This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The Fruit committee, to whom a communication from Mr. Daniel T. Curtis, in respect to a method discovered by him for ripening and preserving fruits, has been referred, ask leave to report at this time but in part, upon the subject committed to them.
Specimens of fruit, consisting mainly of pears, have repeatedly, during the past year, been placed upon the tables of the Society, by Mr. Curtis., that had been preserved by him for a long time after their usual period of maturity, that were found on examination to be perfectly sound, and, in some instances, to have retained unimpaired their juice and flavor. Among these pears were specimens of the Seckel, Bonne Louise de Jersey .Duchess d'Angouleme, and Easter Beurre. The Scckels, though a kind peculiarly subject to early decay, were perfectly sound, and retained in perfection the peculiar flavor of that variety. Of the other varieties, the specimens exhibited were generally, though sound, insipid and tasteless, arising from the circumstance, as Mr. Curtis stated, and as their appearance indicated, that they were, when packed, and subjected to his process, immature and imperfect.
These pears were exhibited by Mr. C. as late as January and February, months after their signs of decay were visible, that their season could be almost indefinitely prolonged.
Mr. Curtis has sent pears preserved and packed in his peculiar method, to the Havana, to London, and San Francisco, thus subjecting his method to the most severe trials.
The following extract from a letter from his correspondent at Havana, shows the result of the experiment, as far as the shipment to that city is concerned: '• The pears arrived in perfect order; they were delicious. I never thought they could be eaten in so perfect a state, except in the country where they grow."
The Gardeners1 Chronicle of April 5th,states, that at the Exhibition of the London Horticultural Society, April first, a box of 15 Easter Beurre pears, received from Mr. Curtis, of Boston, were exhibited; that cases containing seven of these pears were opened, and of them, four were found to be decayed, and three good; and then states, "These pears were stated to have been ripened by a method peculiar to Mr. Curtis, the nature of which was not explained. They were, for the most part, melting, sweet, and perfectly ripe, a condition which this fruit with difficulty attains with us in England." The society awarded Mr. Curtis its Knightian medal.
The California Daily Courier of April 9th, acknowledges the receipt, through Mr. D. H. Haskell, of Adam's Express, of a "magnificent pear, as sound as when packed at Boston." The Pacific News, and Alta California,and other San Francisco papers, make similar acknowledgments, and all concur in stating that the pears were perfectly sound, and that as they were sent for the purpose of testing the practicability of sending fruit to California, across the Isthmus, speak of the experiment as successful. The pears were shipped at Boston, January 27, and after a detention of 70 days, arrived in California in April. The papers referred to state, that the pears, though sound, were deficient in flavor, a circumstance to be imputed, as with those exhibited to the Society, perhaps to the immature and imperfect state of the fruit when shipped, and not to the effect of the passage, or a difference of climate.
From the facts now detailed as well as from their own observation, your committee feel justified in expressing a confident opinion, that after many unsuccessful trials of various processes ana different methods, Mr. Curtis has succeeded in discovering a method of preserving fruit for a very long, if not for any desired period, and that this method is capable of a practical application.
Although Mr. Curtis has. as he states, preserved other varieties of fruit besides pears, yet so far as the personal knowledge of the committee extends, the fruit subjected to his process has thus far been mainly of the latter description, and they feel, before arriving at a conclusive opinion respecting the value of this discovery to the Society, experiments with othshould be made, and opportunity be offered for their examination, after being subjected to the process. With a view to the gratification of the committee in this particular, Mr. Curtis is about commencing, under their inspection, some experiments with the early and soft fruits, to be continued with other kinds, as they come into season.
In addition to the discovery of a mode of preserving fruit, Mr. Curtis seems also to have succeeded in finding out a process by which such varieties as are difficulty to ripen, maybe brought to perfection. - a discovery of almost as much interest to cultivators, as that by which the season of all varieties is so greatly prolonged and their safe transmission to distant places secured.
That the discoveries of Mr. Curtis are important, and that he is justly entitled to an honorary and pecuniary recompense at the hands of the Society, as well as that a knowledge of the process should be, if possible, procured for the use of its members, your committee entertain no doubt, and they believe that it will be but fulfilling some of the objects for which it was instituted, in testifying by such recompense, a proper appreciation of the merits and discoveries of Mr. Curtis, and in procuring for the public the means of availing itself of the advantages to be derived therefrom.
Under existing circumstances, however, while they wish now to place on record such evidence of the claims of Mr. Curtis as is afforded by this expression of their opinions and statements of facts, your committee are of opinion that the final action of the Society, in relation to this matter, should yet be delayed until the result of the experiments referred to are ascertained, and such further information with respect to the expense attending the process and the mode of practicing it procured, as will enable them, in view of the beneficial results of which it is capable, the better to recommend, and the Society to adopt, such measures in relation to these discoveries, as Mr. Curtis seems to deserve and its own interest to demand.
With these views, your committee ask that the whole subject may yet be left in their hands, and that further time be allowed them to consider what action it is proper that the Society should take in reference thereto. Joseph S. Cabot, Chairman.