Category Archives: Fruit

Day 362: Pumpkin Marmalade

We had another family Christmas celebration today and I made a beet salad from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book, the book I used everyday in 2012. After a wonderful potluck lunch, visiting with relatives, and music, I don’t want to make anything too challenging so I’m going to finish a recipe I started on Boxing Day. Today’s recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898) is for Pumpkin Marmalade and it was contributed by Mrs. Main and it takes several days to finish. I bought a pie pumpkin more than a month ago but it kept well in a cold part of my house. I did the first part on Boxing Day (December 26) and I’m completing the recipe today.

The first step was to cut the pumpkin open and clean out the “guts” and seeds. My sister took the seeds to toast them in the oven. Meanwhile I cut the pumpkin into slices and peeled it. Then I cut it into small chunks and weighed them. I had approximately 1 pound of pumpkin that I put into a bowl with 3/4 pound white sugar and 1 pint (2 cups) of water. I covered the dish and put it in the unheated sun-room to keep cool and sit undisturbed for two days.

Ready to cook.

Ready to cook.

Today I emptied the dish into a cooking pot but I wasn’t sure how much of the other ingredients to add. I washed and sliced 3 lemons and added them to the rest of the ingredients. It seemed about the right amount. The recipe talks of 5 lemons for a medium-sized pumpkin. My pie pumpkin was on the small side so I think 3 lemons will work. I took a chunk of ginger root, peeled it and chopped it into small pieces. I stirred everything together and left it to simmer for three hours. Unfortunately I forgot about checking the marmalade during supper and it nearly boiled dry. Part of it was quite caramelized. I removed it from the heat and set side a small portion to taste.

Mrs. Main is either Matilda Jane Bishop wife of William Emerson Main or else she’s Margaret “Maggie” Lowell widow of Henry Main. I made Mrs. Main’s cake recipe on day 241 and discovered then that Maggie might be the most likely contributor since various relatives are also in the cookbook. She also has a dramatic history. By the time her recipe appears in the cookbook she has had five children, the last one five months after her husband’s sudden death in 1888. His death was sudden because he was murdered! He operated a private bank and brokerage and apparently one of his former clients was upset. He arrived with a firearm and shot Henry Main at his place of work. The client then went further down the street to a nearby hotel and shot himself. Maggie continued to live in Galt with her children until at least 1911 but I lose track of her at that point. She died in 1933 when she was 83.

Pumpkin Marmalade ready to taste.

Pumpkin Marmalade ready to taste.

Pumpkin marmalade is okay. I added too much lemon and so it is very tart. I didn’t add enough ginger since I can’t even taste it. The pumpkin texture is a bit odd since it is still in cubes but very soft. However, a family member who loves marmalade thought this was an outstanding marmalade. I think this recipe has potential. As mentioned I’d change the proportions I used and a modern cook might consider adding some of the spices used in marmalade. There was dissenting opinions on this idea. It could be cooked down further and become more like a jam. The next time you have access to a pumpkin consider trying this recipe although the work in preparing the pumpkin is onerous (peeling and cutting take quite a bit of time) it could be worth it if you like marmalade or are willing to experiment.


Mrs. Main

To each pound pumpkin cut in pieces, add three-quarters of a pound of sugar; put in a vessel a layer of pumpkin and sugar till filled, add one pint of water, let it remain two or three days, then boil with lemon cut in thin slices and whole ginger, boil gently three or four hours till the fruit is tender boil the syrup till thick. To a medium-sized pumpkin five lemons, one dozen pieces of ginger.


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Day 357: Preserved Pears with Ginger

Do you ever need something extra to spice things up when preparing a holiday meal or perhaps you need a personal gift for someone who has everything? I’m hoping that Preserved Pears with Ginger will fill both needs even though I’m pushing the limits of seasonality. Pears can be stored to lengthen the season but mine are from outside Ontario. The recipe comes from the Fruit section of The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and was contributed by Mrs. James Young.

I weighed the pears to see how much sugar I would need for this recipe. I had 2 pounds of pears so I needed 1 1/2 pounds of sugar. That means I’m making half the recipe. On first reading this is a very straightforward recipe however, it turns out to be missing some key information. Nowhere does it say how much water to use with the ginger or the sugar. I had another challenge. I’m visiting my parents and it turns out their food scale is only metric that zeros to 1 kg rather than zero! I had to keep running to the computer for conversion information plus try to do the mental gymnastics required to calculate from 1 kg. It is going to be a miracle if this recipe works. I used a chunk of ginger that I hope was about 2 ounces. I peeled it and cut it into small pieces. I put the pieces in a pot and added 2 cups of water. Why two cups of water? It was my best guess as to the amount of water I would need for the sugar. I left it to boil uncovered until the ginger was tender. This took about 15 minutes and some of the water had boiled away but it had a very intense ginger flavour so I felt I was making headway.

