Elizabeth Raffald, on Making ‘Green Caps’

“Take Codlings just before they are ripe, green them as you would for Preserving, then rub them over with a little oiled Butter, grate double refined Sugar over them, and set them in the Oven ’till they look bright, and sparkle like Frost, then take them out and put them into a deep China Dish, make a very fine Custard, and pour it round them; stick single Flowers in every Apple, and serve them up. It is a pretty Corner Dish for either Dinner or Supper.”

Elizabeth Raffald, The Experienced English House-keeper (1769)

Following on from yesterday’s ‘Black Caps’ recipe by Henry Howard, here we have a ‘Green’ variant, using under-ripe apples; a handy way to make use of those early wind-falls, perhaps? Let’s see. Sounds simple enough. Basically they’re sour apples candied with sugar in an oven and then served with custard, no?

Hold on though, there’s that phrase at the start: “green them as you would for Preserving“. Let’s see if we can see what Mrs Raffald – who was the head house-keeper at Arley Hall in Cheshire before retiring to Manchester and opening a confectioner’s shop in near The Exchange (presumably the Corn Exchange) – meant by that, with a quick search elsewhere in The Experienced English House-keeper… ah, yes, here we go, page 194, “To preserve Green Codlings, that will keep all the Year“:

Take Codlings about the Size of a Walnut, with the Stalks and a Leaf or two on, put a handful of Vine Leaves into a Brass Pan of Spring Water, then a lay of Codlings, then Vine Leaves, do so ’till the Pan is full, cover it cloſe that no Steam can get out, set it on a flow Fire; when they are soft take off the Skins with a Penknife, then put them in the same Water with the Vine Leaves; it must be quite cold or it will be apt to crack them, put in a little Roach Allum, and set them over a very flow Fire ’till they are green (which will be in three or four Hours,) then take them out and lay them on a Sieve to drain.

Yeah… I knew there had to be a catch. Normally I’d say that if you happen to have a supply of vine leaves and “Roach Allum”, a.k.a. roche alum, Roman alum or Roset, and fancy giving ‘Green Caps’ a go, please do let me know how you get on. But it seems there are all sorts of alum compounds, most of which seem to be used for dyeing cloth, and some of them sound quite toxic, so perhaps you shouldn’t, in case you end up with the wrong sort.

Yes, on reflection, this is one archive recipe that’s probably best just left here for reference, filed under ‘historical interest only’.

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