Summer is here and all the soft fruit we enjoy eating is ripening ready to be picked. But we like to enjoy these soft fruits all year round weather thats spreading on our toast, in a pie, crumble or mixed with lovely creamy ice cream. Although the supermarkets provide us with these soft fruits all year around, naturally they are only available to eat through the summer months and this is the best time to pick your favourite soft fruit a preserve them so you can enjoy them all year round.
On sunday we spent the day at our local pick your own fruit farm where we got all our children to join in helping us to pick enough fruit to last us over the next winter months. The girls were very good and did not eat any of the fruit they picked. Instead they had a competition on who could collect the most fruit. Although though the farm has a wide variety of fruit you can pick, the only fruit that was ready on sunday was raspberries and strawberries so another trip will be made in a few weeks time to pick some cherries and gooseberries. All in all we spent around 2 hours collecting our fruit and we managed to collect around 6 1/2 kg in total which was fantastic work.
- Jam – I started making my own jam 4 years ago and ever since my children will not eat bought jam at all. Jam making in our house is usually the job my son and I do together which creates a great bonding time for the two of us. We usually make large batches of this jam recipe, making 10 to 20 large jars at a time to last us the year.
- Fruit Preserve – This is a great way to store fruit ready for a quick and easy pudding by pouring over ice cream or adding fruit to pies and crumbles during the winter months. Add your fruit to your glass jar or bottle, then add 8oz of sugar to a saucepan with 1/2 a pint of water. (You can use granulated sugar or this preserve) Dissolve the sugar over a moderated heat and when the sugar has dissolved, boil for one minute. Then add another 1/2 pint of water and stir. (If the syrup is cloudy, strain it through a muslin because a clear syrup gives a better finish to your fruit.) Pour the syrup into your jarred fruit to within 1 inch of the rim and close the lid ensuring the lid has sealed well and is tightly on. (You now need to do a process called canning, will talk about this in a minute)
- Fruit Liqueur – Is a lovely fruity boozy drink to have at Christmas while you remember the lovely long sun filled family days out in the summer. Add 4 cups of the fruit of your choice into a glass jar and pour 3 cups of vodka over the top (you don’t have to use expensive vodka), seal your jar up and place in a cool dark cupboard and forget about it for around a month or longer if you wish. After a month strain the mixture using several layers of muslin. Once the fruit has been removed from the alcohol either store the fruit in the fridge for a couple of days and add to summer puddings or preserve the fruit as talked about above. Take the flavored alcohol and strain again through fresh muslin to get a clear liquid, set your flavoured alcohol to one side . Add to a saucepan 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. (You can use granulated sugar or this preserve) Dissolve the sugar over a moderated heat and when the sugar has dissolved, boil for one minute until mixture is clear. Remove from the heat and and set aside until the syrup is completely cooled. (Takes around an hour) Pour half the sugar syrup into the fruit alcohol and taste for sweetness, if its not sweet enough add small amounts of syrup until the fruit alcohol is sweet enough. Pour your liqueur into bottles, label and date, then place them in a cool dark cupboard and forget about them for around 2 months. (Your liqueurs will have the best flavour after sitting on a shelf aging and are still ok to drink after a year)
Canning – canning is a way to ensure you have a complete air tight seal on your jars when you are preserving. You can buy expensive canning machines if you are going to be doing a lot of canning or you can use your pressure cooker to do the same job.
- Pour 1 1/2 pints of boiling water into your pressure cooker before inserting your jars onto the false bottom. Put the lid on on the cooker, with the vent open and heat until steam starts to appear.
- Close the vent and bring the pressure up to low (L) when steam will start to escape. The time taken from starting to heat until pressure varies between 5 minutes and 10 minutes.
- Most soft fruit only need to be under pressure for around a minute but some need longer like peaches, pears or apples. Which need around 4 to 5 minutes.
- When the time is up remove from the heat and allow to cool naturally before releasing the remaining steam pressure. Remove your jars from the pressure cooker and tighten any loose lids then place your jars into a cool dark cupboard until you need to use the fruit.
Which summer fruit do you enjoy preserved? Whats your favourite fruit preserve recipe your family enjoys?