Preserving Fruit: Avoiding Siphoning, Thin Preserves and Other Problems

Prevent the common mishaps associated with preserving fruit using these tips and tricks.

| July 15, 2013

Put Em Up Fruit

Preserve the flavors of seasonal fruit and stock your pantry with the help of “Put ‘em Up! Fruit.”

Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing

A wide range of possibilities for preserves awaits in Put ‘em Up! Fruit (Storey, 2013). Author Sherri Brooks Vinton offers 80 recipes both sweet and savory for canning, freezing, drying and more. In this excerpt taken from part one, “Getting Started,” learn what the most common blunders are when preserving fruit and what you can do to avoid them.

You can purchase this book from our MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Put ‘em Up! Fruit.

Even the most experienced in home food preservation will turn out a less-than-perfect batch of goods now and again. Some preserves might be a smidge too thin, others a bit too thick, and sometimes you might get a jar or two that is just plain ugly. Most often you can cover up your errors with a little repurposing; loose jam makes fine syrup, if that’s what you call it. But whenever you are working with food it’s important to know the difference between “not pretty” and “not safe.” Here are the top challenges of preserving fruit and the best ways to avoid them.

The Dreaded Fruit Float

If you’ve ever processed gorgeous produce only to find that the contents of your jars have separated into distinct bands, with solids at the top and liquid at the bottom, you have experienced the dreaded fruit float. While it can occur in any recipe, fruit float is most pronounced in jars of canned whole fruits that contain a high proportion of liquid by nature and in jams, jellies, and preserves, where the gelling process sometimes suspends floating fruit as the spread sets, rather than letting it disperse throughout the mixture. Jars of whole canned tomatoes — picture-perfect going into the canner — come out clotted, with a dense layer of tomato bobbing atop inches of tomato water. Fruit float will turn a ready-for-its-close-up jam into a two-layer concoction of too-thick jam over clear jelly. While less common, fruit float may also manifest as a thin layer of liquid at the base of blended items such as barbecue sauces and mixtures such as salsas.     

The good news is that fruit float is harmless. It won’t win you any blue ribbons, but it does not affect shelf life or safety. And while unsightly in the jar, fruit float can often be remedied by giving the contents of the jar a quick stir upon opening it.

Avoiding Fruit Float

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