Gauteng Smallholder Gauteng Smallholder November 2011 - Page 43

From page 39 unpeeled, but the skin must you with satisfaction and be pricked to prevent make you the envy of your bursting. Berries are left friends. whole. But you can also bottle You can get around the chore plums, apricots, quinces and of peeling peaches by using berries. the following: Use slightly under-ripe fruit. Make a weak caustic soda This will ensure that the solution in a bucket ~ not in preserved pieces retain their your sink ~ comprising two crunchiness and tang on tablespoons of caustic soda eating. dissolved in three litres of Firstly, gather your wide- boiling water in a bucket, and necked glass bottles of about filled with cold water. Fill a a litre capacity and sterilise second bucket with cold them and the lids. water to which is added the The syrup that you make will juice of a lemon or two. vary according to the fruit that Wearing rubber gloves, dunk you are using: a few peaches into the caustic soda solution for a few ~ Thin syrup – three parts seconds. As you remove them water to one part sugar, for you will find the caustic soda sweet fruit , eg strawberries; ~ Medium syrup – 2 to 1, for has turned the skin to slime: simply rub them over with a peaches; rough cloth or scouring pad ~ Thick syrup – 1 to 1, for to remove the skins, and toss acid fruit such as plums and them into the second bucket apricots. to rinse. Take care not to let Remove the stems. Smaller the peaches stand in the fruit such as plums and caustic soda solution for more apricots can be bottled IN THE KITCHEN than a few seconds or the flesh, along with the skin, will be turned to mush. Rinse the skinned peaches a second time in fresh water before preparing them for the bottles. Discard the spent soda solution and rinsing water by pouring it on to a patch of weeds you want killed. Do not empty it down your drain if it ends in a septic tank system, as it will poison your septic tank. If your peaches are relatively small you can prepare them for bottling the traditional way by halving and packing the jars symmetrically, with the halves all facing downwards. To halve a peach run a sharp knife around the circumfer- ence along the ridge-line of the fruit. Next, insert a kitchen spoon (not your grandmother's heirloom spoon as the handle will become bent) at the stem end and, wiggling it from side to 41 side, slide it over the pip, loosening half as you go. Repeat on the other side and discard the pip. If the peaches are large, however, halving wastes space in the jars and it is easier and faster simply to cut large chunks off the pip. To prepare the syrup, boil the water and sugar in a sauce- pan or in the microwave, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Some like to add a few cloves to the syrup. Fill the jars with fruit: put in a few pieces and jiggle the jar to allow the fruit to settle, then add some more and Continued on page 42