Oven processing small batches of fruit

24 March 2011
Congratulations to Monique on the birth of a beautiful daughter.  There is no news yet about Sunny and Kerry's baby but we expect him very soon.  I thought he might be born on the 22 March but the actual due date is this Sunday.  I'll let you all know when we get the phone call.  It's so exciting waiting for a new baby!

Hanno bought some of his favourite sugar plums quite cheaply the other day and I thought if we could get some more at that price I'd put up a couple of jars for him. Summer fruits are fading fast now but sometimes you can get a nice bargain with them at this time of year.  They're are such a treat later when grey skies and cold winds come calling.  If we can find more cheap plums now it will only be a small amount and not worth getting the preserving unit out for such an amount.  I'll do them in the oven instead.

I have been reading through my book, The Thrifty Kitchen, and in there is a very good guide for oven processing small amounts of fruit - page 153.  All I need now are some recycled jars, sugar syrup and a bit of time, oh, and the plums.

The Thrifty Kitchen recipe calls for 2kg|4.4lbs of any stone fruit - peaches, nectarines, apricots or plums to make one litre|quart of fruit. Preheat the oven to 120C|250F, wash your jars thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse in warm water and place them in the oven, opening upwards, for 20 minutes.  Then,
  1. Wash the fruit well, cut in half and remove the stone.  Then place the fruit carefully into a clean jar. Pack it in well, and, with the handle of a wooden spoon, push the fruit into the jar with out damaging it.  The fruit will reduce in size as it's being processed.
  2. Place the jars on an oven tray without them touching each other.  Put the lids on the jars but don't screw them on. 
  3. Put the tray of jars on the low shelf in the oven on 120C|250F and leave them for 45 minutes.

  1. Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, make the sugar syrup - 3 cups of water mixed with 2 cups of white sugar and heated until the sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Remove the tray of jars from the oven and carefully pour the syrup into the jars, filling them to the top with about 5 mm headspace.  
  3. Replace the lids and seal the jars.  You can turn the jars over to rest on their lids.  I do that sometimes, sometimes I don't.
  4. Place all the jars on a tea towel to cool and leave overnight.
The next day test that the jars are airtight by unscrewing the jar slightly and holding the jar by the lid.  If it doesn't pop open and stays closed, it's airtight and can be stored in your cupboard for a few months.  If it's not airtight, store it in the fridge.  When you open the fruit to eat it, store it in the fridge if you don't finish the whole jar straight away.

The Thrifty Kitchen is published by Lantern ISBN 13579108642.


  1. That is a wonderful book, Rhonda. Both in terms of its usefulness as a resource and also in terms of its general aesthetic appeal. Our many fruit trees are yet to yield a decent amount of fruit, but this is a good reminder re which book (one of them, anyway) to turn to, when the time comes.
    I imagine you are beside yourself with anticipation for baby news!
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  2. I love reading your blog! I'm a kindred spirit and strive to live a gentle life. Thanks for all of your lovely posts!

  3. Rhonda we got our new grandaughter on 21st March - she was a week late but perfect and beautiful. You and Hano are in for the best of times.

  4. so nice to have a reminder of autumn which for us was six months ago, spring is just about to spring for us (I hope!)

  5. That's a great idea; thanks, I'll go back to that when we get autumn!

  6. Thanks Rhonda, I must go back to this page as I have missed reading this. Looking forward to your good news, I already think of the bub as "poppet" because of the mistake I made with one of your recent Sunday posts.

  7. That way of preserving looks really yummy! I am sure the fruit would just dry cook a bit in the oven and get a bit caramelly and then the syrup goes in..... I can taste it now!!!!
    I have had a real glut of stone fruit this year and have probably bottled way too many. It looks so good in the cupboard, all shining like jewels! But we still have the pears, watermelons, apples and figs on the trees to eat before we can touch the preserved apricots and peaches. A wonderful life! Sending you love and best wishes for the new babies and don't take notice of any mean spirited people.They are just jealous of your happiness and success.

