Monday, 16 August 2010
Bottling, rhubarb, cherries and gooseberries
If like me your freezer is full and you want to try a more traditional way to preserve produce, try bottling it. I first tried bottling fruit last year, learnt from my mistakes and now find it quite straightforward. In the past month I have bottled gooseberries, cherries and rhubarb (admittedly not a fruit but regarded as such by most people).
My mistake last year was to use kilner jars that were too large. Get some kilner jars that are small enough to be completely emmersed in your deepest pan.
Top and tail gooseberries before bottling but don't stone the cherries. Rhubarb should be cut into lengths of less that 2cm. Pack the fruit as tightly as possible into the jars.
Sugar syrup should contain 200-250g of sugar per 600ml of water. Pour the sugar into warm water in a pan and bring to the boil. Leave to boil for a minute then allow to cool slightly (only slightly) before pouring into the fruit filled jars. Seal the jars. If you are using screw top jars do not fully tighten the lid. This is because you will now add the jars to a pan of warm water. Make sure there is a table cloth or a wooden pan stand in the bottom of the pan as the jars could crack or break if they are in contact with the base of the pan when being boiled. Apply heat to the pan. The water should completely cover the jars. The rubber ring in the kilner jars should allow out the pressure during heating. Not fully closing the lids on screw top jars will also allow out the pressure.
Heat the pan to close to boiling point and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. At that point, they are done.
If you want to use honey instead of sugar, recipes I have seen suggest that is quite workable. As an historian, I guess that using honey has a much longer history for bottling fruit than sugar. So far I haven't used honey as we don't have our hives yet. However, we are going on a beekeeping course soon!
We are planning to use the bottled fruit in pies and desserts later this year.