Canning 101: Always Label Your Prepped Fruit

labeled container

When it comes to jam making, one of my favorite tricks is a maceration period. This is the step in which you clean and chop your fruit, mix it with sugar and pop it in the fridge until that moment (within 72 hours, ideally) when you have the time to cook it into jam. It breaks up the work and means that you can fit your preserving into your schedule instead of feeling at the mercy of the fruit.

One thing to know about macerating your fruit is that you don’t have to add the full amount of sugar the recipe calls for in order for it to work. This is particularly useful if you’ve funneled your fruit into a smallish container and only have room to add a cup or so of sugar.

There is just one problem here (at least if you’re me). You have to remember exactly how much sugar you included to the fruit so that when it comes time to cook, you know how much to add to round out the recipe. And here I say, make sure to label that sucker.

For years, I didn’t leave myself these little notes, always assuming that I’d remember how much sugar I added. Then I’d return to my macerating fruit and have to wonder, “did I add two cups of sugar? Or was it three?” A roll of duct tape and a Sharpie do the labeling job and make my life so much easier.

I know it sounds like a simplistic reminder, but it took me years to realize how useful these little notes can be.

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21 Responses to Canning 101: Always Label Your Prepped Fruit

  1. 1
    Savanarola says:

    Yep – I label everything, because I lost my mind long ago. Maybe if I’d labeled the container I put it in I could find the d@%n thing.

  2. 2
    Lisa C. says:

    Thanks for the reminder. You know what I use to label? A wide roll of the blue painters tape. It is easy to see when I write on it, even with a lighter colored sharpie (am I the only one that loses the black sharpies, no matter how many I have), plus it comes off easy in case it accidentally gets washed!

  3. 3
    Jennifer K says:

    Yes, I have also already lost my mind and have learned the hard way about not labeling….after thinking I would remember what was in that container…lol. My favorite is freezer tape….sticks good, doesn’t come off if it gets wet, and peels right off in one piece. My friends make fun of my love of freezer tape ;)

  4. 4
    Becky says:

    I do the same thing with the freezer. I use masking tape and a sharpie to fix that. When I remember…

  5. 5
    Tammy says:

    Good idea. I haven’t thought about breaking up the process like that, though typically once I’ve gotten the fruit prepared I don’t want to stop.

  6. 6
    Casey DelliCarpini says:

    My children know that the tools they may not take from my kitchen are the masking tape and the black Sharpie. Period!! I also use it to label jars after they’re made. That way, if I decide to gift one, I can easily remove the masking tape and replace it with something prettier.

  7. 7
    E. Conley says:

    The other ‘people’ in my house know well enough to leave my things alone too Casey. There is always 1 black sharpie in the pot holder drawer. ( not sure why i keep it there). But what I have found that works better than a label and sharpie is to use a grease pencil/china marker.. Comes of with a dab of dish soap, and a warm rag, on smooth surfaces; a Mr. Clean Eraser has gotten it off textured stuff. I have even used them to label my Tupperware in the pantry, since boys can never seem to find or remember where anything is..lol

  8. 8
    Lisa says:

    I second the blue painters tape. The perfect amount of stickiness – no residue and plus I like the blue color!

  9. 9

    it’s the little things that make life so much easier.

  10. 10
    Mary Brockmeyer says:

    To add to the conversation – I ordered a self inking stamp that says “DO NOT EAT”. I mark Post-its and add them to the macerating or resting fruit. This all comes after someone in my household spooned several servings of my macerating fruit over ice cream.

    The stamp also comes in handy when I have shopped for a party or event – its awful to come back to the pantry to find all the gourmet crackers are gone./

  11. 11
    rainey says:

    Thanks. That’s so helpful. I had never considered macerating before (not for jam, I always do it for the fruit that goes in ice cream in pieces). And if I did macerate I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought of reducing the volume by only using part of the sugar.

    I’m just about to do some strawberry preserves in the next week or two and I’ll be able to take advantage of these new strategies.

    BTW, how much could I reduce the cooking stage by if I’ve macerated fruit for 24 hours? I think I’d love a less cooked, more fresh flavor.

    • 11.1
      Marisa says:

      The cooking time doesn’t really alter significantly when you macerate, because the fruit still needs the length of cooking time it needs.

  12. 12
    E. Conley says:

    OK.. I’m jumping up and down on the inside, (maybe a little on the out too shhh..) the wild blackberries are ready to start picking!!!!
    The misery of chiggers for the next couple weeks is so worth every bit of it. Seedless jam, and whole berries to can this yr.

  13. 13
    Karla says:

    Last year the blueberry boxes arrived at my co-op the day before I left for a week-long business trip/vacation. I made a pie filling and froze it, mashed and labeled 4 cups of blueberries for jam and froze that, and took some berries for my trip. In retrospect, I should have done what you have here and added sugar to the berries before storing them, but the jam turned out fine.

  14. 14

    Ha! It took my husband making a cocktail with the whey he thought was lemon juice for me to finally admit I had an “unlabeled jars in the fridge” problem. A (green! cause why not) sharpie and some masking tape have finally corrected my ways (mostly, anyway).

  15. 15
    Maria says:

    I usually use a dry-erase marker right on the container. :)

    For long-term storage, I just write with sharpie on glass containers. It can still be removed, if desired, but not as easily as dry-erase.

    • 15.1
      jackie says:

      Use your dry erase marker over the sharpie to “erase” the sharpie and then wash it with soap and water….works great for me!

  16. 16
    Anna says:

    In order to remove Sharpie from glass use a little nail polish remover, with acetone. It comes right off the glass, but only glass. If you use nail polish remover on plastic it will make it cloudy and ruin the plastic.

  17. 17
    Linda M says:

    Perfect timing! We just came home with 5lbs of freshly-picked raspberries (WAY more than I had intended) and I’m exhausted! No longer “at the mercy of the fruit.” LOL Thanks!

  18. 18

    […] I made four pints of jam last night from cherries we’d purchased (my youngest begged and pleaded for 2 pounds of cherries, ate two and forgot about them!) a week or so ago.  I cut them up two nights ago and then put them in a tupperware container with 2.5 cups of sugar to macerate for a couple of days. This is a trick I picked up on a great canning blog called Food in Jars. (see exact post here) […]

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  1. Fashion Girl Friday Postponed this week. Instead, have some Jam! | New Traditions Design Studio - June 21, 2013

    […] I made four pints of jam last night from cherries we’d purchased (my youngest begged and pleaded for 2 pounds of cherries, ate two and forgot about them!) a week or so ago.  I cut them up two nights ago and then put them in a tupperware container with 2.5 cups of sugar to macerate for a couple of days. This is a trick I picked up on a great canning blog called Food in Jars. (see exact post here) […]

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