Making the syrup
Water can be used, but syrup gives a better flavour and colour. The syrup's strength varies depending on the type of fruit, and averages about 200–250 g sugar to every 600 ml of water. Boil half the water. Add the sugar and boil for 1 minute, then add the rest of the water. Sometimes the syrup is simply poured cold over the fruit and sometimes it is used hot.
Packing the fruit
Choose fruit of uniform size, and use a bottling spoon or wooden stick to pack it in tightly without damaging it. A 500 g bottle will hold up to 350 g of most types of fruit. If syrup is to be added before processing it can be poured in when the bottle is full of fruit. It is easier, however, to pack the fruit and syrup in layers. Release any air bubbles by jerking the jar. Top up with syrup until the fruit is covered. Put on the tops.
Sterilising the fruit: There are three methods.
Slow water-bath method - Slacken the screw caps off a quarter of a turn to allow the steam to escape during processing. Spring clips are designed to permit this without being loosened. Place the bottles on the false bottom of a large pan – a wire grid or thick layer of newspaper – and put folded cloth or newspaper between the bottles to prevent them touching when the water boils. Fill the pan with cold water until the bottles are completely submerged, cover the pan with a lid and heat slowly. After 1 hour the water should just be reaching 55°C. After a further 30 minutes the water should reach the recommended temperature. When the bottles have been kept at the correct temperature for the exact time, remove them from the pan with bottling tongs, or bale out water so you can pick the bottles up with a cloth. As each jar is removed, place it on a dry, wooden surface – it is liable to crack on a metal surface – and tighten the screw caps at once. As the bottles cool, screw down further if necessary.
Quick water-bath method - Fill the warm bottles with prepared fruit and pour in hot syrup up to the brim. Cover the bottles and place them in a pan in which a false bottom has been created, as described above. Pack further layers of newspaper or cloth between bottles to prevent them banging together. Add warm water to cover the jars. Heat the water slowly so it reaches simmering point after 30 minutes, then simmer for a further 2–50 minutes. Remove the bottles using tongs and tighten the screw tops.