Amanda has over a decade's worth of homesteading experience: gardening, canning, butchering chickens, milking cows, and making maple syrup.
In this article, I will show you how to make your own fruit preserves and how to use them in a simple fruit cobbler. I will also discuss how being creative in the kitchen can lead to self-acceptance. I hope you will stay with me to the end. Let's get started.
How to Make Fruit Preserves (Any Type)
- Select your fruit. Use fresh fruit, not fruit that is rotting. You can use fruit that is blemished if you can cut the blemishes out.
- If you use some unripe fruit along with your ripe fruit, you can eliminate the need for pectin. Most fruits contain pectin; some types have more pectin than others. Unripe fruit has more pectin than ripe fruit. I do not add additional pectin to my preserves because I don't mind if they are a little runny. If you wish to use pectin, read the label to see when to add it to the recipe.
- Wash your fruit in cold water.
- Quarter the fruit and remove the pits, cores, and seeds.
- Chop the fruit to the size you wish for your preserves or use a food processor to shred the fruit.
- Place the fruit in a pot on the stove. Add up to 1/2 cup of water, cover, and cook to desired consistency. Remember to work in small batches so that you do not scorch your preserves. If you do end up scorching a batch, at least you won't have wasted all of your fruit. In my experience, there is no way to fix a scorched batch. It is best to feed it to the chickens.
- Add sugar and spices to taste. Stir well.
Now you are ready to can your preserves.
How to Can Fruit Preserves
- Sterilize your jars and new lids. There are several methods for doing this that can be found online.
- Preheat your water bath canner. If you have hard water, you can add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the water to keep it from leaving white residue on your jars. You may want to heat additional water in a kettle to add to the canner as needed.
- Preheat your jars by placing them on cookie sheets in a 170-degree oven. When you are ready to fill the jars, you can remove a whole cookie sheet and you are ready to go. You may also want to keep your lids warm in water on the back of the stove.
- Use a funnel and a ladle to carefully fill your jars. Fill to 1/4"–1/2" from the top of the jar. Place a lid and band on your jar and tighten.
- Carefully load jars into the canner basket and lower the basket into the water. Water should cover the tops to jars by at least an inch. Add hot water if needed, to be sure jars are adequately covered.
- Canner times vary by altitude. Look online for the recommended time for your location. If you can't find it, 15 minutes is a safe bet.
- Carefully lift the basket out of the water and remove your jars.
I like my peach preserves mildly sweet and a little on the chunky side. We eat them on toast, in vanilla yogurt, and right out of the jar! A little nutmeg gives them an interesting and robust flavor. They also make a great cobbler.
One year, I tried to make preserves from three boxes of store-bought peaches on the same day as saucing and canning 400 pounds of tomatoes! I ended up chopping and pitting the peaches and storing them in the freezer until I had time to make preserves. Apples and peaches store well in the freezer if you don't have time to process them when they are ripe.
We planted our plum tree shortly after we moved to our farm. It took several years for it to produce. Then, it burst forth with a bountiful supply of tiny, cherry-sized plums. My girls will never forget the tedious task of pitting all those little plums. They made wonderful preserves with a slightly wild taste.
Apple sauce is made in exactly the same way as the fruit preserves above. If you like your apple sauce chunky, cut your apples to the desired size and reduce the cook time, as apples turn to mush if you cook them too long. If you want a finer sauce, you can use a potato masher to mush it up as it cooks. We leave the skins on our apples, but for a finer sauce, you could remove them. We like our apple sauce on the tart side, so I only add enough sugar to take the edge off. Sometimes we add a little cinnamon, which makes the house smell wonderful. Apple sauce makes a great cobbler!
Simple Fruit Cobbler Recipe
- 1 pint fruit filling (homemade preserves, applesauce, berries, or a 16 oz. can of store-bought pie filling)
- 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter, melted
- 1/2 cup flour (I use gluten free)
- 1/2 cup sugar (feel free to cut down on the sugar or use an alternative sweetener)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- Melt the butter and pour into your baking dish. (This recipe is for a 9” round baking dish. You can adapt the recipe to fit a larger pan.)
- In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and any spices you wish to add. Use a wire whisk to mix.
- Add milk to flour mixture and stir until evenly combined.
- Pour batter into the center of the baking dish.
- Pour (or spoon) fruit into the center of the baking dish. The butter and batter should move to the sides of the dish. As it bakes, the batter will come up around the sides and form a crust on the top. Do not stir. (Note that if you are using raw fruit, you may need to add sugar and water to make a bit of syrup around your fruit, otherwise it may be too dry.)
- Top with a dusting of cinnamon sugar or crumb topping (optional).
- Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cobbler is brown around the edges and the middle is bubbling.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream on top (optional).
- Add an egg to the batter to make a fluffier crust.
- Pour the batter over the top of the fruit.
- Try using different fruits and spices.
- Add a crumb topping.
- If you are really creative, you could try adapting the recipe to make a meal dish, such as quiche. You could make it the same way, but instead of fruit, pour your egg mixture into the center of the batter.
- Experiment and have fun!
How Creativity in the Kitchen Can Lead to Self-Acceptance
I’m a bit of a rebel when it comes to following a recipe. To me, a recipe is more of a guideline, so that in the end you have something close to what you were trying to make. I believe in creativity and authenticity, making something that suits your personal tastes. Straying from the recipe might be scary at first, but it can also be freeing. It might seem silly, but cooking can become a lesson in self-acceptance. Being okay with your creation, no matter how it turns out, is giving yourself grace. Grace leads to acceptance, and acceptance leads to love.
Usually, the recipe will taste good, even if it doesn’t look good or have the right consistency. Take brownies for example; unless you totally burn them to inedible char, they taste good. I’ve had brownies I had to eat with a spoon, and brownies that were the consistency of pound cake. But, they were still brownies and I liked them. If you make something and it doesn’t turn out quite right, don’t give up! It is a learning process. Tweak your recipe until you get the result you are going for. But in the process, relax, be free, and practice loving yourself and your mistakes.
Here is an excellent recipe guideline that you can play with. It is a simple fruit cobbler. You can use whatever fruit you like. You can make it in whatever size and shape you like. I have used a 9” round pie pan and a 9”x13” rectangular pan. I have made apple cobbler, peach cobbler, cherry cobbler, rhubarb cobbler, grape cobbler, and I think I made a garden huckleberry cobbler one year. You can play with adding different spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and allspice to the batter. I adapted this recipe from a family cookbook.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Amanda Buck