Wartime Recipes 1942

Preserving

One of the guiding principles of a reformed diet is that all food should be as fresh as possible and that much of it should be eaten raw, and that what is cooked should only be lightly cooked in such a way as to preserve all the goodness possible. This principle does not favour preserving and storing food in normal times, but in times of emergency, emergency measures must be used, and in wartime it is very important to lay in stores in the autumn when fruits are more plentiful, to help us through the winter when there are no fresh fruits available. Preserved fruits and vegetables are not so good as fresh ones, but they are a great deal better than none at all and provide interest and variety in the winter menu, as well as mineral salts.

The easiest way to preserve fruits for the winter is to bottle them, and, when deciding what fruits to bottle and how much, it is important to choose the most valuable ones available. Vitamin C is inevitably damaged by the normal home process of bottling, but it should not all be lost, and a good proportion of Vitamin A should survive. For these reasons, blackcurrants and tomatoes are particularly valuable.

In normal times, we strongly deprecate the use of white sugar, since it is a denaturalised food and is apt to be used to excess if used at all, but in the absence of both fresh fruits and an adequate supply of dried fruits, or honey, it is permissible to use white sugar instead, and this lends itself very well to the preparation of jams. The best jams to make are those where the most valuable fruits are used, particularly oranges for marmalade, since the skin contains valuable properties and is often thrown away. Blackcurrant jam is also valuable, and also rose-hip jam, and, to a lesser extent, crab-apple or blackberry jelly.

Many people have a good supply of preserving jars with screw tops. Before starting to bottle any fruit, the jars, glass tops and screw bands should all be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water and then rinsed in clean water and thoroughly dried. The rubber bands should also be carefully tested to see that they are still in good condition.

People who have sterilising outfits will naturally follow the directions given with them. For those without such outfits, bottling is still quite possible in the oven. All fruit for bottling should be absolutely fresh and sound.

250. Bottled Apples

  • Ripe cooking apples
  • Preserving jars (3 or 4lb jars are very convenient)
  • Boiling water

Quarter and core the apples and peel very thinly. Put the cores and peelings in a saucepan, just cover with water, bring slowly to the boil, and simmer gently for 1 hour. Pack the apple quarters closely into the jars and proceed as for blackcurrants. If they have sunk much at the end of an hour, partially fill from one of the other jars.

Take out one at a time, put on rubber rings, and strain the boiling juice from the peel and core into the jar, instead of using boiling water as in blackcurrant recipe. Fill to overflowing, put on heated caps and screw up tightly. Many people are now preserving fruits in Campden solution. This is sulphur dioxide dissolved in water, forming sulphurous acid, and, though very simple, it is not a method we would recommend.

251. Bottled Blackcurrants

  • Blackcurrants
  • Boiling water
  • Preserving jars (1lb size are suitable)

Pick over the currants very carefully, rejecting any over-ripe or unripe or damaged fruit. Pack into jars, slapping the bottom to get as much in as possible. Place the jars on an asbestos sheet in a cool oven and leave for about an hour. The fruit should be beginning to "run," but should not have gone to a mush or got burnt. The fruit will have sunk a little, so use one jar to fill up the others. Take the jars out one at a time, put on the rubber ring, fill slowly to over-flowing with absolutely boiling water, put on the previously heated glass cap (if not previously heated it will crack), then put on metal ring and screw up absolutely tight at once.
Suitable also for blackberries raspberries, morello cherries, plums, etc.

252. Crab Apple Marmalade

  • Crab apples
  • Sugar
  • Orange peel

Wash the crab apples and cut them into quarters, removing any damaged parts, but leaving on the skin and cores. Put into a large enamel pan, cover with cold water and boil gently until reduced to a pulp. Strain pulp through a muslin bag.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the peel from three or four sweet oranges saved from some recently supplied to your own or your neighbour's children. Simmer this gently in enough water barely to cover it, for about ½ hour. Add this to the strained juice from the crab apples. The proportions should be, roughly, two pints crab apple juice to one pint of orange peel and water.

Bring the crab apple juice and orange peel water to the boil and to three pints of this mixture add 3lbs sugar, and boil gently until it sets when tested on a plate (about 20 minutes). Put into warmed jars and cover as soon as it is cold. If no orange peel is available the crab apple jelly is delicious by itself.

