We use bottling as a generic term to refer to preserving fruit in bottles, jars, and even cans (if you have the right equipment). We are going to describe how the process works using jars, but you can easily adapt it for other kinds of storage vessels.
You can buy preserving jars, but it can be quite expensive. Second-hand jam or pickle jars are usually suitable, as long as they have a metal lid that can be sealed air-tight.
You can use just about any fruit to bottle; from pears to apples, peaches or plums. There is no limit to what kind of fruit you wish to bottle, it simply comes down to choosing the best preparation method based on the fruit you''re using. For instance, removing skins, stones, cores, and dicing. You may wish to add sugar to your fruit during the boiling process, but we like to leave the fruit as natural as possible.
Step one: Prepare the fruit by peeling and then cutting out any inedible bits, decoring and and then cutting into halves, quarters, or slices.
Step two: Bring the fruit to the boil in a large saucepan and simmer at least 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the next step. You may need to add a little water to thin the mixture and prevent it sticking to the pan.
Step three: Clean your jars and lids and then heat them up by placing in boiling water. This process will help kill any bugs and will ensure the jars are hot so they don''t crack when you pour the stewed fruit mixture in. Also sterilize a soup ladle or large spoon with boiling water.
Note: Ideally you should sterilize preserving jars/bottles in a pressure cooker (which can get up to temperatures in excess of boiling). This process ensures all bugs are killed and prevents problems such as botulism.
Step four: While the fruit is still simmering over a low heat, pick up a jar with a tea towel or oven mitts (it will be hot) and use the soup ladle to fill the jar right to the top with the stewed fruit mixture. There should be as little space as possible at the top of the jar. You may even fill it to over flowing and then clean the outside of the jar later.
Step five: Screw the lid on tightly and leave the jar to cool, after about 20 mins to 1hr the lid should "pop" down (most jars have a "button" on top to indicate it is sealed). If the lid pops down then you know that no air can get into the jar and spoil the contents.
Fruit stored in this way will keep almost indefinitely if the jar remains sealed. Store your jars of fruit in a cupboard or on a shelf as an attractive kitchen display.