Dec 19th Friday After breakfast went to making
my citron made quite a long job of it nearly two before it
was all done had about 14 or 15 lbs The coal
affected Jane so much that she nearly fainted
and had to go to bed & I had to get dinner
After I got through with the citron I put
the things back into the store room from the
shed chamber & put it in order Spent eve at Olivers
Coal was the fuel of choice at the Ames compound, but it had some negative aspects (beyond its environmental impact, a more modern concern.) Dust and smoke from burning coal was noxious, its particulates containing toxins like lead, mercury and arsenic. Yet much of America was turning to coal for fuel to support the growth of manufacturing and the expanding rail traffic, and to replace the use of wood in homes.
While working in the kitchen making candied citron, Jane McHanna was overcome by the coal smoke and smell. She went to bed to recover, leaving Evelina at the stove to finish up and make dinner. No doubt Evelina was concerned for the health of her servant, but no doubt she was somewhat peeved to be doing Jane’s job again.
Citron, meanwhile, was the fruit of choice for fruitcake. Not as familiar to us nowadays as it was in 1850, it was cooked and candied and used for special baking. Both Evelina and Jane would have known how to cook it down.