Yes, We Can
Preserve fruit now—and enjoy it all winter long
All summer long, we can visit orchards to pick ripe fruit, or find our fill of strawberries, raspberries, apples, apricots, plums, cherries, blueberries and elderberries at farmers’ markets. It’s a different story when winter rolls around—but you don’t have to go fruit-less. If you plan ahead, you can enjoy nature’s candy year-round.
Lee Davenport, owner of Pamplemousse Preserves who also works at Ironworks Café and Working Class Catering, says there are a number of ways to preserve fruit. Throw a half-pound of blueberries in the freezer, for instance, and you can bring them out anytime to enjoy in smoothies or over cereal. Or make a liqueur by mixing and storing fruit and vodka for a few weeks.
Or you can try your hand at jamming. Also known as canning, the process requires fruit, a funnel and tongs (canning kits are available), and jars for storing the preserves. Davenport says jamming is quite simple but encourages first-timers not to get discouraged if their results vary.
“If the jam doesn’t gel, call it something else and move along,” she says. “It’s ice cream sauce.”
RECIPE: Try Davenport’s recipe for a simple apricot jam.
Start with 2 1/4 pounds apricots.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a few apricots and leave them in for a couple minutes, until the skin begins to peel off. Use tongs to scoop the apricots out and put them immediately into an ice water bath. Peel fruit and cut into sixths or eighths. Repeat this process with the rest of the apricots.
Put fruit and 3 cups of sugar into a ceramic bowl. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, strain out the syrup and put it into a pot (one that’s wider than it is tall); bring to 221 degrees. Add in fruit and cook for about ten minutes.
Set a funnel above a jar. Ladle jam into the jar, making sure not to get any on the rim. Put on the lid. Repeat until all jam is in jars.
Place jars into a pot of water. Boil about ten minutes. Remove jars and let them cool.
Store the jars anywhere and eat jam within about a year.
Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.