Category Archives: Preserving Diary


This is our second post in the Preserving the Harvest Series and this one is on sweet corn.

In Australia it is not recommended to put corn through our water bath system (Fowlers Vacola).  It would be suggested that corn be frozen, but our freezers are filled with meat and I don’t have room to store vegetables as well.

I am so blessed by the canning system and that an import company arranged to get canners in from America to make it easier for us Australians.

I would suggest to anyone with heaps of produce that canning is the way to go. I use our Fowlers bottles in my canner as well as recycled screw top bottles.

If I am preserving meat I use our big bottles but when it is corn or peas I only need smaller amounts for stews so I need a smaller bottle.

We are in the middle of picking our Sweet Corn and I have started canning it, and we are eating heaps just boiled (my husbands favourite way of having it).

First of all we shuck the corn (I think that is the technical name) and we give all the shuckings (is this right???) to the pigs.DSC_0999

Then we bring it inside and blanch the corn for a few minutes. I had such a hard time getting my water to boil that I just put all the corn into the pot and brought it to the boil.


After it has been blanched I let it cool and then I cut the kernals from the cob into a container. Over the past years I have tried various tools for this but now I just use a sharp knife and this works well.

DSC_1007Here it is in the container once it has been cut off the cob. It is good to get rid as much of the silk (hair) as you can before boiling.

Then I get my jars ready and filled with hot water so they warm up.

DSC_1017Here they are ready to go. I use recycled jam and honey jars as well as any bottled sauce jars that I can scrounge off friends. I have heaps now which is good.

DSC_1018Now I tip out the hot water and add the corn and then fill the bottle with boiling water leaving the recommended head space. The green handle is used to get out any air bubbles. I then put on the lid and place in the canner.

DSC_1019Here are the 17 jars in the canner, you can see the recycled lids. I have doubled layered these and you just need to be careful not to knock them over as you move the canner.

I then follow my canner instructions in the booklet provided,  it took about 60 minutes to process these bottles. The larger the bottle the longer the processing.

DSC_1023[1]Once the canner is finished and the pressure has gone (never open before the pressure is released) I take out the bottles and put on the bench to cool off.  The lids will pop in and show that they are sealed, mine were quite noisy this year.

I am weird I think because I really enjoy canning and I love seeing all my jars in my pantry, but I have a hard time using them in case I run out.

Last year I did soups and stews and carrots and pumpkin and I have some of these left, so maybe I will just have to start using them, so I can fill the bottles again.


Well it’s that time of the year in Australia, time to gather in the harvest and deal with it so that it lasts for the rest of the year.

Once again our tomatoes are only just starting to turn red, it is almost too late for them but hopefully they will continue.  We are blessed to be able to purchase bulk tomatoes from our local farm produce store in town so each year our tomatoes don’t fruit enough I purchase a couple of boxes from them.

Where we live can be so tricky weather wise and it isn’t always beneficial to growing certain vegetables.  Our corn looks great but I will leave that for another day.

I like to have over 50 bottles of tomatoes in the pantry each year.  I could probably use 100 bottles but when I have to buy the tomatoes it is just too expensive.

Here’s what I do with them.

First of all I put as many tomatoes as I can fit into a saucepan and add some water and let them cook away until they are soft.   I just chuck them in whole like they are below.


When they are finished cooking they will look like this.  Nice and soft and juicy. They have reduced quite a bit too.  DSC_0876My husband bought me this special tool years ago and I use it mainly on my tomatoes and when I preserve apples.


It’s called a tomato press and we got it at an italian/greek supermarket in Melbourne.  It is a great store and we have been back there and always enjoy the experience.

You put the cooked tomato pulp in the top. (I wait until it is cooler)


You turn the handle and the tomato pulp comes out into the white dish.DSC_0896[1]and the skin comes out the side.  Once I have done the whole pot I put the skin mix through again to get out any more tomato pulp.


Using this tool leaves you with beautiful tomato pulp that is skinless and ready to go into bottles.  You could put it back on the stove and add other ingredients and spices if you want.  This lot I just bottled plain.

Now I fill my jars. Because of the acid level in tomatoes they can be processed through my Fowlers Vacola Unit which basically uses the water bath method.


My unit is a bigger electric one and it fits about 8 of these bottles.


Here is the finished product.  I always double clip my bottles and then leave the clips on for 12 – 24 hours before removing and storing the bottles in the pantry.

DSC_0879Sometimes, if I have them I add zucchinis, and onion and other seasonings that I have on hand and then I can just cook up my mince and add this straight in it for a lovely bolognaise sauce for spaghetti.

How do you process your tomatoes??



I have just finished making Plum Puddings in our Fowlers Preserving Unit, which I think is very similar to the water bath method.


