NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Summer Goodness in a Jar

Summer Goodness in a Jar


We are seeing them in semis in parking lots, at farmer’s markets and in the produce sections of supermarkets – those first fresh fruits of summer. Often peaches are the first to make their appearance.  And while fresh is wonderful, it is also wonderful to pull a jar of summer goodness off the shelf during a ND winter and remember a warm summer while enjoying what you have preserved at home.

Fruits, being acidic foods, can be processed safely in a boiling-water bath. Organisms that cause food spoilage – molds, yeasts and bacteria – are always present in the air, water and soil. Also, enzymes that may cause undesirable changes in flavor, color and texture are present in raw fruits. By using recommended processing methods and times when canning fruits, we can destroy the spoilage organisms and stop the action of enzymes.  We stop in time, that bright summer color and taste and hold it in a jar for future consumption.

First step in the process is the right equipment. Mason-type canning jars are always the best choice. The standard jar mouth is about 2 3/8 inches in diameter. Wide-mouth jars have openings of about 3 inches, making them more easily filled and emptied. Half-gallon jars may be used for canning very acidic juices only. Mayonnaise-type jars have a narrower sealing surface, are heat-tempered less than Mason jars and so are not recommended for home canning.  To sterilize empty jars, put them right side up on the rack in a boiling-water canner. Fill the canner and jars with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 feet. At higher elevations, boil one additional minute for each additional 1,000 feet of elevation. Remove and drain hot, sterilized jars one at a time just before fi ling

After filling jars with food, release air bubbles by inserting a flat plastic (not metal) spatula between the food and the inside surface of the jar. Slowly turn the jar and move the spatula up and down to allow air bubbles to escape. Adjust the amount of fruit and juice in the jar for the proper

Sometimes it seems that despite our best efforts, a jar of summer goodness is dark in color and while food safe, it is definitely unappetizing. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your canned foods retain optimum colors and flavors during processing and storage:

● Use only high-quality foods that are at the proper maturity and are free of diseases and bruises.

● Use the hot-pack method, especially with acidic foods to be processed in boiling water.

● Don’t unnecessarily expose prepared foods to air. Can them as soon as possible.

● While preparing a canner load of jars, keep peeled, halved, quartered, sliced or diced apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches and pears in a solution of ascorbic acid. This procedure also is useful for preventing stem-end discoloration in cherries and grapes. You can find ascorbic acid in several forms:

- Pure powdered form — seasonally available among canners’ supplies in supermarkets.

- Vitamin C tablets which are economical and available.  Buy 500-milligram tablets; crush and dissolve six tablets per gallon of water as a treatment solution.

- Commercially prepared mixes of ascorbic and citric acid — seasonally available among canners’ supplies in supermarkets. Sometimes citric acid powder is sold in supermarkets, but it is less effective in controlling discoloration. If you choose to use these products, follow the manufacturer’s directions.

For more research based info on preserving summer in a jar, contact our office for a copy of “Home Canning Fruit and Fruit Products” or check the NDSU Extension web-site at: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn174.pdf

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