The Fruit Truck has a nearly eight-year history of delivering the freshest fruits from our orchard partners around the country, in large quantities. Five, 10, even 20 pounds at a time of fresh peaches, apples, berries, and more. But we have become a society that wastes a lot of food unnecessarily. That’s why more and more people bring home just a few pieces of fruit or small portions. Because they’re going to eat them fresh, bake something immediately, and throw the leftovers away in a few days.
Many of us are old enough to remember the pantry at home or at our grandmother’s houses FILLED with jars of pickles, salsas, meats, veggies, and of course, fruits! Most fruits and berries are relatively high in acidity, so they’re good candidates for canning. Large fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, and nectarines all can well. So do berries like blueberries and strawberries! Do you have to do some work? Absolutely. But it’ll be well worth it a few months from now when those fresh fruits AREN’T in season, yet you’re craving an apple pie or peach cobbler!
There are two ways to safely prepare fruit to be canned: raw pack and hot pack. Raw packing is faster and a bit less work (washing, slicing, and packing the fruit without pre-heating it), but it can result in pieces of fruit floating to the surface of the canning liquid and turn brown. Hot packing fruit significantly lowers the instance of ‘floating fruit’ and generally produces a better quality.
After you’ve ordered your fresh fruit from The Fruit Truck, here’s a list of tools that you will want to can your fruits:
Large non-reactive pot (not aluminum or copper)
chopstick or steak knife
canning pot w/ round jar rack
pint jars w/ rings and brand new lids
A general rule of thumb when deciding how much fruit goes in each jar is approximately a pound and a ¼ for a pint jar or 2 ½ pounds for a quart jar. Unlike canning meats, you can safely use a boiling water bath for canning fruits. Fill your canning pot with water, put it on the stove and set it to boil. Add a round rack to the pot. Wash the jars you’re going to be using. Either in hot soapy water in the sink or by running them through the dishwasher. Follow the instructions on your recipe. If it calls for less than ten minutes of processing in the boiling water bath, you’ll need to sterilize your jars. Place a fluffy towel somewhere it can stay undisturbed for at least 12 hours post-canning.
Follow usual canning steps including testing the seals. Any jars that didn’t seal properly should go into the refrigerator immediately and used within three days. Your freshly canned fruits? They should be good for up to a year!
Preparing your fruit for canning: You’ll want to get the skin off the fruit before canning them. For peaches, you can place half or whole peaches in a pot of boiling water (NOT your canning pot!) for about 30 seconds. Fish them out with a slotted spoon. Run under cold water for 30 seconds. The skins should remove very easily.
Apples won’t need to go through this boiling method, but you’ll still obviously want to peel and core them before slicing.
Blueberries just need to be washed and sorted to remove any stems while strawberries are washed and hulled.
Again, follow whichever recipe you choose for the fruit you are canning. Some fruits, you may want to can with an unsweetened fruit juice to help preserve the flavor. Other fruits, you’ll want to make a sugar syrup to add that extra ‘sweet’ and also to help preserve your canned fruits.
From there, enjoy your favorite baked goods for the next year with your canned fruit!
Why can foods? There are a number of reasons for doing it. In the long run, it saves you money. Buying fruit (or meat) in bulk already saved you money. But by canning, it eliminates the waste and the question of “what am I supposed to do with 20 pounds of fresh fruit?”
Health benefits. By canning fruits, vegetables, and meat at home, YOU know what’s in the jar. Preservative-free, no additives, no pesticides, and no concerns about BPA.
Eco-friendly. No more cans going to the landfill because you’ll re-use your empty jars for hopefully years to come!
There are many other reasons including necessity and gift-giving, but the bottom line is that it just tastes better! No commercially canned product will taste as good and fresh as fruits that were harvested in-season and turned into homemade preserves in your kitchen!
You don’t need to have a commercial kitchen or even a particularly large kitchen. I live in an apartment and for years have canned my own tomatoes and salsas. Now with the help of The Fruit Truck bringing in-season fresh fruits from orchards around the country right to my town, I’ll be enjoying homemade apple crisp and blueberry pie even when it’s NOT apple and blueberry season!