« PredošláPokračovať »
For example, the rind of the Citron, the fruit itself being rarely imported fresh, is candied with sugar and sold in every grocer's and confectioner's shop. It is shaped like the lemon, but is much larger.
The Lime is a small roundish fruit, hardly half the size of an orange. It is imported only in a preserved state. The Forbidden Fruit and the Shaddock are two large orange-shaped West-Indian fruits, which are of a pale lemon colour, and grow occasionally to the size of a man's head. The Cumquat comes preserved from China; it is about the size and shape of a damson, of a goldenyellow colour, and in flavour not unlike the candied citron-peel. The orange tribe, though, as we have seen, very important, on account of the number and utility of the fruits it produces, is by no means so valuable as
3. The Grape.—The Vine may be ranked with the wheat and cotton plants in importance. It yields the luscious and cooling grape, which, if every quality be considered, is perhaps the finest of all known fruits, and from these are prepared the raisins and currants (different as they seem) sold by our grocers.
The differences among grapes are caused chiefly by cultivation. For as soon as cultivators see a different kind appear, they encourage it, if it promises well. In this way the fine sun raisins of Malaga, the common raisins of Spain, the black, and the stoneless red Sultana raisins of Turkey, and the small stoneless black Corinth (or currant as we call it) grown in the islands of Greece, are all grapes raised from the seeds of the common vine.
Those called " raisins of the sun are grapes dried in the open air, the finest of them whilst still hanging on the vines ; and in order to quicken this operation, the stalk by which the bunch hangs is partly cut through. In this way they are rapidly dried, without losing any of their fine flavour, or the beautiful bloom which covers them.
The usual way, however, is to gather the grapes, and after having exposed them to the sun and air for some time, to lay them out in rooms, where they are sprinkled with water in which soda or potash has been dissolved. This causes the sugar of the grape to candy, and form those little lumps so well known as the sweetest parts of the common raisin, so frequently found in plum-puddings and cakes.
In addition to grapes and raisins, we are indebted to the vine for wine and brandy-two great blessings when properly used. Wine is the juice of the grape fermented, and kept with care. Genuine Brandy is a spirit distilled from the husks which remain after the juice for making the wine has been pressed out. are brought to this country from Spain, Sicily, Smyrna, and other places, is too well known to need description. The Walnut, too, is brought from foreign lands, chiefly from Germany, France, and Italy, though not in such large quantities as the common nut. Circassia is the country in which the walnut is most extensively cultivated. It is supposed to be the nut mentioned in Gen. xliii. 11.
4. The Fig.—The Fig is another important fruit which is sent to us in very large quantities from Turkey and Greece, those from the former country being of the best quality. After they have been gathered from the trees and dried in the sun, they are tightly packed in square or round wooden boxes, the latter usually called drums. The fig is used only for eating.
5. Banana ; Pomegranate ; Pine-Apple.--In tropical countries the Banana is a highly-prized fruit, for it is produced so abundantly, and is so wholesome, that it forms a valuable article of diet for both rich and poor. Sometimes huge bunches of it may be seen hanging in the fruit shops in our seaport towns, but these imported bananas are usually green and unripe. The fruit is about the size of a large pear, but differently shaped, several of them being arranged round a short stalk, like the fingers on the hand, and a number of these smaller bunches being in their turn clustered around a larger stalk : there are often a hundred bananas on one full-sized bunch.
The Pomegranate also is very highly valued in warm countries for the cooling juice it contains. In shape, it resembles a large apple, but the rind is as hard as the bark of a tree, though beautifully coloured like a rosy apple when ripe. When this hard rind is broken, it is found to be filled with a great number of berries, of the size and colour of our red currant, which they very much resemble ; these are filled with a sweet juice, which is found to be particularly agreeable in hot climates, although it is not generally liked in this country. Pomegranates grow on small trees, like myrtles. The flower is of a fine scarlet colour, and the tree is consequently cultivated for its beautiful appearance, no less than for its fruit, in India, Northern Africa, and Southern Europe, particularly Italy and Spain.
The Pine-apple is a West Indian fruit, which has been introduced into all parts of the world, where it can be made to grow either by natural or artificial means ; because, when well cultivated, it has a very delicious flavour. Owing to the introduction of steam navigation, vessels can now bring the pine-apple in a ripe state from the Bermuda Islands, where it grows naturally, and, with cultivation, attains very great perfection. It is consequently now sold in London and other large towns at a very cheap rate compared with the price demanded for those grown in our hot-houses. 6. Nuts.—
The Hazel-nut, of which many thousands of bushels
The Hickory-nut and the Peccan-nut have kernels much like walnuts, although their shells differ considerably. They both come from the United States of America. The former has a hard smooth shell of a whitish colour, and is shaped very like the common walnut ; the latter is darker in colour, and shaped like a filbert, though somewhat larger.
The Almond is the fruit of a beautiful tree, very much like our peach and nectarine. Its shell is covered with a hard green flesh, which makes it look, when growing, something like an unripe apricot ; when fully ripe this green covering splits, and the almond in its rough shell drops out. There are three species : the Jordan almond, which has a long and narrow kernel ; the Valencia almond, which is broader and shorter ; and the bitter almond, which is much smaller than either of the two preceding, and very bitter to the taste. Almonds come from Spain, Italy, and France ; but the last-mentioned species chiefly from Barbary in Northern Africa.
