August 21

Yesterday fine & fairly warm. Went in afternoon and saw Kit’s Coty,¹ a druidical altar or something of the kind. It consists of four stones arranged more or less thus:

The whole about 8’ high & the stone on top approximately 8’ square by something over a foot thick. This makes about 70 cubic feet of stone. A cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of coal is supposed to weigh 27 cwt., so the top stone if of coal would weigh about 3 1/2 tons. Probably more if I have estimated the dimensions rightly. The stones are on top of a high hill & it appears they belong to quite another part of the country.

[NEWSPAPER CUTTING]

Fruit Bottling Without Sugar
OLD-TIME COUNTRY METHOD
When this simple method of bottling fruit in cold water without sugar or any cooking was first shown to me by an old country-woman I was doubtful if it would prove successful.
I find, however, that it answers perfectly, and that the fruit has more flavour this way than when it is dealt with by the more usual methods.
Care is necessary in following out the directions. Use air-tight bottles with rubber rings. And now for the simple recipe.
Fill bottles of the kind mentioned with fruit, and place in pail or any suitable receptacle which will hold four to five inches of water over the top of the bottle. Now turn on tap of cold water, or have a can of cold water and pour over the bottled fruit with some force. This is to pack fruit and force out any impurities. Let water run until bottles are filled and running over an inch or two. Stop tap and wait until all bubbles have ceased to rise.
Seal up, under water. Take out, turn the bottles upside-down. If all are dry next morning all is well. If there is any leaking you must do the work over again. The fruit keeps its flavour as though freshly gathered. – T. H. S.

¹Kit’s Coty House is the chamber of a long barrow (an ancient grave mound) not far to the north of Aylesford. Peter Davison

*You can view an image of this entry here. The Orwell Prize

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12 Responses to August 21

  1. FaeDine says:

    Wow, the Google Maps link here is a nice touch…

    It would appear the ‘altar’ he saw is still standing!

  2. The fruit keeps its flavor because botulism doesn’t have a taste.

  3. Ah, nothing like a nice stroll along Rochester Road.

  4. Klank Kiki says:

    That’s right, Jimmy.
    Do not try this preservation method.

  5. Alina says:

    Why aren’t you scanning the newspaper clippings? I mean, even if they’re too fragile to be scanned, you could take a digital photograph at least and perhaps put the transcript below.

  6. Brian says:

    It is a viable preservation method. If botulism occurs, the cap would just pop.

  7. Laurens says:

    “A cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of coal is supposed to weigh 27 cwt.”
    What happened to the cubit?

  8. Ransome says:

    My grandmother was from the old country and she regularly poisoned my father’s side of the family with her canning. As I was growing up, we never canned and every item of (commercial) food that came from a can or jar was boiled for at least 30 minutes by my father. Grandma also liked to serve poisonous mushrooms that looked like those from the old country. Regardless. Grandma lived until her middle 90’s. My father never ate a mushroom after he moved away from Grandma.

    I have a “Kitchen Science” cookbook written in the early 1900. Canning consisted of heating the jars, cooking the food until it was “done” but not over cooked. The food was poured into the jars until overflowing, stirred to release trapped bubbles, the lip was wiped clean, and capped. You watched for several days and if bubbles formed, you did the process over.

    I think a jar of canned peaches is what sent Brigham Young to another place. Lead soldered cans killed officers during Arctic exploration. We also have the death on the Galapagos of settler Dr. Friedrich Ritter after eating home canned chicken meat.

    These old methods of preserving were fine until they killed you. It’s always interesting to read about old methods of food preservation because it gets edited out over time as unsafe. I prefer history unedited, which is one point of this blog.

  9. kamelda says:

    Very interesting. Love the blog (Orwell was such a great writer, and such a great human); how -not entirely unexpected- but still wonderful, that his journals would be a chronicle of eager interest in vivid daily details, rather than merely in himself. Many thanks.

  10. Pingback: veeewwwwy intewwwesting « keeping house

  11. Don Lemna says:

    I love Orwell. I love all of this, including the comments.

  12. perde says:

    It is a viable preservation method. If botulism occurs, the cap would just pop.

    and very good blog

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