Food - Fruits
( Originally Published 1917 )
Countries known by their fruits. Aside from its people, there is perhaps nothing that gives to a country or a locality so personal and distinctive a touch as its fruits. The mere mention of the word California seldom fails to bring to mind a picture of dark green trees hung with golden oranges. The fig is inseparably associated with Turkey and the date with Persia and Arabia, while Panama or any of the Central American countries suggests great clusters of bananas to the mind of the average boy or girl of the United States.
Man's wants the motive power of industry. The earth's pleasant fruits are about the most interesting teachers of geography we could possibly choose. They are capable of opening up to us a world of information about the soil, the climate, and the people of their particular regions. If you do not see how the fruits of a country can throw any special light upon the character of its people, remember that the abundance of wild fruits of a highly nutritive character in certain tropical countries has more to do with making the natives indolent and improvident. than almost any other cause. Why work when wild fruits, capable of sustaining life, are to be had for the picking? And why provide for the future when nature alone does that, by loading the forest-trees and shrubs and the jungle thickets with such an astonishing variety of fruits that every season's dinner is always at hand? This is certainly more than a hint as to how the fruits of a region influence the character of the inhabitants.
Geography by way of fruit store and peddler. No geographic excursion, easily recruited and carried out, is likely to yield you any more pleasure and knowledge than an invasion of some large city fruit market. I f you take such a trip under the guidance of your teacher and under conditions favorable to learning something about the things you see, you will surely return with a fund of knowledge that will surprise and delight you. Such an excursion will throw an entirely new light upon the subject of geography.
There is still another way of getting an interesting insight into the geographic realm which fruits will open to you. This is by persuading a fruit man from a foreign country to talk to you. Almost any Italian or Greek fruit peddler who remained in his native country until grown, if he speaks intelligible English, is capable of giving you a talk on the fruits of his country that will give you a nearer view of his native land than you could get in almost any other way. In some ways his talk will be more interesting because his life in the Old Country was spent in manual work instead of in study. This means that he has worked among the fruit trees and shrubs himself and knows by personal experience all about their habits and the methods of cultivating them.
One of the most interesting talks to which the writer ever listened was made by a Dalmatian who vividly pictured the beauty of the terraced fruit gardens of his mountain home so laboriously built up with leaf-mold retained by stone walls. He taught geography with a realism that fixed the scene and facts permanently in the memory of his hearer. His regard for the fruits of his country was somewhat like the affection he had for its people.
Apples a temperate zone fruit. Let us now consider a fruit of about fifteen hundred varieties which ripens into a myriad hues and possesses a wonderful range of flavors that please the whole world's taste.
The apple? Of course! It is perhaps the oldest of all temperate zone fruits. Our present varieties have all been developed from the wild apple, of which the wild crabapple is possibly the only surviving type. Although the apple is found in certain altitudes of the torrid zone, its real home is in the temperate zone, where it has a wide distribution.
We export many thousand barrels of fresh apples and many million pounds of dried apples each year. These products are sent to almost every country in the world. It would not be possible to name every country to which apples are sent from our ports, but the heaviest shipments are to the British Isles, France, Germany, Russia, and Australia.
Apples in the United States. It is hardly possible to give an accurate estimate of the quantity of apples produced and consumed in this country in a year. There are millions of apple trees bearing fruit in the United States. It is said that if all the apples grown in this country in a year were placed in cars they would make a train that would reach from Chicago to San Francisco. The United States leads the world in the production of this wonderful fruit. But we must remember that the apple is only one of the many fruits raised and consumed in Americar.
Pears. Pears are almost as universally grown as apples, and are to be found in every fruit store. There are nearly a thousand different varieties of pears. Some pears are almost as small as a thimble and on the island of Jersey are grown pears of enormous size which have sold for as high as six and seven dollars each in London. Find the island of Jersey on your map. Pears grow wild in Southern and Eastern Europe and generally through-out Asia. Like apples, pears are grown in almost every state in the Union, and are exported mainly to the British Isles and the continent of Europe, although many other countries receive small quantities of them.
Peaches. The peach is considered by many the most delicious of all fruits and its excellent flavor justifies this high. opinion of it. A member of the almond family, it is a native of Western Asia, but has responded to influences of the soil and cultivation in this country to such an extent that the peaches grown here are considered as fine as any the world produces. Because the peach will not keep under ordinary conditions we find that our peach exports consist almost entirely of the dried fruit.
