Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

August 6th, 1864

Dried Fruit for Soldiers

Mrs. E. J. Roberts, Secretary of the Soldiers Aid Society, New Haven, Mass., has issued the following circular:

Dried Fruit vs. Jellies. – As the time of fruits has again come round, we would remind our friends in town and country that the Sanitary Commission has expressed a decided preference for dried fruits, instead of jellies, for the army, on account of the waste and breakage from fermentation during the heat of the summer, and the difficulties of packaging. The high price of sugar is an additional recommendation to dried fruit. The following recipes are considered good:

Fruit dried with sugar, &c., – to a pound of currants put a quarter pound of sugar. Boil together for a minute – that is, let them just come to the boiling – spread them on plates and set them in the sun for two days; then if they are not sufficiently dried, set them in the oven for a little while. When dry, they can be packed in stone or earthen jars, or wooden boxes.

Blackberry Cordial – Put your berries into a jar, which must be set into a kettle of water to boil for a few minutes; then extract the juice as you do for currant jelly. To a pint of juice put a pound of sugar and a small teacup of brandy. It does not need boiling again, and is fit for use immediately.

Another – To one quart of blackberry juice put a tablespoonful of ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice; boil ten or fifteen minutes, then add a half pound of sugar, and when cool a half pint of alcohol, to which should be added nearly the same amount of water.


*I find it interesting, and a bit annoying, that the writer encourages dried fruits, but only includes one recipe. While there is an additional column coming up, I will try to find some additional dried fruit recipes.


The Dress Question

[We have sundry communications on this question which indicated the current opinion on the subject, and we give such of them as we can find room for in this number of the Rural.]

Eds. Rural New-Yorker: – As the subject of dress is being discussed through the columns of the Rural, I should like to say a few words to the ladies. I am not going to talk to those who sit idly in parlors, or spend their time in useless employ; except to simply say, keep still, ‘tis none of your business what those wear who see fit to do their duty.

I advocate dress reform. I have worn short dresses for the past three years, and find them much more convenient than the long trailing dresses, which require one hand to keep them from under the feet, and out of slops and mud, thereby leaving but one hand entirely free to work with. I think those who have worn short dresses will agree with me in saying they are a great saving, in both time and patience. I have done more work within the last three years than I could possibly have done had I been obliged to have kept one hand occupied in taking care of long skirts. And, sisters, noble women of the North, now is the time to work if we ever do; while our brothers are fighting for the Union, we should not sit idly down and wait for the victory, but do our duty, and do it faithfully, as become the women of such a nation.

A word to the gentlemen and I close. Gentlemen, I do not advocate short dresses anywhere but at home, at work. At church and on the street, I think long dresses much more becoming, and wear them myself. Short ones are only for work; have you any objections to them there? If you have, I would suggest that you put on long skirts, and wear them for one week, wash, mop, milk, work in the garden, and if necessary help plant corn. If you don’t lay them aside at the end of the week and say ladies, wear short dresses to work in by all means, you have more patience than falls tot helot of most mortals. Stellie. Prarie Home, Mich,. 1864


Published in: on August 6, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I always have loved spunky women! I imagine that when she had that “look” on her face, no man or woman crossed her!!

  2. You don’t really need a recipe for dried fruit, and most fruits are dried without sugar. Just wash, pit (if needed), slice if thick, spread on racks to dry in the sun. (Be prepared for a mad rush to get the fruit indoors when rain threatens!) Most fruit doesn’t need added sugar. Use mosquito netting as a tent to keep the bugs off (or the 19th century version of muslin). Alternatively, dehydrate in a low oven (door partly open). I doubt that this latter method would be popular in summer! Many fruits (apricots, peaches, apples) will turn brown, but this doesn’t affect the flavor. Dipping the fruit pieces in lemon juice before drying helps reduce the darkening, but I don’t know if this step is period-correct. Sulfur dioxide was also used (and still is used today) but affects the flavor. I just let my dried fruit turn brown, which tastes far better than sulfur!

  3. Reblogged this on If I Had My Own Blue Box: and commented:

    I am reblogging a few posts from earlier this year because there has been some recent discussion of working and domestic working attire.

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