School Lunch Envy – Fruit Cocktail

I always envied the kids that had wagon wheels or chocolate cupcakes or little Debbie brownies in their grade school lunches. It was like they struck pure gold. Every kid in the class would oh and awe when they opened their lunches – others look mournfully look at their own peanut butter sandwiches sadly. But on the rare occasion, one would open to find a rare sight – the Delmonte fruit cup. Sure every kid on the planet hated the cherries but the peaches and juice were blissful. On that day, all was right with the world.

A recipe book came with my water bath canner. Bernardin guide to home preserving. It had a recipe for that very same coveted item – fruit cocktail. But would it hold up to Delmonte? After all they kinda cornered the market in fruit cocktail taste.

Let me tell you – It is every thing you remember and more! It tastes just like the little fruit tins you can purchase. You can make a huge batch for a fraction of the cost of buying the cans. It stores just as nicely – if you can keep people out of it long enough to store. Lastly you can choose what you add – don’t like cherries don’t add them!

This particular recipe does have a honey fruit syrup base. So, consider it a dessert or treat. If your watching sugars, vegan or wanting a no sugar fruit mix – this is not for you. You may want to can your fruit in water. It can be safe do so, but do note that you will want to get a good quality recipe and you will not get the full Delmonte style flavour.

HOME CANNED FRUIT COCKTAIL – by Bernardin

6 cups (1500 ml) prepared peaches, about 10 medium or 2.8 lb (1.2 kg)

3 cups (750 ml) prepared pears, about 6 or 1.7 lb (750 g)

2 cups (500 ml) seedless grapes, about 1 lb (500 g)

2 tbsp (30 ml) Fruit-Fresh® Fruit Protector

2 cups (500 ml) water

1- 1/4 cups (300 ml) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) liquid honey

1 cup (250 ml) maraschino cherries, well drained & halved

5 fresh mint sprigs

Place 5 clean 500 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Heat SNAP LID® sealing discs in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.

• Blanch, peel, pit and chop peaches; measure 6 cups (1500 ml). As you work, place fruit in a colour protection solution-2 tbsp (30 ml) Fruit-Fresh® Fruit Protector dissolved in 4 cups (1000 ml) water. Peel, core and chop pears; measure 3 cups (750 ml), add to peaches. Remove grapes from stems; measure 2 cups (500 ml).

• Combine water, sugar and honey in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil. Drain prepared fruit; add to syrup. Return to boil; boil gently 5 minutes; stir in cherries. Remove from heat.

• Place 1 mint sprig in a hot jar. Ladle fruit and hot syrup into a hot jar to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more fruit and syrup. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining mint, fruit and syrup.

• When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process –boil filled jars – 20 minutes.

• When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.

• After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.

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