In American horticulture perhaps the most remarkable recent achievement is the propagation of a distinctly new type of peach that promises to revolutionize the shipping possibilities of fresh peaches. This wonderful peach stands long shipment practically as well as the more tender varieties of apples. Severe tests of its ability to stand up under long and hard journeys have been made and it has been found that it can be sent from coast to coast without suffering any marked decline in its condition. This means that many places, remote from shipping centers, which have been obliged to go without fresh peaches, need do so no longer. A long ocean voyage is easily possible for this new peach, which is large and of fine texture and flavor. It also possesses the peculiar attraction of having a skin that is practically without fuzz.
The nectarine, a cousin ,to the peach. The nectarine is a highly prized variety of the peach family which can be grown only in warm climates. California and her sister states on the Pacific coast pro-duce the greater part of the supply grown in this country. The nectarine can be successfully grown in the North only under glass.
Plums, native and cultivated. Our plum is said to have come from the European sloe or blackthorn. The sloe has a blue fruit, a little smaller than our wild plum. The plum is cultivated in many parts of our country and grows wild in almost every state. No doubt you have picked wild plums; if you have you know something of the fun that the boys of Europe have in gathering the wild sloe.
There are three general classes of plums cultivated in this country: the purple, the red, and the yellow or green plum. The loquat, a small, yellow, oval-shaped, plumlike fruit now grown in America, is a native of Japan. When ripe it is pleasing in taste, and may be eaten either raw or cooked.
Prune plums. Prunes are dried plums of a particular variety. They are grown especially for the making of prunes and even when fresh are called prunes by the growers. Until about twenty-five years ago almost our entire supply of prunes came from Europe; from France, Germany, Turkey; Spain, and Austria-Hungary. Now our Western States not only supply our own wants but export many tons of this fruit to the European countries. But there is still a market here for fancy prunes, which we import from France. These French prunes are considered especially choice and delicious. That we import a certain commodity from a particular country to which we export that same kind of food is some-times explained by the fact that our own naturalized citizens or alien visitors from that country demand the "home article" because they are fond of its distinctive flavor. Thus does a commercial demand for a food emphasize the fact that we are a nation made up of people from almost every part of the earth.
The cherry at home and abroad. Is there one among us that does not hail with delight the arrival of that delicious early summer fruit, the cherry? Cherry season has pleasant associations for the men and women, boys and girls who have had the privilege of visiting, at picking time, the localities where cherries are grown. Though the cherry is a small fruit it does not occupy a small place in the diet of the human race. In some parts of the world, in fact, it is a really important part of the food supply. In France, there are forest regions where the cherry is an important item in the food of the people.
There the gathering of wild cherries is a big event in the year. In Germany, in the valley of the Rhine, the schools are closed during the cherry season, so that the children may help their parents harvest this delicious fruit. Though a native of Persia, the cherry is now cultivated all over the world. It is said that the Romans of long ago cultivated several different varieties of cherries. In Japan the cherry is extensively grown for its beautiful pink blossoms.
Food uses of the quince. The quince is a member of the pear and apple family and is native to Asia. It is now widely cultivated and may be found in most civilized countries of the temperate zone and the tropics. The majority of the quinces raised in this country are grown in western New York. While the quince is seldom eaten raw, it makes an excellent jelly and is much used by the housewife for flavoring preserves, jellies, and jams. The quince has long been a favorite fruit of mankind. It was popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The apricot. The apricot is a small yellow fruit which looks something like a peach, though it belongs to the same family as the plum. Like the peach and the plum it may be eaten raw, preserved, or dried. This fruit was introduced into Europe during the time of Alexander the Great. Now California produces many thousand tons of apricots a year. There are a number of factories in that state devoted to drying and canning apricots. In one year the United States exported more than 35,000,000 pounds of dried apricots, which were shipped to all parts of the world. The fancy trade of this country, however, still demands the importation of a small amount of dried and candied apricots from France and from Italy.
Oranges. There are two kinds of oranges—the bitter and the sweet. The bitter orange, known as both the Seville and the Bigarade orange, was the first orange known and was brought by the Moors to Spain in the eighth century. Not until the fifteenth century did Europe become acquainted with the sweet orange. Both the bitter and the sweet oranges were introduced into Florida, where they thrived wonderfully. But, because the sweet oranges were much preferred by the American people, practically no bitter oranges are now grown in this country. While oranges will grow in many of our southern states, they thrive best in Florida and California, where many millions are raised each year. Although we still import oranges from Europe, Asia, and Central America, our exports of oranges greatly exceed our imports.
