This is my second year preserving fruit and I thought I would share my journey. Being organised in the kitchen is so important. This includes the order of tasks and setting up your workspace — after all you are managing a processing line. This year I saved hours in time and made a lot less mess!
500g fruit makes ½ litre, or 1kg for a litre
Equipment for preserving fruit
- Large pot (to use as a water bath) or automatic preserver
- Jars and lids (air tight seal required)
- Vegetable brush
- Large bowl or 9 litre bucket
- Large corer
- Vegetable/ fruit peeler
- Large tongs or bottle lifter
- Spatula or flat knife
No added sugar bottled pears recipe
It is a myth that added sugar is required to prevent spoilage during the preserving process. Spoilage of fruit is prevented by:
- acid, which occurs naturally in fruit;
- heating the fruit to above 75 oC;
- removing oxygen and creating a vacuum seal.
Ripe fruit, even whilst firm, has adequate sugar for a lovely sweet flavour. You may like to vary the flavour by adding spices as outlined below.
Pears (Firm, ripe fruit is preferred)
Dried spices — cardamom, cinnamon quill, ground ginger, star anise, vanilla pod
Method for water bath
- Place a folded cloth such as a tea towel at the bottom of your pot. Add water to your pot. The level needs to eventually cover the lids of the jars. The level of water that I usually start with comes half way up the side of the jars, and the addition of extra jars raises the water level. Remember you can add boiled water later if required.
- Wash jars and metal lids and place into the oven, preheated to 100o
- Heat water bath until near boiling.
- Add water to your large bowl or bucket and the juice of 1-2 lemons.
- Prepare pears. I prefer to start with coring and then peeling. I core and peel one pear at a time, then cut the pear. You can halve small pears or quarter larger pears. I cut some of our largest pears into sixths. Place the peeled and cut pears into your bowl of water and lemon juice. The lemon juice prevents the pears from browning.
- Once all of your pears are prepared, remove the sterilised jars and lids from the oven. I usually remove 2 – 3 at a time.
- Pack the pieces of pear as neatly and closely as possible into the jars. Pack fruit up until 1 cm from the top of the jar. Add 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon of citric acid to prevent the browning of the fruit. You might like to add some spice. The following suggestions are for 1 litre jars (halve the quantity for 500ml jars)
- ¼ teaspoon ginger OR
- 5cm cinnamon quill (I break larger quills) OR
- 1 – 2 star anise OR
- 2-4 cardamom pods OR
- 5cm length of vanilla pod sliced lengthwise in half.
- Cover the fruit with water, making sure that the level is 1cm below the top of the jar. Carefully place a spatula or flat knife down the inside of the jar and gently wiggle it to release air bubbles. You can also gently rock the jar on the bench to release the pockets of air.
- Seal the jars. Your preserving jars may have screw on lids or lids that require a rubber seal and clip. Follow the instructions provided with your jars to secure the lids.
- Carefully place the jars into the water bath and increase the heat to return the water to a gentle boil.
- The pears will take 20 – 35 minutes to cook. Check the pears regularly from 20 minutes onwards. Cooking time will be less for smaller and riper fruit. When cooked, remove the jars from the boiling water onto a heatproof surface. I usually cover a chopping board with a tea towel. Take care removing the jars. I suggest removing some of the hot water from the pot with a small pot or ladle. This way you can easily pick up the jars with tongs or a padded oven mitt.
- Allow the fruit to cool for 24 hours before storing in a dry, dark, cool place. Check that all of the lids form an airtight seal. This is noticeable, as the raised centre of the lid will be sucked downwards as the contents cool, creating a vacuum seal. The lids make a very distinct popping noise as they seal.
Method for automatic preserver
Prepare jars and fruit as outlined above. Place your packed jars of pears into the automatic preserver and cover the well-sealed jars with water. Follow the instructions provided with your preserver.
Benefits of preserving fruit
The biggest benefit of preserving fruit is enjoying the taste of summer and autumn all year round. There is a feeling of achievement looking at your preserved jars of fruit — they look amazing, you have learned new skills and filled your pantry for winter. It is an activity that everyone in the household can contribute to. For me it is also a time for reflecting on the transformation of the first bud, to flower to fruit and seeing a plentiful harvest preserved for extended enjoyment.