Apples, potatoes, turnips, carrots, beets, etc., if stored in bins or barrels, should be picked over every week. The defective should be thrown away, and if there be any sign of sweating, the good should be spread out on the floor for a day or two to dry before they are repacked. Fruit should be handled with care. Bruises are incipient decay.
Particularly fine fruit - apples and pears - should be wrapped, each separately, in soft, imprinted paper and, when packed, covered with fine, dry sand. Thus protected, they will keep plump and sweet for months, and need no overhauling meanwhile.
When practicable, keep vegetables in large quantities else-where than in the cellar under your dwelling. Putrefying roots, cabbages and apples were responsible for much of the winter and spring diseases that puzzled our forefathers and mothers. Even now many a farmhouse reeks with "cellar smells," as subtile and dangerous as sewer gas.
Keep eggs in a cool place, yet not where they will be liable to freeze. If you store them in large quantities, pack in dry salt, the small end down. As an additional precaution, grease the shells, and pour melted lard upon the topmost layer of salt.
Have canisters with tight lids for coffee and tea, and keep them shut. Coffee loses strength and flavor when exposed to the air. Tea softens and molds.
In buying crackers give the preference to those packed in tin cases. If they come in paper boxes, set these in tin receptacles, or in stone crocks with snugly fitting tops. Never throw away a tin cracker-box. It is always useful.
After cheese is cut, wrap in tin-foil, or in soft (unprinted) paper and keep in tin, or in stoneware.
Crusts, bits of toast, broken crackers and stale slices of bread should be kept in the kitchen closet until perfectly dry; then set in a moderate oven for an hour before crushing them with a rolling-pin. Keep these crumbs in a glass jar with a close top. They are invaluable for breading chops and croquettes, and for scallops.
Brown flour by the quantity, and when cool put into glass jars ready for use.
Salt cakes and hardens in damp weather. Store it in your warmest and driest pantry. In very wet weather mix a little corn starch with that you put into the table salt-cellars:
Flour can not be kept too dry, nor can Indian oatmeal, and all kinds of sugar. Pulverized sugar is as susceptible to humidity as salt. Tin boxes are absolutely necessary for keeping it tolerably free from lumps.
Spices, pepper and dried herbs must also be shut up closely, and never be kept in open receptacles. Some brands of baking-powders actually effervesce when exposed for days at a time to the open air. All are injured seriously by such exposure.
For all these staples and ingredients, have closely-fitting lids - and keep them on!
Store dried fruits in stone jars with covers; canned fruits and pickles in glass jars; tumblers of jelly and marmalade should be kept in the dark. The light acts chemically upon the contents. If your storeroom be light, wrap jars and tumblers in thick paper tied on with strings.
As soon as meat comes home from market remove every bit of the brown paper enveloping it, and lay upon a clean dish near the ice - never upon it. Fish does not suffer from contact with ice. Meat does, becoming flabby and viscid. If your refrigerator is so arranged that you can hang the meat up, that the air can get at all sides of it, it will keep far better than when laid on a platter.
A good meat preserver is a box, as large as you can make room for in the refrigerator, the top and bottom of which are of wood, the sides of wire netting. Stout hooks are screwed into the inside of the top, and one of the netted sides is hinged, like a door. Meat hung in this box will remain untainted and sweet much longer than when hung upon the side of the refrigerator. If you have a cool cellar, keep the meat box, thus prepared, upon a shelf in the darkest corner. The netting excludes insects, yet allows the air to enter, and by drying the surface forms an impervious coating which will keep in the juices.
Get large tin boxes for bread and cake. Scald them frequently, drying thoroughly in the sun, and have clean, dry cloths in which to wrap each fresh batch of cake and baking of bread and biscuits.
It is an excellent plan to make cotton bags in which to put lettuce, celery, tomatoes, spinach and other green things you wish to store in the refrigerator. The shelves and ice-box are kept clean, the esculents fresh. Many housewives have adopted the expedient within a few years, and none have abandoned it after a trial. The bags are of coarse, light cotton cloth, or of cheesecloth, and go into the weekly wash.
Table butter, wrapped in dampened cheesecloth squares, keeps sweet and firm. These squares are as large as a child's pocket handkerchief, and hemmed to prevent raveling. Half a dozen will last a year, unless the "hired gurrel" takes them for dish-cloths.
Butter, made into balls for the table, should be kept in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator, and the water changed every morning.