Homemade Fruit Cocktail Recipe

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Photo courtesy Robert Rose
Serve this homemade fruit cocktail over pound cake with whipped cream, or just eat it straight out of the jar!
25 min COOK TIME
35 min PREP TIME
Four 1-pint jars SERVINGS


  • 5 ounces candied peel (see tips, below)
  • 1.8 pounds small apricots (about 20)
  • 9 ounces cherries (see tips, below)
  • 1-1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Per Jar

  • 1 to 2 tbsp brandy (optional)


  • Prepare the jars and lids.
  • Cut the candied peel into 1- to 1-1⁄2-inch pieces. You should have 1⁄2 cup.
  • Carefully pit each apricot by cutting a slit down the seam and removing the pit without cutting the apricot in half. Stuff one piece of candied peel into each apricot where the pit lived just a moment ago. (If you like, you can crack the pits with a hammer to extract the almonds — put a few in each jar to impart a subtle marzipan perfume.)
  • Trim or stem the cherries if you like and cut a small X in the bottom of each, to prevent them from bursting (leave the pits in).
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Keep hot.
  • Pack the stuffed apricots and the cherries artfully into the hot jars, to within a generous 1⁄2 inch of the rim. If desired, add brandy to each jar.
  • Pour the hot syrup over the fruit to within 1⁄2 inch of the rim. I like to put the vanilla bean in one of the jars as well. Remove any air bubbles, add more syrup if necessary and wipe rims. Place the lids on the jars and screw the bands on until fingertip-tight.
  • Process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes.


    • Any kind of candied citrus peel will do to stuff the apricots, but I like homemade Seville orange or pink grapefruit peel best. • If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you’ll need 2 cups cherries for this recipe. • You may use sour or sweet cherries, though I tend to prefer the sour. • If you have it on hand, substitute apricot or cherry brandy (or both!) for extra flavor.

    More recipes from Preservation Society Home Preserves:

    Apricot Butter RecipeJalapeño Jam Recipe
    Courtesy of Preservation Society Home Preserves by Camilla Wynne, 2015 © Robert Rose Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold, or from our store: Preservation Society Home Preserves.

Beginners and seasoned preservers will find amusing, creative and mouth-watering preserves in Preservation Society Home Preserves (Robert Rose Inc., 2015) by Camilla Wynne. A combination of classic ideas and surprise twists in Wynne’s recipes make them both easy to follow and delightfully unique, from jams, jellies and marmalades to syrups, marinades, chutneys and conserves. The following recipe is from “Canned Fruits.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Preservation Society Home Preserves.

Fruit cocktail is such a beautiful idea — almost dessert in a jar — but the version we all grew up on is pretty sad. One summer, walking through the market to choose fruit for the evening’s canning class, I was overwhelmed by choice and decided to make my own version. Open a jar, divide the fruit among bowls and top with whipped cream or mascarpone — dessert is served! Though, if you have more time, a pound cake base to soak up the syrup couldn’t hurt.