While the ginger cooked I attempted to weigh the sugar. I think I managed to get the required 1 1/2 pounds. I put it in the pot with the water and stirred. I cut a lemon in half and set the one half away. With the other half I cut the yellow part of the lemon peel into bits and added them. Next I squeezed the juice from the lemon. I turned on the heat and let the syrup cook. My parents have a gas stove and so of course it started to boil over since it heats quickly. I let it boil for 10 minutes and then turned the heat very low. The direction to set at the back of the stove is a reminder that these recipes come from a time of wood and coal fired cook stoves.

Next I pared the pears and cut them in half lengthwise before removing the core. I put the pears in the syrup and turned the heat back up. I left them to simmer for 15 minutes. They might not be completely tender but I wanted to be cautious. The pears were quite soft to pare so I was worried I’d overcook them and they’d break apart. I put the pears and the liquid in a container but kept one aside for tasting.

Mrs. James Young is a familiar contributor to this cookbook. She is the older sister of one of the editors Fanny McNaught. Maggie McNaught was born in Scotland and came with her parents as a child to live in several Ontario communities. She eventually met and married James Young. He became a prosperous newspaper man, author and politician. Maggie herself was very engaged in the community of Galt and was even a witness in a case involving inadequate care for someone at the Waterloo County House of Refuge (the poorhouse) in nearby Berlin Ontario.

My tasters liked the preserved pears with ginger but thought they’d be even better after they sit for some time to allow the flavours to blend. My father really liked it since he likes ginger. The ginger flavour was subtle unless you bite into a piece of tender ginger. I can’t wait to try this with ice cream in a few days.

Mrs. James Young

To preserve pears with ginger, weigh out three-quarters of a pound of sugar to every pound of pears. Boil four ounces of whole ginger, then add four pounds of sugar and the juice of one lemon, and its yellow peel cut into thin slices, do not use any of the bitter white peel next tot he fruit. Let the syrup cook ten minutes more; then set the syrup at the back of the fire. Peel the fruit , cut each pear in half, removing the flower and core and drop it at once into the hot syrup. This will prevent their turning dark, as they certainly will if exposed to the air after they are peeled.

When you have a kettleful of the pears, cook them until tender. Fill the jars with them, place the cover over lightly, and prepare another kettleful of pears to cook in the syrup. Divide up the slices of lemon peel and pieces of ginger equally among the jars. This is a most delicious and rich preserve, and is especially nice when served like preserved ginger with ice-cream.

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Day 341: Pineapple Marmalade

I bought a whole pineapple a few days ago since there are several recipes containing this fruit in The New Galt Cook Book (1898). Although today is my seventh day of work I thought I’d tackle making Pineapple Marmalade. The recipe was contributed by Miss Woods.

I used part of my pineapple and after paring it I had 1 pound of fruit. I chopped it up and then attempted to press it. I put the fruit in a saucepan and added 1/2 cup water. I let it boil a bit and then weighed 3/4 pound (12 ounces) of sugar. I added it to the pineapple along with the remaining juice and 1/3 of a lemon. I let it boil for 1o minutes and then tested and tasted my pineapple marmalade.

There is both a Miss A. Woods and a Miss Woods listed as recipe contributors. I’m not sure if they are the same person. Anna Woods was born in 1867 and Elizabeth Woods was born in 1874. She has some younger sisters but I think they might be too young. Elizabeth’s mother had died and so I don’t know her name but her father was John Woods.  Anna was the daughter of Sarah and James Woods. At this point I don’t have much information about either of these women.

People are often surprised that pineapples were available in the 1890s in southern Ontario. According to a Smithsonian article pineapples were grown in Hawaii and canned or shipped fresh often with great losses due to spoilage if there were any transportation delays. According to a December issue of The Canadian Grocer magazine, fancy pineapples are 75 cents each. The regular pineapples were 25 to 35 cents each.

