Most berry fruits are best when they are just ripe, but not over-ripe, and as fresh as possible. Any unsound fruit, stalks or leaves should be removed and the fruit rinsed in clean, cold water.
Gooseberries bottle best when under-ripe. If preserved in syrup, cut a small slice off both ends of the berries when they are topped and tailed, or else prick the fruit, to prevent shrivelling.
Raspberries should be examined to see that they are free from maggots, but are better not rinsed.
Rhubarb is treated like soft fruit for bottling. Young spring rhubarb is the best, cut into short lengths (
Strawberries lose colour and shrink considerably during bottling. This can be prevented to some extent if they are put in a basin, just covered with boiling sugar syrup (coloured with strawberry colour) and left overnight before they are packed into jars. This pack needs longer cooking than the unsoaked fruit.
© 1978 Mary Norwak estate. All rights reserved.