There are several varieties of fancy sweet oranges, of which the Satsuma, the tangerine, the mandarin, navel, Valencia, St. Michael, and the King of Siam are the most familiar. The kumquat is a tiny orange, the size of a small plum and generally oval in shape, which we have imported from Japan. The Japanese, and Chinese in our country are now cultivating it. The fruit is acid with a sweet rind usually eaten with the pulp. This fruit has met with great favor in Europe and is also much appreciated in this country. The preserved or candied kumquat is excellent and is a favorite sweetmeat of the Chinese.
Lemons and limes. The lemon is so familiar a fruit that it has achieved a permanent place in the slang of our country. While we produce a great quantity of lemons, we still import many from Europe. The lemon, like the pear, is best picked when green and allowed to ripen off the tree.
The lime, a member of the lemon family, is much smaller than our lemon. It grows best in the West Indies and India, but a limited supply is grown in the United States and in Europe. The lime is growing in popularity and its use in place of the lemon is steadily increasing in this country., Limes are so aromatic they almost seem to have been perfumed.
The ginep, or Spanish lime, is a fruit which looks like a plum but tastes like a grape. Both the flesh and seeds of this fruit are eaten, the latter some-times being roasted and eaten as we eat nuts.
The grapefruit or pomelo. The grapefruit is the largest member of the citrus family as the kumquat is the smallest. The orange, lemon, kumquat, lime, citron, citrange, and grapefruit all belong to the citrus family. The grapefruit, also known as the pomelo, is said to have been introduced into Florida by the Spanish. It is called grapefruit because it hangs from the tree in clusters as grapes hang from the vine. We get this fruit chiefly from California, Florida, and the West Indies. Porto Rico sends us annually increasing quantities of it.
Other citrous fruits. There is also a fruit known as the Bengal quince or the elephant apple which is said to be of the citrus family. Another fruit probably of the citrus family is the bergamot of Southern Europe, a somewhat pear-shaped fruit which seems to be a cross between a lemon and an orange.
The citron, another member of the citrus family, is said to be a native of the island of Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Olives, green and ripe. No doubt all of us have tasted pickled olives, and perhaps some of us have eaten ripe olives. Then, too, olive oil is doubtless familiar to you. But do you know how the olive grows, where it comes from, and what is its history? This question becomes an interesting and important one when we remember that we sometimes import more than 5,000,000 gallons of olives in a single year and more than 6,000,000 gallons of olive oil in the same time.
You are all familiar with the green olives which come in bottles, either plain or stuffed with peppers or anchovies, and packed in brine. In Southern Spain, where the finest green olives are produced, the fruit for pickling sometimes grows as large as plums. Ripe olives are of a dark brown color. Their use is becoming more common in this country every year. In fact, on the Pacific coast where the olive is grown, few green olives are used, the ripe ones being much preferred.
The Bible speaks often of olives, as does ancient history. It is doubtful if there are many fruits that have been known to man longer than the olive. Originally the olive came from Asia Minor, but it is now raised extensively in our Southwestern States and in all the countries of Europe bordering the Mediterranean. The olive grows on a large ever-green tree which bears a heavy mass of greenish-gray leaves. It thrives best in a dry, subtropical region. The trees sometimes reach the age of fifteen hundred years. It is claimed that certain olive trees in France are two thousand years old.
Two kinds of persimmons. The United States and Japan both produce persimmons. A young lad in far off Japan picks, from a small tree, a sweet, juicy persimmon, the size of a large peach; while the lad in our Southern States scales a tall tree, perhaps fifty feet high, to get a persimmon the size of a small plum. Both of these persimmons, however, when thoroughly ripe are as sweet as sugar-plums, and are keenly appreciated by the boys who gather them.
The pomegranate. The pomegranate, which is now cultivated quite extensively in Turkey, and in fact in nearly all other warm countries, is a native of Persia. The pomegranate tree has showy flowers of an orange-red color and bears a fruit about the size of a big apple, which has a reddish-yellow rind. This fruit is made into sirups and wines in Persia and its seeds are considered of medicinal value. The pomegranate is highly valued in the Levant. Perhaps it would be interesting to you to ask the elder members of your family if they can tell you something about-the Levant and just where it is.