The fresh pineapple was wonderful and very ripe but the pineapple marmalade was good too, just a bit too sweet. This would be a good recipe for a pineapple just as it is becoming ripe. It is possible to purchase pineapple jam but making it yourself means as a modern cook you can control the ingredients. I would probably add some lemon zest to balance the pineapple sweetness with lemon.

Miss Woods.

Cut, pare and weigh the fruit, then grate and press through a colander, saving all the juice separate; add one pint of water to each three pounds of fruit, boil till tender, then add three-quarters of a pound of sugar to a pound of fruit, juice of one lemon to three pounds of fruit, and the raw juice of pineapple, boil about ten minutes.

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Day 297: Quince Marmalade (Good)

I saved the peelings and cores from the quinces I used in yesterday’s recipe. Sounds strange? Well, I knew there were two recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) that used this odd ingredient. Today I’m making Quince Marmalade (Good). The recipe appears in the Fruit section of the cookbook but it isn’t attributed to anyone. I’m not sure that increases my confidence in the recipe despite the assertion that it is good.

I pulled out a small saucepan and put the peelings and cores from the two quinces I prepared yesterday into it. Next I put in just enough water to cover them. I turned the heat on and left it to simmer for 45 minutes. The scent of the quinces started to fill the kitchen after 30 minutes. I can’t believe that this small amount of “stuff” can change the flavour of the water and scent in the air. Once the time was up I poured everything through a strainer. I saved the liquid and disposed of the rest. I weighed the liquid and had 10 ounces. The recipe seems to suggest that the apple and quince juice weights should be equal so I returned the 10 ounces of juice to the saucepan and then peeled, cored and weighed a very large Northern Spy apple. It was a perfect fit. It too was 10 ounces. I cut it into pieces and put them in the quince juice. Next I weighed the sugar looking to have 3/4 of the weight of the total weight of apples and juice. I needed about 15 ounces of sugar for my 20 ounces of fruit and juice. I stirred the sugar into the mixture and left if to simmer slowly.

Pancrace_Bessa00Quince is an unfamiliar fruit today for most of us and yet it used to be much more common and still is used in other countries. Here in Canada it’s a bit of a hidden gem. People who have trees either cherish them or don’t know what to do with the strange fruit. This is one of those fall fruits that actually improves with frost. It needs to ripen to the point of seeming almost spoiled to become sweeter. The ones I have are still very firm thus my difficulty peeling and coring them. I’m going to wait a little longer to use the rest of my quinces to see how the flavour changes.

Jane McDougall wrote this wonderful article for The National Post in October 27, 2012 about quinces. She describes them and why they are disappearing. It’s a bit like the mulberry trees disappearing around my neighbourhood. I love mulberries and now don’t have a source for this wonderful purple berry. People don’t appreciate them and think they are messy. They grow mini trees instead of real trees that are large and will live for several generations of people. Here‘s another article from Edible Toronto written by Sarah B. Hood about the wonders of the quince.

This is an interesting marmalade. The jelly portion is so clear that the apple pieces look like they are floating. It took quite a bit of boiling to get this to set which surprised me. I sampled while it was cooking and found that it wasn’t as good as the pickled quinces. This is very sweet and the quince flavour is almost too subtle to taste. The apple chunks dominate. I think it would be a good idea to keep the pieces of apple small. Also if you are willing to put up with softer marmalade that probably needs refrigeration to keep it safe — use less sugar. Preserving in the 1890s relied a great deal on sugar to set the preserve and to inhibit the growth of the nasties that can spoil jam.


Quinces make a delicious marmalade. (So do barberries.) One of the best and most delicious of marmalades is prepared from apples and the core and peeling of quinces, left after preserving. Put the peeling and core in just water enough to cook them and let them simmer. When they have cooked for three quarters of an hour and are thoroughly tender, strain off the juice and measure it. Add two pounds of apples, cored and peeled, to an equal weight of quince juice and add three-quarters of a pound of sugar to every pound of this mixture. Boil it down till it is a thick, clear marmalade, stirring it frequently, so that it does not burn.

