Chapter XV. California's other Contributions to the World's Bill of Fare
There are generally three grades: very choice clusters, ordinary and imperfect bunches, and loose raisins. Raisins of the third class are sent to the stemmer and a large proportion of them then go to the seeder. Seeding raisins for mother and grandmother at holiday times used to be the duty and pleasure of the older boys and girls of the household. But seeding is now done by machinery. A machine will seed on an average ten tons daily. Before entering the seeder the raisins are subjected to a thorough brushing, by which every particle of dust is removed. They are then run through rubber rollers which flatten the fruit and press the seeds to the surface; then through another pair of rollers, with wire teeth which catch and hold the seeds while the raisins pass on down a long chute to the packing room, where women and girls box them for market.
With all fruits the drying process is much the same, though peaches, apples, and pears are first peeled. California figs, when dried, sell well. This is a fruit which is growing in favor, whether fresh, preserved, or dried. Fruit canning is an interesting process. The fruit is not boiled in sirup and then placed in cans, as is frequently the custom in home preserving, but when peeled it is placed directly in the cans, in which it receives all its cooking and in which it is finally marketed.
The raising of beets and the converting of them into sugar form an industry which is growing rapidly, and is of the utmost importance to the people of the Pacific slope.
The canning of fresh vegetables is a new industry which is bringing into the state a steady stream of money, and in addition is proving a double blessing to thousands of people, both those who gain from it their living, and those who could not otherwise have vegetables for food. A sailor said recently that if he could not be a sailor he would do the next best thing - can vegetables for other sailors. When Galvez received the order from the king of Spain to found settlements in Upper California, one of the chief reasons for so doing was that fresh vegetables might be raised for the sailors engaged in the Philippine trade. To-day the Philippines use a large portion of California's canned goods.
In the southern counties olive orchards are being extensively planted. Near San Fernando is the largest in the world, covering thirteen hundred acres. Doctors have said that a liberal use of California olive oil will do much to promote the good health of mankind, and it is thought by many that the manufacture of olive oil will be one of the greatest industries the state has known.
Nut raising is keeping pace with fruit in importance. To an Eastern person it seems strange to see nut-bearing trees cultivated in orchards; though profitable, this method does away with the pleasures of nutting parties.
California's crystallized fruits are in constant demand, especially for the Christmas trade. This crystallizing is a process in which the juice is extracted and replaced with sugar sirup, which hardens and preserves the fruit from decay while still keeping the shape.
One sometimes reads the saying, "Fresno for raisins, Santa Clara for cherries and prunes, and the northern counties and mountain-ranches for apples." But in fact, California's fruit industries are well distributed over the state, and the really excellent work which is being done in all sections will still advance as the people learn more of the necessary details and methods.
In spite of mistakes and experiments the steady progress on the California ranches is being recognized. Of one of our leading fruit growers, Mr. Eliwood Cooper of Santa Barbara, the Marquis of Lorne writes in the Youth's Companion: "He has shown that California can produce better olive oil than France, Spain, or Italy, and English walnuts and European almonds in crops of which the old country hardly even dreams."
A history of California's products would be incomplete without a reference to him who is called the "Wonder Worker of Santa Rosa." "Magician! Conjurer!" are terms frequently applied to Mr. Luther Burbank, the man who is acknowledged by the scientists of the world to have done more with fruits and flowers than any other man. Mr. Burbank waves his wand, and the native poppy turns to deepest crimson, the white of the calla lily becomes a gorgeous yellow, rose and blackberry lose their thorns, the cactus its spines. The meat of the walnut and almond become richer in quality, while their shells diminish to the thinness of a knife blade.
Yet in these seeming miracles there is nothing of "black art" or sleight of hand. The experiments of this wonderful man, the surprising results he gains, are obtained, first by a close study of the laws of nature, then, where he desires change and improvement, by assisting her process, often through years of closest application and unceasing toil. He is a man of whom it is truthfully said, "He has led a life of hardships, has sacrificed self at every point, that he might glorify and make more beautiful the world around him." Any boy or girl who knows something of how plants grow and reproduce themselves will find great pleasure in following Mr. Burbank's simple methods.