Those curious, brown, long, and three-cornered nuts which we so often see upon the fruit-stalls, and which are usually called Brazil nuts, but which are also called Para nuts, are the fruit of an enormous tree, one of the tallest and largest that grow in the forests of Brazil. This tree produces fruit as large as a child's head, which, when ripe, has a shell so hard as to require a heavy blow from a hammer to break it. Within this shell are found about twenty nuts, sweet to the taste, and, when eaten in moderate quantities, wholesome. More than 30,000 bushels are annually sent to this country, all of which are sold for eating.
The Cocoa-nut is familiar to all young people as the largest of edible nuts, and as containing a kernel somewhat like an egg in shape, lined with a solid white substance, holding a liquid called the milk. This large nut is the fruit of a Palm-tree, which may be described as a tree with a tall stem without branches, and bearing on its top an immense tuft of gigantic feather-shaped leaves. This palm grows by the sea-side in most tropical countries, and the fine kernel of the nut furnishes food to the inhabitants, who find it very wholesome. Large quantities of oil also are pressed from it after it has been ground into a rough sort of meal, called in Ceylon, Coperah. The large husk which surrounds the hard shell of the nut is broken up, and its fibres, when properly dressed, are called Coir, a substance much used for making ropes and mats, stuffing for cushions, &c.
III. -FOREIGN SPICES.
Not satisfied with the simple food which has been provided for him, man has brought from all quarters the means of giving a higher flavour or more agreeable taste to what he eats. To those foreign vegetables which, in consequence of their specially agreeable flavours, are employed in improving the taste of our various kinds of food, we give the name of Spices. The name of herbs or pot-herbs is applied to those which are grown in our own gardens for similar purposes.
Cinnamon is the under-bark of the cinnamon laurel, a large bush which grows chiefly in the island of Ceylon. It is prepared as follows :—After the strongly grown young twigs have been cut off, the thin outer bark is removed ; the under bark, which is thicker, is then stripped off and dried. Whilst drying, several pieces are rolled together, so as to make sticks about a yard long. They have a peculiar reddish brown colour, and an agreeable, pungent flavour. The bark of another shrub called the Cassia laurel, is prepared exactly in the same way in China, and is called Cassia or Cassia lignea. It so closely resembles cinnamon in appearance, that it is frequently sold for it, but its worth is not a fourth of that of cinnamon. The former is imported in bales from Ceylon ; the latter, in chests, from China.
Cloves are the dried flower-buds of a small but handsome tree, originally a native of the Philippine Islands, but now cultivated both in the East and West Indies, and in South America. They are gathered just as they are nearly ready to open into flower, and are very carefully dried in the sun, by which they become hard, and take a deep brown colour. It is strange that the beautiful flavour of the clove should be found chiefly in the flower-buds, for it exists only very faintly when the flower is open, and almost entirely disappears in the fruit.
i Here, as elsewhere, home-produce and its uses are left to be supplied by the teacher and the pupil. A continuation of the lessous on native products, written by the pupils,
The West Indies furnish us with another spice, which is known by various names, as Allspice, Pimento, and Jamaica
pepper. This is the ripe berry of a small tree (Allspice tree), somewhat like the myrtle in its habit of growth. It is planted in rows, called Pimento-walks, and these plantations are very beautiful and productive. The berries are gathered and dried, which makes them turn brown, and they are then packed into bags, and sent to England and other countries.
But the most valuable of all the spice-trees is that which produces the Nutmeg. It is a native of Amboyna, and grows to the size of a small pear-tree. When in bloom its branches are quite loaded with a profusion of small pinkish flowers growing in bunches. The fruit, which, in size, shape, and colour, somewhat resembles a middle-sized pear, splits open when ripe, as if cut ; and within it we may see the mace, which forms yellowish-red bands over a brown shell, in which is contained the kernel or nutmeg. This will be best understood by imagining a filbert-nut growing inside a pear, the mace being represented by the green husk which covers the nutshell. The peach also furnishes a good illustration : first there is the fleshy fruit ; then the fibres which cling to and lie within the furrows on the “stone ;” and lastly there is the stone enclosing the kernel. The shell which encloses the nutmeg is thin, brittle, and of a shining brown colour. fleshy fruit is not often eaten, as it tastes somewhat like turpentine. The valuable parts are the mace, and the kernel or nutmeg, which are dried and preserved with great care, and packed into strong chests for export to various countries.
Ginger is the underground stem or root-stock of a dwarf plant, which, although a native of India, is now cultivated in most hot countries. When growing, it resembles a short reed, having a thin round stem and a few grass-like leaves. The root-stock or ginger is dug up and washed. It is yellowish-white in colour, and, when dried, has a dirty-white wrinkled skin. This is sometimes scraped off, and the ginger bleached, a process which makes it beautifully smooth and white, but does not improve its quality. We get ginger from the East and West Indies, and Western Africa. It is often preserved in sugar, the root being taken up when young, and boiled in syrup.
Preserved ginger is sent to us from China and the East Indies : a little also comes from the West Indies. Of Pepper, there are three kinds known in trade.