Follow these simple steps for the tastiest and most attractive preserved fruits.
Preparing the fruit
The fruit should be fresh and just ripe, and free from the slightest sign of disease or decay. The importance of carefully inspecting the produce cannot be over emphasised. All types of fruit are suitable for storing in this way, provided they are prepared correctly before being packed in the bottles.
Peel, core and slice, and put straight into lightly salted water to prevent discoloration. Rinse before packing; or blanch for 2–3 minutes in boiling water until pliable, then pack.
Either bottle the fruit whole or cut them into halves and remove the stones. Bottle quickly after preparing, and include a few kernels. These will help to bring out the flavour.
Bottle whole fruit, or stone them first and add juice to the syrup. They are low in acid, so add 1⁄4 teaspoon citric acid to every 600 ml of syrup.
Damsons and plums
As a general rule, bottle these and other stone fruit whole after washing. Very large plums may be halved and stoned, if preferred.
These may be peeled or left with their skins on. Add 1⁄4 teaspoon citric acid to every 600 ml of syrup, and use equal amounts of syrup and fruit.
Only unripe gooseberries are suitable for bottling. Top and tail with scissors.
Halve and stone. Blanch, then peel off the skins. Pack into bottles without delay.
Pears and quinces
Peel, halve and core dessert pear varieties. Put them straight into cold, lightly salted water with 1 teaspoon citric acid. Rinse and pack quickly. Treat cooking pears and quinces similarly, but simmer in syrup until soft before packing.
Cut trimmed rhubarb into 5 cm pieces. This fruit will pack better if soaked overnight in hot syrup.
Fruit such as currants, blackberries and raspberries should be picked over, hulled or stripped from the stalks. Rinse and then drain well. You can enhance the flavour of strawberries to be bottled by soaking them overnight in warm bottling syrup. A few drops of red food colouring added to the syrup will also improve the appearance.
Clean ripe, firm tomatoes and bottle in a brine solution made from 15 g salt to 1 litre of cold water. They can also be peeled and packed tight without liquid; just sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar for every 500 g of fruit.