The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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FIG CULTIVATION.                                 475
The Citron to Preserve or Dry.—The citron should be cut in strips and laid on a clean board, or on dishes and dried in the sun as other fruits.
To Dry Citron or Water Melon Rind.—Place in the sun to dry after preserving them. Either is an excellent substitute for the im­ported citron, in making puddings and cakes.
To Dry Figs.—Make a moderate strong ley of soda and water, then dip the ripe figs in it, and wipe them dry. Make a syrup of one-half pound of sugar to one of the figs; when of sufficient thick­ness, drop the fruit in and let them scald well. Take them up, and place them on a flat dish and stem upwards, place the bottom of another dish orplate, and press them gradually to Hat shapes. Sprinkle them with fine sugar, and set in the hot sun with a frame cover, made of very coarse musquito net, stretched over a frame of slats to pre­vent the insects from getting to them, or a frame work of wire gauze. Turn them with a knife when dry, pack them in boxes or jars, with sugar between the layer of figs. If the weather is damp, dry in an oven or stove.
Drying Figs.—Pick the figs when thoroughly ripe, dry them on sacks as you would other fruit, in the sun, four or five days, or until the water they contain is thoroughly evaporated. If there is any dew, cover them over at nights. Then place them in a vessel per­forated with holes, like a colander, and dip them into boiling water for one minute, after which expose them to the sun until the surface water is evaporated, then lay them in wood, tin, earthern or other vessels, and keep closely so as to exclude the air, and cover securely. In this way it is reported figs have been preserved equally to the best imported. The scalding answers the double purpose of killing all insects' eggs and softening the skin of the fruit so that the sugar will come to the surface, as may be seen in imported figs.
This mode of cultivation will apply in every way to the southern portion of the United States as well as Mexico, where it will grow in almost any kind of soil, and very luxuriantly in a rich heavy soil. But to produce the most valuable fruit for commerce, the tree should grow in a soil of good depth, rich, light and sandy. This will pro­duce a white thin skin of the best quality.—Repairing the soil.— Before plowing the ground over two or three times to a consider­able depth, till well pulverized, and freed from vegetation, and ex