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.
A sufficient number of, say No. I, in quality of apples should be placed with the stem downward, to cover the head that is to be marked and taken out. Then for No. 1 packages, such apples or pears as are fair, good size, and not bruised, should be put in the barrel, so as not to bruise them.
When the barrel is a little more than full of fruit, having been well shook down, a screw or lever should be used in pressing down the fruit, so as to put in the head so ' hard pressed that the fruit cannot be moved by the shake or manner of transporting the barrel. It pays better to do right, to so sort and pack fruit so that no purchasers may be deceived. If pears or apples are to be forwarded to some of the principal city markets, to be sold on commission, I suggest they be sent to a good, honest, responsible commission man, and allow him to exercise his judgment when to sell.
Mr. Lewis asked if the barrel should be headed as soon as it is filled, or should it be allowed to undergo the sweating process?
Mr. Gridley would not head up immediately for keeping, but for marketing late in the fall he thought it would be perfectly safe to head up as soon as filled. He would use only clean barrels. New ones are the best. Salt barrels should not be used.
A flour barrel, Mr. Lewis said, holds a half bushel more than apple barrels, and a salt barrel a half bushel more than a flour barrel, He has been accustomed to clean flour barrels, by knocking all the loose flour from them, then using a broom, and lastly a woolen rag, could not get them perfectly clean.
Mr. Tuttle thought the best way to pick fruit is to pick every apple by hand and lay it carefully in a basket; they should never be dropped so as to be bruised in the least. In the packing, he would not drop a pear three inches, on to another pear, but place them very carefully, Cover the heads of barrels with brown paper. Thinks it keeps them from bruising. First layer of pears should be packed stem up; apples, stem down. Ho is acquainted with a fruit grower who picks his apples into baskets, not holding more than a peck, piles them in small lots on the ground and allows them to lay for some days, then packs them and heads up immediately. When they are barreled, the barrels are not allowed to be rolled, and are carried in spring wagons. Fruit that is worth taking to market is worth taking to market in the best style.
Mr. Butler, of New Hartford, had packed a great many apples for the New York market, and had always succeeded best in packing in new barrels. He had found that apples of equal quality, in a new barrel, will bring a half dollar more than in second-hand barrels.
Mr. Tuttle said that many buyers think that if fruit is brought to market in second-hand barrels, the fruit is second-hand. Most pears should be picked as soon as they will come off the stem. Louisa Bonne de Jersey should be allowed to remain on the stem until ripe.
Mr. Gridley would ripen pears in a cool, dark, dry place. Some varieties will ripen as easily as apples. Many winter pears, however, are difficult to ripen.
Mr. Tuttle had had good success in ripening pears, by spreading on the floor in a dark room and covering with a sheet, to keep the air from them.
Mr. Lewis had ripened the best pears in a perfectly dark room, and one which was not affected by the temperature of outside air. In other rooms he covered them in a manner similar to that adopted by Mr. Tuttle.
Mr. Campbell asked if this section raises much fruit for marketing. It was answered that no depot, east of Wayne county, ships more fruit than Clinton; and the entire county of Oneida is famous for its fruit.
Mr. Gridley has found that the best way in which to pack pears for market, is in bushel crates, and not in bulk or barrels. They sell more readily in market, for families.
An objection was made by Mr. Tuttle, to this method, because it would ripen the pears while exposed to the air; and the flavor would not be preserved. Mr. Gridley thought the short time they are on the road would not injure their flavor.
Mr. Butler has been instructed by New York buyers to pick apples carefully and put them in piles of 15 to 20 bushels and let them remain for several days, no matter if it rained during the time. Then, on a dry day, take them from the ground, pack them carefully in barrels, head them up immediately, and allow them to remain in the orchard until buyers called for them. He never had known any complaint being made of their condition when they reached market.
Mr. Lewis had had apples frozen in barrels in the fall or during the winter and come out all right in the spring. He covers the barrels with sawdust, and the apples thaw out gradually in the spring and do not lose their flavor, because not exposed to the air or light. While frozen they do not rot, of course, but rot more quickly after they are thawed than though they had not been frozen.
All agreed that apples should be kept in as cool a place as possible until freezing weather comes, and when put in the cellar the temperature should be as low as 40°.
Mr. Lewis would have it as low as 35° if possible.
Mr. Campbell keeps his fruit in his barn cellar during the winter, as his house cellar is too warm.
Mr. Tuttle had tasted fruit kept in refrigerator packing house that had been picked a year and tasted as fresh as if just picked from the tree. It will begin to decay, however, in the course of three or four days after it is taken from the houses.