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For the better preserving of fruits it is universally recommended that the storeroom should be situate in a cool, dry spot, with a well-boarded floor, and windows looking towards the north; which in fine weather ought to be kept open. Care should also be taken to keep out the south wind by window panes,1 while at the same time it should be borne in mind that a north-east wind will shrivel fruit and make it unsightly. Apples are gathered after the autumnal equinox; but the gathering should never begin before the sixteenth day of the moon, or before the first hour of the day. Windfalls should always be kept separate, and there ought to be a layer of straw, or else mats or chaff, placed beneath. They should, also, be placed apart from each other, in rows, so that the air may circulate freely between them, and they may equally gain the benefit of it. The Amerinian apple is the best keeper, the melimelum the very worst of all.

(17.) Quinces ought to be stored in a place kept perfectly closed, so as to exclude all draughts; or else they should be boiled in honey2 or soaked in it. Pomegranates are made hard and firm by being first put in boiling3 sea-water, and then left to dry for three days in the sun, care being taken that the dews of the night do not touch them; after which they are hung up, and when wanted for use, washed with fresh water. M. Varro4 recommends that they should be kept in large vessels filled with sand: if they are not ripe, he says that they should be put in pots with the bottom broken out, and then buried5 in the earth, all access to the air being carefully shut, and care being first taken to cover the stalk with pitch. By this mode of treatment, he assures us, they will attain a larger size than they would if left to ripen on the tree. As for the other kinds of pomes, he says that they should be wrapped up separately in fig-leaves, the windfalls being carefully excluded, and then stored in baskets of osier, or else covered over with potters' earth.

Pears are kept in earthen vessels pitched inside; when filled, the vessels are reversed and then buried in pits. The Tarentine pear, Varro says, is gathered very late, while the Anician keeps very well in raisin wine. Sorb apples, too, are similarly kept in holes in the ground, the vessel being turned upside down, and a layer of plaster placed on the lid: it should be buried two feet deep, in a sunny spot; sorbs6 are also hung, like grapes, in the inside of large vessels, together with the branches.

Some of the more recent authors are found to pay a more scrupulous degree of attention to these various particulars, and recommend that the gathering of grapes or pomes, which are intended for keeping, should take place while the moon is on the wane,7 after the third hour of the day, and while the weather is clear, or dry winds prevail. In a similar manner, the selection, they say, ought to be made from a dry spot, and the fruit should be plucked before it is fully ripe, a moment being chosen while the moon is below the horizon. Grapes, they say, should be selected that have a strong, hard mallets-talk, and after the decayed berries have been carefully removed with a pair of scissors, they should be hung up inside of a large vessel which has just been pitched, care being taken to close all access to the south wind, by covering the lid with a coat of plaster. The same method, they say, should be adopted for keeping sorb apples and pears, the stalks being carefully covered with pitch; care should be taken, too, that the vessels are kept at a distance from water.