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Day 294: Preserved Grapes

I know that I cooked with grapes yesterday but I still have half a basket of Concord grapes left and they simply don’t keep very long. I decided to make Grape Catsup but my internet has been cutting in and out today so I went ahead and started the recipe before I checked whether I’d already made it. Turns out I made it just a couple of weeks ago. So I was able to adapt what I’d done so that I can make Preserved Grapes using an anonymous recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

I had already washed the grapes and put them in a pot. I’d heated them and pushed on the grapes to squeeze the pulp out. I boiled them for about an hour and that’s when I realized I needed to find another recipe that I could continue from this stage. I decided that I’d simply have to pick out the seeds as much as possible. I measured the grape mixture and discovered I had 4 cups (2 pints) so I weighed 2 pounds of sugar and added it. I stirred and turned up the heat to the boil. As it gradually heated I started spooning out the seeds as they floated to the top. I also skimmed off the foam. The grape preserve started to thicken as I let it boil for another hour. It was time to pot it up and set aside a bit to taste.

This is another sweet and sticky grapey treat. I like this better than last night’s apple and grape jelly and I think the reason is the nice soft skins. They give the preserve a bit of texture as well as a slightly more tangy taste. Although I didn’t make it correctly I have used the “squeeze the pulp” technique with other grape recipes over the years. I think the result would be similar. I guess the choice is between the fiddly and finger staining seed removal versus the tedious skim the seeds but save the fingers version I accidentally used tonight. No matter the technique I think I’ll make this again instead of last night’s recipe.


Press the pulp from the fruit. Put the pulp over to boil in a little water. Then press through a colander to remove the seeds. Then put juice, pulp and skin together; add a pound of sugar to a pint, and boil down thick.

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Day 292: Apple Jelly AND Apple & Grape Jelly

I bought some Spy apples and some Concord grapes at the Kitchener Market since there are several recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) using these two fruits. I’m going to start by making some Apple Jelly using Mrs. McDonald‘s recipe but I’m saving some of the juice to make Apple and Grape Jelly. That’s a recipe contributed by Mrs. A. Elmslie.

The first step was washing and then cutting up the apples. I bought a small amount of the Spy apples but I’m hoping they’ll produce enough juice to test both of these recipes. I soon realized I’d made a mistake. Spy apples are good for baking but they aren’t very juicy. I added some McIntosh too and the water.

While the apples were cooking, I started working with the grapes. I washed the grapes and put them in a pot. I turned the heat up slowly and started squishing as the skins split. The combined smells of apples and grapes was wonderful. The grapes were the ready first so I poured them into my jelly bag and left it to drip. Do this carefully as the juice stains. I’m hoping they won’t mind my purple fingers tomorrow at work.

When the apples were soft I put them in my other jelly bag and left it to drip. The grape juice was ready and I found I had about 2 cups. I didn’t have that much apple juice — more like 1 1/4 cups so I decided to skip making the apple jelly since the technique is the same. I’ll try it again another day. I put 1 cup of grape juice and 1 cup of apple juice in a sauce pan. That makes 1 pint so I weighed 1 pound of white granulated sugar. I put the sugar in a baking pan and popped it in the oven at 300 F while the juice boiled for 20 minutes. This is a technique I’ve read about but not tried. It makes perfect sense for the 1890s since people would be using a cookstove. Both the oven and stove top would be hot.

After the juice was boiled I poured the hot sugar into it and stirred. It was amazing to see how quickly the sugar dissolved and the juice jelled. I removed the pan from the heat and poured it into jars. It was time to taste.

Based on the 1891 census, Mrs. McDonald could be Isabella Robertson (age 63), wife of Alexander McDonald (age 73) or maybe she’s Charlotte “Lottie” Groff (28 years old) wife of another Alexander McDonald (age 30). The elder couple had three children Agnes, Jennie and Catherine but it looks like Isabella died in 1895.

I suspect the contributor is Charlotte since she has connections to others sharing recipes. Lottie was born in 1865 to Colin Groff and Charlotte Rodgers. Lottie’s mother Charlotte was the sister of Margaret Rodgers (wife of John Goldie). Unfortunately in 1870 Lottie’s 34-year-old mother died in Chicago and her three little girls moved back to Galt and lived with their maternal grandmother. In 1881 Lottie was the only one still living with grandmother. She married carpenter Alexander McDonald in 1887 when she was 22. They had four children while living in Galt and their fifth child was born when they lived in Toronto. By the 1911 census they lived in Brantford and they’d moved all the way north to Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) by the 1921 census. That’s the last I see of this couple.

Mrs. A. Elmslie is probably Isabella Sutherland Wallace. She was born in Galt Ontario in 1845 and married Alexander Gardner Elmslie there in 1866. He was born in Elora in 1841 and became a bookseller and stationer. The couple had eight children and all but one child lived to grow up. Their son Robert died when he was two of congestion of the brain. Their eldest daughter Isabella died in her thirties of appendicitis. Several of the children ended up in the United States in places like Wisconsin, New York and California. One daughter served as a nurse in the First World War. Isabella died when she was 61 of a heart condition.

