Today, July 17th
Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the poet William Wordsworth kept a journal of day to day life with her brother in
July 17th, Thursday. … Fine evening, beautiful, sunset, walked with Mrs. Putnam to the Crescent and above on the green craggy steep. Beautiful sea views and the cliffs charmingly adorned with green gorse, purple heather, brambles. Mrs. P. hurried home to salt her fish.
Dorothy does not mention picking the brambles, but she was not in her own home with the attendant obligations to bake for the little household, or presumably she would have taken advantage of the free fruit (or would they not have been ripe yet?) ‘Brambles’ can refer to a number of fruits from the Rose family that grow on thorny shrubs with long canes – but in
The commonest recipe in cookbooks of the eighteenth century seems to be for blackberry wine, which sounds like a fine beverage indeed. Today they are far more likely to be used to make jam (‘jelly’, if you are in the
Take a quart of large blackberries. Put them into the preserving pan with two pounds of white sugar, an ounce and a half of all-spice, half an ound of ground sugar*, and the juice of a lemon. Pour over it a pint of white vinegar. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about an hour and a half, then pass it through a sieve, and bottle.
The flavour of the pickles naturally depends considerably upon the aromatic vinegar in which they are cooked. Here is an old-fashioned recipe.
Put half an ounce of whole cloves and the same quantity of allspice, celery seed, mustard seed, whole mace, chopped white ginger, a pound and a half of sugar, and an ounce and two thirds of pepper into bags of strong but thin muslin. Lay in the preserving pan. Pour over six pints of wine vinegar. Bring to the boil. Stand for four hours. Remove the bags, strain and bottle. These vinegars should be stored for at least a month before using.
[*This sounds like an error to me, should it be nutmeg or something similar? Presumably also if the spiced vinegar is used, the spices are not needed in the pickle]
Tomorrow’s Story …In praise of Bouillabaisse.
Quotation for the Day …
O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live forever in the wideness of that rich moment. Richard Llewellyn.