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.
I have read the communication of Col. Hodge, in the last Horticulturist, and am under obligation to him for its history - in Buffalo. As to the rest of the matter, touching its merits, he is partly facetious, partly laudatory, and the remainder altogether at loose ends. Setting aside the immaterial, (I perceive the Col. is somewhat of a lawyer, as well as nomologist,) part of his communication, which is quite well, I shall only notice what he remarks of the pear in question, and will hold him to the point, exactly.
I said that the Orange Pear is a thrifty grower, very hardy, and bears large crops every year. In these qualities he agrees with me. I also say, that its valuable qualities are " for preserving and baking," and in these it is eminently good, or the best that I have known. In these last qualities, Col. Hodge takes issue with me. Now, what does he say in reply? Why, he plays the attorney, goes into a process of special pleading, and petti-jogs the case, without any rebutting testimony whatever. He quotes me as saying that it " absorbs sugar perfectly," as I did say; to which he adds " and abundantly," which I did not say. He also asserts that its flesh is " dry," which I did say, and " yellow," which I did not say. On the contrary, its flesh is a delicate white - as white a fleshed pear as any other. I said the color of the pear, (and by this any one would know I meant the outside color, if he will refer to my description,) " is that of a rich lemon." He accuses me, in his self-instituted trial, of being a " partial presiding judge, on ex-parte testimony," in which I am an " interested party." Very well; what has he to rebut this "testimony," and " charge?" Why, nothing that is either evidence - or inference, even.
Did he ever preserve the fruit - or bake it, to test its qualities? He quotes the action of the Pomological Convention, and states what was not the feet - that I introduced a "dish of preserves," meaning, I presume, " preserved pears." The pears which I introduced, were not "preserved," but " baked," which several of the Convention tasted, and pronounced " good - very good".
He also compares it to the "Morello Cherry," and says that " he can cheerfully subscribe to most of the good qualities given to it by Mr. A." Then why damn the pear with faint praise and ridicule, as he afterwards does?
Another thing Col. Hodge ought to know - as a nomologist; and that is, that our best table fruits, are seldom our best cooking and preserving fruits. The Morello Cherry is one in point. Although an indifferent table fruit in the raw state, its peculiar valuable qualities are developed only by cooking. Look at the books, where the acid and Morello cherries are the most approved for cooking and preserving. So it is with apples, for drying, cooking, and cider. The heaviest musted apples, like the Harrison, Carpfield, the Crabs, Red Streak, etc., are all indifferent eating apples, but the best of all for cider. So for baking. The best table apples are far inferior to the Lyman's Pumpkin Sweet, a green, hard, astringent fruit, not fit to eat raw, but probably the most luscious baking apple we have. So with the Talman Sweeting, which, although a fair table fruit, is infinitely better baked, and aside from the Pumpkin Sweeting, hardly has its equal. And why should it not be so with the Orange Pear, an astringent fruit? Its quality is not developed without fire to bring it out, and burst its raw astringency. Melting pears - the best eating varieties - are not good for preserving or baking.
Their fine juices are dissolved in the ripening process, and cooking only dissipates the juices, instead of developing them, and they run off, leaving the flesh flaccid and tasteless, instead of retaining them within the flesh, and perfecting them, as with the others. I have tried the melting pears for baking and preserving, by the side of the Orange Pear, and know their inferiority. I very much doubt whether Col. Hodge has ever done as much.
To test this matter, I will make a proposition: Col. Hodge may take any of the meli-ing pears of the best table quality, like the Virgalieu, Seckel, Louise Bonne de Jersey or Bartlett, and preseve them, weighing alike, his pears and white sugar - and nothing else shall be used, except water; and I will take the Orange Pear, observing the like directions, and the preserves made from them, shall be placed without designation, on the fruit tables of the State Agricultural Society, at their annual meeting next February, in Albany, and submitted to the examination of a competent committee, appointed by the Society; and if the melting pears then, and there, considering the quantity of sugar used, shall excel the Orange, I will surrender at once; but until then, I shall maintain the integrity of the Orange Pear, which he has so ungratefully cast off, against all the inference he may bring against it.
A word only, as to the ipse dixit of these fruit Conventions. They have done much good, and I hope they win continue their proceedings. With the fruits in season before them, and those with which they are all well acquainted, if not present, and in season, their opinions and decisions are valuable; but with a new fruit, of peculiar qualities, as in the case of the Orange Pear, time, calm consideration, and trial is necessary to decide its merits. The mere say-so of one or two partial or interested parties, should not govern, and when decisions are so made, they are entitled to little weight. The Brown Beurre, quoted by Col. Hodgk, is in point. I had tried the pear then only one year, and knew little about it. It had not then done well with me; I wanted to condemn it - and so did friend Hodge, with the rest of the " Doctors." It is an old adage, that wise men May change their minds; fools never do. I hope neither of us are in the latter category.
As Col. Hones has incidentally mentioned it, let me My a word about the Porter Apple. - It has borne with me only two or three years, on young trees. Yet so far, I think it the very beat cooking apple of its season, say from early in September to the middle of November. It is a fair, and rich table apple, but rather tart to my taste, as I am not partial to tart fruits. It will cook in almost any way - either bake, stew, or fry, in a very few minutes. It is, besides, of good size, large, fair, uniform, well distributed on the tree, and bears most abundantly. As a desirable house-keeping, and market apple, it* equal is seldom to be found. I shall cultivate it largely. The tree grows vigorously, the wood is strong, and the tree has a finely spreading top. In feet, I have yet seen no objection to it in any particular, of wood or fruit Lewis F. ALLEN.
When those two bellicose gentlemen get the Orange Pear controversy down to a tangible point, I may have a word to say about it. Meantime the world may learn something of the qualities which constitute a good table, and a good cooking fruit, as distinguished from each other; for now, I venture to say, not one in ten of our house-keepers, know the difference, although they have cooked fruit for fifty years of their lives, and will put one thing into the stew-pan, or the oven, as soon as they will the other, and wonder, in both the cooking and the taste, what should make the difference between them. These subjects should be better understood than they are.
As to the excellence of the Porter Apple, Mr. Allen has not a whit over-rated it. The longer he tries it, the more confirmed will he be in its good qualities.