25 August 2012

How To Use Your Currants


Black, red, and white currants. (photo link)
The following article, titled "How To Use Your Currants," comes from the 1871 Cultivator & Country Gentleman newspaper

Currant Jelly
For currant jelly, gather the currants when fully ripe; wash thoroughly clean from soil, squeeze the juice through a flannel bag, having first poured a teacupful of boiling water upon ten or twelve pounds of fruit. Measure the juice, and to every pint of it add one pound of the best lump sugar. Boil together twenty-five to thirty minutes, skimming off all the froth that rises; (this should go into the vinegar jug, that should sit behind the stove, ready to take in all such things.) When perfectly clear, strain through a jelly strainer or sieve, into cups or tumblers. When it is cold and solid, cut round pieces of white paper, dip them in alcohol and lay over the jelly; then paste stiff brown paper all over the tops of the dishes, and label them, with the date. There is no need of removing the stems for jelly, if the currants are well washed.

Currant Wine
Take fully ripe berries on the stems, put them into the fire and let them become heated through; then press out the juice through a flannel bag. If a quantity of fruit is to be prepared, wash the clothes wringer thoroughly, and put the bag containing a portion of currants, through its rollers. To every gallon of juice add two quarts of hot water and four pounds of white sugar. Mix all together; put into a jug and tie millinet or lace over the mouth to keep out the insects. Set in a warm place to ferment. In a month or six weeks the wine can be corked up. Let it remain in the jug, in the cellar, until April, then pour off the clear liquor, and bottle tightly.

Currant Vinegar
A good article of vinegar can be made from the mash that is left from jelly and wine. Pour boiling water over it but not too much; let it be quite colored with the juice; then to every gallon of it add one quart of molasses; set in the sun to ferment; and in three months, if not sooner, you will have a delicious vinegar.

Spiced Currants
These make a relishing accompaniment to roast meats, etc. Take the stems from five pounds of currants; add to them four pounds of brown sugar, three tablespoonfuls of ground cinnamon, two tablespoonfuls of ground cloves and a pinch of salt; add one pint of vinegar. Boil in a porcelain kettle for one hour; keep in jars tightly covered.

Currant Preserves of Jam
take the currants from the stems and to every pound of them put three-quarters of a pound of white sugar; mash them up with a pestle, and boil for half an hour, skimming well. This is a good substitute for cranberry sauce with poultry.

Dried Currants
Take seven pounds of currants, one pound of sugar, and cook till completely broken up; strain through a colander; boil the juice down to a thick syrup; add the currants that were left in the colander; cook as thick as possible without burning; spread on platters to dry in the hot sun, or an oven not too hot to dry slowly; one day is usually enough for one side; cut up into small squares; turn and dry on the other side. It is deliciously flavorful and agreeable to the mouth of a fevered patient. Lay a small bit on the tongue and let it dissolve, or dissolve it in cold water for a refreshing drink.

Iced Currants
Select large, full bunches of currants; dip them in the white of egg, and then roll in powdered sugar. A very handsome dish for dessert or supper.

Currant Ice
Squeeze out two quarts of currant juice, add it to one pint of cold water and three pounds of white sugar. Put into the freezer and beat into it the whites of three eggs, whipped to a stiff froth; freeze the mixture. This makes an elegant dish for dessert, as it freezes in a pink colored foam, which is very delicious.

Currant Syrup
That three quarts of currant juice and three pounds of white sugar; boil for twenty minutes, and bottle while hot, sealing the corks tightly with a wax made of rosin and tallow. This affords a pleasing beverage when mixed with ice water, and is valuable in the sick room.

