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.
The season of canning fruit having arrived, we give the following extracted directions as the best and most practical of the many writers on the subject
The Farmers' Advertiser, by the way an extremely good paper, published at St. Louis, Mo., says, relative to canning fruit:
"Imprimis - Can the fruit the same day it is gathered. More than half the secret of having fine preserved fruit lies in this simple direction.
"Seeundo - Never can fruit without adding as much sugar to it as you would to prepare it for the table. This is imperative, else your fruit will inevitably be leathery; cook it in, I should say at the rate of one quarter of a pound to one pound of fruit, at least; but taste and try, as I did, and when it suits your palate, cease from all saccharine matter.
"And now for the modus operandi: Pare and extract the pit; cut into halves and plunge into cold water until ready to cook, else your peaches will be black; this, of course, does not apply to other kinds of fruit. Place your cans in any vessel where they can stand at least half way up in boiling hot water, which keep so until sealed. I usually take a large dripping-pan and put it on the top of the stove at one side, while my preserving-kettle is on the other. Make your sirup, and when it comes to a boil, put in your peaches and let them cook (if clings) until you can pierce with a piece of broom corn. If freestones, when the sirup boils up over them the first time, skim out and put into the cans. When the latter are full of the peaches, fill up with boiling hot sirup, wipe off the tops with a rag wet with cold water, being careful that no juice remains on them, then put on the covers, remove from the water to the stove hearth, and seal.
"Everything must be hot, from the beginning to the end; hot sirup, hot cans, hot fruit, hot sealing-wax, and, harder than all, hot and blowzy hands and faces, just when the thermometer stands at blood-heat in the shade. Oh! ye lords of creation, it is quite as hard work as ' to plow and to sow, to reap and to mow,' that your ardent halves are performing for your toothsome delight the coming winter.
"All small fruits are subjected to the same process, except that the rule for them is simply to allow them to come to a boil, and not remain longer in the sirup. Strawberries, to retain their color and flavor, require more sugar, and to be put into stone, glass, earthen, or anything but tin. I prefer the quart stone jars, with tin covers. The wires which come with them are superfluous. The same is true of blackberries. Tomatoes I scald, peel, and then bring to a boil again, with a little salt added, when I put them in new tin, and seaL I have never been fortunate with glass or earthen jars. If stone jars are used, be sure that you buy dark colored, well baked and glazed ones, not the yellow."
The annexed method of canning fruit was furnished at the New York Farmers' Club, by Mr. Powers, of Oswego County, New York:
"I will suppose your fruit and glass cans all ready. J prefer cans with glass covers. I scald the fruit in a large tin pan, with juice or water to cover it. Put half a teacup of cold water into every can, and fill up with hot water. Put the covers and rubbers also into hot water. Now empty a can and fill up with hot fruit, and then another. Let them stand open till the hand can be held upon them without burning. As soon as filled, cut writing paper the size of the can, one for each, and when cool slip one over the fruit entirely, and fill up the can on the top of the paper with boiling juice, and seal at once. Ladies, try this way. The fruit will never mold, and keep any time if you don't eat it. The papers keep the fruit from rising to the top of the liquid. There is no use of setting cans into water to heat them, or of putting them into quilted bags - it is too troublesome. I let the fruit shrink, and then fill up to the cover as close as possible. Ladies must be governed by their own common sense.
Men attempt to give directions, but their wives have to tell them, and they are likely to forget."
If it were not for the fortuitous opening of canning factories, to relieve our farms and markets of surplus fruit, we fear fruit culture would be a very unsatisfactory occupation. One of the largest factories of the Delaware Peninsula is located at Lebanon, Delaware, the property of Collins, Geddes & Go. The building is 175 feet long and 50 feet wide. The establishment contains six bath tuba for processing the fruit, fourteen copper kettles for cooking tomatoes and making syrup, seats for 300 hands, there being 400 in all employed. During the present season the firm will put up over half a million cans of peaches, tomatoes, pears, strawberries and raspberries.
It requires 30,000 boxes to pack the fruit of a single season, and 200 barrels of sugar. Two thousand dollars are annually expended for labels, and a thousand dollars per week paid for labor during the canning season.
The canning factory of Richardson & Bobbins at Dover, Delaware, is one of the very first ever erected, and bears at present the reputation of producing the very choicest quality of fruits, etc. During the fruit season forty to sixty hands are constantly employed, and the greatest care exercised in the selection and preparation of fruit for the cans. Specimens of their peaches, pears and potted meats we took with us on the Western editorial trip, which were of unexcelled quality. It is quite oommon now to find factories in every county in all our large peach growing districts of the United States; and soon we may expect to see one to every town. Nothing contributes so materially to the steadiness of the fruit markets as the presence of canning factories. Where they exist the grower may feel sure of either fair prices in market, or fair prices at home.