The fig and where it is grown. It will also afford you constant entertainment at home to start a guessing contest as to what countries grow each kind of fruit that is brought to your home. For example, what one fruit is raised chiefly in Smyrna, in Turkey, in Greece, in Dalmatia, in Italy, in California, Louisiana, and in Texas? The fig!
The history of the fig is as old as that of the apple. There are more than a hundred varieties of figs. In its natural state the fig is a small pear-shaped fruit with a tough skin, which varies in color from almost white to a dark purple. The fruit is eaten fresh, preserved in sirup, and dried. While the dried fig is the most popular form in this country, California is now putting up many gallons of figs in sirup each year. Although California, Louisiana, and Texas raise large crops of figs, the United States still imports many million pounds of this fruit annually.
In one year we bought more than 13,000,000 pounds of figs from Asiatic Turkey alone and millions of pounds from Greece and Italy. We have also imported figs from Egypt and from French Africa.
An immigrant wasp and his work. No doubt you have at some time asked yourself the question, "Of what use are wasps?" Let me tell you about the fig wasp, without which we should not be able to have the fine variety of figs we get from Smyrna and from the vicinity of Fresno, California. The finest fig trees require "caprification"; that is, they must be visited by the wasp which carries the pollen of the capri fig into the blossom of the fruiting tree. If this wasp does not visit the fig tree it will not fruit properly. How a plucky California horticulturist introduced this wonderful wasp into his fig orchard, at an expense of thousands of dollars, is one of the most interesting of all food "immigrant" stories.
It made possible the production of figs of the finest qualities, and put the American fig industry on a permanent commercial basis.
The date palm and the date. It is difficult to picture an oasis in the Sahara without at once seeing the tall, green-topped date palm. It would also be hard to imagine how the wandering tribesman, ranging this great sea of drifting sand, could live were it not for the date palms which offer shelter and food to the traveler. It is not only a blessing in itself but in the heart of the desert it affords shade and protection so that figs, almonds, and other trees and vegetation will thrive there.
The date palm will flourish under conditions where nothing else would grow, yielding a life-giving food in the heart of a sun-baked desert of sand. It is almost the only tree or plant 'to which alkali is not injurious. In the "Sunken Gardens" of the Algerian Sahara grow the Deglet Noor dates, which are considered the choicest in the world. These trees appear to be half buried in the drifting sands. They are fed by an abundant supply of underground water.
Not only does the date palm furnish food to the natives of Persia, Arabia, and Northern Africa, but its wood and leaves are used by them in a variety of ways. It begins to bear when about six years of age and will continue to produce fruit until it is more than a hundred years old. In the arid South-west of our own country there is an extensive and flourishing plantation of date palms.
United States merchants annually import almost 35,000,000 pounds of dates, of which nearly seven eighths are purchased from Asiatic Turkey. A large percentage of the dates from Smyrna are raised in Arabia. Dates are raised also in China, Spain, Mexico, Greece, the West Indies, and the East Indies.
The banana. The banana is undoubtedly the most productive fruit plant known. We cannot –properly call the banana plant a tree, because it is cut down every year, growing up again from the roots or stump. You have seen the great bunches of bananas hanging in stores, and in imagination you may have seen them growing on large trees.
But more than likely your mental picture was not correct, for when growing the fruit points upwards, not downwards as you see them hanging in stores.
The banana is a native of the West Indies, but is now grown in almost all tropical countries. There are two special varieties, yellow and red. The fruit is harvested, shipped, and marketed while green. In fact, the wholesale fruit houses always buy their bananas green and ripen them in banana rooms which are kept warm and dark.
The carambola, an East India fruit. An East India fruit that will no doubt interest you is the carambola, also called the Coromandel gooseberry. This fruit is usually about the size of an egg and has a thin, smooth, yellow skin. It has a variety of flavors, from sweet to sour, and is a general favorite wherever found. It is eaten raw, cooked, or pickled.
The avocado or alligator pear. If you were to make a journey into Central America you would see there a fine spreading evergreen tree whose oval leaves shade its large, green, pear-shaped fruit. This is the avocado, or alligator pear tree, which grows also in Florida and California. While the avocado is a fruit it is eaten chiefly as a salad, and is treated more like a cucumber than a fruit. It is peeled and eaten with salt, pepper, and vinegar, or served with salad dressing. The taste for alligator pears is usually acquired. Their popularity in this country, however, is shown by the fact that they often sell for seventy cents apiece. The avocado is not a very large fruit, averaging about a pound in weight. There is no other food, perhaps, which has been given such a variety of names. It is known, for example, as the maya and the "custard apple." Spanish, French, Aztec, English, Carib, German, and Latin all have had special names for it. In fact, it is called by forty-three different names in eight different languages.
