If you have the produce, the storage space, determination, and a friend to rope into helping, preserving your fall harvest fruit should a snap. Besides, you’ll need a little reminder of the summer warmth when the winter winds howl and you’re making dinner with some of your preserved foodstuffs.
Entire classes are taught – and should be – on how to properly can and process foods safely. Please note the website address for the National Center For Home Food Preservation and refer to it frequently should you have any questions: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/
There are 8 major ways to preserve foods: canning, freezing, drying, curing, fermenting, pickling, making jams or jellies and storing. Some foods are flexible, and others will work well with only one type of technique. For the sake of brevity and common sense, I’ll utilize the easiest of the techniques for each fruit.
Based on the Virginia Fruit & Vegetable Availability Calendar as published by the Cooperative Extension, the following fruits could be considered part of our fall harvest.
Apples can be dried, canned (halved or as sauce), and frozen. For freezing, most fruit, including apples, can be packed with syrup, sugar packed or dry packed. Whatever your choice, the apples still require washing, peeling, coring and slicing.
To freeze apples using the easiest sugar pack method, steam blanch the apple slices for 1 ½ – 2 minutes. Mix ½ cup sugar with 1 ¼ pounds of fruit. Package apple slices tightly, leaving ½ to 1″ headspace.
To sugar pack blackberries, mix ¾ cup sugar with 1 1/3 pounds berries. Package leaving ½ to 1″ headspace.
It is best to dry pack blueberries. Do not wash them prior to freezing. Pack into freezer bags directly or freeze first on a tray and then bag.
Enjoy them now. After much searching, I did finally find a way to preserve this fruit via pickling. If you’d like to pickle your cantaloupes over the necessary two-day period, the specific instructions can be found here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_06/cantaloupe.html
Grapes can, of course, be made into jelly or jam. They can be dried into raisins. They can also be frozen, if you like. To do so, wash and freeze seedless grapes whole and seeded grapes in halves, having removed the seeds. Pack into freezer bags with cold 40% syrup, leaving a headspace and freeze.
Nectarines & Peaches
Peaches and nectarines are both prepared similarly. Again, like other fruits, they can be syrup packed, sugar packed or crushed.
To sugar pack peaches or nectarines, wash, peel and slice. Sprinkle ascorbic acid over product to keep fruit from darkening (1/4 tsp ascorbic acid in 3 tbsp. cold water per quart of fruit). Add 2/3 of a cup sugar to each 1 1/3 pounds of fruit and mix. Pack into bags using headspace.
The easiest method for raspberries is to dry pack them. After washing and draining, put into freezer bags leaving headspace. Or, like blueberries, this fruit can be frozen on trays first and then bagged.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor – literally – later this winter!
2010 Shenandoah Valley Buy Fresh Buy Local newsletter, Virginia Cooperative
Preserving Food: Freezing Fruit, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, July 2000.