  8. Congratulations on the baby news. It must be so exciting for you both.
    I will certainly have a go at the fruit. You make it sound so easy.

  9. That's a great way to process small amounts of fruit. I've copied it for later use. I learn so many new things from reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your vast amount of knowledge.

  10. Rhonda yes new babies are always so much fun to anticipate. Congratulations to the new parents.
    Thank you for this post I have never tried it this way it is worth trying. B

  11. This is a wonderful tip! Thanks for sharing. I often need to process small batches and hate to drag out the water bath canner for a few jars.

  12. Thanks Rhonda. This looks like a good way to preserve a little summer fruit for those of us that didn't get around to it this summer. The book looks like a worthwhile purchase.

  13. I bought 2 copies of The Thrifty Kitchen when you mentioned it previously, one for myself and one for UniDD. I've done a few recipes from it and find it just as wonderful as it's 'predecessor', the Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery.
    I'll have to catch up on all the baby news in a couple of weeks when I return from a trip away. Sending best wishes that all goes smoothly with the entry of your grandson into the world.

  14. Oh I didn't know you could do that!
    Our clingstone peach tree is nearly ready for picking - I might try and do a few jars like that.
    Cant wait to make Delia's Peach and Almond Pudding again this year.
    It's DE-LISH-US.

    Currently madly making tomato chutney, tomato pickles and tomato relish - can't really get into tomato jam. It's amazing how much fruit you can get from 2 little tomato plants!
    And gearing up to process stacks of apples.

  15. I am excited for you all! Congratulations.

  16. We are innundated with strawberries right now....I will try this as I love to buy a lot but can never eat all that I buy!

  17. I had no idea you could still preserve this way. I thought it was thought a while back to be unsafe. Good to know it is ok! I also have only a little to can at a time and this will be so useful! I am smiling still over your announcement of the new baby! Such a wonderful time of life!! I am so happy for you and Hanno..and of course the parents too!! :) Sarah

  18. I learned something new today, thank you Rhonda!

    I will need to check into this book.

    As a grandma to a 9 month old darling girl, I know you will love being a Grandmother. Such joy!

  19. I don't know if I would recommend that method; the reason the water bath canner works to keep foods safe is that the water is dense, it is boiling, and it circulates around the jars continuously to get the heat (which kills any bacteria) to the middles of the jars and evenly throughout the jars. Steam does NOT do this, nor does hot air -- they just aren't dense enough. I know of someone local to me who got botulism just this past year due to improper canning with grapefruit. I wouldn't risk it.

  20. tinfoilhat, did your neighbour use this method? It's strange they got botulism from grapefruit - it such a high acid food. Australians and people in the UK have been using this method for many many years and we're all still here to tell the tale. The US have strict guidelines and still manage many instances of botulism every year. I would not recommend anything I thought would be harmful and have no hesitation in using this method.

  21. The minimum temperature of 120 degrees C in the oven will make it safe, and prevent Botulism. 116 degreesC is the absolute minimum requirement. See http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile22.stm
    Interesting it says "High-acid foods such as plums or rhubarb are quite resistant to bacteria, and only require the “boiling water bath” method of canning" so Rhonda, you are quite right with your posting. 45 mins in the oven is going to heat your food through pretty well - unlike the microwave. Love, Love LOVE your blog Rhonda :D

  22. Oops, forgot to add that I DO leave my jars in the oven WITH the fruit in them to cook through, after they have been oven sterilised. That is what I meant by heating the jar contents through. Kind of comes out like stewed fruit, but very nice. Take out, allow to cool until 'just' bearable to pop the sterilised lids on, then cover with a tea towel. Hope that helps.

  23. Thanks Di. I know this is a touchy subject with many countries having different standards so it's good to have confirmation that you do it this way as well, and it works.



Thank you for your comment. They are an important part of my blog because they help build the community here. Please don't add links or email addresses to your comment. This is a family-friendly blog and I don't have the time to check all the links before I publish them.

These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.