Thursday, 23 February 2012


That time of year again. I love the line up of fruit, it goes something like this. Rhubarb (not really a fruit), blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches. Can't remember where the gooseberries come into that line up. This year the goats broke in and ate them before they came to fruition. Lemons we get pretty much year round. Still waiting on apples and pears.

It's been a similar line up of jams, dried fruit, frozen and preserves. The nectarines were for some reason absolutely sublime. The last one was eaten only yesterday.

My mother used to buy fruit and preserve it when I was younger. Two hundred or so Agee jars a year. The kitchen would be even hotter on the hottest days of the year and the wasps used to hang around attracted by all the fruit.

In my mother's tradition I don't add anything but a teaspoon of sugar to the top of the jar. This increases acidity and reduce the likelihood of the dreaded botulism.

The only problem with opening a jar of any kind of fruit in our house is Caleb's ability to inhale them. Though never quite as good as fresh summer fruit straight off the tree, preserving is a great way to keep a little summer sunshine in a bottle for a cold winter's day.


Ailsa said...

I'm interested in the process you use with such a small amount of sugar. Do you bottle with cooked or raw fruit? I've always used raw fruit and topped up with syrup but it uses so much sugar it can't be very good for us.

Linda Cockburn said...

Hi Ailsa,
There's a good guide to preserving fruit in the latest Organic Gardener Magazine. But no, sugar syrup isn't necessary. As long as you fill up the gaps with water, it's fine. I put raw fruit in, and use the wood-fired stove and a large steel pot with an insert at the base to keep the jars from being directly on the source of heat. I boil the water for half an hour, before removing them, using the boiling water to kill a few weeds in the garden, and then replace with cool water and slowly heat up again with another batch of jars.

Hope that helps.

Jo said...

Agee jars? Are those like Kilner jars with specialist tops or jam jars - please?

I know that tomatoes and apples can be bottles in jam jars but the traditions in each country are different.

knutty knitter said...

Ha! Exactly what I am doing at this very minute. Nectarines, peaches and just waiting to start pears and apples. We did get gooseberries but the wood pigeons got all my plums.

Fruit gets inhaled round here too - sort of evaporates when you're not looking! Something to do with the teens I'm sure :)

viv in nz

Linda Cockburn said...

Agee jars are the NZ answer to Fowlers system here. Though I've never been sure about the Aussie name. Fowling my fruit is not the goal in mind. With the Agee system The fruit is pre-cooked before placing in the jar and filling with hot water. A flat tin lid with an impregnated thin rubber rim is laid flat on your hot, fruit filled jars and a screw top lid is then screwed down onto the jar.

The Agee jar is a more wasteful than the Fowlers system as the rubber rimmed part is thrown away after one use.