Are you new to preserving fruit? Bottling fruit in preserving jars for use throughout the year is simple and satisfying. The two-part lids and seals can be a bit confusing, to begin with, but they give you a consistent result you can trust, and we recommend them for preserving fruit.
- proper preserving jars like Agee, Mason, Ball, Kilner brand
- preserving seals and bands
- jar labels
- wide funnel for filling jars
- Weigh your fruit and estimate the number of jars you'll need. Allow for wastage once the fruit is peeled. For example, 3kg of feijoas will yield about 2kg of peeled fruit which would fill two 1 litre jars or four 500ml jars.
- Put the clean jars in a dish in your oven and heat them to 70°C
- Count out the seals and bands you'll need and have them boiling in a pan
- In a large pan make a syrup of 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water - make enough syrup for approx 50% of the volume of the jars you want to fill. You will have some leftovers that you can use as a cordial.
- Bring the syrup to a boil and add any flavourings such as lemon juice, rind, ginger, whole spices or vanilla
- Turn the syrup and the seals down to a simmer and prepare your fruit
- Wash the fruit, discard any rotten or overripe ones and peel and chop them into similar sized pieces. If it is a fruit that discolours when cut, put them in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice in it to stop them going brown while you prepare them all. Drain them well before you add them to the syrup.
- Bring the syrup back up to a boil and add the fruit. Work in small batches of up to 3 kilos so the fruit doesn't overcook before you get it in the jars.
- Don't stir the fruit too much, just cook it in the syrup until it is soft right through when poked with a skewer. The harder the fruit the longer it takes but usually no more than 5-8 minutes if you've got it on a boil. If you overcook it don't worry it won't look as good but will be fine for fruit pies and crumbles. If you're trying for stewed fruit rather than pieces then cook the life out of it by all means.
- Put a chopping board next to the pot and one by one bring the hot jars from the oven, fill them using a wide mouth funnel. Use a heatproof jug to scoop the fruit and syrup into the jar.
- It is important that jar and fruit are both piping hot. Fill it right to the top. Wipe off anything from the rim so it is clean and put a hot seal on the jar then a screw band and screw it on until it is finger tight - don't over tighten it and don't go and retighten it later. Just get it on quickly while everything is hot and then leave it alone.
- Repeat this with each jar until you're done. Try and get a good mix of syrup and fruit in each jar. The wooden chopping board is so that you don't put a hot jar on a cold surface and crack it.
- Set the chopping board of jars aside to cool. As they cool you'll hear the seals making a pleasing clunk as the contents of the jar contracts. This pulls the seal down making an airtight vacuum that preserves the contents of the jar.
- When the jars are completely cooled the next day remove the screw bands, check the seals have all sealed. Sometimes you get a seal that hasn't gone down - put this jar in the fridge for immediate use. Wash the jars, label them and put them away in a cool cupboard or pantry. They'll last a couple of years but try and eat them within a year before the next season's crop is available.
Bottled fruit is great to have on hand for breakfasts, cakes, pies, fruit smoothies, fruit ice creams, and flavouring yogurt. If you buy frozen fruit then think about replacing some of it with your own home bottled fruit. The jars are an investment but you use them, again and again, every year.
The fruit that lends itself to bottling include peaches, pears, apricots, apples, quince, plums, feijoas, and berries.
Don't use this preserving method other food groups like vegetables and meats.