By day a Business Consultant in a black suit. By night a writer incognito, pink slippers and cat fluff tracky dacks.
Published December 21st 2011
Summer's here and so are most varieties of stone fruits. If you have a tree in the backyard, you'll soon realise volume and velocity of growth conspire to invade your serenity. There are few battle plans you can execute to divide and conquer the masses.
To Preserve or Not to Preserve
You can use whatever fruit you like to create your own preserves including apricots, pears and apples. The following tips are based on my experiences dealing with a relentless apricot tree.
Prepare the Produce
For apricots just slice in half and remove the seed. Make sure you dunk them in warm soapy water first to remove any unwanted calling cards (birds have well-tuned radars, my advice is go with it and sacrifice a few for the greater good). For pears and apples core and slice into wedges or chunks.
Pack Them and Stack Them
Sterilise the bottles by sending them to the dishwasher for a good steaming. As the steam bath nears an end remove the bottles by their bases. Boil the lids in water and but make sure you don't contaminate them by touching the insides. Push the fruit into the corners of the jars using the handle of a spoon to pack tightly without crushing. You will notice that they tend to shrink somewhat and rise to the surface after cooking – thou shalt not be overcome (I have not remedied this yet). Place a dessert spoon of sugar inside and place the lid on firmly.
Place the jars in a large saucepan or preserver and fill with cold water about two thirds up the sides of the jars. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, turn right down and simmer for two hours Allow them to cool in the water and if using Fowlers jar you can remove the spring after one day. Store the results of your toil in a dark, cool place like a pantry.
Prepare the fruit and jars following the formula above. Place the sliced fruit and sugar in a large saucepan. I use Jam Setter which is often tucked away on the supermarket top shelf where you wondered what on earth that was for. Simmer the fruit mixture until the fruit starts to congeal. This is the slightly delicate bit that requires a bit of trial and error. Place a side plate in the freezer and add a dollop of jam. If the jam runs keep simmering. The jam should stay solid and not slide down the mountain. Fill the jars leaving ¼ inch at the top free. If you reach this point unscathed please use a funnel to maintain your sanity. Place the lids on and boil again for another 5 minutes.
3/4 of cup of sugar = 1 cup of sliced fruit
Spicing It Up
Add cloves or a cinnamon stick to the mix while cooking. I've experimented with ginger and vanilla in the order of innovation and empathy for others. One hundred jars of plain apricots can be a bit soul destroying after a while.
Definitely make jam! I am a big fan of making jams and chutneys and things and it is a really great way to use extra fruit (and vegetables) because it is such a shame to have to throw anything away. And it's a lot easier (and more fun and rewarding) than many people might think and jars of jams, chutneys or preserves make perfect gifts, especially at this time of year.
If you are in the local area of The Bulimba Markets, Brisbane, you may like to bring them along to the local produce stall. You may contact me directly so we can organise the collection or drop off of the produce. Produce are bought by donation only and all donations are for local food growing community gardens who have volunteers assisting in this project. Contact Nancy theinspirationgarden.blogspot.com