3 September 2007

Preserving your harvest

Bread and butter cucumbers with red onion and mustard seeds.

I have only one jar of peach jam left! It's my favorite. I'm hoping to keep this jar going until the peaches are ready to be picked this year. My sister is visiting soon, when she arrives I doubt there will be much hope for the peach jam.

Tomato relish and ginger beer.
I make chutney, relish, sauces, jams, marmalade, butters and cordials during the year. My aim is to make and preserve as many of these things as I can so I'm not buying inferior products at the market. My preserving season will start soon. I'll fire up the old Fowlers water bath and start stacking my shelves with home grown and home preserved goodies.

Home made tomato sauce, made with Amish paste tomatoes.

The first step in this process is to collect a many jars as possible. I have quite a few Fowlers Vacola jars - my favourites are a set of 80 year old jars that are a greenish colour, but I also recycle the French jam jars with the gingham lids and Aldi have recently been selling some jam in nice jars. The thing you look for is a wide mouth on the jar for easy filling. The lids need to be in perfect condition with the rubbery seal inside the lid undamaged. You can buy new lids for these jars. Here is part of my collection of jars. As you can see I reuse a lot of varying sizes. If it's not good enough for preserving, it's generally good enough for storing dry goods in the cupboard.

Some of the jars I use for the various sauces and jams.

Preserving anything generally happens in two stages. Stage one is when you cook the jam, relish or sauce, stage two is transferring the product to a jar or bottle and boiling it long enough to kill bacteria. If you do that correctly, you can store your goods for a year in the cupboard. Sometimes, when I make a small amount of something that I know will be eaten within a couple of months, I don't boil the jars, and just store them in the fridge. Some things can be safely stored that way for a short amount of time.

Pickled onions and beetroot. The beetroot was home grown, the onions bought at the market.

It's coming up to preserving season here, or canning season for our North American friends. I always make peach jam, but this year I'll also make orange marmalade, lemon cordial, ginger beer, tomato sauce, tomato relish, chilli jam, bread and butter cucumbers, pickled onions, beetroot, lemon butter, strawberry jam and rosella jam. This year I'll be making rosella cordial too. There has been research at the Queensland University that indicates eating rosellas in jams and cordials helps reduce blood pressure. H suffers for high blood pressure so I'm hoping to make enough rosella cordial for the year and keep it in the cupboard. I'm sowing rosella seeds next week and when they're a good size, we'll plants about 20 bushes out in the front garden.

Lemon cordial, made from home grown lemons. It is really satisfying to be able to offer friends and family home made refreshing drinks on a hot day. This lemon cordial with crushed ice, cold water and some mint leaves is a wonderful drink during summer.

I'll write more about preserving when I'm actually doing it and if there is anyone here who'd like to learn, I'm happy to post a tutorial and share photos and ideas.

We love eating peaches fresh, but if we have an abundance, I always preserve some for eating later in the year when peaches are a pleasant memory.



  1. Hi Rhonda,
    I would love to read any posts/recipes you do on canning. I have done it before, but only with acidic foods so I have not done it with a pressure canner. The only reason I hesitate now to do canning is I lost my sense of smell. I'm afraid that I'd open a jar and it might be spoiled and I wouldn't know it.

    Your canned items look wonderful.

  2. Hi Lyn, I don't have a pressure canner and only do water bath preserving. : )

  3. Will you share some of your recipes for lemon butter, ginger beer, lemon cordial (and raspberry cordial if you have one)?
    We don't make "cordials" here in the States any more, even in the South. I've old-timers referring to them, but don't have any idea how to make them.
    And what is Rosella? I mean, besides some kind of plant that grows to a bush.
    You pictures look great!

  4. Rhonda, these are absolutely beautiful!

    I'm curious about the jars of bread and butter pickles. Since they are re-used lids, do you store the pickles in the refrigerator? I've never canned anything except with fresh lids to make jars pantry-safe.

  5. I'm really starting to get the hang of preserving now and can't wait for the summer fruit crop.

    K has always said he hates marmalade but since I made some with the fruit from our own young citrus trees he eagerly spreads it on his toast every morning and he eats bottled plums that he wouldn't bother with if they came from a supermarket can.

  6. I love your blog. I too, can ,freeze,or dry most of our foods. I'm happy to see you use a water bath only ,I only use water bath and seems here in the states most people I know use pressure canners.I have a Ball blue book with waterbath recipes but most are for pressure.
    Your food looks so yummy.:o)

  7. You crazy Queenslander, we don't have anything in our garden to harvest, we are just getting the blossom on our fruit trees and the broad beans are miniscule.

