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 agreed with the gentleman in considering this subject an important one, and hoped that fall and winter fruits could in some way be kept until the season for fresh ripening again.
H. N. Langwortht, of Monroe County, had in the fall taken Bartlett pears, and after soldering tight into tin canisters, had placed them in the ice-house, deep in the ice. At the time when all other (fears were coloring and maturing to perfection, mine were in the same condition as when put in. They ripened up well afterward, coloring finely, and acquired the true Bartlett flavor.
W. P. Townhbhd had tried wrapping up pears in paper and in woolen cloths, and putting in baskets under ice; but, upon exposure to the air, the fruit kept that way became discolored, and proved to have lost its flavor.
P. Barry - Pears after maturity continue to improve steadily toward perfection; this ripening process may be checked, but not suspended; and if it remain suspended for any length of time, it cannot be awakened. Hence the danger of placing long on ice. Fruit-rooms should always be above ground, and should (like houses) be built with double walls to preserve an even temperature. In fruit-rooms the great objects are coolness and dryness; the heat never above 40°, and the air dry. You can then allow the ripening process to go on very slowly, only just enough to preserve its vitality, and can considerably prolong the period of its consumption. In England they never keep their fruits in cellars.
Mr. T0WNSEND had upon three occasions tried the use of Schooley's preservatory upon Bartlett pears, and kept them some time beyond the usual period for ripening, but always destroyed the flavor of the fruit.
W. B. Smith had kept early fruits in this way in an ice-house, and they looked well for a month or six weeks; but the taste was destroyed.
Dr. Spence differed from Mr. Barry as to the ripening being a vital process. Thinks it only a chemical process, and one which can be suspended for some time by a low temperature, and yet renewed and perfected.
L. B. Langwortht - Cold is a preservative principle, antagonistic to decay. Witness the frozen animals in Siberia. Fish, in the winter, become dormant in ice, and when put into water will again live. Agreed with Dr. Spence that the changes in the apple (and other fruit) are chemical, and that no principle except cold will preserve them without change. Apples will bear several degrees below freezing point without freezing the juices, and when brought out and exposed to the proper influences will ripen up well. Mr. L. referred to Mr. Bissell's suggestions as to the keeping qualities of grapes, and the best method of keeping. Prefers something like the peach basket, in which he, packs them in layers, with paper between each layer, using great care that no broken or imperfect grapes are left upon any branches. Keeps grapes easily until May by keeping the baskets in a cool room as long as they can be without freezing, and then transferring to a dry cellar.
Dr. P. G. Tobey, of Monroe County, exhibited some very fine grapes. "Was accustomed to pick his Diana grapes about the first of November, and upon a warm, dry day if possible; puts into paper boxes about eight inches wide, twelve inches long, and three or four high, holding about five pounds to the box. Carried these boxes same day into a dry cellar with windows open. Had kept grapes for three years past with complete success until April. Grapes need an even temperature, and as low as possible, without danger of freezing.
Dr. Sylvester - Grapes should be fully ripe when picked, and all bruised or imperfect berries be removed from every bunch. If packed immediately and carefully, they will remain plump, and not shrivel at all. Best to pick on a dry day, and after removing all imperfect or bruised berries, pack in shallow boxes of wood or paper - not more than two layers in each box. Keep in a dry room, with as little variation in temperature as possible, until there is danger of freezing, and then put in cellar. Some of my neighbors keep their grapes very finely in stone jars, and preserve successfully as to plumpness and flavor of berry. If two layers of bunches are ever put into the same receptacle, we must put white paper between them - soft; unsized is best.
H. N. Langworthy - Grapes should be picked as soon as ripe in order to keep well. The greener the stem of the bunch, the longer that bunch can be kept A bunch with an un-shriveled green stem never rots. Packs in peach baskets in turner's chips, in layers, with sugar maple chips between, and last year kept grapes with stems green until ApriL For sending to the New York market, should be put in single layers into paper boxes, and these boxes into cases. Has sent tons of them, and they all came out very fine. After picking, carry the grapes into a cool place at once, and keep the temperature as uniform as possible.
Mr. Hoag, of Niagara County, spoke of the importance of the uniform temperature, and of packing, so as not to bruise the grapes'.
Mr. Barber - We raise for market in our town more than thirty tons of grapes every year. Differed from Mr. Langworthy as to the green stems, because, unless dried, they are apt to mould. We always dry the stems, and pack in boxes of from six to twelve pounds, with two or three layers of grapes in the box, and fill the boxes full, so they won't shuffle about and "mash." If the fruit-grower uses light, well-ventilated rooms, it requires about two weeks to cure grapes for shipment to market. The fruit which is least thoroughly ripened when picked, shrivels the most. In boxes exposed to the air, grapes shrivel more than after being packed for market Grapes are not injured while hanging on the vines by apparently severe frosts. Would pick as soon as the stems are ripe, pack in paper boxes, and put into larger wooden boxes, and they will be and remain plump when sent to market.
Mr. La Rowe, of Steuben County, spoke of Mr. McKay, of Bloomfield, packing his grapes in barrels cut in two. Keeps them in these tubs until the stems shrivel; then assorts, and watches that there is no mildew. Keeps them thus about four weeks; then puts into paper boxes, and sends to market. It is important never to allow vines to overbear, and thus you have compact bunches of large and showy berries. To put up in paper boxes of about five pounds each, is the best way to keep grapes after the sweating process is through with. As to this process, grapes always sweat, and therefore the surer way is to cure well before putting into the paper boxes, or any other boxes for keeping.