Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fruit for Drying

I first came across the figures in the second tidbit and was surprised by the amount and variety of fruit drying that was going on in California during the late 19th Century. I expected to see the grapes but not the other fruits. Below is an excerpt about drying the fruit, the second tidbit is about the amount produced in the state of California. Enjoy!

Drying fruit has several advantages over canning or bottling. It is cheaper ; it may be adopted on an extensive scale ; the fruit may be kept with less care ; and being several times lighter than when fresh, may be sent long distances, or to foreign countries, at a moderate cost. When fruit-growers shall learn that dried fruit from the highest flavored sorts is as much better than that from the poor unsaleable varieties so often used for this purpose, as the best fresh fruit of the one sort exceeds the other, purchasers will also be willing to pay a much higher price for the best article. When, superadded to this, the fruit is dried rapidly so as to retain a clear, light color, and a perfect flavor, instead of the dark, half fermented fruit resulting from slow drying in bad weather, there will be no difficulty in finding a ready sale for all that may be offered in market. When abundant seasons occur, the surplus should be saved by drying, and may be kept another year.
In some parts of the Western States, houses are erefited for drying fruit, and are warmed by fire heat, by means of a furnace with a fine extending around the building, similar to that formerly used for green-houses. This flue is covered with sheet iron. An ample ventilator is placed at the top for the free escape of the large volumes of watery vapor which rise from the drying fruit. Trays or hurdles, about two feet wide, six feet long, and three inches deep, with small strips or laths forming the bottom, are placed in three tiers, one above the other, with a foot or more of space between them. Long strips of scantling, laid horizontally, extending the whole length of the house, and six or eight feet outside, form a sort of railway track on which a frame with rollers runs in and out through a wide door, for running in the fresh fruit and bringing out the dried. A house, ten by fourteen feet, and eight feet high, has been found sufficient for about two barrels of fruit at a time, and about twenty-four hours complete the drying process.
Fig. 170 represents a small, portable, fruit-drying house, capable of being carried to the orchard, and used on the ground. It consists of a small building from two and a half to four feet square, or of any other convenient dimensions, the lower part covered with sheet iron to prevent danger from fire, and containing a small stove, extending through the house, from the rear of which passes the stove-pipe on the outside, the upper portion of which is seen in the figure. The fuel would be more completely economized by bringing the pipe back again, and passing it up on the same side as the door of the stove, reversing the place of the doors for introducing the shelves.
Source: The American Fruit Culturist ©1868

Fruit drying is now one of our recognized industries. That judgment, experience, and money are required in this branch of the fruit business in California goes without saying. The dried fruit markets of the United States furnish the greatest and most available outlet for the vast output of dried fruit, which is increasing in volume year by year.
The markets of the South Pacific Islands and Australia have been partially developed and are taking fair quantities of dried fruit this season. Our dried fruits are also being gradually introduced into the various large cities of Europe, several trial shipments, consisting of carloads of choice apricots and peaches, having been distributed in the Old World at good prices. A very large, profitable trade will certainly result from the proper introduction of California dried fruits into England. The output of dried fruit in this State from the crop of 1890 was 48,700,000 pounds, or 2,435 carloads, classified as follows:
Apples 1,000,000 pounds.
Apricots... 8,500,000 pounds.
Peaches 12,250,000 pounds.
Pears.. 600,000 pounds.
Plums 1,000,000 pounds.
Prunes 14,000,000 pounds.
Grapes... 10,500,000 pounds.
Nectarines 600,000 pounds.
Figs 350,000 pounds.
On a basis of six and one half pounds (which is a liberal allowance) of fresh fruit to one of dried, exclusive of prunes and grapes, which require three and four pounds, respectively, we find that the quantity of fresh fruit used amounted to 241,300,000 pounds, or 12,065 carloads. If that quantity of fruit had been shipped East in the fresh state, the transportation charges, say nothing of other expenses, would have amounted to $5,127,625, as against $730,500, the cost of shipping 2,435 carloads of dried fruit at $300 per car, or 14 cents per pound. This shows a saving to growers and shippers of $4,397,125 on one item—dried fruit.
Source: Biennial Report ©1892

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