Bottling sterilizes fruit to prevent contamination from micro-organisms. It is an excellent method of preserving fruit — in a sugar syrup for best results — to retain its flavour.
Before the advent of freezers, bottling was one of the most usual methods of preservation: it is now popular again. You may flavour bottled fruit with brandy, a liqueur, or a reduced, sweetened wine. Add lemon or orange zest, and spices.
Preparing fruit for bottling Make a syrup, using about 225 g (8 oz) sugar dissolved in 575/600 ml (1 pint) water. As an alternative, flavour with honey or golden syrup, dissolved in the water.
Prepare the fruit, peeling, halving and stoning as necessary. Have ready well-rinsed bottling jars: those most often on sale are Kilner or Le Parfait. Fill the jars with fruit, pour over hot syrup, remove air bubbles and seal the lids, according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
Process in a hot water bath by placing the jars on a trivet, making sure they do not touch each other, in a deep, wide pan. Cover with warm water up to the lids of the jars and heat the water up to 88°C (190°F) over 30 minutes, or for the time recommended.
Alternatively, use a pressure cooker, using water 2.5 cm (1 in) up the jars, and bring to 2’/2 kg (5 lb) pressure for the recommended time; or process in the oven.
There is a rare but potentially fatal spore in vegetables which causes botulism poisoning. This spore is killed in acid — which is why bottled fruit is safe — but can thrive in the low-acid environment of bottled vegetables, even when heat-processed. As a result, bottling vegetables is not recommended.
When you bottle tomatoes, make sure you add a teaspoon of lemon juice because most varieties available are less acidic than they once were.