The mango. Perhaps the most widely discussed fruit of the tropics is the mango.
Although it is said to be a native of Southern Europe, it is now grown in almost every tropical country in the world and is produced in many sizes, shapes, and colors. It is a delicately flavored fruit, soft and difficult to keep, but delicious when eaten like a cantaloupe.
Unlike the cantaloupe, however, it has a stone to be removed. The mango is a most popular fruit in the South, and in the larger cities of the North, where it is sold by high-class fruit houses.
The mangosteen. Among tropical fruits none is more interesting than the mangosteen. It is claimed by some to be the finest of all fruits. The mangosteen is not widely known because it will not stand transportation. It is a small fruit with a thick rind and a soft, rose-colored pulp. It is not only unsurpassed in taste but is said to be especially wholesome.
The sapodilla. Another tropical fruit is the sapodilla, which looks much like a russet apple and contains a soft, sweet pulp. It is eaten either raw or cooked.
Breadfruit and how it grows. Still another important tropical fruit is the breadfruit. If you were to go to Central America to gather breadfruit you would find great trees with peculiar fern-shaped leaves, below which hang bunches of large green fruit, bigger than your head. The breadfruit has a heavy rind, inside of which is a white starchy mass that looks very much like bread dough. But when this fruit is boiled, sliced, and served with butter, it is very good indeed, tasting not unlike sweet potato.
There is also a false breadfruit, or ceriman, as it is sometimes called. The ceriman is shaped like a large ear of corn, and when the husky skin is removed the fruit is delicious.
The guava and its uses. Just imagine now that you are traveling in the tropics—let us say in Mexico—and that you have found a guava tree. The fruit on this tree is possibly the size of a small tomato. It may, however, be larger or smaller, as there are about a hundred different varieties of this fruit found in tropical America. It may be red and shaped like an apple or it may be yellow and shaped like a pear. Like many other fruits, it may be eaten raw, cooked, preserved, or made into an excellent jelly. This fruit is seldom eaten in its fresh state in temperate climates, because, like many other delicious tropical fruits, it cannot be transported long distances.
Other fruits of tropical America. While you linger, in imagination, in tropical America you might also taste the fruits of the Spanish bayonet, the sweet sop, the sour sop, the cashew apple, the pepino, and the cherimoya. There also you would find the true papia or papaya, which is often con-fused with our pawpaw. The tropical papia looks something like a muskmelon, while the pawpaw of the United States outwardly resembles a short, thick banana.
The plantain. In many tropical countries, the plantain, a fruit which tastes like a vegetable, serves as a food staple, taking the place of grains and root vegetables. It belongs to the banana family, but it flat, and much Iarger and coarser than the banana. The plantain has little flavor, and is seldom eaten raw. When roasted or baked, it is considered appetizing and nutritious. The plantain is also dried and ground into a flour which serves many food purposes.
The prickly pear and other cactus fruits. You should be careful not to confuse the prickly pear with the avocado, to which it is in no way related. The prickly pear is the fruit of the Opuntia family, one of the cacti. The fruit, except that of the spineless variety, is usually armed with many tiny thorns or spears. This fruit is eaten in much the same manner as the avocado. The fruit is of various colors—red, yellow, purple, and green. In Mexico and Sicily, the poor people look upon the prickly pear with great respect, as it forms an important part of their food supply and is used in many difierent ways—as fruit, as salad, and as jelly. The juice of the prickly pear is made into a pleasing drink.
Other fruits belonging to the cactus family are the Mexican strawberry, the strawberry pear, the Barbados gooseberry, and the melon thistle.
The Mexican strawberry is a small fruit about two inches long and one inch in diameter, of a reddish-yellow color, and is the fruit of the hedgehog cactus.
The taste of a strawberry pear might lead you to think that you were eating a strawberry, although it is not as delicate in flavor as the strawberry and is perhaps a trifle sourer. It is bright red in color and shaped something like a pear. The strawberry pear is the fruit of the torch cactus, which takes its name from its long, brilliantly colored flowers.
If you saw Barbados gooseberries hanging from a certain cactus found in the West Indies you would probably think them misplaced gooseberries, so much do they resemble that fruit in appearance. Although their flavor is distinctly different from that of our gooseberry, if you tasted them you would not be disappointed.
