It's time to stock up on preserving jars at Wares of Knutsford. We always have a huge influx of preserving jar orders towards summer, but now is a great time to get prepared while you have plenty of time. After all, there's nothing worse than finding yourself caught short when you have a glut of soft fruits that need using up.
Which jars will you choose?
There are so many jars that work well for preserving. For example, you can choose classic Weck jars for canning or preserving, or use Kilner jars, Mason jars, plain jam jars or one of the other many glass jar ranges that are available.
What makes a good preserving jar?
Preserving jars are made with a number of specific features. They will all have airtight lids that keep bacteria and air separate from the contents of the jar. This is important otherwise the contents will spoil. They tend to be made from glass, which is naturally easy to keep clean and sterile and which doesn't contain any chemicals that can leak into the preserve or preparation. Glass also lasts for years with care and it looks beautiful too, making it environmentally friendly and a great choice for beautiful preserves that you can admire in your pantry.
What are the different methods of preserving?
Preserving is an ancient method of making the seasonal harvests last well into winter. Different techniques have evolved over time that allows fresh fruits and vegetables to be kept safely and deliciously for many months. For example:
- With jams and chutneys we cook the fresh fruit ingredients with sugar and pectin to create a delicious spread.
- With bottling, we preserve whole or chopped fruits and vegetables in flavoured vinegar, sugar waters or brine, sometimes with herbs, spices and flavourings such as citrus.
- To can, we use high pressure, heat and sterile containers to safely store fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, peas, nectarines, cherries and sweetcorn. These are stored in brine or their own juices, and correctly canned produce can last for years.
- It's also possible to preserve fresh produce with techniques such as making sauerkraut or kimchi. You can also try ferments, such as fermented blueberries, which are deliciously 'zingy' and have the added bonus of beneficial bacteria.
How to make fermented blueberries:
If you are new to making ferments, then this blueberry recipe is easy and delicious. It uses the natural process of lacto-fermentation to remove dangerous bacteria and encourage friendly bacteria. To make a kilogram, take 1kg of blueberries, 20grams of non-iodized salt and place the ingredients into a bowl. Mix them together and transfer into glass jars, making sure all of the salt is transferred into jar. Use a weight, such as a water-filled ziplock bag, to press the contents down. Cover the jar with a loosely sealed lid or release it every day to allow the gases to ferment. Place the jars in a warm place, and within 4-5 days you will notice a wonderful flavour developing and a fruity, sweet perfume. Taste test every couple of days until you like the results.
If you're feeling inspired, gather up your preserving jars, prepare your kit and follow these top tips to get more from your preserves, jams, chutneys and pickles:
1. Only use great quality vegetables and fruits. They should be fully ripened, free from bruises and completely free from any mould.
2. If you are canning, choose produce that naturally has a high degree of water, such as tomatoes, peaches, beans and mushrooms. Use sterile preserving jars and new seal lids. Always follow instructions carefully so that you process your canned produce for the right amount of time. This will kill any dangerous bacteria and remove oxygen from the can or jar.
3. Consider pickling, and aim to broaden your range beyond cucumbers. You can pickle cauliflower, peppers, pears, and apples to name just a few. Once pickled, these fruits and vegetables can be made into fantastic snacks or accompany a variety of meals.
4. When making fresh jams and jellies choose the sweetest, freshest fruit available. For low acid fruits, the recipe may advise that you add lemon juice. Always add the right amount of sugar, as it will help to gel and preserve the fruits.
Some basic pickling tips:
Always follow a reliable, tested recipe. Even in vinegar, spoilage can happen. Canning pickled products by the boiling water methods further stop spoilage. Choose only disease-free fruits or vegetables, and wash them well before processing.
Other techniques to use with preserving:
As well as preserving your seasonal produce from your garden or allotment, you could try drying vegetables, fruits and herbs and storing them in glass jars. You can do this with a dehydrator in the oven. Fruit leather and even popcorn can be made in this way for delicious and healthy treats.
You'll find a huge range of glass preserving jars at Wares of Knutsford, so invest today and prepare for some kitchen fun this summer.