Spiced fruit doesn't have to be canned or frozen. The real old-time recipes don't spoil—they just get spicier and spicier. In small amounts they are very tasty—like the spiced crab apples that you can get in the store, only much more spicy. This is not a method of preserving a staple food, just a holiday goodie.
If your fruit does show signs of fermentation, pour off the liquid, boil it awhile, and then pour back over the fruit. Brandied fruit has an alcohol content, but spiced fruit doesn't. For a milder version, you can cut back on sugar, vinegar, and spices and then can the results. The real thing can be left in a bowl with a plate on top all winter. I've done it. Whenever you want some, just fork it out. Don't be bothered by floating mold or scum. Your fruit is below the level of the fluid's surface. Rinse the fruit before serving, in case any top glop came along as you fished it out (like when you make crock pickles). Basic Spiced Fruit: Use 7 lb. fruit, 4 lb. sugar, 2 to 4 c. vinegar, and 1 T. each of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Pare peaches and pears. Prick plums and tomatoes with a needle in several places to help the preservatives get inside. Boil the fruit in the syrup 5 minutes. Remove fruit and boil the syrup until it has thickened some. Put the fruit in jars and pour the boiling syrup over it. You can spice blackberries, currants, gooseberries, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes, cherries, crab apples, watermelon rind, pieces of almost-green cantaloupe, apricots, nectarines, prunes, quinces, citron, and so on. Let your spiced fruit stand at least several weeks before using it. Honey Substitution: My spiced fruit recipes all use sugar. But in the Middle East, fruit is preserved in a syrup made of honey and vinegar, and I'm sure you could convert any sugar recipe and do the same thing.
Becca (short for Rebecca) just crawled down from my lap to go hold a bunny. Santa brought her two little half-pounders for Christmas. They make great pets. Fearless now, they hop all over the place. Makes January a little livelier for the at-home folks. Luke, his silver pistol, and his little toy crawler tractor are now all in my lap (replacing Becca). And on we go to brandied fruit.
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