A generation ago bottling and preserving was the only way of eating well through Winter. Now, with supermarkets and freezers, these traditional methods are not as common. But if you like knowing what's in your food and you're a DIY-er like us, old school preserving is very rewarding.
This beginner's guide to making your first preserve from Kilner is a fantastic resource for starting your preserving but it's equally a great refresher for everyone about to make their first batch of the season.
Step 1 - Sterilising Jars
Essential for the preserving process, sterilising jars is required to remove all bacteria, yeasts, fungi and organisms from the jar so that when you use it for preserving, the food will remain fresh within the vacuum. The first process of sterilization, is to check the jars or bottles thoroughly for damage such as cracks, breaks, and chips. If you find any of your jars or bottles are damaged you must discard them.
Step 1: Remove the lids or rubber seals from your jars and put to one side. Next place the jars into a jam pan and fill with water until jars are covered. Bring to the boil and keep at the maximum temperature for 10 minutes, turn the heat off and cover the pan to keep the jars warm until you are ready to fill them.
Step 2: Place vacuum seal lids or rubber seals in a small pan and fill with 4 inches of water, heat and simmer at 82 degrees for 10 minutes, turn the heat off and cover the pan until you are ready to seal the jars.
Step 2 - Prepare Your Recipe
Once you have selected your recipe follow its instructions for preparation and making.
Hint: always read your recipe through a couple of times before you start making so that you are familiar with the process and have all of the ingredients to hand.
Step 3 - Fill Your Jars
Once your recipe is ready carefully remove your sterilised jars from the vessel keeping them warm. If they contain any water tip it away carefully.
Place the empty jars onto a heat proof surface such as a chopping board and place a funnel, if using, into your first jar, then using a ladle, transfer your recipe from the pan to your jars making sure to fill them to the point indicated by your recipe.
Once each jar is filled use a metallic spatula to remove any air bubbles by running it around the inside of the jar between the food and the jar. Finally wipe the rim and threads of the jar to remove any food debris.
Step 4 - Close Your Jars
You need to close them whilst the contents are still hot. If you are using a preserve jar, place the discs onto your jars, add the screw top band and tighten.
If you are using a Kilner clip top jar, place the rubber seals onto the top of the jar and close the clips. Place the jar in a large pan and cover the whole jar with water. Bring to the boil for 30 minutes. Once boiled, leave the water and jars to cool completely before removing. The process of boiling the jars in water is adding extra heat to the contents, which is allowing a vacuum seal to form.
The water bath method is only required if you are using clip top jars.
Step 5 - Checking The Airtight Seal Has Formed
Now your jars are closed you need to leave them to cool for 24 hours untouched. After the 24 hour cooling period you need to check your jars to make sure an airtight seal has formed.
To check the seal of a screw band jar; undo screw-band and lift the jar by the lid only. If an airtight seal has formed the lid will not move, now fasten clip and store. If the lid moves an airtight seal has not formed and you must reprocess your jars or eat the contents immediately.
To check the seal of a clip top Kilner jar; undo the clip and lift the Kilner jar by the lid only. If an airtight seal has formed the lid will not move, now fasten clip and store. If the lid moves, an airtight seal has not formed and you must reprocess your Kilner jars or eat the contents immediately.
Once the seals have formed, store your preserve jars in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Once the jars have been opened only store your jars in the fridge and consume the contents within 2 weeks.