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  • FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    I just started using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to seal foods and I can't believe I waited so long to get one. (Check out my first project: Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles!)
    For example: In the past I would take the time to pick beautiful berries, then would bring them home and stick them in a zippered baggie in the freezer. My berries would have ice crystals and taste freezer burnt after just a few short months. 
    Then I had a light-bulb moment: "Air is the enemy" of freshness. 
    When vacuum-sealed my berries last 3 to 4 times longer! I have similar results with other fruits, veggies and even meats & cheeses.
    The FoodSaver has been a fantastic discovery. ~ Brook
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    • Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa Products

      Some day I will replace my ancient graniteware Steam Juice Extractor with this gorgeous Mehu-Liisa brand Steam Juicer. My old Steam Juicer leaks steam, meaning I have to refill the water often, and it doesn't have anywhere close to the capacity of this one from Mehu-Liisa.
      If you want to experience the magic of a Steam Juicer, check out this 10 quart Mehu-Liisa. It will last you a lifetime and save you countless hours in the kitchen, whether your juicing fruit for  Plum Jelly or Apricot Nectar, not to mention it minimizes the mess of juicing large amounts of veggies!  ~ Brook

    • Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      What's the one jar size I always keep a couple extra cases of? 
      The Ball 4 ounce jar.
      It's basically 1/2 cup, and just the right size for gift-giving and for experimenting with small batches. Perfect for things like my famous Pear Honey.
      People can't help but say "That is so darn cute!" when they seem them. 
      ~ Brook

    • Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Looking for an affordable, easy-to-use pressure canner, backed up by great customer service? Look no further than the Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner/Cooker. It's the one I recommend to all my students. ~ Brook


    Dilly Pickled Onion Slices on Punk Domestics

    • Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Do you have a great instant-read thermometer, or are you still buying the 20 dollar ones that only last a year or two? This was one of my best kitchen purchases.
      Can't imagine cooking jam (or meat or candy) without it! 
      Take your jams to 220º and you'll have a perfect gel set every time. Also available in other colors, but why wouldn't you want orange? It's only the BEST COLOR EVER. ~ Brook


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    • The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      by Carole Cancler
      If you're looking for a book that covers every preserving topic imaginable, this is the book for you. It doesn't have a flashy cover or glossy pictures, but it's full of great info. One of my very favorite resources. ~ Brook

    • OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
      OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper

      Last August my friend Kelli asked me if I wanted some fresh corn from her grandpa's garden. I said "Sure....I'd love to make a few jars of Sweet Corn Relish!"
      She showed up 6 hours later with 158 ears. Wasn't sure if I loved her or hated her for it.
      After a long hot day spent cutting kernels off all those cobs with a small paring knife, I decided I'd never be without a Corn Stripper again. ~ Brook


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    Macerate your'll be glad you did.

    Ever wonder what it means when one of my recipes suggests you macerate your fruit? Well first of all, it depends on whether you're using fresh or dried fruit for your recipe.

    When macerating fresh fruit, the easiest way to great results is to sprinkle sugar over prepared fresh fruit, give it a little stir to be sure each piece of fruit is covered with the sugar, then let it sit for awhile, preferably overnight. The sugar will pull the naturally-sweet juices from the fruit, and the fruit's juices plus the sugar will create a gorgeous syrup.

    Fresh Rhubarb, Orange Zest & Fresh Ginger Root 

    If using dried fruit, you'll want to add some type of liquid, like fruit juice or water. The dried fruit will absorb the liquid, and in no time at all your dried fruit will plump up quite nicely. Don't add sugar yet...some dried fruit, like pineapple, has almost always been sweetened before you buy it. 

     Dried Apricots in Water

    Dried Apricots After Soaking 24 Hours


    Get creative with maceration!

    Add different types of sweeteners, like honey, agave nectar or maple syrup. Or add a vanilla bean.

    Apricots Macerating With A Vanilla Bean

    Add whole spices, like star anise.

    Or fresh herbs, like basil or lemon verbena.

    Fresh Lemon Verbena & Lemon Zest (and sugar) added to Italian Plums

    Pour a big ol' shot of good bourbon on your fresh peaches. The alcohol will cook out, leaving nothing but flavor.

    Or add some rosé wine into your ripe red raspberries. Again, the alcohol cooks out but the richness of the rosé remains.

    Maybe add some dried currants, nuts or crystallized ginger.

    Dried Apricot Conserve with Currants & Walnuts

    Zest a lemon, orange or lime before cutting it in half and adding its juice to the maceration mix.

     In the case of fresh fruit, maceration starts as soon as you add the sugar so even letting it sit for an hour or two helps to break down the fruit and extract the juices, but its best to let it sit overnight. Some people like the way the overnight process cuts their jam-making project in half, especially when they don't have the time nor the energy to do prep, cooking, and the filling & processing of the jars all the same day.

    I have let fruit macerate for as little as 30 minutes, or as much as 3 or 4 days, a week or even 10 days, and if you come up with the right combination of ingredients, your results will be delicious either way. Different, but both delicious.

     Note: Some people like to heat the sugar-fresh fruit mixture together long enough for the sugar to dissolve, then remove it from the heat and set it aside overnight so it can macerate even more. This works beautifully, but it's an added step that isn't always necessary. It's all up to you.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    For as long as I can remember, when the strawberries are in season we always buy them fresh. My mom and grandma always cut/core them and sprinkle with sugar, then serve alone or over ice cream. Of course good with angelfood cake too. I carry on this tradition with my own family. LAst year when we had surplus berries, we ended up with plenty of syrup as well! I poured this syrup into a mason jar and have stored it in the fridge for at least a year! The sugar has formed big crystals in the jar! We always warm it up and swirl it around to get it mixed well when we use it. The kids LOVE this on their pancakes!! I never knew that what we were doing was called macerating. Thank you for this little lesson!

    January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTori


    It sounds like you've perfected the art of macerating fresh fruit. Love it that you save the extra syrup and use it on pancakes. Isn't it amazing how long this syrup will last? I think if you left it on your counter instead of putting it in the fridge you might have ended up with some sweet strawberry wine.

    You're most welcome for this "little lesson".
    I think I just learned one from you too.
    Guess who's gonna' be making pancakes the next time she macerates strawberries? That sounds superb!

    Have a wonderful day ~


    January 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

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