Apple and Grape Jelly is a wonderful deep purple colour. This is a nice jelly but it is quite sweet. I highly recommend the technique of heating the sugar. It works really well and reduces the risk of accidentally ending up with grape candy.

Mrs. McDonald

Almost any apple will make jelly, though hard, sour, juicy apples make the best, both for keeping and flavor. Cut up the apples, do not peel or core, put them over the fire in preserving pan with sufficient water to cover and boil  them until thoroughly done. Strain through a coarse bag and allow one pound of sugar to each pint of juice. Boil the juice twenty minutes without the sugar which should meantime be put in a pan in the oven and heated very hot. When the juice has boiled twenty minutes add the hot sugar and stir only until dissolved. Then take off, pour into glasses and seal. If you wish the jelly perfectly clear do not squeeze the bag when straining the apples.

Mrs. A. Elmslie

Take equal quantities of apple and grape juice after being strained. Boil for twenty minutes, while it is boiling heat the sugar, one pound to every pint. At the end of twenty minutes add the sugar and boil a very few minutes longer.

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Day 288: Orange Marmalade

It isn’t really the right time of year to make marmalade but there are several recipes for this Scottish spread in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and I’d like to try a few of them before the end of the year. I made Mrs. Marshall‘s Orange Marmalade today at work in preparation for a workshop I’m delivering at the Forgotten Food Symposium on November 1st. Tonight I’m making it again at home for my own use but just a half batch.

The first step is to prepare the fruit a day ahead. I cut 3 oranges and 1 lemon into strips. First I cut the ends off and then I simply sliced the fruit. I suspect my slices are not quite as fine as Mrs. Marshall intends but some people like chunky marmalade while others like a fine shred. I’ve also discovered that I can often break up big chunks as the marmalade cooks. I put the sliced fruit in a bowl with 6 cups of water and left it to sit until the next day.

The next step is to pour the water and fruit into a large pot. I boiled everything for 1 1/2 hours. It is important to watch carefully and stir occasionally to avoid burning the fruit. Once the oranges and lemon were soft and well cooked I removed the pot from the heat and poured everything into a bowl. I weighed the bowl first and “zeroed’ or “tared” the scale so that it would show just the weight of the fruit and water.

I had about 2 1/2 pounds of fruit and water combined so I needed the same amount of sugar. I weighed the sugar and added it to the fruit and water. Everything went back in the pot and I turned up the heat again. I stirred it well and let it boil for 20 minutes. I did a quick jell test by putting in a metal spoon and lifting it to watch the drips. If the drips started to slow then it was time to turn off the heat and start to can the marmalade. I spooned it into sterilized jars and then put on the lids and rings. I kept some aside to taste.

I’ve only made one other recipe shared by Mrs. Marshall. She was Mary B. Gordon and was born in Georgetown Ontario. Her father Francis was born in Scotland but her mother was from Puslinch township. It looks like Mary was orphaned by the time she was 14 but perhaps she’s simply living in another household in the 1881 census. However, she’s not recorded as a servant like the young man listed below her. Mary married Anthony Marshall in 1890 and they had five children plus a step son. Anthony had been married before but his first wife died of consumption less than a year after their second baby was born and then died sixteen days later. I’m not sure when Mary died.

It’s a bit sweet since I used regular oranges rather than bitter Seville oranges which are typical for marmalade. However, it is a good marmalade especially if you are new to making it. The proportions are easy to adapt to the amount you like plus you can cut the fruit to the size you prefer. I’ve included below the additional information that heads up the section on Marmalades.


Here is an interesting account of the origin of the word “marmalade.” It is said that Mary Queen of Scots, when a prisoner in Loch Leven Castle, was so ill and depressed that she entirely lost her appetite, and nothing could tempt her to eat. At this time a Scotch confectioner invented a new preserve, an orange am, and sent a sample to the imprisoned queen.This she liked so much that in honor of her he called his new jam “Marie Malade,”which has since been contracted into marmalade.



The best time for doing orange marmalade is in February. The orange has a better flavor and jellies more easily then.


Mrs. Marshall

Six oranges and two lemons, slice fine and let stand over night in three quarts of water; in the morning put on and boil for one and a half hours, then add sugar pound for pound and boil twenty minutes.

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