How To: Preserve Fruit

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A bit of overenthusiastic shopping amplified by the generosity of a friend (Robin of The Canisters) conspired to give us too much fruit. Rather than let it go to waste or put it in the flavor-robbing refrigerator, we made preserves using an adapted recipe for Fruit Conserves from the original Joy of Cooking. Read on for the step-by-step directions.
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Step 1. Assemble your fruit. We used apricots, but you could use any ripe or very ripe fruit.
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Step 2. Peel and remove pits from the fruit.
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Step 3. Evaluate how much fruit you have, and how sweet it is. This will determine how much sugar you use in the next step.
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Step 4. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the juice of a small lemon, sugar—we used half a cup—and a tablespoon of water. Bring to a boil and cook the syrup about 5 minutes.
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Step 5. Add fruit and continue to simmer until the fruit falls apart. This will take 5 to 10 minutes depending on the fruit. If there is too much liquid, remove the fruit, put it aside, and continue to cook down the syrup.
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Step 6. Put the fruit and syrup in a clean jar. The jam will keep for several weeks in the fridge. (Ours is so delicious that it's unlikely to last the week.)
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Step 7. Compost the peels and pits.
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Step 8. Enjoy with butter on toast.

The original Joy of Cooking was written in the 1930's, a time when fruit was too precious to go to waste. We're finding that depression-era thinking is thrifty, delicious, and green.

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