253. HAWTHORN Jelly

  • Berries from hawthorn tree
  • Sugar
  • Water

Pick enough of the ripe red haws to fill a large pan, say about 3-4lbs. Wash thoroughly and remove leaves and twigs, but it does not matter about all the little stalks. Allow ½ pint water to each pound of berries, and put on the saucepan lid. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until quite soft, mashing with a wooden spoon to break up all the fruit.

Strain through a jelly bag (or old pillow case). Measure the juice, and to each pint of juice allow 1lb sugar. Bring to the boil again, add the sugar and boil until a little sets when tested on a plate (about 20-30 minutes), stirring with a wooden spoon. This tastes very like guava jelly, a luxury served in the West Indies and America. It is not a very firm jelly.

254. Parsley Honey

  • 5ozs parsley
  • 1lb sugar
  • 1½ pints water
  • ½ teaspoon vinegar

Wash parsley, dry and chop up roughly. Put in a pan with 1½ pints of water, and boil until it reduces to one pint. Strain and add 1 lb. sugar and boil until it is syrupy (like honey) for about 20 minutes. Then add ½ teaspoon of vinegar. This "jells" by the next day, and tastes remarkably like honey.

255. Rhubarb Jam Without Sugar

To every pound of fruit allow ½lb of dates. Wash the rhubarb, chop it, and put it in the preserving pan and heat slowly, stirring well to draw out the juice. Wash and stone the dates. Add to the fruit and simmer very gently for 45 minutes. Put immediately into clean, hot, dry jars, and tie on parchment covers at once.
This recipe is equally good with any other fresh fruit.

256. Rose Hip Jam

  • 5½lbs fresh rose hips
  • Sugar
  • 3½ pints water

Wash the fresh hips in lukewarm water, top and tail them and boil in a stainless steel or unchipped enamel pan (not aluminium) for 15 minutes. Rub through a sieve and to each pound of pulp allow 1/2 lb. sugar. Bring up to the boil again and cook for 10 minutes. Put up in stone jars for preference and when just cool cover the tops of the jars with castor sugar. Then cover in the usual way. If glass jars are used, keep in the dark. The vitamin content is kept for between three and four months.

257. Bottled Tomatoes

  • Small ripe, firm unblemished tomatoes
  • Boiling water
  • Preserving jars
  • Salt

Take off the stalks and wipe the tomatoes with a damp cloth and then a dry one. Pack as closely as possible in the jars without squashing the fruit. When all the jars are full, put glass lids on, without rubber bands, and put them on an asbestos sheet in a cool oven, taking care that they do not touch each other. A second asbestos mat should be rested lightly on top of the jars if the top of the oven is apt to get hot.

At the end of one hour the jars should be too hot to touch, and the tomatoes should be just beginning to crack, and they should appear to be sweating. If not at this stage, they can be left in a little longer; they should not have gone to a pulp, but they may easily have "gone down" in the jar a little. In this case, use one jar to fill up three or four others, taking care not to break the soft fruit.

Have ready a saucepan of boiling water in which salt has been dissolved in the proportion of ½oz of salt to 1 quart of water. Take the jars out one by one, put on the rubber rings, fill each one slowly to over-flowing with the boiling salt and water, put on glass covers and screw up tightly at once. The tops can be dried and sealed off while hot, with paraffin wax, if liked, but it should not be necessary.

258. Bottled Tomato Pieces

  • Firm, ripe tomatoes
  • Preserving jars (2lb size are suitable)
  • 1 pint boiling water containing
  • 1oz salt

Proceed as for whole tomatoes, but large or misshapen ones can be used provided any damaged parts are cut out, as the tomatoes are cut into quarters or even smaller pieces and well packed down into the jar by careful arrangement and by smacking the bottom of the jar with the hand. Put in the oven as for whole tomatoes, and at the end of an hour the tomato pieces will have gone very soft and settled down. When done, pack each jar full again from another jar (the contents of three jars will perhaps give sufficient for two jars after heating). It will only be necessary to add a very little of the boiling salt and water, perhaps only two or three tablespoons. Put on the rubber rings, the heated glass covers and the screw caps as before, screwing up very tightly at once.

259. Drying Herbs

The leaves of herbs should be carefully picked when dry, but not in bright sunshine. They should then be gathered up into muslin bags, labelled, and hung up in a warm (not dusty) place to dry slowly. When quite dry, they powder up, and should then be put into small, clean, dry, screw-topped jars, again carefully labelled.