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Alcoholic Vapor to Preserve Fruit.
"Impressed with the powerful action of alcoholic vapors on the mold which generally appears on the surface of fruits in a damp atmosphere, Mr. Petit noticed that pears and apples kept for several months in a surrounding saturated with vapors of water and alcohol, even were they at the beginning in a state of decay, showed no signs of mold, while fruits in every particular identically similar to the former, stored under the same conditions, but not exposed to the action of alcoholic vapors, were entirely covered with it.
"Taking advantage of this observation, Mr. Petit applied the principle to the preservation of fruits in general, and most particularly to grapes, because, more than others, the latter are subject to mold. It was to be foreseen that grapes kept, from the day they are cut off the vines, in an atmosphere saturated with vapors of water and alcohol would, by the retarding of the sweating period, not only remain free from mold, but would even retain their natural aspect. Consequently, should the temperature be constant and low, the preservation could be maintained long and well.
"On the 31st of October, 1894-that is, very late in the season and at a very unfavorable time-Mr. Petit placed, with other fruits and a bottle filled with 100 cubic centimeters (61 cubic inches) of alcohol at 96°, some bunches of grapes known as Chasselas de Fontainebleau,' fresh from the vine, in a brick recipient in the form of a parallelopiped, cemented inside and closed as hermetically as possible by a common wooden door. In two similar recipients contiguous to the first, one of which was kept open and the other closed, but without alcohol, were stored similar fruits from the same trees and vines. The fruits were laid on wood shavings. The recipients were built in a very damp cellar, the temperature of which varied regularly from 10° to 8° C. (50° to 463° F.) during the whole time the experiment lasted.
"On November 20, the grapes placed in the recipent left open, and especially so those in the closed recipient without alcohol, were mostly rotten and covered with mold, and were immediately removed. In the recipient containing the bottle of alcohol, the
grapes were beautiful; on one bunch, two grapes had turned brown, but were firm, full, and free of mold; they did not taste at all sour, thus differing essentially from moldy grapes, especially those subject to Penicillium glaucum. The hair hygrometer in the recipient registered 98°. On December 7, the bunches of grapes in the recipient containing the alcohol had kept their fine aspect; on most of them, however, one or two grapes had turned brown, and were in the same condition as those above referred to. On December 24, same results; on most of the bunches could be seen one or two grapes commencing to decay. At the end of nearly two months, each bunch had lost but from two to four grapes each and all were in a perfect state of preservation, the stalks being perfectly green and the grapes firm, full, and savory, and having all the qualities of fresh-cut grapes.
"At the conclusion of the experiment, 28 cubic centimeters (17 cubic inches) of alcohol at 60° remained in the bottle out of the 100 cubic centimeters (61 cubic inches) at 96°, but, as Mr. Petit remarks, the door of his recipient had not been built with great care and did not close hermetically, hence a useless consumption of alcohol.
"This process offers many advantages. It is simple, easy of application, and cheap, and, if adopted by our fruit-growers, would allow them not only to hold their fine fruits until they can dispose of them at a fair price, but would also insure them handsome profits during the winter months."
Beckwith makes the following note* upon this method: "For the purpose of testing the process as described in the above circular, two fully ripened branches of Norfolk grapes were placed, together with two ounce bottles filled with alcohol, upon a large pane of glass and covered with a glass bell jar. The grapes thus prepared were placed upon a table in my laboratory, where they remained until December 18, perfectly sound and plump in appear
* Eighth Ann, Rep. Del. Exp. Sta., 110,
The Grower and the Consumer.
ance, but had changed to a slightly darker brown color. The flesh was sound and firm, and still retained nearly its normal flavor. The grapes remainded under the treatment until February 10, when they were removed. At this date, nearly all of the grapes were firm and plump, a few having become somewhat shriveled. They had a peculiar alcoholic taste, having entirely lost their normal flavor. The flesh was very firm, and of a light brown color. The above was, of course, a severe test of the process for keeping fruit fresh, and could not be considered a success. It is possible that by placing the fruit in a cool apartment it could be preserved for a considerable length of time without any great expense."
SHIPPING, AND REACHING THE CONSUMER.
The grower and the consumer.-The means to be employed in reaching the consumer are such personal matters that little specific advice can be given upon the subject; and the suggestions which are here made are not meant to apply to the buyers of fruit, nor to those growers who sell their fruit to itinerant buyers. It should first be said that the fruit itself is the best business card which the grower can have, in the long run. Fruit which is well grown and well packed is already virtually sold. If the consumer is convinced of the honesty and good faith of the grower and the packer, then his suspicions are allayed, and he is willing to purchase
freely, and at a fair price. If the grower's name is upon the package, it becomes a guaranty of the quality of the fruit, and the consumer buys confidently. If, in addition to this, there is some neat and unique label attached to the package, the consumer will be convinced that his grower is not only willing to be responsible for the quality of the fruit, but that he is also a man of business instincts. It has recently been remarked that the Canadian apples which are shipped into the American markets bring a better price than the domestic products, and very largely for the reason that the law demands that the fruit should be marked "Canadian grown," and the grower ordinarily places his name upon the parcel. The buyer in such case knows who is to be held responsible for the product in case it does not come up to his expectations. The time is certainly coming when an inferior grade of fruit cannot be put upon the market with profit. Competition is gradually increasing, and it is only the better grades which can pay for the expense of shipping and packages and selling, and leave a margin of profit to the grower.
The gist of the successful distribution and selling of fruit lies in searching out the best markets, and then in finding out what the consumer wants. This can be done only by giving as much attention to the market end of the business as to the distinctly agricultural end of it. The grower who expects to handle his own fruit directly should visit the markets, and should take particular pains
Finding a Market.
to determine the especial types and brands of fruit which the consumers in that market require. It is generally true that the fruit-grower raises whatever comes handy, and sells it if he can. It would be better business to determine what the market is likely to demand, and then to grow the article that is wanted. The essence of modern trade is the specialization of business and the individualizing of the consumer. The person who has much fruit of good quality to sell should begin to look up his markets some weeks in advance of the market season; and he will ordinarily do well to sell somewhat by sample. Regulation packages, with his accustomed grade of fruit, may be sent here and there to dealers and consumers, to represent the product which he has for sale. Much of the success of this type of marketing depends upon the quantity which the grower can provide. Dealers ordinarily demand that the grower furnish them with stated quantities of stated varieties; and if the grower cannot do this he may be unable to hold his customer, and must simply meet the vagaries of an incidental trade. The grower or shipper should notify his dealer in advance as to the amount and quality of fruit which will be likely to reach him at any given time. The dealer is then able to inform his customers and to find an outlet for the product. It should be remarked that this matter of finding a market is a perennial enterprise ; that is, it is one which must be renewed every year, for the market of one year may not