pounds of sugar. Melt the sugar and acid slowly over steam [i.e., double boiler]; when melted let it boil up once, then skim the syrup well and keep it over the steam until wanted. At the same time the syrup is in the process of preparation, have the bears boiling in a preserving-kettle in sufficient water to cover them, in which is dissolved citric acid sufficient to taste quite acid. When so tender that a straw can be run through them, take them out and put them in the syrup, where they must remain about twenty minutes. Have ready some glass jars or bottles with mouths large enough to take in the fruit without breaking; put them in cold water and boil them; put the fruit into the bottles while they are hot. This is done for two objects: first, to prevent the hot preserves from breaking the bottles, and secondly, to prevent the fruit from fermentation by the cold air. Cork tight, and seal up each bottle while the syrup is boiling hot. Be careful to seal perfectly tight; a hole no larger than a cambric needle will do as much mischief as one much larger.

[variants coming, but they all refer back to this basic Mother Recipe.]

xan said...


Prepare Virgaloo pears as for preserves, except they must be cut into about four equal parts. Make a syrup as rich and in the same proportion. Take green ginger, scrapt it clean, put to every pound of pears one quarter of a pound of ginger, boil it with the pears, until tender, then put it in the bottles with the fruit,and the same number of slices in each bottle. Prepare the bottles and put up the fruit in the same manner as preserved pears.

[note, I have no idea if Virgaloo pears even still exist, but Mrs. Haskell was v. devoted to them.]

xan said...


Prepare pears as for preserves, boil until tender; stick into each of them three or four cloves; take one quart of wine, or strong cider vinegar, four pounds of sugar, half an ounce of cinnamon broken into pieces two inches long, a quarter of an ounce of mace, and half an ounce of dry ginger scraped and washed clean. Put all into a preserving-kettle, let it remain over steam where it nearly boils two hours, then dissolve a teaspoonful of citric acid in a little of the syrup, and stir it in while hot. Put the fruit into the syrup a half hour, then bottle, cork and seal tight. Keep in a cool place, the same as other preserved fruit. This is not a proper pickle for dinner, it should be served for tea and suppers. They can be pickled also with or without sugar or spices, for sour pickles.

xan said...


(Quinces are in the same chapter with Pears and Mrs. Haskel does not provide a recipe for pear jelly or jam. So we will fake it here.)

Boil the quinces, with the peels and cores, in as little water as will cover them. Press the pulp through a sieve, and allow one and a fourth pound of loaf-sugar for every pound of pulp; boil gently, stirring constantly, until it is reduced to a stiff mass, after which pack it in small jars and cover it with paper wet with the white of an egg. If of proper consistency it will cut like cheese.


notes: "loaf sugar" is plain white sugar; it was not sold pre-granulated in 1863 but rather in solid blocks or cones which you grated at home. Cut down on sugar using considerably I imagine. Canning materials (Ball and Mason type jars, seals, rings etc) were just a few years in the future when Mrs. H. wrote. Preserves were put in glass, clay, or stone vessels and "sealed" with paper, often dipped in brandy, tied over the top, sometimes with a leather covering added as well.

Incredibly enough there was a project to promote home canning in TINS--which required a tinsmith in residence to solder the lids on--but unsurprisingly this failed to catch on. :)

ina said...

Xan--You crack me up! Thanks!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think the watermelon tastes better if it is the type with seeds. I hate to admit that I usually purchase the ones without seeds though. I am just lazy.