These are great to have in the pantry, just make a bit of custard and hey presto there’s dessert.


  • 9 cups mixed fruit or

6 cups of mixed fruit and 1  1/2 cups chopped dates and 1  1/2 cups chopped raisins

  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar (I use raw)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 grams butter
  • 2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 cups SR flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 cans pineapple pieces (optional)

Place the mixed fruit (dates and raisins) orange juice, sugars, salt and butter into a large saucepan.  Heat gently until butter has melted, bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and add bicarbonate of soda.

Melting the butter and bringing the mixture to the boil.
Allow mixture to become cold before adding eggs, rum, sifted flours and spices, mix well.

All mixed together ready to put into jars.
All mixed together ready to put into jars.

Grease the bottles well with butter.

No 2 daughter greased them well
No 2 daughter greased them well

I used 5 no 31 Fowlers Bottles, because they are easy to warm up and slide the pudding out, and I don’t have enough of the proper pudding ones.

Clean rim on bottles and add rings, fill bottles to 3/4 full, leaving a couple of inches at top for pudding to expand.

Bottles ready with rings and No 2 son
Place on lids and clips (I always use 2 clips per bottle) and put into preserving unit.

Ready in preserver
Ready in preserver

Processing times:

Royal Electric preserver: Process on Hold Boil for 2 hours and 30 minutes

Year Rounder preserver: Process for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Stove-top preserver: Bring temperature up to boiling (100 degrees C) which should take between 45 – 60 minutes, maintain at this temperature for 2 hours.

When processing finished:

Leave clips on bottles for a further 12 – 18 hours before removing. Store bottles in a cool, dark place.


  • I don’t usually add the rum as I never seem to have any on hand. They still taste good though.
  • Always cover the bottles with cold water to start.
  • I don’t use the proper Fowlers Pudding bottles, as I don’t have enough and they aren’t big enough.
  • To remove the pudding from the jar, place the bottle in a jug of hot water or remove ring, clips and lid and place in microwave for approx. 1 min to heat.  Place butter knife down the sides to loosen the pudding and slide out.  (mostly this works and you can cut them into rounds, but sometimes you just have to scoop them out of the jars – they still taste the same though)







This post is linked up here…


and here…





Our pumpkins are starting to go “off” so thought I’d better get into canning them.

I have already done some with onion, bacon and chicken stock for a quick and easy pumpkin soup, but this lot I am doing just plain.  I have a great pumpkin roll with cream cheese recipe that I use the plain pumpkin for.  Will post that later…

Here’s how I can pumpkin.

First I grab a nice big pumpkin (my options are small due to pumpkins going off).  Preheat your preserving jars – I do this by filling with hot water.

The pumpkin
The pumpkin

Then I grab a sharp knife and cut it up into cubes (or any other interesting shape that comes).

Pumpkin ready to can
Pumpkin ready to can

Fill your jars with the pumpkin and top up with boiling water.  At this stage I wiggle the handle end of a wooden spoon in the jar to release the air bubbles.  I then place the lid and clips on.

In jars ready to go
Jars ready to go

Then I place the jars in the canner (I have already put the required amount of boiling water in the canner).

Jars in the canner
Jars in the canner

Then can as per usual method.

Canner on the stove
Canner on the stove

I take the jars I use to be about a quart so I put my pumpkin on for 90 minutes.

The finished product
The finished product

Take the clips of the jars and store. (I leave mine overnight and then remove the clips)

PS: I use Fowlers preserving bottles and screw top jars.  I like the Fowlers bottles because I have heaps and it was a bit too expensive to buy mason jars.

PPS: I don’t precook my pumpkin, it goes in the jars raw.



I was thrilled when I finally discovered canning.  I had been preserving using my Fowlers Vacola outfit for years, bottling fruits, but I wanted something that I could store meat and vegetables other than our freezer.

I had been reading the Above Rubies magazine and a Mennonite publication and they talked about canning their meats and vegetables.  So after some internet research I found a company online in Australia that sold canners.

It has been fantastic!  I started with peas, corn and beans.  I have since then over the last few years moved onto meats, soups and casseroles.  I have canned sweet and sour pork, chicken and corn soup and even wild rabbit (our meat ones keep dying before they are ready to eat !!!)

I feel very pleased when I go out to my pantry and look at all the jars out there and find it hard to use them because I don’t want them to run out and they look so good.  I have to shake myself and say “hey, you need to use it before next season”.

I find the bottles great to just heat up and send with my husband and son for their lunches.

Mind you, in the beginning I was concerned about getting sick from botulism but so far so good.  I would recommend canning to anyone who wanted to store their produce without it taxing their electricity bill.

Stay tuned for more pictures and canning ideas……