Edmund Saul Dixon, on Keeping Apples in Sand

Paxton’s directions for keeping [apples] are excellent: ‘Get some fine pit-sand and heat it hot, to dry it and destroy any vegetable remains it may contain. Then procure some large jars or garden-pots, put a little sand when cool in the bottom, and then a layer of fruit, barely touching each other, filling up between them with the sand, until the vessels are full, when they may be placed in the bottom of a cupboard, or any other place where they will be safe from frost and kept dry. The best and most perfect fruit should be selected for this purpose, which may be ascertained after they have been gathered a short time. Any choice or late-keeping kind for exhibition should be preserved in this manner.’

Edmund Saul Dixon, The Kitchen and Flower Garden (1856)

Mr Dixon clearly assumes we know which Paxton he means; I’m assuming it would be world-famous horticulturist and engineer Sir Joseph Paxton, but I’m happy to be corrected if it’s not.

I’m really not sure how the heck you would go about heating enough fine pit-sand to fill several large jars these days though. It probably helps if you’re in the midst of an industrial revolution, with (presumably) access to an enormous pottery kiln. Although I suppose you could just buy in kiln-dried sand (about £6.23 for a 25kg bag) from a builders’ merchant and some large terracotta pots and do it that way?

Do let me know if you decide to give this apple storing method a go, via the comments section.

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