Bottling is an essential part of our lifestyle, as this ensures we have fruit throughout the winter months.
Choose fruit that is firm but well ripened.
Wash and rinse the jars thoroughly.
You will need a Preserver or a large stock pot, jars, sugar, tongs, screw bands & preserving seals. And fruit obviously!
A Preserver fits 8 x 1000ml size jars or 16 x 600ml jars. Agee preserving jars come in two types; newer ones and thick-walled older types. The older type uses a gold screw band and the newer one uses the green band. I use a large stock pot to make up the syrup. Light syrup……..1 cup of sugar to 3 cups of water
Medium syrup…1 cup of sugar to 2 cups of water
Boil together for 5 minutes.
Let cool. NOTE: 600 ml jar = 1 - 1.25 cups of syrup
1000ml jar = 3 – 3.5 cups of syrup Fruit can be preserved without sugar for those on a sugar restricted diet.
When preparing the fruit, apricots and plums are simply washed and packed into the jars. It is a personal preference whether you peel peaches and nectarines; I prefer the skin on as it gives more flavour and fibre as a healthy bowel makes for a healthy person.
The only fruit I peel are apples and pears. I recommend both these bottling methods. WATER-BATH METHOD (NO.1) Pack the bottles with fruit and pour in warm or cold syrup. Run a sterile knife down the sides of the inside of the jar to release trapped air. Leave a headspace of at least 1.3cm (1/2 in) at the top of the jar.
Using a clean cloth wipe the top of the jar and place the seal on and tighten the screw band tightly.
Place the bottles in the preserver or stock pot with a false bottom. (a round wooden breadboard will suffice)
Fill the preserver or stock pot with cold water. Warm water may be used if the syrup is warm. NEVER use hot water.
Ensure the water is about 3 cm over the top of the jars.
Place lid on tightly. Bring the water slowly to the boil. The temperature of the water should be raised gradually from cold to boil within an hour and then gently boil for between 30-45 minutes depending on what variety is being preserved. Ensure it is not erratically boiling; just a steady gentle boil will do.
A preserver is thermostatically controlled so it brings the water to the boil and holds the water at the boil which makes the process so simple.
Do not try to rush this process, for if the water is heated too quickly the fruit may rise in the bottles and also more time may be needed to enable the heat to penetrate the fruit in the centre of the bottle.
A longer preserving time doesn’t affect the fruit quality too drastically. When busy on the Fruit Stall I have been known to “forget” about the bottling! When the processing is finished, switch off the heat, drain the Preserver and remove the jars one at a time with a pair of tongs or a thick cloth and put them onto a wooden surface or an area with a good thick cover of newspapers and immediately tighten the bands as sometimes a few may loosen slightly. If using a stock pot, it’s best to let the water cool down before attempting to remove the jars.
Leave for 24 hours before testing that the seal is complete.
Then remove the screw bands and wipe down the jars thoroughly before storing. PROCESSING TIME Stone fruits……..25-40 minutes
Pears……………...35 minutes
Apples sliced…..20 minutes Remember to count the time from when the water boils not from when you turn it on!! OPEN PAN METHOD (No. 2) I find it a messy way but have been known to use it on the odd occasion when there are only a few jars to bottle.
Make up medium syrup and then add fruit and cook ever so carefully until tender.
Lift out fruit with a sterilized spoon and pour into sterilized jars.
Fill jars to the top with the boiling syrup.
Run the knife around the jar to work out any air bubbles.
Wipe rim with a sterilized cloth before placing seal on.
Screw band on tightly.
Check the seal the next day.
Never retighten the bands. NOTE: Sterilize the jars in oven at 120 degree C for 30 minutes.
Sterilize seals and bands in boiling water for 5 minutes prior to using.