Fowlers bottled peaches (plus a severe case of preserving addiction)

It's true, I have a very severe case, I'm infatuated with my Fowlers Vacola.  I daydream about what to put into jars next. I wander around the fruit market getting sidetracked from what I should be buying, instead veering off towards whatever fruit is on special this particular visit. Earlier in the week it was peaches. At $2.57/kilo I just couldn't walk on by! Glorious, glorious stone fruit, how I love to take a big, juicy bite out of thee...

Last week it happened to be apricots. A whole box of them from the Victoria Market! (Well, granted, the box was only 5kg, but still, 'box' sounds so much more grander doesn't it?!). I've discovered fruit inspired excursions to the Vic Market are soooo much fun, things are just so cheap and twice, no three times the size of fruit commonly seen elsewhere. Mangoes the size of a small pineapple! A meal in itself!

So, back to the preserving addiction, I decided to bottle up my humble six kilos of peaches and happened to take a few snaps along the way...

Fowers Vacola Peaches

First up the seals were placed in a bowl and covered with warm from the kettle water to soak.

Next, these oh so glorious peaches of mine were halved and stoned using a small paring knife and a sturdy teaspoon (sitting at the kitchen table while doing this kind of work makes for a much more pleasant experience!).

They were then peeled using my old, favourite vegetable peeler. I suppose they could also be blanched in boiling water to remove the skins but I really didn't want overcooked peaches so decided to prepare them this way..

After peeling, each half was sliced into quarters and packed into the clean jars. Note - remember to put rubber seal on jar before filling jar to brim, it's much easier!

The peaches were packed alternately with warm sugar syrup (I used a light syrup, 1:3 sugar to water). They fruit was packed firmly until the jar was nearly full, leaving a headspace of 10-12mm. Ensuring the seal was not twisted, I gave it a quick wipe to make sure no peachy debris was caught on there..

The lids were then positioned and the clips secured in place..

This is how the clips look when correctly positioned:
They should be centered and the groove of the clip should be sitting under the glass lip of the jar. 

The jars are then ready for processing in the Fowlers Vacola steriliser. As I have an old 'Year Rounder',  I put mine in for 1 hour, although different models take different amounts of time.

Below, the bottles after they have been processed and allowed to cool.
Clips can be removed after 12 hours and the seal checked. If the lid won't budge, the seal is good!
If not, either re-process or place the jar in the fridge to eat up first.

I couldn't resist stacking my jars somewhere I could admire them for a couple of amongst the rest of my addiction jars...

The last couple of weeks have seen bottled peaches (yuh!), bottled apricots, blackberry cordial, raspberry jam with apple and rhubarb (after Kirsty gave me a delicous jar of hers!), strawberry jam with rhubarb, plum jam, four berry jam and apricot jam with brandy.  I'm finding rhubarb really is a most delicious addition to berry jams, have you tried adding some to yours?

What are you preserving at the moment? 


  1. looks great Christine. I am preserving stone fruit too, I wanted to make jam but didn't have enough berries this year, so we ate them all fresh. I am now bottling my tomatoes, making passata and tomato sauce.

    1. Eating them fresh is the best way to enjoy them, Sue ;) I can't wait until we actually get some tomatoes to preserve!

  2. peach preserves? snap! indeed whatever we have a glut of in the orchard/garden is what I'm preserving that day..... right now I'm up to my armpits in peach pits!

    1. You're so lucky to have them coming from the garden, Ronnie! I long for that day..

      I've been singing that annoyingly funny song..getting it into everyone's heads whenever the peaches come out..."Moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches'!

  3. Peaches for me too! Friends have been off loading their excess and we are loving it!

  4. Goodness, you're making me wish for some time to preserve although i am still a little scared of the vacola system! Great photos and tips have been so busy, sounds mouthwatering!!

  5. Thanks for the photos showing what you did. I am looking forward to using the fowler vacola kit my children bought me for christmas. I've turned our backyard into vegetable gardens and am hoping to use the preserving kit to preserve our tomatoes. Our local fruit shop has nectarines at a nice price at the moment. Your peaches look yummy.

