I picked up some local in season produce at the Kitchener Market today so watch for some interesting recipes over the next few days. Today I’m making Tomato Jelly using Mrs. Geo. Lang’s recipe in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book and some local field tomatoes.
This jelly isn’t a bread spread but instead it is gelatine based. I didn’t have a quart of tomatoes so I cut the recipe in half. I washed the tomatoes and took out the stem end before chopping them. I put the cut tomatoes and all the juice into a saucepan and turned up the heat. The tomatoes produced their own liquid but I had to watch them carefully. I wasn’t able to cook them for an hour. After half an hour the liquid was gone and the tomatoes were fully cooked. I decided to sieve the pulp rather than add more liquid. I added 1/2 cup of hot water to the strained tomatoes and started heating it again. I had sheet gelatine but I wasn’t sure if the size of the sheets were the same as in 1906. I bought the gelatine sheets at Ayres Baking Supply in Waterloo but they are available in a few other stores in the area. It was fascinating to use them. I put the whole sheet into the hot liquid and it simply melted away. In the end I used four sheets of gelatine. Each sheet was more than six inches long. I added over 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Again I didn’t cook the mixture for the required hour. Instead I removed it from the burner after thirty minutes. I poured it into a small glass bowl and put it in the fridge to cool.
Mrs. George H. C. Lang (Elenora Foley) is another interesting contributor to the Berlin Cook Book. She is George’s second wife and has seven children in addition to several stepchildren. There are twelve people in the household at 76 Queen street according to the 1911 census. This includes three young housemaids. The Langs were a prosperous family owning a large tanning/leather company in the community. Every member of the household is listed as Catholic and of German ancestry. Eleanora was 42 when the cook book was published.
I was invited to dinner at a friend’s place and took the Tomato Jelly along. It was a hit with the adult male and the ten-year old male in the family. The boy thought it was a bit too “tomatoey” and I have to agree but then neither of us really like tomatoes. The jelly was smooth rather the rubber texture I’d expected. The cayenne pepper gave it a nice zest. It is basically an aspic and would be served as a salad course or to start a meal. It was very refreshing on a hot night. I think a modern cook could have fun with this recipe by adding a little fresh basil or oregano. Perhaps the hot liquid could be poured into a flat pan and interesting shapes cut when it is cool. I imagine Mrs. Lang instructing one of the housemaids in the making of Tomato Jelly and serving it to the family on a hot summer day or as part of an elegant luncheon for her female friends.
1 quart of tomatoes boiled for an hour, strain and add a cup of hot water, 10 sheets of gelatine, 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and boil for an hour on slow fire, put in mould and let cool.