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How to bottle fruit

Bottling in preserving jars is a time-honoured way of preserving fruit and is one of the only methods (along with fruit drying) that keeps natural flavour and texture fairly intact without the use of any chemicals or artificial additives. Fruit is preserved by heating it to a sufficiently high temperature so that spoiling bacteria are destroyed. As the preserving jars cool, a vacuum is created that hermetically seals the jars. It’s re-assuring that Granny’s old rules for this essentially simple process have not changed over time!

Our pasteurisers make the preserving process easy and efficient. They have both time and temperature control to give you accurate and reliable preserving.

Step 1: Prepare your jars

  • Use purpose-made rubber sealed preserving jars with clip or screw lids - we like Weck & Kilner jars. Check lids and jars visually for any small imperfections and make sure the seals are sound. It's best to replace seals regularly to ensure good closure. You can check the effectiveness of the seal by filling the jar with water, sealing and inverting for 10 minutes. If water leaks from the jar, replace the seal and test again.
  • Wash the jars thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse in fresh water then invert jars to drain them

Step 2: Pack jars with fruit

  • Fill the jars with fruit and then top with hot (60°C) water or sugar syrup
  • Tap jars to dislodge air bubbles
  • Dip the seals in boiling water
  • Place seals and lids on jars. If your jars have clips, then fasten them. If they have screw tops, rest the lids on top of the jars and tighten fully as soon as heating has stopped.

Step 3: Place jars in a Preserving Cooker

  • Use either model of Vigo Presses pasteuriser - they have an in-built timer and a temperature control to ensure accurate and reliable preserving.
  • Place the jars in the pasteuriser on the rack supplied to ensure they aren't resting on the bottom. The jars can be double stacked.
  • Set the temperature control and the timer to the levels recommended in the instructions
  • The timer will be activated when the appropriate temperature is reached

Step 4: Remove jars and check seal

  • Wear Vigo Presses heavy-duty insulated gloves when handling the hot jars
  • If you have used screw top preserving jars then tighten the lids right down after the timed heating is complete
  • Allow the jars to cool slowly
  • Check seals of the Weck clipped-jars by removing the clips and lifting the jars by their lids. If lids remain on the jars then they have properly sealed.
  • Do not tamper with screw-topped Kilner-type jars

Step 5: Recipes

  • The instructions will advise you on the temperature and time required for any particular fruit
  • You can experiment with your own particular mouth-watering sugar syrup and fruit combination
  • You can also use sweetened fruit juice as syrup or add spices and herbs – cinnamon with plums or basil with apples are classics
  • For something a little more exotic add some alcohol to your recipe, for example, a “slug” of brandy or rum - a dessert that would certainly impress your guests!

If you have any good bottling recipes, we’d love to hear from you. Please send them to sales@vigopresses.co.uk.

Step 6: Storing

  • Bottled foods should be stored in a dry, cool and dark place to prevent discolouration.

Bottling Vegetables

Extra care should be taken when preserving vegetables; this should be done in acidified and salted water. The time and temperature for preserving varies according to the acidity of the fruit and vegetables. Full guidelines are provided with the Pasteuriser instruction manual.

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