Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Things to do with Pineapple in 1808-19

I am keeping my offering very simple today, folks, and offering you a few early nineteenth century ideas for pineapple.

When I copied Maria Rundell’s instructions for making the ‘Oriental’ dish of polao (pillaw, or pillau) for yesterday’s post, I noticed that the recipe which followed it was for another pillau which included pineapple. I thought this sounded rather interesting. In 1808, when A New System of Domestic Cookery was published, this must have been an uncommon and expensive dish. No wonder she suggested apple as a substitute for the exotic and rare hothouse-grown pineapple.

Pineapple, or Apple Polao.
Boil twelve ounces of rice in water, and when only a quarter of the grain remains hard, pour off half the hot water, fill the pan up with cold water, shake it, and then pour off all the water, and set the pan, covered, near the fire. When dry, add a pound of preserved pineapples with some of the syrup; or, should pineapples not be attainable, slices of apple boiled with sugar. Fry two sliced onions in a quarter of a pound of fresh butter. When the onions are browned, take them out, as they will be no longer wanted: put six whole cloves into the butter, and pour it over the rice. Stir it well, but cautiously, so as not to bruise the rice: put the apples on the top, and set the whole near the fire to swell; keep it covered, but stir it occasionally. Plain curry should always accompany this dish, and be eaten with it. The reader may judge of the excellence of this polao by the observation of a gastronome of celebrity, who, partaking of it for the first time, expressed his conviction, that if the host would go to England, and cook it for his late majesty George the Fourth, he would obtain a baronetage for his reward.

For those cooks of the time who had access to the fresh fruit, it was, of course, possible to preserve it oneself. I love the idea of a whole pineapple being preserved in syrup, instead of the more usual slices or chunks. Here is how to do it:

Pine Apples, Whole, Wet.
Take the pine apple, chip off all the small pieces of leaves from the bottom of the pine, take the top and stalk, and have a preserving pan on the fire with water, and to every two quarts of water put half a pint of syrup, so as to make it very fine thin syrup, and only just sweet; be sure that it boils before you put the pine in, and let it simmer an hour over the fire; the next day let them boil gently another hour, take them off and cover them carefully; the next day let them boil gently about half an hour; put some syrup as thick as you use to other fruits; the next day drain this syrup off and boil it, repeating the same seven or eight days; then put them into an earthen pan, and cover them up very carefully from the dust, and be very careful that your pans are very dry.
The Complete Confectioner: Or, The Whole Art of Confectionary Made Easy (1819)
by Frederick Nutt.

With any syrup remaining from your Pineapple Polao, you could make pineapple ice-cream (in a pineapple shape!) from the recipe from the same book.

Pine-Apple Ice Cream.
Take one gill and a half of pine-apple syrup, put it into a bason, and squeeze in one lemon and a half; add one pint of cream, make it palatable; then put it in your freezing pot, and freeze it till it is as thick as butter; if you would have it in the shape of a pine, take the shape and fill it; then lay half a sheet of brown paper over the mould before you put it into the ice, and let it remain some time, and be careful no water gets into the shape.

Very little need be wasted in the kitchen, so when you pare your pineapple for preserving or other use, please be sure to keep the rind. It apparently adds a very good flavour to rum.

Jamaica is the best.—An excellent flavour may be given to it by putting into the cask some pineapple rinds. The longer rum is kept, the more valuable it becomes. If your rum wants a head, whisk some clarified honey with a little of the liquor, and pour the whole into the cask. Three pounds of honey is sufficient for sixty gallons.
   Modern domestic cookery, and useful receipt book (1819)

by Elizabeth Hammond.

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