Possibly one of the most essential self sufficiency skills is knowing How To Gather And Store Fruit as it provide the means eating vitamin rish produce all year round.
How To Store Apples
Different varieties require different treatment. Certain early dessert kinds, such as Beauty of Bath, Lady Sudeley, ‘James Grieve and Grenadier (cooking) are best left to ripen on the tree, and are more Ratable for immediate use, whereas other varieties have late-keeping qualities and if gathered too soon they will be liable to shrivel and lose their flavour, e.g., dessert: Cox’s Orange Pippin, Blenheim Orange, Ribston Pippin; cooking: Newton Wonder, Lane’s Prince Albert, Bramley’s Seedling.
These are, however, gathered before they are absolutely ripe in order, to store before the frosts set in. This applies especially to the larger proportion of cooking apples. Fruit that is damaged by maggots, etc., will drop early, and this must not be taken as an indication that the good, fruit is ripe.
Always gather fruit in dry weather, preferably in the late morning or afternoon. Ripe fruit will separate easily from the twig to which it is attached.
Storage of Pears
Fruit of early kinds, such as Clapp’s Favourite, Doyenne du Cornice, etc., should be gathered before it will separate easily from the twig, when carefully raised on a level with the stalk: It is best laid out and allowed to ripen for a few days prior to eating. The crop can be brought a few at a time into a warm room. Very few early varieties can be stored. It may be necessary to protect fruit still on the tree from attacks of wasps and birds. Thin muslin bags will be sufficient.
Late dessert kinds should be left on the tree till mid-November, e.g., Pitmaston Duchess, Easter Beurre, etc. The same applies to certain stewing varieties such as Catillac, Bellissimo d’Hiver.
The large proportion of pears should be gathered towards the end of October.
Storing of apples and pears
Fruit should first be sweated by being laid in heaps and left to heat for about fourteen days, and then be stored away on trays or boxes in single layers, keeping the varieties separate, preferably in a cool, dry, dark cellar. There will be no need to cover except during frost. An average temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient. Fruit must be looked over periodically and any decaying fruit removed.
If a cellar is not available, a dry, well-ventilated shed, preferably with a brick or concrete floor, may be utilized. For very choice keeping varieties of apples, e.g., Cox’s Orange Pippin, Lane’s Prince Albert, etc., a good method is to wrap each fruit in clean white tissue paper or in specially prepared sulphate wraps.
Clamping of apples. If storage space is limited, apples can be clamped in the same way as potatoes and will keep well. Heap the apples on a layer of clean straw, making sure that the ground is well drained and level. They can be left to sweat for some ten days. After sorting out the uncertain apples, the rest should be covered with clean straw, and over this a 6-in, layer of fine, dry soil. Put in the straw a srnall drainpipe for ventilation. The bottom of straw wisp or pipe should actually touch the apples, as this will ensure proper liberation of moisture and heat. By digging a small trench all round, surplus water will be drained off.
GATHERING AND STORING BUSH FRUITS
Currant. Black: Should be picked just before they are quite ripe, but when the larger proportion of berries have turned black.
Red: For dessert use should not be picked until all the berries in the bunch are red, but for cooking they can be picked whilst yet only a pinkish red colour. Red currants are less suitable than black for bottling . as they are inclined to be seedy.
Gooseberries. To get the best results the largest berries should be picked first round about Whitsuntide; this will give the others a chance to swell. Picking about every fourteen days is a good ruling. The best varieties for bottling are Lancashire Lad (red) Cousin’s Seedling (yellow), and Careless (green).
Loganberries should be picked when quite red, before the deep reddish purple colour is evident. Picking with the stalk is not necessary.
Raspberries can be left until quite ripe if intended for jam making and picked without stalks If they are for dessert purposes the berries should be picked when fairly firm and just turning red in colour, but do not leave until quite ripe, and leave the short stalks attached. Raspberries are very easily bruised, and great care is necessary if they are intended for bottling. It is an advantage to pick straight into the bottles. The fruit must be firm and in quite sound condition, as it is liable to deteriorate quickly, and it is unwise to leave time between picking and preserving.
Strawberries should be picked before fully ripe. Pinch off from the stem with the finger and thumb a short distance from the fruit. In warm, sunny weather the plants should be looked over for ready fruit every day. During cool and cloudy weather it will be sufficient every other day.
There are certain guiding rules which must be observed when picking fruit:—
(1) Gather when possible on a fine day, or if this is impossible, make sure that apples and pears are carefully dried with a cloth and left exposed to the air befere storing.
(2) Do not pick out the stalks of immature fruit, it will only encourage rotting.
(3) Pick each fruit separately and not a cluster altogether.
(4) Use scissors for clipping dessert raspberries, gooseberries and currants.
(5) Do not tumble the fruit heedlessly into a basket and damage by bruising, but use a soft-lined basket.
Out-of-reach fruit (apples, pears, etc.) can be picked by fixing a piece of netting or a canvas bag to the end of a long stick, and attaching it so as to form a cup. The ripe fruits are levered off so that they drop into the bag.
Cobs and filberts. These will store well in new flowerpots or in stone jars, and a little salt should be sprinkled in between as they are packed. It is important to keep the nuts free from damp; if there, is no tight stopper available be sure to cover the top with a thick layer of salt. The jars should be put into a dry frost-proof shed, where the nuts will keep admirably and will be found to be crisper than ever when served up at Christmas time. Cobs and filberts can also be packed into biscuit boxes, but it is advisable to paste a strip of paper round the edge of the lid to Make sure it is airtight and damp proof.
Chestnuts can be stored in a dry shed.
Walnuts should be placed in a shed in single layers, and the shells allowed to’ dry. After they are dry, some twenty at a time should be shaken vigorously in a bag or cloth to separate the husk from the nut.