Cooking under pressure
With so much produce around at the moment, one of the best things you can do with surplus fruit and tomatoes is to bottle. It sounds hard, but is actually very easy once you know how. The best tool around for this is a pressure cooker, preferably stainless steel. Pressure cookers are great for cooking food really fast.
Potatoes are cooked in 5-8 minutes, other veggies in around 2-3 minutes, you can cook just about anything in a pressure cooker, even frozen stuff. Pressure cookers use less energy so will save you money in the long run. They just take a little getting used to, but I have used one for over 20 years and could not imagine life without one, in fact I now have two.
You will need some large jam jars or the proper preserving jars with the rubber seal, Lakeland Plastics sell Le Parfait jars cheaper than anywhere else I have seen them.
For preserving fruits, you will need to make a sugar syrup, in most books, you will find they suggest 1lb sugar (450grm) and 1 pint of water, I tend to use less sugar than that, probably just 1/4lb sugar (125grm) to 1 pint of water , heat in a pan until boiling and the sugar is dissolved. Stone or peel your fruit and halve or slice it. Put into the syrup solution and cook a little until softened, this is so as you can pack it into the jars well. Pack fruit into your cleaned jars up to the top and then add syrup until the fruit is covered. Seal and place into the pressure cooker. You will need to add about a pint or two of water into the pressure cooker pan, pop on the lid and use the lowest pressure gauge. Bring up to pressure and time according to the different fruit you are using, your pressure cooker book should be able to tell you cooking times, but a guide is between 2 and 5 minutes depending on the fruit used. The fruit will then continue cooking in the jars until cooled. They are then ready to label and put on display in your kitchen where your friends will then think you are a domestic goddess. Ready to use when you want and great to knock up a quick pudding.
Tomatoes need to be blanched and the skins removed, pack into jars and either cover with a little salted water or you can make tomato juice and cover with that. Same method as the fruit and cook under pressure for 5 minutes.
Once you have mastered this, you will never look back and can experiment with many other things. Pressure cookers are also great for blanching vegetables for freezing. Soups and stews are made quickly and valuable nutrients in vegetables are saved as everthing is cooked in steam. Forget the microwave, I threw mine out years ago and have never missed it, even frozen dinners can be pressure cooked.
Happy bottling, regards Lyn