Here are a few important tips and instructions to help you prepare your fruit for home canning. In addition to selecting the highest-quality fruits, there are some key techniques I would like to share to help you wash, cut and peel your fruit successfully – especially seeing we will be exposing the fruit to heat and long-term storage.
Preparing Fruit for Canning
Regardless of the type of fruits you are preserving, always select the highest-quality, being sure not to use over-ripened, damaged, diseased, moldy, or bruised fruit. All fruits should be washed and rinsed before prepping.
While there are fruit washing solutions available for purchase in the store, it truly is easiest to make your own. Doing so will kill bacteria and mold, especially on soft-skinned fruits like peaches and strawberries.
Mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1 gallon of water
Use this homemade mixture to wash all of your fruit prior to cutting, peeling, etc. is the best way to clean fruit for home canning. To wash the fruit, place the fruit in the mixture, mixing and washing with your hands, and allowing to stand for 5 minutes before rinsing with fresh water in a colander. If your fruit is freshly picked and has some dirt on it, be sure to scrub your fruit with a washcloth, soft bristle vegetable brush or non-abrasive scrubber. Using fresh running water to rinse thoroughly is the last, crucial step to ensure all microbes are washed away and the fruit is clean.
CITRIC ACID BATH
The same enzymes that cause fruits to ripen also cause them to brown after they are cut and peeled. To keep your fruit from turning brown during preparation, create a citric acid bath:
½ cup of bottled lemon juice for every 8 cups of water
Set a bowl of this solution next to your cutting board, and drop in the fruit pieces as soon as they are peeled and chopped according to the recipe instructions. When you’re ready to pack the jars, simply strain the fruit in a colander and shake off the excess citric acid water, then pack into jars according to the recipe. There is no need to rinse the fruit again, as the minute amount of lemon juice will not be detected in the finished product.
A citric acid bath can be used for any canning or dehydrating recipe! Be sure to keep extra lemon juice in your pantry just for this reason.
If you are in a pinch, and do not have access to bottled lemon juice, you may use 3,000 mg of Vitamin C for every 1 gallon of water. The key is to crush the vitamin C tablets before putting them in the water. To do so, simply place the tablets into a Ziplock bag and crush them with a tack hammer or the flat-side of a meat tenderizer.
BLANCHING AND PEELING
Many fruits are better preserved without their skins. Hand peeling is not always practical, so blanching the fruit is recommended.
Here is a quick guide to blanching fruit, like peaches or plums, to remove the skin quickly:
- Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Using a paring knife, score a 1-inch “X” into the bottom of each piece of fruit.
- Fill your sink, or a large bowl, with ice water.
- Working in small batches, carefully lower the scored fruit into the boiling water using a blanching basket or slotted spoon. Let the water come back to a boil and blanch the fruit until the skin starts to crack, 40 to 60 seconds.
- Remove the individual fruit using a slotted spoon or by lifting the blanching basket, and immediately place the fruit in ice cold water.
- When the fruit is cool enough to handle, remove it from the ice water and peel off the skin, starting with the “X” at the bottom of each piece.