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.
Though too late for any fruit but peaches, or vegetables, except, perhaps, tomatoes, this season, I will send you the method I have successfully practiced for five years, in keeping gooseberries, cherries, plums, peaches, peas, Lima beans, green corn, and tomatoes.
Tin cans, of about three quart capacity, are a convenient size for an ordinary family; the hole in the top should be about three inches diameter, and the cover pierced with as minute a hole as possible. Fill the can with the prepared fruit, solder the top on, place it over the fire in a pan or kettie, containing water enough to rise within an inch of the top of the can, and heat until the contents attain the temperature of boiling water, then close the hole in the cover, and the thing is done.
For peas, Lima beans, and corn, I have found it better to manage somewhat differently, and I think cans of about one-half the size above, sufficient, for the reason that these last should be eaten directly after being opened, while the others may be easily kept a day or more in cool weather, if not all needed at once. Peas and beans are put in water and brought to the boiling point, then filled into the cans hot, sealed up, and the cans immersed in boiling water, where they should remain half an hour at least. Corn is treated in the same way, using milk instead of water - I do not know whether the cans filled hot need any aperture for the escape of air - this depends upon the rationale of the whole process. Ure, in his Dictionary, suggests that its preservative property is effected by the small quantity of air which he assumes is retained in the can, becoming carbonized, but I think that where there is an aperture for the escape of the contained air, the steam from the water within will force out the whole of the air, so that the can, closed immediately and cooled, contains nothing but the fruit and its juice, or the vegetables, and the water or milk in which they were boiled.
If the first explanation is correct, no aperture need be left, as there will be so little difference of temperature between the can full of heated vegetables, and the boiling point to which they are to be again raised, that there will be no danger of bursting the can; and it will avoid some trouble, for it sometimes exercises the patience and temper of an amateur tinker to close the can securely when hot, and the steam excited by the touch of the hot soldering iron - but if the latter be right, the hole in the crater must be made for the escape of all the air.
I am confirmed in the latter view from facts of my own experience. We sometimes put up fruit in glass or stone-ware jars, tied over with a double bladder. These are tied securely before they are heated, and of course contain air where not occupied with fruit - but we invariably find about half an inch in depth, from the top of the fruit, spoiled. This, I think, must be the effect of the small portion of air contained - but my facts, i. e. experiences, are probably more interesting than my philosophy, and they are impregnable.
In our community, preserved [I mean preserved in sugar or syrup] peaches, plums. - indeed the whole catalogue of these monsters of indigestion, are becoming "rara aves" before the economy and luxury of this belter way.
I infer this will not meet your correspondent's views, who evidently expected to preserve his strawberries with the moisture of the morning dew gleaming upon their blushbesides, the beat now at our command, I mean we of the great public, for I believe there are some dealers who possess the art of preserving strawberries, and of course less delicate fruit, with the fresh flavor and beauty - and if we think it worthy commendation and premiums to originate a valuable kind in any variety of fruit or vegetables, would it not be worth while to offer a premium of corresponding value for the method of preserving the fruit of a week or a month, for enjoyment during the whole year, in its original deli-ciousness. If the secret could not be purchased at a reasonable rate of its present possessors, would not a premium of one or five hundred dollars encourage a competent and practical chemist (a spice of horticultural furor would be no disqualification for the task) to attempt its discovery. The " chicken in every subject's pot" would fade forever before strawberries at Christmas, without hot-bed or furnace, or the "price of a Knight's ransom." Yours, etc.
H. Dayton, O.