Many people think winter is ‘out-of-season’ as far as preserving goes. Try finding bottles, lids and other canning equipment in the dead of winter! But, there are those of us who just can’t stop preserving. And, why not? There are lots of options in winter if the larder is empty or the canning urge is great!
Winter fruits like apples, Anjou or Bosc pears, kiwi, figs or kumquats are available and ready to be transformed into jam, chutney, sauces or fruit butter. Mind you, there is also something simple and delicious about using the fruit naked. I’m thinking of a brown sugar and walnut stuffed baked apple or poached pears with a reduced port sauce. Fresh or preserved, winter fruit is a luxury we have in Ontario.
Dried fruits are also an option for preserving. For example, apricots or dried figs can be rehydrated and used in jams or preserves. Last winter I shared a recipe for dried apricot preserves which were great. Unfortunately, most dried fruits are treated with sulfites to preserve colour. So, if you are allergic to sulfites or are concerned about the preservative, buy organic and just accept the fact that the fruit will be dark as it naturally oxidizes. Alternatively, dehydrate your own fruit next summer pre-treating them with lemon juice, citric acid or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) before dehydrating to slow down oxidization. Dried fruit can be wholesome and is great cooking and preserving in winter.
Frozen fruit is an excellent option for preserving when the snow flies. Using fruit you froze in summer or buying Canadian frozen fruit works extremely well for jam, conserves, syrups and more. I have used frozen peaches, strawberries, mixed berries, blueberries, cranberries and mango with great success. The advantage of frozen fruit is its availability of course, but also the fact you get perfectly ripe fruit and combinations of fruit that would not normally be out at the same time. Here is a simple recipe from the Canadian Living preserving book using mixed berries.
For further information:
Winter Berry Jam
- 2 packages frozen mixed berries (600 gm each) thawed and crushed
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 TBSP bottled lemon juice
- 1 package light pectin crystals
- 4.5 cups sugar
- 2 TBSP Cassis or vodka (optional)
Combine fruit, lemon zest & juice, ¼ cup sugar and pectin in a large pan. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring constantly. Add sugar and return to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in alcohol if using.
Fill 1 cup jars (makes 7 cups) leaving ¼ inch headspace. Put on lids and screwbands. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner placing on a cutting board or dishcloth. Allow jars to rest untouched for 24 hours.
As winter takes hold, enjoy the aroma of bubbling preserves filling the house on a wintery day.