  6. That looks so pretty!
    We made blueberry & strawberry jam this week.

  7. What a lovely display! Thanks for the process pictures, too.

    As for the "what am I preserving at the moment" question...only my sanity :)

  8. I haven't had my FV out yet... just been doing jams, relishes and chutneys in small reclaimed jars, so hot water bathing them in a big pot. I didn't preserve apricot halves and stewed apricots this year, as we just don't eat them enough... but will be bringing out the Squeezo, tall FV jars and FV unit when the tomatoes start coming in!

  9. Christine, I have suddenly realised...that I only thought I had more than enough 'gadgets' . How could I have gone so long without this marvelous Vacola preserving system ?!! I am going shopping.

  10. Just made crabapple jelly from some fruit from Pete's Uncle Bob. Eight jars boiling as I type! :)

  11. I love my Fowlers Vacola bottling system. I have an old stove top one that I have had for years and you have inspired me to do some bottling. Must go to the markets tomorrow and see what I can find. Do you know if you can get the seals and lids from Myers still?

  12. Ive been making Raspberry jam and zucchini chutney here, yum! I dont have a preserver though so its the water bath method for me.

  13. Wow! I wish I had made something as amazingly yummy looking as your preserves and jams! Yum!

  14. Okay! Time to start looking for a second hand Fowlers Vacola. That sounds so easy!

  15. your peaches look beautiful..i really must get some summer fruit preserved before i miss out..i've been making jam and preserving it in the's an experiment that so far looks like a success..but time will tell if the jam keeps better preserved this way..

  16. Damn it, I wish I had more space! I would love to be vacola-ing up. Sitting in front of someones preserved goodies all lined up, looking awesome. I completely understand that preserving addiction my girl :-)

  17. I love the photos Christine, as usual, your instructions are very crisp and clear...very easy to follow......I'm waiting for tomatoes at the moment, then I will be making Tomato and Passionfruit Jam for my Mum. I see you have been enjoying using Rhubarb in your preserves....I recently made Rhubarb and Ginger Jam.....and also Rhubarb and Mint Jelly...they are both on my blog....I have a glut of huge Garlic at the moment....
    Keep up the good work...enjoy the bottling!

  18. Fantastic, Lisa..nothing better than friends offloading their gluts onto you!

    It IS a bit scary to start with, Jode. No one wants to give themselves or their loved ones food poisoning but if you stick to a few commonsense rules you should be fine. Preserve only high acid fruits, ensure the fruit is well covered with the liquid and watch that the water heats up within the specified time. Oh, and use the preserves up within a year.

    Your garden sounds wonderful, Lorelle! Enjoy bottling those tomatoes..they'll need a little bit of lemon juice or citric acid to raise their acidity for storage. ;)

    Yummmmm, Wendy! Blueberry and strawberry favourite!!

    Ha, that's so funny, quinn - I almost titled the post: Preserving one's sanity, just because of this current obsession. I hope your sanity is well preserved. xx

    I love your squeezo, dixiebelle! As for the fruit, we (I!) eat quite a lot of it..on cereal, with yoghurt and baked in pies/crumbles. Do you raid the op shops for jars? Sometimes the odd oppy will have a stash out the back that they will give you for free, a true treasure for us!

    Teehee, Kim, a word of advice..they are around all the time on ebay and sometimes op shops, too! The older glass jars are just fine to use, I've bought a handful of new ones and they seem to chip more readily. SO much fun to crank the old beast out and jar up some fruit!

    Lovely, Celia! Hubby recently 'removed' our crabapple tree as it was NOT happy, it had spent the last two years sulking for no apparent reason so it was time for it to GO! Enjoy that jelly :)

    Ahh, Chez, I didn't know you could get FV supplies in myers! I haven't been for years but will keep an eye out if ever I find myself in there. I usually take myself down to our local Mitre 10 hardware shop who are stockists of Fowlers products...

    Nothing wrong at all with the waterbath method, Racheal. Really, the Fowlers is just like a super big waterbath, the advantage being that more jars can be fit in, including the super tall types. You are lucky to have zucchinis to make into chutney..we are still waiting for ours to fruit!

