This is an age old preservation method used by our ancestors since they have had access to sealable containers. It allows you to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, well after the season has passed, without having changed the taste or texture, similar to freezing. Whilst the term suggests putting things into bottles any airtight container will do and that includes cans as well as glass jars. The produce you are putting into those containers will sit in a serile environment covered with water, syrup or brine untill you are ready to eat them.
In a nutshell the process involves filling sterile containers with your produce, pooring in a liquid to fill any gaps, heating the containers and their contents to stralise the lot and then sealing the container whilst hot so no bacteria can survive inside and spoil the contents. Please note that vegetables are more of a challenge to successfully bottle than fruit due to the low acid content and green vegetables tend to loose their colour especially if not stored in a dark place. This means that fruit can be steralised in boiling water, vegetables need to be steralised in a pressure cooker which superheats the water.
The process is undertaken in 6 stages as follows
- Assemble and check your equipment
- Prepare your fruit or vegetables
- Make your syrup or brine
- Pack the bottles/containers
- Test the seal and store
Each of these stages is covered in more detail throughout this section
For guaranteed success you must
- use the best quality produce - no bruises or blemishes
- use containers in A1 condition
- keep the working areas clean and free from bacteria
- allow yourself plenty of time
- have the correct equipment for the steralising job
- have somewhere cool and preferably dark to store your preserves