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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.
THE best plums are, 1. Perdrigon. 2. D'Apricot. 3. Diapré.
6. Damar violett.
4. Ste. Catherine. 9. Catalane.
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.
3o. 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.
4°. 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.
5°. 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.
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.
3. Martin sec.
4. Double fleur. 5. Rouselette.
7. St. Marsiac. 8. Vert et long.
9. Burée blanche.
10. Rouselette de Champagne.
15. L'amadote musquée.
The 10, 11, 12, 13, are their best summer pears.
are their best winter pears.
In the recolets garden at Saumur there is abundance of good fruit, amongst the rest a sort of pear, which they call
17. Poire sans peau,
which is ripe at the same time cherries are. They told me it was a very good pear, and a great bearer. Before the middle of August, when I was there, they were all
They have in the same garden another pear, which they call
18. Poire de jasmin, which, as they say, hath something of the flavour of jasmin.
The melons of Langers (a town upon the Loire, six leagues above Saumur) are counted the best in France; and from hence the court is supplied with them. Here, and at Saumur (where they are loth to give any preference to the melons of Langers) they set them in the common earth of their gardens without dung, or any other art, but barely nipping the tops of the branches when the young melons are knit, to hinder the sap from running too much into leaves and branches.
The prunes we have from France are a great black plum, that grows about Montauban and those parts: they dry them as much as they can in the sun, and what wants to dry them perfectly, they make out by the heat of the oven.
Prunellas, or rather brignols, are a sort of plums that grow in Provence, not far from Aix: they gather them thorough ripe, and having stripped off the skins, they stick them on skewers about six inches long, and very slender; they take care not to put them too close to one another on these skewers. These little spits, loaded thus
with plums, they fasten one above another, either in a cane, or a rope of straw like that we make for onions; and as we hang them up in our houses to keep, so do they those in the sun to dry.
When they are a little hardened, or half dry, they take out the stones, and press them with their fingers into that flat figure we see them, wetting their fingers a little to hinder them from sticking to them in handling when this is done, they put them to dry again in the sun till they are quite cured; some say on the skewers again, others on boards. Those that grow at Brignol are the best, and hence they have their name. They sometimes dry them with their stones in, and so they are better, as some that have eaten of them have told me.