Evaporated or dried apples, apricots, peaches, prunes, etc., are misprized, under-rated, by most people from not knowing how to prepare them. The common way is to put the fruit on to stew without previous soaking, and then boil from one-half hour to two hours until it is more or less pulpy. It is then flat and insipid, besides unattractive to the eye.
There is a much better way. Soak the fruit at least over night, in clear cold water — just enough to cover — with or without spices, as you prefer. If time permits, soak it from twenty-four to thirty-six hours. This restores the fruit to its original size and flavor. It is good to eat, then, without cooking. To stew, merely simmer gently a few minutes in the water in which the fruit was soaked. This water carries much of the fruit's flavor, and is invaluable for sauce.
California prunes prepared in this wray need no sugar. Dried apples and peaches have none of the rank taste by which they are unfavorably known, hut resemble the canned fruit. Apricots properly soaked are especially good.
I was present when a Southern mountain woman did some " expenencin'," with nothing to guide her but her own wits. The result was a discovery of prime value to us campers. Here are the details — any one can follow them:
Wash one pound of evaporated apples (or common sun-dried apples of the country) in two waters. Cover with boiling water, and put them on to stew. Add boiling water as required to keep them covered. Cook until fruit is soft (about half an hour). Strain off all the juice (cheesecloth is convenient), and measure it. There will be, probably, a quart. Put this juice on the fire and add half its own measure of granulated sugar (say a scant pound — but measure it, to make sure of the proportion).
Now boil this briskly in a broad, uncovered vessel, without stirring or skimming, until the juice gets syrupy. The time varies according to quality of fruit — generally about twenty minutes after coming to a full boil. When the thickened juice begins to " flop," test it by letting a few drops drip from a spoon. When the drops thicken and adhere to the spoon, the syrup is done. There will be a little more than a pint. Pour it out. As soon 'as it cools it will be jelly, as good as if made from fresh fruit and much better than what is commonly sold in the stores.
The apples remaining can be spiced and used as sauce, or made into pies or turnovers, or into apple butter by beating smooth, adding a teacupful of sugar, spicing, and cooking again for fifteen or twenty minutes.
If preferred, a second run of jelly can be made from the same apples. Cover again with boiling water, stew about fifteen minutes, add sugar by measure, as before. This will take less boiling than the first juice (about seven minutes). Enough jelly will result to make nearly or quite a quart, all told, from one pound of dried apples and about one and one-half pounds of sugar.
Apricots or any other tart dried fruit can be used instead of apples. Sweet fruit will not do, unles* lemon juice or real apple vinegar is added.
It is not to be presumed that a mere male camper can make a good pie-crust in the regulai way; but it is easy to make a wholesome and very -fair pie-crust in an irregular way, which is a? follows: Make a glorified biscuit dough by mixing thoroughly 1 pint flour, 1 teaspoonful baking powder, 1/2 teaspoonful salt, rubbing in 4 heaped tablespoonfuls of lard (better still, half-and-half of butter and lard), and making into a soft dough with cold water. In doing this, observe the rules given under Biscuit. The above quantity is enough for a pie filling an 8x 12 reflector pan. Roll the dough into a thin sheet, as thin as you can handle, and do the rolling as gently as you can.
From this sheet cut a piece large enough for bottom crust and lay it in the greased pan. The sheet should be big enough to lap over edge of pan. Into this put your fruit (dried fruit is previously stewed and mashed), and add sugar and spice to taste. Then, with great circumspection and becoming reverence, lay on top of all this your upper crust. Now, with your thumb, press the edges of upper and lower crust together all around, your thumb-prints leaving scallops around the edge. Trim off by running a knife around edge of pan. Then prick a number of small slits in the top crust, here and there, to give a vent to the steam when the fruit boils. Bake as you would biscuits.
Note that this dough contains baking powder, and that it will swell. Don't give the thing a name until it is baked; then, if you have made the crust too thick for a pie, call it a cobbler, or a shortcake, and the boys, instead of laughing at you, will ask for more.
This is a Pennsylvania-Dutch dish, and a good one for campers. Take some dried apples and soak them over night. BoL5 until tender. Prepare knepp as directed for pot* pie dough, only make a thick batter of it instead of a dough. It is best to add an egg and use no shortening. Drop the batter into the pan of stewing apples, a large spoonful at a time, not fast enough to check the boiling. Boil about y2 hour. Season with butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Make a biscuit dough (see page 347) and roll out to 1/4 mcn thick. Peel and quarter some apples and remove the cores. Put four quarters together and cover it with a globe of dough. Put in a cloth and boil like pudding, (page 384) for 25 minutes.
To bake dumplings: roll the dough quite thin, cover as above, and bake.
