How to get the most out of your fruit: canning and fruit purée

Canning is a tasty way to preserve your fruit. Here are some simple canning techniques and a quick recipe for making fruit purée.

How to get the most out of your fruit: canning and fruit purée

A simple canning method

The principle of canning is simple; the fruit is packed into sterilized jars, then covered with liquid (usually syrup) and heated to a high enough temperature and for a sufficient time to stop the spoiling action of enzymes and to kill all disease-causing bacteria. The jars are then sealed to prevent contamination from bacteria re-entering the food after the heating process is completed.

  • The natural acidity of most fruit is also important in preventing the growth of harmful micro-organisms.
  • Tropical fruit such as bananas, mangoes and melons, as well as pears and tomatoes, do not have as much acid as other fruits and when they are to be canned at home their acidity will need to be increased by adding ascorbic acid (available in powdered form from pharmacies) or lemon juice.
  • For a half-litre (two cup) jar add a millilitre (quarter teaspoon) of ascorbic acid or 15 millilitres (three teaspoons) of lemon juice.
  • Once the method has been mastered, canning enables the home preserver to experiment with a range of flavourings and fruit combinations to create preserves tailored to individual tastes.
  • Sugar, lemon juice and spices may be added without changing the processing requirements; syrups can be made using wines and liqueurs.

Enjoying your canned produce

  • Canned fruits are versatile. The fruit can be eaten straight from the jar, it can be topped with cream, ice cream, yoghurt or custard, or it can be used as the basis for a variety of delicious desserts.
  • A purée of canned fruit is always welcome at breakfast, and if stirred through softened ice cream then refrozen it can make a nutritious and tasty dessert.
  • Purée is also useful as a pie filling.

Easy fruit purée

Here's an easy way to make fruit purée. You'll need:

  • 1 1/4 to 2 kg (2 1/2 to 4 1/2 lb) fruit, washed, cut and pitted (makes about 1 L)
  • Sugar to taste
  1. Simmer the fruit pulp until it softens (approximately 15 minutes), adding water as necessary to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot. Purée the pulp in a food processor or push it through a strainer. Add the sugar and simmer the purée for about five minutes to allow it to dissolve.
  2. Pack the hot purée into prewarmed jars; when filling allow about one centimetre (1/2 inch) of air space below the jar's rim. Process the batch by the boiling-water bath method or by using a standard commercial preserving unit.

Fruit is a healthy treat that tastes great! Help preserve your fruit with these simple canning techniques and experiment with this easy fruit purée recipe.

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