It is now peak soft fruit time here at Eco-Gites of Lenault and whilst the first fresh strawberry, raspberry or tayberry popped into your mouth is an absolute joy, there is only so much fresh fruit you can eat before the rot sets in. Both the literal rot,because fresh fruit like this not store for long and the rot of never actually wanting to eat another berry again!
Preserving is therefore the way to go.
Anyone who saw my last Silent Sunday picture will know that I have been bottling fruit - the picture shows raspberries and rhubarb purée but I have also bottled blackcurrants, tayberries and loganberries. Bottling is not a difficult process but rules do need to be followed and there are different methods you can use. This Australian page gives some easy to follow instructions or if you Google "Bottling Fruit" you'll find plenty more information. What ever method you use though these are my 7 rules you really must follow for success:
7 tips to successful fruit bottling
- Make sure you use proper preserving jars - IKEA sells the cheapest that I have fund but do not try to use non-preserving quality jars as they will crack.
- Clean thoroughly before using with hot soapy water then drain before filling with fruit.
- Use a new seal every time - you may be lucky and get a good seal with an old one or it might fail and all your efforts will have been for nothing.
- Check seals and rims really carefully before heating - one pip on the seal can stop the jar sealing properly.
- Never overfill - it is a false economy as the jar may well overflow and then not seal.
- If using clip jars like Le parfait or those from IKEA make sure the little tab on the seal is not caught under the clip. In order to open the jar you need to pull on this tab to beak the seal and this is hard if it is close to the clip. The page I linked to above suggests using the tip of a knife to break the seal - this does work but you tend to end up with all your knives having bent tips!
- Check stores regularly - chuck any with mould on and eat others in that batch ASAP.
|Bottling fruit at Eco-Gites of Lenault|
Ingredients for 1.5 litres
600ml cider or white wine vinegar
1. Put the raspberries in a non metallic bowl and gently crush them.
2. Add the vinegar and leave the fruit to steep for 4-5 days, stirring every now and then.
3. Put the fruit vinegar mix through a scalded jelly bag and leave to drain overnight, squeezing out the last drops of liquid. *
4. Measure the liquid and for every 600ml add 450g sugar.
5. Heat the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves then boil for 8-10mins, removing any scum that rises to the surface.
6. Remove from the heat and cool.
7. Bottle and seal when cold.
Will keep for a year. You can use any berry fruit for this - blackberries, strawberries etc or even a mixture to make up the weight.
* If you do not have a jelly bag you can always use my method - one muslin, one upside down chair, 4 pieces of string and a bowl underneath!
|Improvised jelly bag|
Raspberry vinegar is simply wonderful and has all sorts of uses:
- Mix with equal quantities of good olive oil for a salad dressing
- Pour over ice cream
- Drizzle over any number of puddings
- Dilute with sparkling water for a refreshing drink
- Take a spoonful to ease a sore throat
I hope if you grow fruit that you have lots to pick right now. Do you have any favourite ways of preserving the fruit harvest? I'd love to hear about them. And for more recipe inspiration why not pop over to Honest Mum's Tasty Tuesdays linky or #FoodieTuesday at Inside Journeys.