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they become very ripe: they are then gathered, and sometimes laid in the sun, and sometimes put into ovens to dry. The largest and finest sorts are packed in boxes for exportation, to be used at desserts in winter; and the more common kinds are used for cakes and puddings.
“Currants are a very small kind of grape, which have no stones, and are of a red or black colour: they grow in all the Grecian islands, but particularly in Zante. The currant-harvest begins in August, when they are plucked from the trees, and dried upon a floor, then packed in cases for the continent; and I have heard that the people of Great Britain consume most of them, for the islanders, who send them to us; know nothing of Christmas pies and plum puddings.
“Citron and spices, which have added
to the richness of this cake, are all procured from the East and West Indies. Citron is the produce of a small evergreen shrub: the fruit is oblong, very green, and has a thick rind: it is rather acid, and is seldom eaten in a raw state; but, when preserved with sugar and dried, is much used by the confectioners. The cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and mace, with other aromatics, you will find a very good account of, Frank, in a volume of " Useful Knowledge:' and that your curiosity may lead you to read the history of their growth, I will not say any more on the subject. Do you know, Agnes,” said her mamma, “ what the liquid which you are now drinking is extracted from?" "Yes, mamma: it is tea." “ And what is tea?" " I know," said Frank: "it is the dried leaf of a tree growing in China." “Yes,
my dear; and it is a principal article of commerce with the Chinese, who send it to all parts of the world. The tea-shrub grows about fivè or six feet in height: the leaves are long and small, and the flowers something like a wild rose. The natives gather the leaves when they are young and juicy, dry them in the sun, or on hot plates, and pack them in boxes to export. There are several varieties of the tea-tree; but the bohea or black tea, and the hyson or green tea, are most commonly known.
“ Coffee is not so much used as tea in this country; but it is the common beverage of the inhabitants of Arabia, where the: best coffee grows, and it is considered a very wholesome and refreshing : drink. The coffee-trees grow from fifteen to twenty feet high: the leaves are ever! green, the flowers white and sweet-scented: the fruit is of an oval shape, about the size of a cherry, and of a dark red colour: each of these contains two seeds, which is the coffee as we have it previous to roasting, which process it undergoes in. England ; and you know it is ground into powder before we use it. The West India Islands also produce coffee, but it is an inferior sort to that of the eastern countries."
Agnes said, she hoped that her mamma would be so good as to tell her how sugar is procured, as she thought it made so many good things.
Mrs. Vernon proceeded to say, that the sugar-cane grows in the form of a jointed reed, eight or nine feet high; and in August the planters cut them down, take the leaves from them, cut the stalks in pieces
and bruise them in a mill: then they boil the juice in large caldrons several times over, till it becomes thick, and separates from the coarse part, which is called molasses or treacle. After
After all this has drained off, the dry part, which is now the raw sugar, is packed in large casks, and sent to all the quarters of the globe. “ You, children," said she, “well know to what a variety of uses it is put: your fruitpies and puddings would not be so palatable without its assistance. The white or . loaf sugar, is merely the raw sugar refined by a particular process, in our own country, and put into moulds of a conical form to dry. The West Indies produce nearly all the sugar that is consumed; and it is in the sugar-plantations that so many slaves are employed. After what I have told you, my dear children," said Mrs.