Posted by: billpurdue | July 16, 2010

“Like Mother used to make”

As anyone who grows soft fruit in their garden will know, this is the time of year when much of the fruit ripens and, if we get enough rain, swells on the bushes and canes. I’ve been picking raspberries, red currants, white currants and blackcurrants on my allotment in the past few days and most of it ends up in the freezer for consumption during the autumn and winter.

It occurred to me that it might be nice to make some jam or bottle some of the fruit, so I looked up an old book which belonged to my mother.  Jams Jellies and Fruit Bottling (price 1’- nett) by Mrs D. D. Cottington Taylor was published back in the 1940s by the Good Housekeeping Institute, of which the author was director at the time. This book has enough recipes to suit the most enthusiastic “preserver” I would think – including pineapple and lime jam, spiced fig and apple jam and 21 different types of marmalade as well as detailed instructions on how to not just bottle, but can fruit as well. Does anyone can fruit at home these days?

Mrs Cottington Taylor was the author of a number of cookery books both for the Institute and companies like Cadbury’s (Chocolate Cookery: over 100 tested recipes) and The Natural Food Company Ltd (101 Ways of Using Allinson Wholemeal Flour). I don’t think any of these are in print now or have been reproduced in facsimile, but I haven’t searched thoroughly.

For more old cookery books, go to http://www.oldandvintagecookbooks.co.uk/ or other second hand book websites.  If you enjoy leafing through old cookery books try a secondhand bookshop: you never know what you might find.

If you’re looking for something a bit more up to date, try Jams, Jellies and Marmalades: Step-by-step Recipes for Home Preserving [Apple Press, £8.99 978-1845432836] by Maggie Mayhew. I haven’t had a look through this book this book, but if it doesn’t suit your needs, I expect any large bookshop will have something on the subject – or try your local library of course

I also found on my shelves Food facts for the Kitchen Front: a book of wartime recipes and hints with a foreword by Lord Woolton (price sixpence). In it I found a wide variety of recipes all designed to help wartime families to make the most of the fruit , veg and meat available.

There are recipes for such delicacies as dandelion salad, curried tripe and mealie pudding…. and, yes, there is a recipe for “Lord Woolton Pie”, a concoction of potatoes, swede, cauliflower and carrot or anything else you might have to hand. The pastry can be made without fat, as long as it contains milk.

You often hear it said that during the war people were healthier than they are now because of the better diet, so perhaps it’s worth trying out some of these recipes. And if you want a copy of this book, it’s been reprinted by Harper Press (£8.99 978-0007313792) so you can see for yourself.

Gervase – a final mention (for now)

I know I’ve given Gervase Phinn a lot of column inches recently, but I hope you’ll allow me just a few more as I’ve just finished reading his Road to the Dales [Michael Joseph £18.99 9780718149116]. I thoroughly enjoyed it – it’s not a chronological account of his early childhood: instead he devotes each chapter to a certain theme, such as parents, primary school and so on. He grew up in Rotherham and he had a happy childhood and, though he failed his 11 plus exam, was fortunate in being sent to a secondary modern school where there were several enlightened teachers, perhaps far ahead of their time, and where he was able to take GCEs ( nowadays GCSEs). I was certainly reminded of my childhood as I’m only a year younger than Mr Phinn and a lot of what he writes about strikes a chord with me. So if you grew up in the 1950s, this book should bring back a few memories for you too.

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