Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/350

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more so by being laid out in the drying-yard in rows or squares alongside of the black, ugly things not yet bleached. They never look so pretty afterward, for the sunlight required to dry off the moisture artificially put on blackens them to a certain extent. Here we got the advantage of not moistening too much. Our overdried nuts absorbed part of this moisture, and they could soon be removed from the discoloring influence of sunlight, and the curing finished in the shade. Manipulated in this way, the kernel of the finest paper-shell can not be hurt by the sulphur.

And this leads us to the observation that, as a rule, the harder the shell, the whiter the almond bleaches. This rule does not hold always and absolutely, for, while no paper-shell approaches the mere soft-shell in whiteness, the whitest of our paper-shells is also the softest-shelled—namely, the new "California." But while the market pays more for the darkest paper-shell than for the whitest soft-shell, the tourists who visit our yards are always most attracted by the "Standard," the hardest of our soft-shells, because of its showy whiteness. In the market it brings about two thirds the price of our black, old-fashioned paper-shell—that is, in the San Francisco market. But just here I had one of my most interesting experiences in almond-growing. I sent fair samples of each of our four varieties to San Francisco and also to Chicago. I was struck by the grotesque difference in the relative prices quoted from these samples. Thus, in cents per pound:

Variety. San Francisco. Chicago.
California paper-shell 14 18
Common paper-shell 12½ 12
Languedoc 10½ 15
Standard 9 15

The tawny skin of the common paper-shell, easily cracked by twisting in the fingers and yielding a large weight of kernel in proportion to weight of shell, was too much for Chicago, and it was quoted away below the heavy-shelled, hard-shelled Standard, requiring the use of the hammer, or the clumsy nut-cracker, and its weight consisting largely of waste shell.

If any of these varieties had a kernel suitable for the confectioner or the baker, and he bought them unshelled, he could afford to pay considerably more for the paper-shells; for he would be paying for little else but kernels, and these would be easily extracted. However, the kernel used in candies and cakes is that of the imported Jordan almond, in San Francisco as invariably as in Chicago or New York. It is imported shelled, and is longer and smoother than anything we have yet produced. It comes from Malaga. Those who buy nuts by the pound for the table, or to