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.
One of the principal reasons of failure in keeping fruit is that care is not taken to keep it uniformly cool from the time of picking, and as near the freezing point as possible. This may be measurably attained by admitting the air at night, and closing it in the day-time until hard weather comes on. It is the true secret of greatest success.
Before leaving this branch of the subject, I would say that all plans for the preservation of fruits in their natural state aim at keeping them just above freezing point; as Nyce's, Schooley's, etc., are founded upon principles only differing in the details. One other plan that may receive a passing notice is Smith's method of driving out the atmospheric air from the packages containing the fruit, by means of the introduction of carbonic acid and nitrogen through a tube; this is effected by first passing a current of common air through a vessel of burning charcoal; and, although the plan is feasible, it has not resulted in profit.
We now come to preservation of fruits by drying. This plan has been practiced from remote times by simple exposure to the air; but the fruit becomes so black from oxygenation and dust, that its market value is slight. In order to be saleable it must be dried by the application of heat. This is performed in a variety of ways by the simple radiation of heat, and by currents .of hot air forced either up through the prepared fruit, or down from above. The last is, we believe, the Ruttan system, and is used principally for drying grain.
Mr. Dunlap, a member of the committee, spoke of the liquid products of fruits, cider and cider-vinegar. He claimed to know how to make cider and cider-vinegar, and what he should say upon the subject had been gathered from his own experience and practice.
When your apples begin to drop from the tree, then is the time to begin to gather them. You assort the perfect specimens for market, and the remainder, which is sometimes the half of the crop, are to be wade into cider or cider-vinegar. The best cider is made from sound winter fruit Some varieties of apples often ripen their fruit prematurely, and you must be prepared to utilize the product by putting the same into cider or vinegar. Ordinarily one half of the summer apples must go into eider-vinegar, which will, under proper treatment, be ready for the market a year after.
I was in an orchard this summer, where there were not less than seven hundred bushels of apples that were allowed to drop from the trees, because the owner said it would not pay to ship them, and these were fine, beautiful red-cheeked apples as any could wish, and would have made from two thousand five hundred to two thousand eight hundred gallons of the best cider, that could have been sold for twenty-five cents per gallon.
The orchardist must be prepared to avail himself of every advantage in his situation. He must be independent of the apple market. I say to my customers, when you can pay me fifty cents per bushel for my apples you can have them. When the price falls below that I press them. I have cider made on the thirteenth day of August, that is sweet and good. I know that if I can't make the apples pay, I can make the cider pay, and the refuse, not fit for market at any time, is put into vinegar.
Some say rotten apples won't make good vinegar. This is a mistake. The Shaker vinegar, so much sought after and praised, is made of rotton apples, exposed to the summer sun, and summer rains. Cider made in this way has sold for seventy-fire cents and a dollar per gallon. Rotten apples make good vinegar, but to make good cider we use sound apples.
I am told that some make vinegar and can't sell it, and why can't they sell it? Because they do not have a clear, good article. Instead of racking the vinegar off, before stirring the barrel from its place, they perhaps roll it into the wagon, and stir it all up, and then it is impossible to settle it, and the grocery man will not have it.
There is another thing. I like to have my cider-vinegar high colored, and for this purpose, I let it stand in the vat twelve hours. We can ordinarily get about four gallons of juice out of a bushel of apples, in the method we adopt. We press out about three gallons of cider from the-bushel, and in making vinegar we re-press this promace, and get another gallon, so that from a hundred bushels of apples we get four hundred gallons of juice.
It is necessary to put into the grocers' hands strong vinegar, because, among other reasons, the grocer finds it very convenient sometimes, to put in four or five gallons of water. But if a customer comes and says, " Here, I want vinegar for pickles," the honest (?) grocer will be careful and not give him the watered vinegar.
To make good cider and vinegar there is needed care, skill, experience, and - if done on a large scale - capital. So that it may be questioned whether the man with a small orchard should attempt to be both producer and manufacturer. Might it not be better for him to sell to the manufacturer? It is not always that the small farmer can afford to lie out of his money, even if he had the tact and business ability to carry on a manufacturing establishment.
Another thing: to sell a manufactured article requires a previously earned reputation. A man who is not known in the market, might not be able to sell to advantage, but when a man has worked up a trade, and it is known that he makes a good article, he has no trouble in selling. There are gentlemen in this house who have thousands upon thousands of gallons of cider; you do not hear much about it, they have their customers, they come and take it and pay all that the man's cider is worth.
There was a time when it was difficult to get the grocery men to take our cider and pay for it. They could buy sulphuric acid cheaper. But when the people came to know the difference between this poisoned stuff and pure cider-vinegar, they were not so slow to choose the latter, and pay what it was worth; and when grocery men refused to buy my cider-vinegar, I sold direct to their customers until they were finally glad to "try a few barrels," and they have been trying my cider-vinegar ever since.