Pucker up for a different kind of pickle

Pickled fruits are an ideal accompaniment for meat, poultry and fish entrees. Pickling fruit can add months to their shelf life because they are processed in a hot water bath.

Have you ever had a fruit pickle? Fruit pickles are usually prepared from whole fruits and simmered in spicy, sweet and sour syrup. Pickled fruits are an ideal accompaniment for meat, poultry and fish entrees. It also adds a fresh complement to rich casseroles and stews, or a sweet and savory dessert. Once simmered with spices and vinegar, fruits like peaches, pears and plums take on a new dimension. Another plus to pickling fruit is that the process adds months to their shelf life. Because you process them in a hot-water bath, you can enjoy late summer and autumn fruit throughout winter.

Michigan State University Extension recommends when choosing fruits to preserve, to look for unblemished fruit that is ripe enough to be flavorful, but not so ripe that the finished pickle is mushy.

Here are some ideas for serving fruit pickles. As an appetizer they are wonderful on a cheese plate or as a sandwich side instead of the usual cucumber pickle. Use them with braised or roasted meats, or mixed into salads. Sweeter, more syrupy pickles like pickled peaches can even be spooned over vanilla ice cream or served plain with simple cookies for dessert. For more on home food preservation enroll in MSU Extension’s online home food preservation course.

Use the following ingredients to get started preserving this wonderful taste from summer that can be savored long into the winter.

Fruit – Select slightly under-ripe fruits (under-ripe fruits will retain their shape and texture better after pickling). Fruit is usually pickled whole or halved. Select uniform size pieces for each jar. Fruits suitable for pickling include apples, crab apples, peaches, pears, figs, plums and watermelon rind. Smaller fruits such as blueberries, seedless grapes and gooseberries can also be pickled.

Vinegar – Use a high-grade cider or white distilled vinegar of five percent or 50 grain acidity. Cider vinegar has a mellow acidic taste but may darken light colored fruits. White distilled vinegar has a sharp, pungent, acidic taste and is recommended for light colored fruits. Do not dilute the vinegar unless specified in the recipe.

Spices – Ground spices will change the color of the fruit pickle, so it is preferred to use whole spices. Spices are usually cooked in the brine and then removed before the pickles are processed. You can vary the spices you add.

Sugar – You can use either white granulated or brown sugar in pickle recipes. Brown sugar should not be used with light colored fruits.

Preparation and storage – The following directions and recipes were adapted from “So Easy to Preserve” Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Pear Pickles

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) sugar
  • 1 quart (4 cups) white vinegar (5%)
  • 1 pint (2 cups) water
  • 8 cinnamon sticks (2-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice
  • 8 pounds (4-5 quarts) Seckel pears or other pickling pear

Yield: About 7 or 8 pint jars

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Procedure: Combine sugar, vinegar, water and cinnamon sticks; add cloves and allspice that are tied in a clean, thin, white cloth. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes.

Wash pears, remove skins, and all of blossom end; the stems may be left on if desired. If pears are large, halve or quarter them. To prevent peeled pears from darkening during preparation, immediately after peeling, put them into a cold solution containing one-half teaspoon ascorbic acid per two quarts water. Drain pears just before using.

Add drained pears to the hot syrup, bring to a boil, lower heat and continue simmering for another 20 to 25 minutes.

Pack hot pears into hot pint jars; add one two-inch piece cinnamon stick per jar. Cover pears with boiling syrup, leaving one-half inch headspace and making sure pears are covered by the syrup. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Pear Pickles in a boiling-water canner.

Process Time at Altitudes of

Style of Pack

Jar Size

0 - 1,000 ft

1,001 - 3,000 ft

3,001 - 6,000 ft

Above 6,000 ft

Hot

Pints

20 min

25 min

30 min

35 min

Spiced Apple Rings

  • 12 pounds firm tart apples (maximum diameter 2 1/2 inches)
  • 12 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups white vinegar (5%)
  • 3 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 3/4 cup red hot cinnamon candies or 8 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

Yield: About 8 to 9 pints

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Procedure: Wash apples. To prevent discoloration, peel and slice one apple at a time. Immediately cut crosswise into one-half inch slices, remove core area with a melon baller and immerse in ascorbic acid solution. To make flavored syrup, combine sugar water, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon candies, or cinnamon sticks and food coloring in a six quart saucepan. Stir, heat to boil, and simmer three minutes. Drain apples, add to hot syrup, and cook five minutes. Fill jars (preferably wide-mouth) with apple rings and hot flavored syrup, leaving one-half inch headspace. Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in Table 1.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Spiced Apple Rings in a boiling-water canner.

Process Time at Altitudes of

Style of Pack

Jar Size

0 - 1,000 ft

1,001 - 6,000 ft

Above 6,000 ft

Hot

Half-pints
or Pints

10 min

15 min

20 min

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