We’re lucky to be at the peak of summer fruit and stone fruit season. But there’s always that question of what to do when the fruit starts to turn. Make a jam or relish of course! Not sure where to start? Trish Davison, owner of The Bear and the Ladle and producer of award-winning condiments, gives us the lowdown on how to preserve summer fruits.
My main advice is to be prepared with all the correct ingredients and equipment ready at hand. The process can be a little labour intensive and time-consuming but it will also be a fun, enjoyable and quite a ‘zen’ foodie experience. Plus, if you get everything right up front, you can enjoy the results for 6, 8 or even 12 months.
What you need
• Sterilised lidded jars
• Large saucepan
• Sugar themometer
• Food funnel
• Paper towels
How to sterilise jars
For the home cook, I suggest you wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse and place them on a baking tray with a good 5cm or so between each jar.
Preheat an oven to 150°C and place tray in oven to sterilise the jars and keep them hot.
When do I add the preserve to the jars?
It’s important to fill your jars while both the jars and filling are still hot if you’re making relish, chutney or even sauces to gift friends and family. I urge you not to skip steps, thinking ‘near enough is good enough’ because ensuring that the relish gifts you’ve given to friends and family are pathogen and microbial bacteria free.
So, on a manual level, after the relish is cooked – if you have a sugar thermometer you want the mixture to reach over 80°C – and still hot, fill the hot sterilised jars from the oven straight away. Use a large food funnel (available from kitchenware stores) to fill your jars quickly and easily.
Have paper towel ready to wipe any spill from around the top of the jar – any food residue or drips on the lid will stop your bottle from obtaining a nice airtight seal.
I alway run a flat butter knife around the inside edge of the jars to remove any air bubbles and tap the jar on the bench a couple of times to alleviate any air bubbles. Clean the rim of the jars and screw on the lid.
As the jar and contents cool, and vacuum is created, pulling the lid onto the jar to create an airtight seal.
Properly sealing your preserves means they can last years in the pantry without spoiling.
How long do preserves, relishes last once the jar is opened?
Once opened, I highly suggest refrigerating your condiment when not in use. Please don’t place opened condiments in cupboards. Err on the side of food safety always! I’m not a fan of the use-by date’ where relishes and chutneys are concerned and prefer to use a ‘best before’ date on all of my products.
Now that you’ve got the basics nailed, here’s a delicious peach chutney recipe to try now:
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