It is important to pick fruit that tastes good when canning. It should be ripe. It will be firm but not really hard and should not be mushy. Once you start canning it, the fruit won't change its taste. If you like it now, you will like it when it comes out of the can months later.
There are some things that are not usually found in the kitchen that you will want. Some things you will have, such as saucepans, bowls, and ladles. You need to be prepared with all equipment before you wash the fruit.
- water bath canner
- set with funnel, tongs, lid lifter, and headspace measure
- lids and bands
- Fruit Fresh (prevents darkening of fruit) or lemon juice
- thick towel
Preparing the Jars
To prepare the jars, they can be washed in a dishwasher if it has a sanitizing cycle. The jars can be left in the dishwasher on a heat cycle. The lids need to be washed and left in the hot water. The canner needs to be filled so that there will be an inch of boiling water over the top of the jars.
Preparing the Fruit
You would probably be happiest with fruit you can pick yourself or fruit at a good farmer's market. They also have co-ops in some places that you can belong to and get fresh farm produce as each season changes. It will take about 17 1/2 pounds of fruit to fill one canner of about 7 quarts.
The syrup will help the color and retain its shape. Light to heavy syrup can be used. I prefer light syrup. I use 2 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water. I add sugar to my heating water in a saucepan. I let it come to a gentle boil and keep it hot until I add the nectarine.
Canning the Nectarines
- The jars are ready and waiting, still hot in the heat cycle of the dishwasher. You have your hot simple syrup. It is time to wash the fruit. Use cool to lukewarm water to wash the nectarines.
- To peel most fruits, you need to drop them into boiling water for about 60 seconds and then move them into a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in it. The skin should slide off. Cut the nectarine in half and take out the seed. Cut the fruit if you like or leave it in halves.
- Since fruit will turn brown when exposed to the air, you need to sprinkle 1/4 cup of lemon juice or Fruit Fresh so that all sides of the fruit is covered. Move the nectarine into the hot syrup for about 5 minutes.
- Pack the nectarines into the jar. Put the cut side down and stack the rest of the jar with the nectarines until it is full. Pour the hot syrup over the nectarines until there is about 1/2 inch headspace in the jar. Take the air bubbles out and check the headspace again.
- Wipe the jar's rim off before the lid and bands are tightened on the jar. Place jars in canner and process for 20 minutes. When they are processed, take each jar from the canner and place on the thick towel on the counter. Let the jars cool. Check seal and bands should be removed before storing the nectarines.
By Mary Belk