    Aw, thanks, Faeryfay, you are very kind. I confess, half the reason I make them is so I can spend many a moment sighing and looking at their prettyness in the jars!

    So easy and SO much fun, Linda. Try freecycle, too..sometimes they can come up there.

    Brydie, when you up and move to the country (as I know you will one day!), you will the the vacola queen! I can envisage many a home preserve lining your kitchen, storing all those empty jars, that is another matter all together and a true marriage tester!

    Thanks, Narelle! Tomato and Passionfruit jam sounds intriguing!! Great to find another rhubarb really adds to the flavour of the jam/jelly without dominating, don't you think?!

  19. Well done, Christine! I was in a canning frenzy about 4-5 months ago - such a busy time! It's winter here now, so we are enjoying the fruits of that labor... so LOVELY to open a jar of something summery in the dead of winter...

  20. those peaches look amazing! sounds like a great school holiday activity - a Vic market bonanza.

  21. oh i just found your blog looking for things to do in my vacola 'cause i am also addicted to it at the moment :) i want to bottle everything... it's my first time (since childhood) using one and i've preserved more than 50 bottles in the past couple of weeks... so addictive :) nice to find you!

  22. They look so delicious! I just made some rhubarb and raspberry jam for the first time. It is definitely a lovely combination.

  23. All sounds absolutely delicious.

    I caught the preserving bug recently. In the last few weeks i've bottled cherries and nectarines; made cherry jam, and also made tomato sauce, dried tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato passata.

    I dforaged a huge box of apples from a road-side tree on the weekend so am plnning on making a huge batch of stewed apple for my freeezer.

    I've been watching the blackberry bushes in my neighbourhood and can't wait till blackberry season.

  24. Aww, Sherri, you're sending goosebumps up my spine! I can't wait to crack open a jar of something delish in the freezing cold!

    Kirsty, you would love it, although I suspect a 'nana' trolley/urban shopping cart would be in order. ;)

    Wow, 50 bottles, Virginia! What fun you must be having!! Nice to meet you ;)

    Absolutely, Kimbamel, who knew? I will definitely be using up rhubarb in berry jams from now on!!

    Ohh, cherry jam, how lucky are you, Tricia!! You are on a preserving mission by the sounds of it, all of your tomato goodies sound divine. The blackberries around our parts are juuuust starting to ripen now, although another 2-3 weeks I suspect it will be in full swing! Blackberry and apple jam? Or pie fillings? Yes please!

  25. I made my second batch of bread and butter cucumbers today. I just love them. Tomorrow its crispy fried shallots. Perhaps jam next week if my car gets repaired in time.

  26. Yum, bread and butter cucumbers are a favourite of ours, Liz. Have fun jam making!

  27. Hi Christine great description! I gave away all of my Fowlers Vacola jars as the rings and lids are way to expensive now and I had quite a few ring failures as I am told by the FV people that they are now getting them from Sri Lanka. Have you tried the Ball Mason bottles? LOVE THEM! they are very simple to use and as they have no clip they can be double stacked. Another thing I like is the pretty embossing on the side also helps me grip the bottles as I have arthritis.

  28. Ahh, I didn't know that the rings are now made in Sri Lanka, Jenny. So far I haven't had any issues with the rings. It's very good to hear about the Ball Mason jars as I have eyed them off in the past and been very tempted. The only thing stopping me was that I'd have to order online..although I think from memory I saw some on ebay and perhaps even Redback trading..?

    Thanks for the heads up! :) (The quilted design IS gorgeous!).

  29. Hi - I just wanted to know if you could preserve in just water without the sugar? Thanks


  30. Having mislaid both my Fowler's Vacola instruction books I started searching the internet for preserving temperatures & times and came across this web site. I have been jamming, pickling and preserving for 50 years (as my mother did before me) and I am just thrilled to see all you wonderful people out there making the best of what your gardens are producing. Not only will your budgets benefit from your labours, but your families will benefit from your wholesome, chemical free produce all through the year. Don't forget to pass your knowledge on to your children and your friends!


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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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