22 August 2012

"Cherry Bounce"


Wild Black Cherries

Procure wild black cherries; pound them, in order to break the pits. Then mix them with sugar [and] good whiskey or rum, in the proportion of a gallon of spirits and two pounds of sugar to a couple of quarts of cherries. Put the whole in a tight cask. Shake it up once every day for three months; then let the liquor run through a thick cloth twice to clear it. Keep it, well strained, in casks or bottles. This is very good for bowel complaint, and a fine tonic.
[The Cultivator & Country Gentleman]

18 August 2012

Sunflower As A Field Crop


Isaac Leuty of Sanilac Co., Michigan, states in the Western Rural that he has cultivated the “Mammoth Russian Sunflower,” as a field crop, with great success. He plants in drills 4 feet apart, and 18 inches in the drill, requiring two quarts of seed per acre. Many of the stalks grow 16 feet high. They want rich land. From eight to ten tons of leaves have been gathered from an acre, making good feed for cows, horses and pigs. The first leaves are pulled in July, going up 3 or 4 feet high. The next pulling is as high as a man can reach. They make good green food when pastures are dry. The tops with the seed are cut with a sickle, as high as a man can reach, putting a dozen bundles in a shock, as soon as the seed glazes. In winter, the seed is threshed with a flail, the main heads reserved for seed and the small ones threshed separately. The main heads gave 31 bushels per acre, and the small ones 16 bushels—47 per acre. Have any of our readers had similar success?
[The Cultivator & Country Gentleman]

04 August 2012

Molasses From Sweet Apples


Today’s Agrarian Nation excerpt is a real gem. It comes from the February 25, 1875 edition of “The Cultivator & Country Gentleman” a popular weekly agricultural newspaper of the 1800’s. I own several, bound, yearly volumes of the oversize periodical and am slowly making my way through them, looking for tidbits of interesting information, just like this.....


To The Editors of The Country Gentleman—The following is from an old book published by B. Franklin and D. Hall in 1748, at Philadelphia. At this time, when there is such a superabundance of apples, it may be suggestive, as well as interesting for its antiquity. H.B.O. Whitinsville, Mass.

A new sort of Melasses made of Apples; the Account communicated to the Royal Society, by Paul Dudley, Esq; of New England, and published in the Philosophical Transactions, Numb 374.

The apple that produces the Melasses is a Summer Sweeting of a middling size, pleasant to the Taste and full of Juice, so that 7 Bushels will make a Barrel of Cyder. The manner of making it is thus; you must grind and press the Apples, and then take their Juice and boil it in a Copper till three Quarters of it is wasted, which will be done in about 6 Hours gently boiling, and by that Time it comes to be of the Sweetness and Consistency of Melasses.

Some of our People scum the Cyder as it boils, others do not, and yet there seems to be no great Difference in the Goodness.

This new Melasses answers all the Ends of that made by the sweet Cane imported from beyond [the] Sea. It serves not only for Food and Brewing, but is of great Use also in preserving of Cyder; two Quarts of it put into a Barrel of rack’d Cyder will both preserve, and give it a very agreeable Colour.

The Apple Melasses was discovered a few Years since, by a Gentleman of my Asquaintance, at
Woodstock, in this Province, a Town remote from the Sea, and where the West-India Melasses is dear and scarce; he ingeneously confesses the Discovery was pure accidental, but ever since he has supplied his Family with Melasses out of his orchard, and his neighbours also now do the like, to their great Advantage. Our country farmers run much upon planting Orchards with these sort of Sweetings, for fatening their Swine, and assure me it makes the best Sort of Pork. And I know the Cyder made of them to be better than that of other Fruit, for Taste, Coulour and keeping.


The "Melasses" (Molasses) spoken of in today's excerpt is what became known as boiled cider syrup, and was once a very popular item in the Northeastern U.S. In addition to making hard cider and cider vinegar, making boiled cider syrup was a way of preserving the apple harvest without refrigeration. Another way of preserving the harvest was to make pure cider jelly. Apples are full of pectin and if you boil cider to just the right point, pour it in a jar and cap it, the cider will jell. No sugar is added. It's nothing but apple, and by all accounts it is delectable.

You can learn more about making boiled cider syrup and pure apple jelly at my Whizbang Cider web site. Here is the link: Boiled Apple Cider Syrup & Pure Cider Jelly