Make up your dough as directed under Fie, excepting omit baking powder, and use 1/2 pound of mixed butter and lard to 2 pints flour. Mix with coldest spring water, and have your hands cold. After putting under crust in greased pan, pour in scant 3 pints of fruit, which may be either fresh, canned, or evaporated (soaked as explained under Dried Fruits), leaving out the free juice. Cover with upper crust, bake brown, and serve with milk or pudding sauce.
Mix i quart of flour with 1 teaspoonful of salt, 1 tablespoonful of baking powder, and 1 pint of granulated sugar, and 1/2 nutmeg grated. Make a batter of this with 4 beaten eggs and enough milk to make smooth. Beat thoroughly and add enough flour to make a soft dough. Roll out into a sheet 1/2 inch thick and cut into rings or strips, which may be twisted into shape. Fry by completely immersing in very hot fat; turn when necessary. Drain and serve hot.
Mix 1 cup molasses, 1 tablespoonful ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoonful salt, 1/2 cup melted butter or drippings, 1 cup milk, 3 cups flour with 2 teaspoonfuls baking powder mixed in it. Bake 1/2 hour.
Mix 4 cups flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 cup sugar; pour into this 4 tablespoons melted butter or drippings; add 1 cup raisins and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and cloves or allspice. Mix with enough water to make of the consistency of biscuit dough. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick (or thinner if raisins are omitted). Cut with top of baking powder can, and bake to a light brown.
Puddings are either baked in an oven or reflector, or boiled in a cloth bag. Baked puddings are quickest and easiest to manage. A few examples of simple puddings are given below. They may be varied indefinitely, according to materials available. Deep tin pudding pans are convenient to bake in. Snow may be substituted for eggs (see page 353).
Mix 1 pint cold boiled rice with 1 quart milk and sugar to taste. Put in a well-greased pan, dust nutmeg or cinnamon over the top, and bake slowly one hour. Seeded raisins are an agreeable addition. Mix them in before baking. To stone them, keep them in lukewarm water during the process. A couple of eggs make the pudding richer.
Line a deep dish or pan, well greased, with slices of buttered bread. Then put in a layer of fruit, dusting it with sugar and dotting with small lumps of butter. Repeat these alternate layers until the dish is full, the last layer being bread. Bake 1/2 to 3/4 hour, with moderate heat. Eat hot, with the sweet sauce given below.
1 pint flour, 1/2 pint sugar, 1/2 pint milk,
2 heaped tablespoonfuls butter,
2 teaspoonfuls baking powder, Grated rind of a lemon,
Mix thoroughly the flour and baking powder. Hub the butter and sugar to a cream, add the milk and egg beaten together; then the lemon rind. Add this to the flour and mix well. Butter a pan well to prevent scorching and dredge it with flour or powdered bread-crumbs. Pour in the batter, and bake about half an hour in hot oven.
A richer pudding is made by using one-half pound butter and two eggs.
A cupful of stoned raisins, minced figs, or dates, added to the batter, converts this into a good fruit pudding. Nutmeg, cinnamon, or other flavoring may be substituted for lemon.
1/2 pint flour, 1 pint milk,
1 neaped tablespoonful butter, 6 eggs.
Beat flour and milk into a smooth batter. Then add the eggs, beaten light. Stir all well together, adding the butter in tiny lumps. Dip a clean cloth bag into hot water, dredge it with flour, pour the batter into this, tie up firmly, and put into plenty of boiling water. Keep this boiling steadily for an hour. Then dip the bag quickly in cold water and remove cloth with care not to break the pudding. Serve very hot, with a sauce.
1 quart flour,
1 heaped teaspoonful baking powder,
2 tablespoonfuls sugar, 1 lb. seeded raisins.
3/4 lb. suet (or see below).
Venison suet chopped fine, or the fat of salt pork minced up, will serve. Marrow is better than either. Mix the dry ingredients intimately. Then make up with half a pint of water. Put this into a cloth bag prepared as in the preceding recipe. Since suet puddings swell considerably, the bag must be large enough to allow for this. Place in enough boiling water to cover, and do not let it check boiling until done (about two hours). Add boiling water as required to keep the bag covered. Turn the bag upside down when pudding begins to set, or the fruit will all go to the bottom; turn it around now and then to prevent scorching against sides of pot. When done, manipulate it like cottage pudding. Serve with sweet sauce.
A richer duff can be made by spicing and adding molasses, or the rind and juice of a lemon.
Melt a little butter, sweeten it to taste, and flavor with grated lemon rind, nutmeg, or cinnamon.
Butter twice the size of an egg is to be beaten to a cream with a pint of sugar and a tablespoonful of flour. Add a gill of brandy. Set the cup in a dish of boiling water and beat until the sauce froths.
Boil almost any fresh fruit until it is quite soft. Squeeze it through cheesecloth, sweeten to taste, heat it, and pour the sauce over your pudding. Spices may be added during the final heating.
Work 2 tablespoonfuls of butter with a small cupful of sugar to a cream. Flavor with a little nutmeg, lemon juice, brandy, 11 what ever may be your preference.