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» Making Home Canned Fruit

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Fruit have a high acid content, meaning that hot-water canning can be used successfully with them. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a pressure cooker if you like, it just means that in most cases it isn’t necessary.

As with all other canning projects your first step is a sound inspection of the jars, seals and lids. Everything needs to be clean and free of any damages. Pour a good amount of boiling hot water over all these items to sanitize them, then let them dry out.

Next, gather your fruit. Fresh fruit that’s not over-ripe, and fruit free of bruises saves time and money in the long haul. When you’re ready to peel the fruit have a bath of lemon juice and ready in the proportions of about ½ cup juice to ½ gallon of water. I actually prefer a little less lemon, especially with fruit that accepts flavors readily. This bath gets drained before you process the fruit. Alternatively, if you’re cold canning, you can just prepare the fruit right before canning, making it fresher still.

At this juncture you have a choice to make. Do you want to add sugar? I feel that even small amounts of sugar improve the overall firmness and flavor of the canned fruit. However, my family doesn’t always want fruit sweet, so I may use natural fruit juice or a light sugar-water base instead of something more syrupy. In this case to five cups of water I add one cup of sugar. If using fruit juice as a base, I half the sugar content. Note that you have the option of using honey and corn syrup as sweeteners too (honey, in particular, having great effects on longevity).

From here you can either pack the fruit into the jars raw, bath them in your juice/syrup, and then process, or heat the fruit WITH the juice/syrup and put it in the jar. I like raw canning as the fruit retains a more natural texture in the canning process. Hot packing makes fruit mushy to me. Hot or cold, however, make sure that there are no air bubbles trapped in the jar. Most canning kits come with a tool to help move the fruit around and release the air. This is also a good time to check the jar to make sure there are no drips of syrup that can hinder proper seals.

As a side note, if you’re making a fruit blend, such as one to be used for a pie, I actually prefer pressure cooking for flavor. For breakfast fruit and fresh-tasting side dishes, however, the hot water bath creates the least textural changes in the fruit.

Once canned your fruit will last up to a year, but as with all canned products please check for any signs of spoiling before using.


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