THIRTY years ago the writer wrote a little book long out of print showing how to deal with surplus fruit. At that time every suitable fruit preserving jar had to be imported from America, where the housewives have been told to “eat all you can and can all you cant. There are now many good English fruit-preserving jars on the market, obtainable from most Health Food Stores, ironmongers and many other traders.
To preserve fruit satisfactorily no preservative should be used, none being necessary. To preserve fresh fruit efficiently in its natural state it should be remembered that two things only are necessary. First to destroy the living organisms and second to entirely prevent the access of air. Heating to the required temperature will ensure the first, and a perfectly airtight jar, tin or bottle is all that is necessary to complete the process.
The following instructions also should not be lost sight of.
Only sound ripe fruit should be used and this should be as fresh and dry as possible. Unsound fruit, such as may be considered “good enough for making into jam” is dear at any price. Absolute cleanliness should also be observed with the view to destroying the germs conveyed to the fruit from the surrounding air, and the touch of the fingers,but equal care should be exercised with the jars, stoppers, corks, rubber rings and caps.
If these instructions are carried out, jars that may have been used many times will be in a no respect inferior to now. In fact they may be better, there being less risk of breakage. Jars should always be filled quite full so as to leave a vacuum when cold. As regards rubber rings, it will be found safest to renew these each season the jars are used.
In selecting the fruit to be preserved it is wise to obtain the finest possible. The best fruit will cost no more to preserve, will be worth much more when preserved and give much greater satisfaction. The fruit should be picked when quite dry, graded into the different sizes, and preserved as soon as possible after picking. The fruit should also be obtained clean if possible.
Any washing that may be necessary should take place just before being used by placing the fruit in a wire or other loose basket and rinsing in a vessel of cold water. If the fruit is peeled, a silver knife should be used. If halved or the stones removed this should be done prior to peeling.
To sterilize: the fruit should be packed into the jars almost full. The jars then should be stood closely packed in an open saucepan with strips of wood, wire grid or something else suitable at the bottom, to protect the jars from the fire and so prevent cracking. The boiler should then be filled conveniently full with cold water and the jars also up to the shoulder.
The water should be heated slowly, and never be brought to the boil, or broken fruit will result. Cold bottles should never be placed in hot water,or bottles allowed to touch the sides or bottom of boiler that may come in contact with the fire. Further, very hot bottles should not be handled with a cold wet cloth,or placed on a cold slab or wet table. Glass bottles will not usually stand such sudden application of extremes of heat and cold. Bottles should be both heated and cooled gradually.
The covers of bottles should always be left loose during sterilization, so that the air may be allowed to escape. The rubbers, after having been dipped in hot water should not be placed on the jars until the highest temperature of the sterilizing process has been reached.
The water in the jars should be slowly brought up to 140 degrees. They should be left at this heat for one hour, then brought up to 160 degrees. At this temperature they should be left for another hour. Caps and rings should then be securely fixed in position, heated to 180 degrees and left for fifteen minutes only. Very ripe and soft fruits should not be heated during the last fifteen minutes to more than 165 degrees, and medium ripe fruits to 175 degrees. The jars should then be sealed and allowed gradually to cool. The jars should be examined the next day to see that a perfectly airtight joint has resulted.
If a store of fruit juices is required in addition to, or in place of, fruit this can be readily secured with the aid of a little Wonder Fruit Press, obtainable from most Health Food Stores. Full particulars of how this can be done appeared in the October, 1933, issue of “HEAL THYSELF”.