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.
Mr. Sharpe, of Niagara County, preserves fruit by canning. Some fruit now on exhibition by him was kept in his cellar. As soon as he had perfected the method, would give it to the public. Here were Bartlett and other fall pears in good order to-day.
Hugh T. Brooks, of Wyoming, thought this subject a very important one. People have got into the habit of thinking that they can not help losing a part of their fruit by decay. At least one third of all the apples put into our cellars become decayed and worthless, and this loss is a serious one. Now some cellars keep fruit very much better than others. It is important to know what constitutes a good fruit cellar. Is it dryness? or is it lowness of temperature? or is it evenness of temperature? or what are the controlling causes as to preserving fruit? There have been some who thought their garrets better than even a dry cellar for keeping fruit.
Mr. Bissell, of Monroe County, agreed in thinking this subject a very important one, because of the advantages possessed by winter maturing fruits, and by fruits which can easily be kept into and during winter, and then eaten fresh, over preserved fruits, over sweetmeats, and over dried fruits. These well-kept fruits possess decided advantages: 1st As regards the health of families. 2d. As respects the trouble of preserving or keeping. 3d. As regards the expense of the preserving, And last, not least, the pleasure of partaking of fresh fruits, when we can thus "prolong the period of consumption," is far greater than in consuming the cloying and indigestible sweetmeats. The season when sweetmeats and preserves begin to be relied upon by housekeepers commences about (or soon after) New Year's, and is prolonged until the strawberry season in June, and, at the very least, is over four months in extent Now, first, as regards the health of families, this latter part of winter and the spring is the period, the very time, when the physical strength is taxed to the utmost, and when the digestive organs need assistance instead of additional burdens.
Let persons, at this period, give tone to their stomachs by the judicious use of nutritious apples, beautiful pears, and luscious grapes, and the difference in doctors' bills will speedily become apparent As to the trouble in preserving, the difference is quite apparent between the days and almost the weeks when the females of the family are paring, or stoning, or peeling the fruits, and are stewing and steaming, not only the sweetmeats, but themselves, over the kitchen stoves and furnaces; the difference, I say, is quite apparent between these and the comparatively slight trouble required for the quiet boxing or barreling of the grapes, and apples, and pears in the cool, dry cellars. The expense of the stewing, and the cooking, and the preserving, and the enormous consumption of sugar, is another item; but, as that is a matter of dollars merely, we will not complain too much of that; still, it is no inconsiderable item in the family expenses of many a townsman of ours. And now, when it comes to the pleasure of partaking, that question is settled incontrovertibly, and without debate, by the fact that we never see these cloying sweetmeats presented upon the table while fresh fruits are in season.
When guests are offered strawberries and cream, they never express a preference for preserved quinces. This pleasure of partaking of fruits as nearly fresh as possible was more than proved by the burst of applause which hailed our esteemed fellow-member, Yeomans, when he introduced his method of bottling and keeping fruits in a comparatively fresh state, and without totally destroying their native flavor by sickening additions and cloying combinations. Next March or April any member would speedily decide as to this pleasure of partaking, if offered a couple of Easter Beurre pears, or a saucerful of stewed plums; if shown a fine King apple, or a dish of ever so nice Yankee "apple sass;" a bunch of luscious Diana grapes, such as I see upon the tables before us, or a plate of jelly of the choicest sort As to this " prolonging the period of the consumption" of apples, pears, etc, their keeping qualities have been and are fully discussed and proclaimed; but, as to grapes, we have hardly yet begun to test this delightful fruit in this respect In recommending a grape, we speak of its hardiness, of its productiveness, of its early ripening qualities, flavor,etc., but, as yet, very little of its keeping qualities.
In my own case, the effort to keep varieties has thus far been rendered futile by constant requests to see our assortment, and to taste a few berries of each variety, and by the desire of each agent and salesman to carry with him the finest of the bunches remaining at the time of the gentleman's visit to our vineries. But, in the midst of all these disadvantages, the Diana has surpassed our most sanguine expectations; and the specimens shown upon your tables by me to-day prove what this splendid fruit would do when kept in a suitable manner, and not in a dry, stove-heated room; not every day opened, exposed, and handled by visitors; because, even now, not a berry drops from the bunch, but all are fine, plump, and fresh as can be expected. It is a very great desideratum to have a grape that ripens early and ripens surely, and yet keeps, and keeps well I hope that we shall hear the experience of members as to other sorts as well as Diana; as to Concord, for instance, in respect to its keeping and its carrying qualities; for at whatever dinner ' party or evening entertainment during February or March, there should be presented finely kept, fresh Concords, Dianas, Cuyahogas, or Delawares, we apprehend that not a single partaker of the luscious fruit but would express his decided preference for such dainty entertainment over either the domestic or foreign sweetmeats as commonly set forth at our parties - would express his preference, I say, by the enthusiastic use of General Taylor's oft-quoted words, " A little more grape, Captain Bragg".