The fruit of another cactus plant, the melon thistle, looks much like one of our favorite melons. This fruit, small and pearlike in shape, resembles a musk-melon and has a delightful flavor. The plant in some cases attains a height of two feet.
In the future when you hear some one speak of the cactus you will think not alone of the huge, thorny, spike-covered stumps rearing their grotesque shapes above the hot sand of the desert, but of various plants, trees, shrubs, and vines, which furnish both man and beast with pleasing food.
The pineapple. Suppose we now turn our attention to fruits which grow on bushes, shrubs, and vines.
The pineapple, one of the finest of this class of fruits, is a native of tropical South America, but is now grown in many tropical countries, especially the islands of the Caribbean Sea. Pineapples are also grown abundantly in Hawaii and in Florida, and are cultivated under glass in Northern Europe.
The pineapple was so named because its fruit looks very much like a pine cone. It is, however, the fruit of a low-growing plant, not of a tree. It grows in fields which, in some parts of Florida, contain thousands upon thousands of these delicious fruits. Perhaps the finest pineapples now grown are those on the plantations of Hawaii, where there are immense canning factories, which can the fruit and ship it to all parts of the world. The fresh pine-apples you see in your grocery store are likely from Florida, Cuba, or the Bahamas, as it is very difficult to ship successfully the fresh fruit from the Hawaiian Islands.
Grapes and where they grow. In the hillside vineyards of Italy, Germany, and France one may see, at almost any point, the peasants working among the vines—a charming picture of contentment. A parallel to this picture may be seen in the "grape belt" of western New York. New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri also are dotted with prosperous vineyards. California has the largest commercial vineyards in the world, where grapes are raised for the table, for making wine, and for raisins. Here may be found great vines each bearing thou-sands of pounds of grapes in a single season. One vine in California is said to produce thirty thousand pounds of grapes a year. Can you imagine that? Thirty thousand pounds of grapes from one vine, growing from a single root! The writer has seen two thousand acres of vineyard in one "block" flourishing on what appeared to be a desert of sand.
Since thousands of American and European farms have their private vineyards and many states can boast of their commercial vineyards, it is impossible to form any idea of the quantity of grapes consumed each year. It means millions of pounds of fresh fruit, millions of gallons of grape juice and wine, and millions of pounds of raisens. Quite recently California sent a whole trainload—fifty cars—of raisins to Chicago wholesalers.
Grapes are of many varieties and many sizes and many colors. The best known American grapes are the Concords, the Niagaras, the Delawares, and the Catawbas. The big Malaga, possibly the best known table grape in the world, is grown most extensively in Spain. Another fine Spanish grape is the Almerias.
Importance of the grape industry. It is almost impossible to say how much land is planted to grapes.
In California alone there are more than 250,000 acres of land devoted to grape culture. In practically every country of Southern Europe the cultivation of grapes is an important industry. In addition to the fruit secured from the thousands of acres of vineyards in California, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and many other states, we use more than 1,000,000 pounds of Spanish grapes each year, and also import grapes from some of the other European countries.
Wines and champagnes are made from grapes, as are also many other beverages. Wine making is one of the greatest industries of the world. France, Germany, Spain, and Italy look to it as, one of their chief sources of income. Ordinarily we import about 6,000,000 gallons of wine a year.
Berries. The small fruits which grow on vines and bushes are usually known as berries. The most common of these with which you are no doubt all familiar are the strawberry, the blueberry, the rasp-berry, the currant, the gooseberry, the huckleberry, the cranberry, and the blackberry.
A cranberry bog. Perhaps the only one of the small fruits that you have not seen growing is the cranberry, and so suppose we see just what a cranberry bog or farm is like. A cranberry farm is usually situated in a natural bog or marsh, although in some cases lowlands are artificially flooded and made into bogs for this purpose. Cranberries grow on vines which require a great deal of moisture. They are often protected from the frost by being covered with water. This is done by flooding the ground from ditches which are usually built through the bogs.
It requires three years after planting for a cranberry bog to bear fruit, at which time countless little red berries appear on the vines. In nearly all the larger bogs the berries are gathered by the aid of stripping forks, but in the smaller ones they are stripped from the vines with the fingers so that the fruit may not be damaged. During the harvest season in a cranberry country nearly every able-bodied person, including women and children, go into the fields to gather the berries. The harvesting must be done rapidly as a frost will seriously injure the berries. After the cranberries are gathered they are put through a winnowing machine which separates the dirt, leaves, and grass from the fruit. They are then barreled and shipped to market.
