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.
Dr. Spence, of Yates County, thought the best way was simply to barrel them; when pretty full, shake the barrel gently, and frequently shake gently as you fill, so that the pears match one with another, and the whole get pretty well consolidated; and when full, use pressure in forcing down the head. It is necessary to use care in gathering, so as not to bruise in picking; the barrels should be packed in the orchard, near the trees. In transporting to the railway, or to the market, all jarring should be avoided. There is no secret as to keeping pears, other than the keeping them in a cool room. Pears, and grapes, too, would perhaps keep better by drying them a while in a well-ventilated room before putting into a tight vessel; but there is no difficulty in keeping even our Bartlett pears.
Dr. Sylvester, of Wayne County, said - Have them fully matured, and gather before severe frost. Handle carefully and place in a dry room. They are allowed to sweat for a week or more, and then should again be carefully selected over, assorted, and packed in half barrels made for the purpose. It is better to arrange them carefully in packing, and to shake down often; put a few at a time into the half barrel, and then jar gently, and then add. Pack your half barrels full, and keep until very near the point of ripeness before sending to market They should be in such a condition that by a week's ripening in the city they are ready for market. In assorting pears, it is best to make about three classes of the fruit - best, medium, and poorer. By this method the first and second classes will bring as much or more than the whole of the fruit would have done if packed promiscuously.
L. B. Langworthy, of Monroe County, thought that Osband's Summer pear needed picking as soon as the seeds colored, and that this was a test of the fitness of most for gathering. Some members coincided, while W. B. Smith, and Charles Downing, of Newburgh, differed. Mr. Downing mentioned varieties which did not blacken their seeds.
P. Barry, of Monroe County, said - Summer pears are generally gathered while the seeds are quite soft and green; and that, in a great many pears which are well ripened in the house, the seeds were found not colored at all when the fruit was eaten. In summer pears the seeds are no criterion by which to judge. Winter pears should be left upon the tree as long as it retains its foliage; but alter the leaves fall the fruit deteriorates in quality. The time for gathering winter pears is, in Rochester, about the middle of October of each year; say from 15th to 20th of October. Pears should always be gathered very carefully by hand, and it is often not best to pick all the fruit from the same tree at the same time. They should be immediately assorted, and the poorer qualities separated from the best; then put carefully into boxes, which should stand in a cool, airy place in the north part of the building, and be kept as cold as they can be at that season of the year. When frost comes, put them into some place' like a barn floor, where you can cover them with leaves until the more severe weather comes; at which time they should be put into the cellar of some building in which there is no fire. The great point or object is to keep them as cool and dry as possible, and yet not let them freeze.
Care in assorting is of great consequence; as in the market value, as well as in the keeping, a great deal depends upon the manner of assorting the fruit. As to the time of sending to market, opinions differ. For the present, pears must be marketed in the fall, and as soon as plenty of good pears are raised, there will be plenty of fruiterers to buy them; fruiterers who will know how to keep them into winter, and how to ripen up and mature them as the market needs the supply. As to the need of a warm room to ripen them up, if good specimens are well matured upon the tree they will ripen up perfectly well in a cool cellar, and can be brought from the cellar in a splendid condition, for the table. The gathering and packing of autumn pears is a very important matter; for, from some cause, many perish on the way to market. Gather early and assort carefully, because none but good, hard, clean-skinned pears ought to be boxed; poor pears infect the others. When packed, send to market by the quickest conveyance. Either peach baskets or small boxes are better than barrels, because in barrels they are very apt to heat, sweat, ferment, < and decay. The smaller the quantity the less the tendency to sweat and decay.
There is also a kind of fungus or black spot upon some fruit, which should especially be thrown out, for it is contagious. It spreads more rapidly when the barrel is warm, and communicates a bitter taste all over the fruits in the same package.
H. E. Hooker, of Monroe County, thought good sound half barrels, with holes bored at the ends, none too large to ship pears, in. Agreed with Mr. Barry as to the picking and keeping cool, but did not cover with leaves on the barn floor; it was for too short a time, Last fall he put the Glout Mourceau into barrels, and after sweating for a week, put them at once into a cool cellar, and is using them now in fine order. Don't think there is any more trouble in ripening winter pears than winter apples. Pears should be sent to New York in the fell, while they are hard, and in the very same manner as winter apples. It is important that they should not be heated, nor the sun shine upon them when first gathered. Great care should be taken, when first picked, to keep them just as cool as you can. As to putting at once into the cellar, would not put the pears into any cellar when first picked. Every apple and pear should be kept in a cool, dry, airy place above ground until quite cold weather. It is a capital plan to place in heaps, if it can be done without injury to the fruit; for it is a great object to have a good deal of fruit together.
The pears thus retain the fine aroma and the real excellence of the fruit.
L Barber, of Ontario County - Pears should be gathered upon a cool, cloudy day, or if upon a sunny day, should be picked in the morning or evening. Pears picked in the heat of the day, and at once barreled up, ripen the sooner for it Pears sweat more than apples, and the packages in which they are kept should always be ventilated. Prefers barrels to boxes, and if possible, wraps each pear separately in paper. Barrels are not jammed as much in moving; they are rolled.
Mr. Jacobs is a dealer in fruit. Producers make quite an error in shipping their fruit in too large packages; and another error in not having fruit properly assorted. A few poor specimens give a bad impression, even if every other pear or apple be of the highest perfection. The best things to pack fruit in are barrels or half barrels, and crates are the worst things to pack and ship fruit in.
P. Barry could not agree with the gentlemen who recommended barrels. In Europe they always pack their pears in small boxes for market, holding from half a peck to a peck, between layers of dry moss or leaves. In England or Paris you see no such thing as barrels for the transportation of fruits; they use parcels which can easily be lifted and properly laid down by the person transferring them from vehicle to vehicle.
Mr. Moody differed from Mr. Hooker as to the putting into a cellar; thought that when first taken from the tree pears should be put into a cool, dry cellar, to avoid out of door changes of temperature.
Dr. Sylvester suggested that where possible the fruit packers have a room in a side hill, which preserves an equable temperature, and yet is dry and well ventilated.