There are some persons who adopt the following method for preserving grapes. They take them off together with the branch, and place them, while still upon it, in a layer of plaster,8 taking care to fasten either end of the branch in a bulb of squill.9 Others, again, go so far as to place them within vessels containing wine, taking care, however, that the grapes, as they hang, do not touch it. Some persons put apples in plates of earth, and then leave them to float in wine, a method by which it is thought that a vinous flavour is imparted to them: while some think it a better plan to preserve all these kinds of fruit in millet. Most people, however, content themselves with first digging a hole in the ground, a couple of feet in depth; a layer of sand is then placed at the bottom, and the fruit is arranged upon it, and covered with an earthen lid, over which the earth is thrown. Some persons again even go so far as to give their grapes a coating of potters' chalk, and then hang them up when dried in the sun; when required for use, the chalk is removed with water.10 Apples are also preserved in a similar manner; but with them wine is employed for getting off the chalk. Indeed, we find a very similar plan pursued with apples of the finest quality; they have a coating laid upon them of either plaster or wax; but they are apt, if not quite ripe when this was done, by the increase in their size to break their casing.11 When apples are thus prepared, they are always laid with the stalk downwards.12 Some persons pluck the apple together with the branch, the ends of which they thrust into the pith of elder,13 and then bury it in the way already pointed out.14 There are some who assign to each apple or pear its separate vessel of clay, and after care- fully pitching the cover, enclose it again in a larger vessel: occasionally, too, the fruit is placed on a layer of flocks of wool, or else in baskets,15 with a lining of chaff and clay. Other persons follow a similar plan, but use earthen plates for the purpose; while others, again, employ the same method, but dig a hole in the earth, and after placing a layer of sand, lay the fruit on top of it, and then cover the whole with dry earth. Persons, too, are sometimes known to give quinces a coating of Pontic16 wax, and then plunge them in honey. Columella17 informs us, that fruit is kept by being carefully put in earthen vessels, which then receive a coating of pitch, and are placed in wells or cisterns to sink to the bottom. The people of maritime Liguria, in the vicinity of the Alps, first dry their grapes in the sun,18 and wrap them up in bundles of rushes, which are then covered with plaster. The Greeks follow a similar plan, but substitute for rushes the leaves of the plane- tree, or of the vine itself, or else of the fig, which they dry for a single day in the shade, and then place in a cask in alternate layers with husks19 of grapes. It is by this method that they preserve the grapes of Cos and Berytus, which are inferior to none in sweetness. Some persons, when thus pre- paring them, plunge the grapes into lie-ashes the moment they take them from the vine, and then dry them in the sun; they then steep them in warm water, after which they put them to dry again in the sun: and last of all, as already mentioned, wrap them up in bundles formed of layers of leaves and grape husks. There are some who prefer keeping their grapes in sawdust,20 or else in shavings of the fir-tree, poplar, and ash: while others think it the best plan to hang them up in the granary, at a careful distance from the apples, directly after the gathering, being under the impression that the very best cover- ing for them as they hang is the dust21 that naturally arises from the floor. Grapes are effectually protected against the attacks of wasps by being sprinkled with oil22 spirted from the mouth. Of palm-dates we have already spoken.23

1 "Specularibus." the alludes to windows of transparent stone, lapis specularis, or mica; windows of glass being probably unknown in his time. The ordinary windows were merely openings closed with shutters. See B. xxxvi. c. 45.

2 He must allude to a kind of quince marmalade.

3 As Fée remarks, the fruit, if treated thus, would soon lose all the properties for which it is valued.

4 De Re Rust. B.i.c. 59.

5 A faulty proceeding, however dry it may be.

6 This fruit, Fée remarks, keeps but indifferently, and soon becomes soft, vinous, and acid.

7 An absurd superstition.

8 A method not unlikely to spoil the grape, from the difficulty of removing the coat thus given to it.

9 A very absurd notion, as Fée observes. To keep fruit in millet is also condemned.

10 Which, of course, must deteriorate the flavour of the grape.

11 It is doubtful if they will increase in size, when once plucked.

12 The modern authorities recommend the precisely opposite plan.

13 As absurd as the use of the bulb of squill.

14 In a pit two feet deep, &c. See above.

15 Capsæ.

16 See B. xxi. c. 49.

17 De Re Rust. B. xii. c. 43.

18 These must make raisins of the sun.

19 These must have been perfectly dry, or else they would tend to rot the grapes or raisins.

20 Columella, for instance, B. xii. c. 43.

21 The dust is in reality very liable to spoil the fruit, from the tenacity with which it adheres. In all these methods, little attention would seem to be paid to the retention of the flavour of the fruits.

22 A detestable practice, Fée says, as the oil makes an indelible mark on the grape, and gives it an abominable flavour. It is the best method to put the fruit in bags of paper or hair.

23 See B. xiii. c. 19.

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  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), EBUROVI´CES
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ROMA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SAGUNTUM
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