I do get a bit envious of gardeners with a sizeable vegetable plot. I never seem to have enough of a harvest of anything to think about preserving. Before the invention of refrigerators, people knew how to preserve produce and other foods. Seasonal meant just that, with much of the staple produce locally grown. Sweet preserves kept fruit for either jams, desserts, cordials, and sauces. Salt preserving used for meat and fish kept them from becoming tainted. A friend’s grandmother never had a fridge, and before compulsory pasteurisation, she heated milk to simmering to keep for longer. In warm weather, butter was kept in a bowl of cold water.
It is sad now that importing so much produce from other countries often means they have been blasted with radiation, to slow down natural decaying processes. I doubt radiation is selective with the bacteria it destroys and the good bacteria, which we need for our health, may get destroyed with it.
I have made jams, jellies, chutneys and pickled beetroot, onions and cucumber, but have been interested recently in lacto-fermentation. I had a trial before using bought sweet peppers but now I have just about enough peppers to preserve my own. I decided on the peppers because I cook with them as well as having them in salads, so lacto-fermentation will keep them to hand when needed.
The fruit tends to soften in the brine but someone has suggested adding a blackcurrant leaf to the jar, the content of tannin in the leaf helps to keep the produce firmer. Another thought was bay leaves, I have a bay tree, so bay leaves have been added.
Tomatoes are the only other fruits I have a decent quantity of. Most of which I share with friends and neighours, but I don’t like to waste the excess either and what others don’t get, I put through a passata mill and freeze the resultant pulp. I don’t add anything to the purée so that I can either drink it, make a sauce or add it to soup.
Green tomatoes don’t need to be wasted either, and they can be turned into green tomato chutney.
Jams and chutneys make excellent gifts for friends. Not many people won’t appreciate something home-made or home-grown. It may be a bit more effort in producing something of your own, rather than giving something bought over the counter.