Preserving summer...

24 January, 2015

One of the things I love about growing my own is the ability to home preserve fruit. This is mainly in the summer months when the stone fruit are glutting like mad and you can only eat so many cherries, or apricots, or peaches, or, as has been my case recently, berries.

While having a tree that has produced 20kg of fruit is generally a joy, given that stone fruit is perfectly ripe for approximately two seconds, having 20kg of fruit that is ripe RIGHT NOW is somewhat of a ticking time bomb.

You generally have two choices in this scenario:
1. Foist off fruit onto as many family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and complete strangers as you can, or
2. Get out the Fowlers Vacola.

While I am happy to give fruit away, I also like to get out the FV so that come wintertime I can eat up delicious stewed apricots at the twist of a jar lid.

Unfortunately I don't yet have any stone fruit tree that I can harvest 20kg of fruit from. But I do have a friend with an apricot tree, who gave me a box of fruit. Thanks Sonia!

All other fruit were purchased from the farmer's market (nectarines, plums, sour cherries), except the blueberries which were from a pick your own farm, and the blackberries which were from the front yard.

I generally use a variety of recipes for my preserving, gleaned from a number of sources.

I also love using my grandmother's timer to ensure the fruit gets the correct time in the FV unit.

For apricots I do prefer pre-cooking lightly rather than raw packing, event though it is slightly more time consuming. I halve the apricots, then add a little water (this was around 1.5 cups for around 5kg of apricots) to the cooking pan and put on low. The idea is to just soften the apricots. They give off a massive amount of liquid, so I then strain the apricots and reduce the liquid by about half, then add around 50% sugar to fruit and the juice of a couple of lemons. When the sugar is dissolved I add back the apricots, then bottle. (At this point you could also, as I did, boil it until it jels, then you have jam.) This only needs around 20min in the FV. I couple of them I flavoured with vanilla as an experiment.

The remaining fruit I raw packed, squishing the fruit down as much as I could without turning it entirely to mush, and then covered with a 50% sugar syrup with lemon juice added. I also did a batch of pickled spiced cherries which are fabulous with pate (separate post to come later this week).

Now here is where I let you in on my most recent preserving tip - chalk pens. (Saw it here.)

So easy to write on the jars, then wash off with water when they're emptied. No messing about with labels, sticky residues or pens that fade. Believe you me, this was a revelation.

This is just the beginning of the summer preserving. Long may summer last, both now, and in these jars!)


  1. Omidog. The chalk pen tip. Life changing. Thank you.

  2. How do you like the Sally Wise book? Lucky you with all that fruit!

    1. I've got a few good tips and recipe ideas from that book, but I do find parts of it a bit basic. But I'd still recommend it. Yes, I felt very lucky. :)

  3. Chalk pens is the tip of the year! Thanks Bek.

  4. This may sound like a silly question - but do you peel the fruit first?
    also chalk pen - thanks for that tip!!

    1. Not a silly question at all! I don't skin apricots or plums, but generally do skin peaches (when I preserve the firm fleshed yellow peach from my parents tree).
      My pleasure!

  5. I have never seen a chalk pen before. I have to get myself one of those.

    1. They are so handy! I've also started using them on garden labels as once they dry rain won't wash them off, but copious watering will.