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XII°. The oil that runs at first pressing, before the mixture of water, they call virgin oil, which is better than the other ; but they all say it will not keep, but spoil in a month or two, unless you put to it salt or sugar, salt is the better of the two, and then it will keep six months : as much as you can hold in your two hands is enough to put into a septié of oil. —A septié is thirty-two pots, and their pot is more than our quart.
XIII'. They usually, therefore, let the virgin and other oil, of the second and third pressing, mingle all together in the cistern, which being afterwards put up in jars, and kept in cool cellars, will keep good seven years; but the mingling of some of the hot water, after pressing, with the virgin oil, will not preserve it. So that it seems to be something either in the skins or stones of the olives, that comes not out but by the mixture of hot water and hard pressing, that serves to preserve it.
XIV°. They begin to gather their olives, as I have said, about St. Catharine's day, i. e. the 25th of November.
XV°. All confess that oil is better which is made of olives fresh gathered, than those that have been kept a month or two : but some tell me they delay so long (for when I saw them making oil, it was almost the middle of February) because olives that are kept yield the more oil ; others say, the reason why they are not pressed sooner, is because every body's grist cannot be ground at once, and they must stay till they can get a turn ; and by keeping, they say also, they grind better, for the new gathered spirt away from the mill.
XVI°. After they have gathered their olives, they lay them in heaps in the corner of a cellar, or some such other place, upon little faggots of dried vine branches (a good part of the fuel of the country) between the olives and the ground, where sometimes a black water will run from them; this they call purg. ing them.
In these heaps they lie till they press them ; none lie less than fifteen days ; but, for the reasons above-mentioned, they sometimes lie two months.
XVII'. Though they begin to gather their olives about the end of November, as has been said ; yet they never set their mills on work till after Twelfth-day, or New-year's-day, at soonest : the reason whereof is this: the master of the mill hires a great many men, for the time that oil is made, who keep the mill going day and night. Those whose oil is making give these workmen meat and drink, whilst they are employed about their olives ; so that if the master should entertain them before Christmas, he must not only pay them for so many holidays, whilst they stand still, but maintain them too.
XVIII'. Four septiés of olives usually yield one septié of oil; but I observed they were somewhat heaped.
XIX°. The goodness of the oil depends exceedingly on the property of the soil : this makes the oil of Aramont in Provence, not far from Avignon, the best in France.
XX°. When they are either filling the frails, or new stirring the pulp in them, there are two men at work at each pedestal, besides a fifth, that takes the pulp out of the trough thereby, wherein it lies ready ground, and with a shovel puts it into the frails as they bring them; or else lades boiling water out of the furnace (which is also by, and the top of it level with the ground, with a trap-door over) and pours it into the frails as they are ready for it.
XXI°. When the oil is made, carried home, and has settled, they usually take three-fourths of the upper part ; this they call the flower, and put it into earthen pots for eating ; the remainder, being thicker, is kept for lamps and such other uses : and the very thick sediment they put in the sun, to get as much oil out as they can.
XXII°. The pulp, that is left after all the pressing and affusion of boiling water, belongs to the master of the mill, who sells it for a groat or five-pence a mill-full, to others, who press it again, and make a coarse oil for soap, and other such uses.
XXIII'. The remaining pulp the bakers use to throw a little of it into their ovens as they are heating, it making a very violent fire.
XXIV. Oil they count one of the best and surest commodities of their country. The ordinary rate of good oil at Montpelier is some years three, some four, and some years four livres and a half per quartal, i.e. one fourth of a septié, or eight pots.
FRU I T.
The best plums are,
1. Perdrigon. 6. Damar violett.
5. Vert et long Of these the best to dry is the roche corbon, a large red plum; and the next to that the Ste. Catherine, large and yellow; because they are large and fleshy : not but that they dry of the other sorts too.
The way they take in drying them is this:
1o. They let them be so ripe, that they drop off from the tree of themselves, which is best ; or else fall with a little shaking
2°. When you have them thus ripe, the best way (though not always observed) is to put them two or three days in the hot sunshine, which will dry up gently some part of the superfluous moisture.
3°. When they have been thus a little dried in the sun, you must heat the oven gently; one little brush faggot is enough the first time; and having placed them singly upon wicker driers about two feet broad, and four or five feet long (or of a round figure so large as will go into the oven's mouth) put them into the oven, and so let them dry there till the oven is cold; and then they must be taken out and turned, whilst the oven is heating again. The oven may be thus heated twice a day, at eight in the morning, and at eight at night.
4o. The second time the oven may be made a little hotter than the first; and thus the heating of the oven,
and turning the plums, be repeated till they are dry enough, which is when they are of a due consistence and brownish colour.
5o. When they are so far dried as to be capable of pressing, the best way is to press them gently with the fingers, not into a flat, but round figure, for that way they keep best.
6o. The great care to be taken is in the first putting them into the oven, that the oven be not too hot; for if it be, it makes them crack their skins and run out, which makes them much worse.
After the same manner one dries peaches, with this difference, that after the first time they have been in the oven, one peels them with a knife, for the skin will easily strip; and the stone then is to be taken out, and, if one will, a little peach thrust into its place, which makes the other large and better. This also they often do in drying their plums, when they take out the stone of a great one, thrust a little plum into the place of it.
PEARS. Thus also pears are to be dried ; but that the oven may be made a little hotter for pears than plums; they are to be stripped also after their first coming out of the
The best pears to be dried, are the rouselette de Champagne.
The pears in most esteem amongst them about Tours and Saumur (for this is the part of France where are the best pears, plums, peaches, and melons) are, 1. Moule bouche. 9. Burée blanche. 2. Virgoleuse. 10. Rouselette de Champagne. 3. Martin sec.
11. La poire de citron. 4. Double fleur. 12. La citron de carmes. 5. Rouselette.
13. La poire de monsieur. 6. Colmar.
14. La verate. 7. St. Marsiac. 15. L'amadote musquée. 8. Vert et long. 16. La muscate d'Almagne.