Saturday, February 26, 2011

Preserving, Fowlers Vacola Style

Last week I was lucky enough to be gifted a car load of Fowlers Vacola gear from a family friend, after spending the last 6 months trawling op shops, slowly acquiring second hand jars, clips and other parephernalia. Unfortunately most of our summer fruit crop has been harvested, and dealt with in other ways - fresh eating, jams and poaching mostly, so I will just be dreaming about what I will do with next year's apricots, mulberries, plums, peaches and nectarines. All is not lost though, as I have one later variety of plum, which is just hitting its straps now. I cleared all the fruit off it this morning - only about 25-30 plums. I think they were slightly under ripe as they were quite firm, but the resident possum has started eating them this week, so I thought it was time to salvage what I could.

I was given 3 preserving units - the thermometer type. They have been well used and loved by their previous owners, but I'm confident they will still work just as well as the day they were purchased.

Here's some photos of the gear I acquired:

One of the 3 preserving units:

 A book my hubby found me in an op shop for a couple of dollars - now my bible!

Purchased from ebay seller znak42 - great supplier - very fast delivery.

Jars from a local op shop - $1 each including lids. Only one of the 12 I bought was unusable - with a chip at the top, couldn't see it with the lid taped on, but I figure pretty good value all the same.

Some of the treasures from Shirley:

Left: Size 2 lids, they are so cute! She gave me some sauce bottles these lids.
Middle: Cherry pip remover
Right: I think something to remove core from apple/pear

Size 2 clips to go with the lids. Shirley's secret is to store the clips with a bit of vaseline on them, to prevent rusting, the wrap in cotton, see below:

Support crew and chief sampler:

Jar tongs, to remove the hot things from the preserving unit;
Wooden packing stick?
Various peelers and corers
 My gear!
 What I used today:

Also needed chopping board, peeler, knife

These are plastic lids that snap on to the preserving jars (these fit size 3 jars) once you have opened them and are storing in the fridge for a couple of days.

Support crew again:

These are my brand new rubber seals, my bible says to soak them in warm water for 15 minutes before stretching over the top of the jar. They are for 3 inch jars, but start about 2 inches across before stretching.

Rubber seal on the jar, with home grown plums. I only had enough for 2 jars of plums, and since the preserver takes 12 jars, I decided to do a batch of apples we scrumped from a roadside recently.

 Once the fruit is in the jar, you pour in either water, or sugar syrup. I used sugar syrup, about 2 cups water:1 cup sugar.

First jar ready to place into the preserver! Yeehaa!

The first lonely jar waiting to be accompanied by another 11 jars.

And here they are: (about 4 hours later!) 10 x apple, some with cinnamon stick, some with cloves, some with just the syrup, and 2 x plum:
Snug as bugs in a hug!

Thermomerom Shirley came up beautifully after a gentle wash, here it is keeping an eye on my precious fruit.

So now I am patiently waiting for the temp to reach 92 degrees celcius, where I"ll keep it for one hour.
Great rainy day activity!

1 comment:

  1. This is a very detailed article on using an old Fowlers Vacola preserver, and I would like to ask you if you would be willing to allow us to reference it and also to use some of your photos for a food heritage project. Best way to make contact would be for you to either visit our web site at or email me direct at info [at] Very good and well done, its heartening to see a fresh face using such awesome old technology!