Since my mom is moving, I am working to clean out my freezer so she can send food she can’t take with to my house. My freezer is so full of food that I bought with the idea of canning. The problem is that the window for canning fresh foods is narrow. If you aren’t ready when the food is, you miss that opportunity. My solution has often been to throw it in the freezer. Unfortunately, we have a chest freezer so food is easily lost and forgotten.
I can’t give you perfect instructions here but I can give you information to move your fruit from your freezer to your pantry. Later this week, I’ll share my cherry pie filling experience.
I want to note that fruit that was frozen is always softer than fruit that is fresh. By canning it, it will be even softer. My plan is to use this fruit as ingredients in other recipes instead of opening a can for just eating.
I pulled the fruit out of the freezer and let it thaw some. Some were completely thawed by the time I got them in jars but I found that it was easier for the fruit to be frozen unless it froze in a big lump.
I filled my jars with as much fruit as I could get into the jars. I also added 1/2 cup of sugar per quart jar (1/4 cup for pints). I figured that the melting fruit would create the liquid I would need. After filling all the jars, I left them overnight to thaw.
I did notice that some were not as full as I would have thought when morning came. The easy solution was to fill the jars with cool water to the required amount for canning.
Once I was ready to can, I filled my canner with jars and then covered them with lukewarm water. My fruit was no longer frozen but I couldn’t guarantee they were all room temperature. Putting them in cool water meant that my jars would not break as they were boiling.
Now this does take a longer amount of time. Once boiling had been reached, then I boiled the jars for the time recommended. If you are boiling a variety of fruits, then pick the longest time.
For information on canning times, see the National Center for Home Food Preservation or your current canning book.
It doesn’t make sense to dump out the water every single time I can a batch. So when I had hot water, I would rest the next batch in the hot water for about 30 minutes so the jars and the water would become close in temperature before turning the heat on to boil the water.
I took my time and changed the water if it got gross but not before that. The result was I didn’t lose a single jar and gained half a freezer.
I didn’t hesitate to mix fruits. I have a jar of blueberries with apricots.
Now what am I going to do with this fruit – I can’t say exactly but I’m thinking these will be good jars of fruit for dump cakes. I’m also thinking that running some jars through the food mill will give me bases for a variety of sauces. Milling them and then cooking them down might just give me jams or jellies.
I do want to note that my pie filling recipe started with frozen cherries so there may be other canning recipes that require frozen fruit to start with. You should never feel like once you have frozen foods that you are stuck with them frozen. We’ve dehydrated frozen fruits in the past. The trick to that is to thaw them in a colander over a bowl and then dehydrate once they are done releasing liquid. Not only do you start with less water in your food, you get some amazing juice. I have to tell you that I never realized how awesome onion juice is for cooking.
Now the real trick here is to eat the canned foods. We’ve gotten a little out of sight/out of mind with the canning so we’ll be renewing our task of eating what we have. Especially now that we are almost out of jars.