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Barberry Conserve Barberry Drops Barberry Jam Barberry Jam, Spiced Barberry Jelly Barberry Pickled Relish Barberry Sauce Candied Barberry Tartlets

In the past barberries have played an important part in the stocking of the winter larder. They were used as dried sweetmeats and in sugar-plums of comfits. They were also pickled with vinegar and used for a number of other culinary purposes. Medicinally they were said to allay heat and thirst in those suffering from fevers. The berries are very attractive arranged on leaves of parsley as a garnish. Barberries contain natural pectin so it is not necessary to add any.

An old recipe for tartlets calls for picking berries that have no stones. The berries were removed from the stalks and to every pound weighed out ¾ lb of lump sugar was added. The fruit was then put into a crock and either set on a hot hearth or in a pan of water to simmer very slowly till soft. Then the soft fruit was transferred along with the sugar into a kettle where these were boiled gently for 15 minutes.

Another old recipe for candied barberries called for bits of flat white wood which was 3-inches long and ¼ of an inch wide (dowels or sticks would be the same thing). The stalks of the berries were tied onto the stick from within an inch of one end to beyond the other so as to make them look attractive. They were then simmered in some syrup for two successive days and were covered when they became cold. When they looked clear, they were considered finished. On the third day they were finished off like any other candied fruit.

An old recipe for barberry drops said the black tops must be cut off, then the fruit roasted before the fire till soft enough to pulp with a silver spoon through a sieve into a basin. Then the basin was placed in a saucepan of water (a double boiler is essentially what is described here) that would provide a snug fit, and the contents heated and stirred until it grew thick. When it was cold, 1½ lbs of sugar were added to every pint of pulp. The sugar and juice were beaten together for 3½ hours if a large quantity for for 2½ hours for a smaller amount. It was then dropped on sheets of white, thick paper (wax paper). The description given is that the drops were of the size of those which were sold in the shops. If the drops ran, then there was not enough sugar and if they were too rough, then there was too much sugar. They remained out on the paper till dried. Explicit warnings were given not to use any metal, but to use wood or china. By current standards that would imply that non-reactive mediums (stainless steel or porcelain clad cookware) were to be employed and that metals could and would react with the berries.

on this pageBarberry Jelly
Version 1
8 cups ripened barberries
1½ cups sugar to each cup of juice
1 cup water

Use only fully ripened fruit. Wash and stem the fruit and measure 8 cups worth. Place the fruit into a saucepan and mash them completely. Add 1 cup of cold water and cook over moderate heat till the juice starts to flow (upto 10 minutes). Strain the juice through a jelly bag and for each cup of juice add 1½ cups of sugar. Place the juice in a deep saucepan and mix in the sugar. Place over a high heat and bring to a boil. Hold at the boil for 15 minutes or till the mixture passes the jell sheeting test. Stir the mixture constantly in order to prevent the bottom from burning. Remove the mixture, skim off the red foam and pour the jelly into hot sterilized jelly jars. Seal while hot.

Version 2
4 cups crushed ripe barberries
2 whole oranges, chopped
2 cups water
1½ cups sugar
1 pkg pectin

Simmer berries and orange pieces in the water for 20 minutes or till tender. Strain the juice through a jelly bag. Combine recovered juice and the sugar. Bring to a rolling boil, then add the pectin. Bring to a boil and boil 1 full minute or according to package directions. Pour into hot, sterile jars and seal. Process in hot-water bath for 15 minutes.

on this pageBarberry Jam
3 lbs ripe fruit
2 cups cold water
1 cup sugar per cup of juice pulp

Place fully ripened and cleaned fruit into a saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Cook the mixture slowly over a medium heat till the fruit softens. When cooked through, remove from heat and pass mixture through a fine sieve or strainer to remove the skins and seeds. Measure the pulp mixture and place into a saucepan with 1 cup sugar for each cup of pulp. Mix well and bring to a boil. Hold the boil for 15 minutes while stirring constantly. Skim off the foam and pour into hot sterile jelly jars and seal while hot.

on this pageBarberry Spiced Jam
2 lbs ripe barberries
1½ lbs sugar
½ pint diluted cider vinegar
1 tsp each of allspice and whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Wash and stem fully ripe berries. Make a sauce of the sugar and the diluted vinegar. Place the spices in a bag and add to the sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and cool. Then add the berries and heat slowy. Simmer till the berries are soft. Remove from heat, cover and place into the refrigerator to cool, allowing to remain overnight. Next day remove the spice bag and pour off the sauce. Pack the berries into hot, sterile jars. Heat the syrup just to the boiling point, then pour the hot sauce over the berries and seal. The jars should be allowed to age for 1 month before eating.

on this pageBarberry Sauce
2 cups cold water
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 cups sugar
4 cups ripe barberries

Place water, orange rind and sugar into a saucepan. Mix well and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the washed and stemmed ripe berries. Cook till the berries begin to pop (about 5 minutes). When all the berries have popped, place the sauce in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator. Serve chilled. Since it contains high levels of natural pectin, it can also be poured into a mold before chilling.

on this pageBarberry Pickled Relish
1 pint ripe barberries
2 cups sugar
4 cups cider vinegar
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
1 stick of cinnamon

Wash and stem the fruit. Place into a deep saucepan and add the sugar and the vinegar. Then add the allspice, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and hold there till the berries lose their color. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain and pour into hot sterile pint jars and seal.

on this pageBarberry Conserve
2 juicy oranges
2 quarts of ripe barberries
¾ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 cups sugar

Slice the oranges into very thin sections and remove the seeds. Cook the slices in a little water till tender. Clean and stem the fully ripe barberries. Crush the fruit with a potato masher. Strain the pulp and juice through a strainer or food mill to remove the seeds. Add the juice poulp to the cooked oranges and mix well. Add the cinnamon, lemon juice and sugar. Mix well and bring to a boil, then simmer over a low heat till the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, pour into hot sterile jelly jars and seal.

©1999 by Ernestina Parziale, CH