How to Make Old-fashioned Fruit Preserves

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Fruit preserves differ from jams in that the fruit remains whole or nearly so, and is surrounded by jellied, fruity syrup. Through a process of osmosis, sugar in the syrup infuses the fruit, thus preserving its shape and to a certain extent, its texture. This time-honored process was common practice long before pectin products could be purchased to cause fruit to jell, and the basic procedures remain virtually unchanged.

Things You'll Need

  • Large wooden spoon
  • 8 to 12 quart pan
  • Measuring cups
  • Sugar
  • Fruit
  • Saucer or small plate
  • Clean canning jars
  • Sealing lids
  • Jar rings
  • Water bath
  • Timer
  • Cooling rack

Preparation

  • Wash and rinse the jars. Sterilize them by boiling, selecting the “heat dry” cycle if you're washing them in a dishwasher or baking the jars at 250 to 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

  • Prepare the lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Wash the fruit. Cut out any bruises or discolored spots, and cut larger fruit into slices or ½- to 3/4-inch pieces.

Process

  • Measure the prepared fruit into the pan. Add ¾ to 1 cup sugar for every cup of fruit. Stir.

  • Bring the contents of the pan to a boil. Stir gently to avoid breaking the fruit, periodically scraping the bottom to prevent the fruit and syrup from sticking to the pan and scorching.

  • Boil the fruit at moderate heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Stir constantly, shaking the pan occasionally to help drive the sugar into the fruit.

  • Check the consistency of the syrup by testing whether it sheets off the spoon. Alternately, spoon some onto a saucer and let it cool for 3 minutes. See if it forms a skin and can be scraped back into the pan in a blob rather than dripping as a liquid.

  • Fill the jars to within a ½ inch of the top. Wipe the rim of each jar to remove any drips. Place a cap on the jar so that the rubber seal contacts the jar rim and screw the band down tightly.

  • Place preserve-filled jars into a water bath in a canning or other large pot. Make sure the hot water covers the jars by an extra inch. Keep the water at a rolling boil for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Remove the jars from the water bath and place them on a cooling rack. When the jars are completely cool, check for a tight seal by pressing on the middle of the lid. If it pops, it didn't seal and must be consumed quickly. Remove the screw ring. Wipe the rim of the jars to remove any stickiness. Label and store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place.

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References

  • Photo Credit cooking cherries jam image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com
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