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.
Professor Mapes - on making personal application to him respecting this acid, courteously replied to me in substance: " that tannic acid is contained in the cortical, or external surface of the fruit; that, by subjecting a large quantity of these sur faces to the appropriate chemical tests, he had detected the presence of this acid; that he attributed the flavor and fragrance of the strawberry, which belongs to thia surface, to the specific property of this acid; and that he reiterated with confidence, his private and public assertion, that tannic acid applied to strawberry plants, in the proportion of one gallon of tan-liquid to one hundred gallons of water, made an evident and striking improvement in the size and flavor of the fruit." Here is a plain, straight forward statement, savoring of sincerity and truthfulness. Why should the existence of tannic acid in strawberries be questioned, then, until the cavillers offer, instead of words, their own analysis, to counterpoise that of the Professor! Irrespective of the analysis, a few experiments will be presented, which the reader is desired to scrutinise closely, and thence deduce his own conclusions.
It must be conceded, allowing the previous recorded experiments, that a free application of this acid has produced unequivocal effects; that it has surpassed all the competing substances in creating quantity, and imparting flavor.
At the same time, the decision in regard to flavor may be liable to exceptions, as judgments are necessarily more or less capricious, owing to circumstances; some always preferring sweet, others acid fruits, the sense of taste varying at one time from that at another, etc. Canvassing this topic with reference to accurate results, it must he admitted, if the existence of tannic acid be granted, that it maintains but a very moderate quantitative position as a constituent in the analysis of the fruit alone. If there be then, but a trace of tannic acid in the strawberry, while the other constituents exist in a large proportion, this, among the organic substances, is one which is demanded as an increased, correspondent, and specific nutrition, that bears no proportion to that of the exact analysis, A rule of action now naturally flows to the practical cultivator. In developing the most valuable qualities of the strawberry, he may use all the constituents of the organic and inorganic analyses, consulting his convenience and economy; but he can perfect the finest fruit in abundance and richness, by selecting potash from among the inorganic, and tannic acid, from among the organic constituents of this delicious gilt from the " Giver of all good." A. G. H.
Newburgh, N. Y., July 15,1852.