It’s been hot in Los Angeles this September. So hot that you’d been forgiven for not realizing that summer has started slipping into autumn. While we’re still out and about in flip-flops and t-shirts, there are subtle signs that the seasons have shifted. The white-hot summer sun has cooled to a golden yellow, and these days, evening comes a hair sooner than it did just a few weeks ago. I love autumn and all the gorgeous root vegetables that start to surface, but it’s also a little bittersweet, saying goodbye to the bounty of fresh summer fruit.
So I don’t. By canning summer fruits, you can keep a touch of the warm weather on your dinner plate all year round.
People get pretty freaked out when they hear canning. I’m pretty sure they’re picturing exploding jars and botulism. But trust me, the water-bath method of canning has been used for centuries to preserve fruit and it’s a snap. You just need to know the guidelines.
First, this method is only for fruits and tomatoes. Think peaches, apricots, berries and brandy wine heirloom tomatoes. They are naturally acidic, so bacteria will have a tough time growing around them. Do not use this method with veggies. They must be canned using a method called pressure canning, which is more involved.
That’s all you needed to know. Ready? Head to the farmers market for your favorite end-of-the-season fruit. I’m going with plums and peaches.
- Wash your fruit.
- Grab a handful of canning jars and place them and their lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Take out carefully with tongs and let cool. This sterilizes the jars so don’t skip this step!
- Cut up the fruit and toss any pits in the garbage.
- Fill the cooled jars with the fruit pieces and cover completely with boiling water.
- Place the lid on the jar and seal. As it cools, the lid will be sucked down, sealing the fruit inside.
- Store on the shelf for 3 to 6 months.
You can add flavors like cinnamon sticks or vanilla beans to the canning before sealing, which will infuse the fruit with a bit of flavor. Canning recipes often call for added sugar, which helps keep the color of fruit bright. But I prefer the natural sweetness of the fruit. Just be sure to use high-quality fruit that isn’t overripe, which will soften too much in the water bath.
This winter, when my plums are good and ready, I’m going to use them in this beautiful Plum and Cinnamon Crumble. (It’s also amazing with fresh plums.)