  8. I made the lemon cordial which was lovely but stored it in the pantry. They tasted a bit beery when I used them. I suppose they are best to store in the fridge all the time. (if you have the room)

  9. Hi Rhonda,
    Last year i fianlly purchased a Fowlers Vacola unit and I too am slowly building up my collection of jars. So far I have only used the FV jars or mason jars. I will have to start saving a few of my other jars for jams this year as the FV jars are too large for jams, plus I have yet to acquire any plastic storage lids for them.
    I look forward to seeing a few more of your recipes this year :)

  10. Hello and greetings from Spain,
    I've found your blog while browsing and you've got a very good one. It'll be great to see your recipes for these treats.

  11. I'd love to know how to make the lemon cordial please Rhonda :)

  12. Hi Rhonda. I would love to read more posts on preserving of any kind :) A neighbour gave me a bag of limes last week. I made lime marmalade, sorbet and a syrup of 50/50 lime juice and sugar. I hoped it would dilute to make a cordial but it doesn't taste quite right. Where did I go wrong? Should I have added something else? Your peaches looked good. How do you keep the fruit flies out of them? I love reading your blog :) Many thanks Linda

  13. Oh, everything looks so yummy and beautiful! I hope to have my own small harvest this year so that I can preserve some. I am still trying to get used to the Florida climate/gardening season. I would love the recipe for your lemon cordial. My mom has a lemon tree and we're always trying to think of ways to use it.

  14. I love reading these kinds of posts. I'm nowhere near canning my own goods (should probably wait until I've grown some first!) but I love to read about all these kind of fabulously domestic (and wonderfully useful) things. I guess it's nicer to read about it than to actually be stuck in a sweltering kitchen with ten more kilos of fruit to can!

  15. Preserves!

    Oh, how I love thee...

  16. I would love for you to share you preserving recipes. I have had the good fortune to be able to get a vocola outfit and Im looking forward to preserving. I have rosella seeds up at the moment ( thanks for sending the seeds Rhonda).
    I havent been on much lately as more people are visiting and work on our property is progressing. Thanks Marlo

  17. Please do share much more! I love to can and just finished canning 7 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 36 pints plus a quart of vegetable soup! I'd love to have some of your recipes from the items you mentioned in your post. I find your photos beautiful! We use ball jars here that I have purchased or have been handed down to me through my parents and other relatives, but your canning jars and lids are so pretty!

  18. Home grown lemons! I envy you....... Lovely blog!

  19. Hi Rhonda,
    I made some bread and butter cucumbers using your recipe. The syrup is delicious!
    Unfortunately, some of my cucumbers are bitter. I used apple cucumbers. I cannot work out why some of my cucumbers would be bitter and others not!
    Can you provide any insight?

    I'm also going to attempt your Lemon Pie. Looks interesting and tasty! I will let you know how it turns out.

    Best Wishes for the New Year,

  20. I love the picture of the bread and butter pickles. Could you post the recipe?
    It's winter here in northwest Ohio, but we are dreaming of the days of summer yet to come. We normally have a large garden, and those pickles look wonderful!

  21. Instead of making high-sugar jam turn your fruit into fruit butter--no dairy, fruit butters are just boiled down fruits--a Google or two will turn up lots of information and recipes.

  22. Rhonda - Do you/can you reuse the screw top lids from jars you buy at the store? Like jelly jars?

  23. Yes Allison, I do recycle jars and their lids. Look for a good quality lid with that little rubber seal on the underside of the lid and as you reuse them, check that the rubber bit doesn't perish. Make sure your recycled lids are always rust and dent free. Recycling is always a good option and if your jars and lids are in good condition, you can safely reuse them.

  24. Hello, and thank you for sharing your talents and skills with us. My husband and I moved to rural setting 3 years ago. I am canning, freezing,dehydrating....and, of course, gardening. It is a steep learning curve for me, but I am enjoying the process. I am grateful for any and all tips, hints, tutorials....
    Many thanks, Shannon

  25. Hi Rhonda
    I'm starting my very first vegetable patch and would love to know how to preseve the vegetables i collect also how to make pasta sauces and preserve them.
    Any tips would be greatly appreciated :)

  26. Dear Rhonda
    I love preserving the excess from my veggie patch. I have a couple of questions. When I preserve Bread and Butter pickle, or pickled beetroot, some of the vegetables stick up above the vinegar, like an iceberg. I wonder if the veggie sticking up above the level of the vinegar could turn bad?
    Secondly, as I live in Brisbane in this sub tropical climate, is it ok to store the unopened jars of preserves in the pantry. Or should they be stored in the fridge? Thanks. Jean Burke


I welcome readers' comments. However, this blog never publishes business links or advertisements. If you're operating a business and want to leave your link here, I will delete your comment .

Blogger Template by pipdig