Friday, 2 May 2008

Perservering with Preserves

The tomatoes this year have been outrageously prolific, it's got to the point I throw perfectly good ones over the fence to share with the goats. We scored a bin of Jonagold apples (500kg) and while a lot of them have become bowling practice for the boys, and a bruised little treat for the animals, they've also found themselves squeezed tight into jars and sealed. With varying degrees of success.

A request to freecycle Hobart for old jam and preserving jars netted 38 and a combustion stove top preserving unit. A couple of trips to the second hand store netted 40 more jars, of varying sizes, some of them huge. We finally figured out how to use the jars and seal them with the Fowlers system, but found the jars of apples would cook down so far that they'd only be half full. So I've ended up stewing the apples filling the oven heated jars and then topping it up with water before putting seals on and boiling them, or using the clear cellophane sheets, that if you do exactly right work fine, but it took some time not to get nice fluffy kinds of mould on the top.

We've been drying apples too, using the apple peeler and dipping the apples in a solution of citric acid to stop them going too brown, and drying them in the warmer drawer. Tomatoes too, halved and dried, Trev downs them by the dozen, or puts them in jars of olive oil and herbs.


Sarah R said...

I've had really good results preserving just using commercial pop seal jars - the ones that are depressed when properly sealed and which pop up in the centre when the seal has been broken. I stew apples and the like, and put them into the sterilised jars hot, filling up to just below the top of the jar. As the contents cool, they contract and create a vacuum, which causes the top to seal.

As for dried tomatoes and eggplants, the important thing is to keep them below the oil. The easiest way to do that is to cut a circle of plastic - e.g. from an ice cream container, or takeaway container lid, so it's a snug fit inside the jar and put it on top of the tomatoes so that it holds them below the oil line. They do need to be sufficiently dry, however - the semidried variety do need to be refrigerated.

Anonymous said...

Or you could use a rubber pipe joined to a kettle and blow steam into the jar as you put the lid on. When the steam cools, there is a near perfect vacuum.