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.
Dear Sir.- I enclose you a recipe for the preservation of grapes, as given by my friend Dr. Blatchford.
I ate some of his grapes a few weeks since as fresh and as luscious as if they bad not been more than a few hours from the vine. Very respectfully yours, J. H. Willaro. Female Seminary, Troy, March 17, 1852.
You was pleased to make mention of some fresh Isabella grapes 1 sent you the first of this month. To-day we have eaten the last of fourteen boxes, each containing between one and two pecks of fruit, which I put down in October last. They retained their plumpness (except here and there a bunch which appeared a little withered) and their delicious flavor, very nearly, if not quite equal to what they possessed in the time of gathering. In most of them the stems had not lost their verdure. The luxury of having Isabella grapes not only all winter in great abundance, but so late as the middle of March, is worth enjoying to all lovers of that delicious fruit. The experiment having been so successful, and the method of preserving them so simple, many of my friends have asked me to describe the process for their benefit. I have done so, and now send it to you for publication if you feel so disposed, that the benefit, if any, may not be confined to a limited circle.
In July and August I procured a quantity of ash saw dust from Messrs. Eaton, Gilbert 8c Co.'s coach and rail car manufactory. Ash, because it imparts no taste to the grapes and because it is usually obtained dry. I then sifted it to get rid of the fine powder which heretofore I found difficult to remove from the grnpes when taken out for use. After thus preparing it, I kept it under cover until I wanted to use it, when it was sufficiently dry. When the grapes were fully ripe in October, I picked them and immediately packed them away in boxes, (old soap and candle boxes, without covers,) putting in first a layer of saw dust about half an inch thick, then a layer of grapes in bunches, the bunches as close together as they could be placed without bruising them; then a layer of saw dust just thick enough to cover them, and so alternately a layer of grapes and saw dust until the box was full, the boxes containing four and five layers. After packing them I piled the boxes one on top of the other, the bottom of one box forming the only cover of the one underneath. I kept them in one end of my wood-shed (enclosed) until it became freezing weather, when I removed them to the cellar in the same order. None of them have been mouldy, none of them musty.
In removing them from the boxes for use, all that we found necessary by way of cleaning them, was to use a small dust-brush, which very soon removed every particle of saw dust and left them at once fit for use. Yours sincerely, Thos. W. Blatchford. Troy, March 15, 1852.