Befries and all ripe, mellow fruit require but little cooking, only long enough for the sugar to penetrate. Strew sugar over them, allow them to stand a few hours, then merely scald with the sugar; half to three-quarters of a pound is considered sufficient. Harder fruits like pears, quinces, etc., require longer boiling.
The great secret of canning is to make the fruit or vegetable perfectly air-tight. It must be put up boiling hot and the vessel filled to the brim.
Have your jars conveniently placed near your boiling fruit, in a tin pan of hot water on the stove, roll them in the hot water, then fill immediately with the hot, scalding fruit, fill to the top, and seal quickly with the tops, which should also be heated; occasionally screw down the tops tighter, as the fruit shrinks as it cools, and the glass contracts and allows the air to enter the cans. They must be perfectly air-tight. The jars to be kept in a dark, cool, dry place.
Use glass jars for fruit always, and the fruit should be cooked in a porcelain or granite-iron kettle. If you are obliged to use common large-mouthed bottles with corks, steam the corks and pare them to a close fit, driving them in with a mallet. Use the following wax for sealing: One pound of resin, three ounces of beeswax, one and one-half ounces of tallow. Use a brush in covering the corks and as they cool, dip the mouth into the melted wax. Place in a basin of cold water. Pack in a cool, dark and dry cellar. After one week, examine for flaws, cracks or signs of ferment.
The rubber rings used to assist in keeping the air from the fruit cans sometimes become so dry and brittle as to be almost useless. They can be restored to normal condition usually by letting them lie in water in which you have put a little ammonia. Mix in this proportion : One part of ammonia and two parts water. Sometimes they do not need to lie in this more than five minutes, but frequently a half hour is needed to restore their elasticity.
To one pound of peaches allow half a pound of sugar; to six pounds of sugar add half a tumbler of water; put in the kettle a layer of sugar and one of peaches until the whole of both are in. Wash about eight peach leaves, tie them up and put into the kettle, remembering to take them out when you begin to fill up the jars. Let the sugared fruit remain on the range, but away from the fire, until upon tipping the vessel to one side you can see some liquid; then fill the jars, taking them out of hot water into which they were put when cold, remaining until it was made to boil around them. In this way you will find out if the glass has been properly annealed; for we consider glass jars with stoppers screwing down upon India-rubber rings as the best for canning fruit in families. They should be kept in a dark closet; and although somewhat more expensive than tin in the first instance, are much nicer and keep for years with careful usage.
Fruit must be of fine flavor and ripe, though not soft, to make nice canned fruit.
Peaches should be thrown into cold water as they are peeled, to prevent a yellowish crust.