Cranberries were first raised in this country in Massachusetts, which still leads in their production. The cranberry industry has been developed in New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota. Cranberries are raised in Europe, but their quality is not so good as those produced here, and our cranberries find a ready market in the Old World countries.
Australia produces a berry similar to our cranberry in both taste and appearance. This is the roselle, which has recently been introduced into this country, and of which we may expect to see more in the future. The roselle is served in a manner similar to the cranberry and, like it, makes excellent jelly.
The melon family. The watermelon, one of our most familiar summer fruits, is a native of Africa. No doubt you have eaten the rich red flesh of the watermelon, and enjoyed it; too. While the water-melons generally seen in our city, markets are red-fleshed, there are melons which have a bright yellow flesh, but are characterized by the same delightful flavor as the red-fleshed watermelon. The flesh of the melon is always eaten raw, but the rind makes an excellent preserve or pickle. The watermelon grows on a very large vine and is as common to the southerner as the potato is to the boy of the North.
The citron melon is the same in color and shape as the watermelon but is much smaller, and cannot be eaten raw. It is used for pickling and preserving.
The muskmelon family includes a variety of small melons, of which the cantaloupe, osage. and nutmeg are possibly the best known. Some of these melons are as small as a large orange, while others are as large as your head. Their flesh is of different colors, ranging from a pale green to a deep salmon pink. The muskmelon is grown in almost every state in the Union and is consumed only in its fresh state.
California also grows a large green-fleshed melon for winter consumption in this country. Melons of this variety sometimes weigh as much as ten pounds each.
Melons from abroad. During the winter months we import fancy melons from other countries. Among these is the golden or Egyptian melon from Egypt. It" is shaped like an enormous cucumber, a single melon sometimes weighing twenty pounds. It has rind and flesh something like those of the Rockyford cantaloupe.
The melon we import from France is broader and shorter than the Egyptian melon and weighs about six pounds. There is grown in France a tiny, seed-less green melon not much larger than a walnut, which is known as the melon d'Orpagon. This is pickled and is a favorite in Europe.
Another melon known as the pomegranate melon is about the size of an orange and has a green mottled rind and pink flesh.
The English Queen melon is grown under glass in England. It is netted and has yellow skin and flesh. This melon will weigh from three to seven pounds.
Fruit as a food for man. Fruit has been one of man's main sources of food supply since the world began. Primitive man, of the temperate or the torrid zone, whether his home was in America, Asia, Africa, Europe, or one of the thousands of islands that dot the oceans, always depended largely upon Wild fruits for his food. Civilized man has come to realize the importance of this gift of nature and has given much time and thought to the cultivation and the higher development of the various fruits with which he is blessed.
Evolution of modern fruits. The colonists of Virginia learned from the Indians the value of wild mulberries, crabapples, and huckleberries. The red men also taught the settlers the value of the wild foods of the fields and woods. As we look upon a plate of luscious pears, apples, melons, grapes, and peaches it is difficult to realize that these are the descendants of tiny, sour, hard-skinned, and almost unpalatable fruits. But this is unquestionably true. Nearly every fruit we eat has been developed by man until it requires a great stretch of the imagination to associate the present product with its parent of long ago.
Mr. Luther Burbank, a man who has done many wonderful things in fruit culture, has given the world more than a hundred new varieties of fruits and berries. He has done this by selection and "crossing." If you could see the original thorny, forbidding-looking cactus from which Mr. Burbank has developed a delicious and healthful food which is good for both man and beast, you would think the achievement wonderful.
Increased use of fruits. Primitive man of necessity made fruit a large part of his daily food; civilized man has it on his table every day because of its delicious flavor and its actual food value. There is a common recognition of the wholesomeness of fruits in the fact that they are generally given to invalids and convalescents. There can be little doubt that the use of fresh fruits is increasing rapidly and that each year a higher percentage of man's diet consists of fruits. Besides the tremendous quantity of fruit that is eaten fresh every year, there are millions of pounds preserved and put up in glasses, jars, and cans. It is doubtful if there is any part of the world to which some of the canned fruits of our country are not sent. Then, too, each year many million bushels of fruit are dried. It is impossible, also, to estimate the number of carloads of fruits which are made into ciders and cordials every year.