"When you have boiled your Quinces or Damsons sufficiently, straine them : then dry the pulp in a pan on the fire; and when you see there is no water in it, but that it beginneth to bee stiffe, then mixe two pound of sugar with three pound of pulp : this Marmelade will bee white Marmelade : and if you desire to have it looke with an high colour : put your sugar and your pulp together so soone as your pulp is drawne, and let them both boil together, and so it will looke of the colour of ordinary marmelade, like unto a stewed warden; but if you dry your pulp first, it will look white, and take less sugar : you shall know when it is thick enough by putting a little into a sawcer, letting it coole before you boxe it."
Sir Hugh Plat, Delights for Ladies, 1636
Here’s an interesting variation on a classic marmalade recipe. “White marmelade” presumably refers to a much clearer, paler fruit jelly, rather than the “ordinary” version, which would have been “like unto a stewed warden” in colour; wardens being cooking pears that tend to turn reddish when cooked.
According to Sir Hugh, it can be made by drying out the strained fruit pulp before adding the sugar, rather than by boiling pulp and sugar together. Although, having cooked quite a few damsons recently, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how damson pulp would turn out to be anything other than a glorious, deep purple colour.
As it typical for preserves and fruit pastes of the time, the finished product is stored in a “boxe” – glass jars not being an option until towards the end of the nineteenth century1At least, according to the online sources I’ve been able to find, although if anyone has an earlier date for the use of glass jars and can point me at a reference source, I’d be intrigued to learn more. I wonder what type of box would have been used, and how it would have been sealed? If anyone knows, please do leave a comment below.
How about you? Do you prefer a “white marmelade” clear fruit jelly, or are you more a fan of a bright, colourful version? What’s your favourite quince and/or damson preserve? Please do let me know, via the comments.
- 1At least, according to the online sources I’ve been able to find, although if anyone has an earlier date for the use of glass jars and can point me at a reference source, I’d be intrigued to learn more