Preserving A Bumper Fruit Harvest

Where I live, it’s been a pretty fantastic year for fruit.Pile of peaches

The good rains over the previous 2 summers (after a long drought) plus good rain in spring probably had something to do with it. So might pretty regular (drip) irrigation and good sun. 🙂

For me, so far we have seen:

  • our best ever year for mulberries and boysenberries – masses of mulberries for weeks, with plenty for humans as well as birds and possums…a pleasant change after the last 10 years or so 😉
  • probably our best year for peaches (and we have been here over 20 years)
  • a huge crop of apricots
  • our second crop of grapes that we have actually managed to eat (grapes and cherries are our biggest contest with the birds ;))
  • my first crops of red currants and gooseberries (even though the plants have been in for years!)
  • beautiful-tasting white nectarines and plums (even if they were rather small – sorry, I mean perfect size for children!)…and
  • a seedling peach that produced its first fruit…with amazing flavour 🙂

Yes, we have had a few disappointments (like birds undoing the netting on our cherries and our blueberries dying of shock at direct sunlight after neighbours had to cut down their overhanging protection)…but overall it has been a good year.  And other people growing fruit in our area agree. 🙂

So, what do we do with masses of fruit?

Apart from eating it fresh (yum, yum!), sharing it with very appreciative neighbours, and cooking treats when the weather is cool enough, when we have surplus we preserve the fruit.

For the peaches, I:

  • bottle some in Fowlers Vacola jars
  • freeze some

This year, we had so many peaches I decided to try some experiments:

  • using 50:50 apple/pear juice and water in the bottles (I couldn’t find pear juice this year and I wanted a healthier option than syrup but without the apple juice affecting the peach flavour)
  • bottling with skins on (definitely much faster J), as well as skins off
  • freezing whole fruit (in takeaway containers and ziplock bags)
  • freezing with skins on, as well as skins off
  • seeing what a difference it makes dipping skinned fruit in sugar or in light sugar/citric acid solution before freezing

Oh, and the one where I processed a bottle twice because I forgot to put the rubber ring on the first time…it took me a while to figure out why it wouldn’t seal! 😉

Of all these methods, the skinned peach halves frozen in ziplock bags look the best…and the fruit frozen whole (including skin) in takeaway containers was the quickest.

And the best tasting?  We’ll wait till it’s cold to taste the peaches…but the mulberry icecream a neighbour made was super scrummy.  (I’m saving most of it for a special occasion!)

Do you have a favourite method of preserving fruit…or one you’d like to try?  Let me know in the Reply box below.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!

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