Bottling Summer stonefruits to enjoy later, is a job that can once done over the peak of summer, you can then enjoy the whole year (sometimes even two!)
Just think, it’s the depths of winter, you are completely over the freezing cold days, and just can’t wait for the sun the start shining again. But wait, there’s bottled apricots in the pantry, and a crumble beckons. One bite and you’re transported to summer days, and stonefruit season.
When you live in a place where it can feel like winter is six months long, it really is the little things that get you through!
For me, I usually bottle fruits that are excellent in cakes & desserts. I very rarely will eat them straight out of the jar, but having a good selection of bottled stonefruit stored in the pantry year round, is sometimes a complete lifesaver.
To get started, is really quite easy. You really just need fruit, sugar, jars and a stockpot. That’s it! If you want to get a little fancy, sometimes I throw in a cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, black peppercorns or cloves.
Prep your fruit
Make sure it is washed and ready to go. That means for larger fruits like apricots and plums, cut in half and remove the stone. Pit cherries. Blanch and peel the skin off peaches, remove the stone and slice them.
With stonefuit I tend to keep it really simple. Because I will use most of the fruit in baked goods, I don’t want to complicate things with too many flavours. So it’s basically just a quick sugar syrup.
The Sugar Syrup
My rule of thumb when making a sugar syrup for preserving is 2 cups sugar to 3 cups water. Pop the sugar and water in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pack the jars
To do this you want your jars to be hot. We’re adding hot sugar syrup so we don’t want any breakages adding hot syrup to a cold jar. Pack the jars with your stonefruit until they are full leaving a centimeter of space below the rim. Then ladle your hot sugar syrup into the jar and cover the fruit. Don’t overfill. I then run a knife around the jar a little just to make sure there are no air pockets. Make sure there is a little breathing room (a centimeter is perfect) at the top and pop the lid on and tighten.
To water bath or to not water bath
Personally, for me it depends on the jars I’m using. If the jar has a metal lid I usually just really fill the jar to the top, pop on the lid, turn upside down and leave to cool. The heat suctions the jar lid on tight and it works quite well. The next day just check that the lid is secure (I look at whether the lid has concaved a little) and you’re good to go. We are still eating last years vanilla pears that were done like this and it worked a treat.
Now, if I’m using a jar with a glass lid like the one below, it’s a different story. In a stockpot, place a tea towel in the bottom of the pot. Arrange the bottle fruit jars on top of the tea towel so they are sitting upright in a single layer. Fill the pot with enough water to completely cover the jars, plus another inch. Bring the pot to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for an minutes. Turn the heat off, let cool for a few minutes. Remove the jars (jar tongs work a treat for this one) and place on a dry tea towel on the bench to cool.
Now to fill the pantry!