View Full Version : old stove top Folwers Vacola unit
17-01-2006, 07:26 AM
I managed to pick up an old stove top Fowlers Vacola unit in an op shop yesterday along with some boxes and jars. I managed to get lids, rings and a Fowlers book from a nearby Hardware store and rushed home to test it out. I have 2 questions.
1. I have read in various websites that you must cover the jars completely with water during sterilising. My unit has a thermometer well and when i try to cover the jars of course the water spills out of this... Have i still managed to preserve my items if the water just came to top of the lid?? and can i put different sized jars into the unit?
2. i did some tomatoes and nectarines in my inaugural batch and i packed both firmly but both have now risen to the top of the jar. To store successfully, do my preserved items always have to be submerged totally in the bottling liquid??
Any advice or comments on using the older stove top FV units most appreciated!
17-01-2006, 08:25 AM
Hey there Billybuttongirl,
Well done on finding the old stove top Fowlers Vacola unit and jars.
I have two stove tops and an electrical - I always use the stove top ones over the electrical one :D
You cover the jars to about two thirds of their height with water :) The fruit can rise in the jars - some people see this as a good sign. If it bothers you aesthetically, once the bottles have cooled and you are sure of your seals just swing the bottle gently to settle the fruit.
A good way to check that your bottles have sealed well is to place a pencil across the lid - a successfully sealed bottle with have it's lid sucked in some what.
17-01-2006, 09:12 AM
Thanks for that Fran! I'm so new to the bottling scene, but it must be in my genes as my grandma had a walk in pantry of preserves in the Czech Republic!
Can i ask why you prefer the stove tops to the electrical? I was told by Fowlers that the electrical one has a thermostat which makes it easier to keep it to temperature. Mind you, during yesterdays trial it wasn't too hard to keep it at 92C and i have a feeling i may be being more energy effiecient using gas than electricity.
17-01-2006, 10:17 AM
I pretty new to it too Billybuttongirl.
Using the stove top unit feels more like I think preserving should :lol:
Also, we have solar power and heating elements suck a lot of juice.
I find that I have the gas flame down very low while maintaining the required heat - or even better, very little fuel (mainly coals) when I use the wood fire.
We just bottled over 550 apricots - it is a great feeling and a lot of fun.
17-01-2006, 06:52 PM
I hope you don't mind if I join in, Fran did you buy your fruit or grow it. I am just starting to estabish an Orchard and a vegetable patch after living on 10 acres for 15 years (shame) I decided last year to start bottling again after a looong time not doing it.
I was fortunate enough to pick up a stove top unit at a local auction house, it was still in the original box complete with about 8 jars and other bits. I had only just quickly checked the box, I paid $35.00 for it. When I got it home imagine my surprise to find that it was actually a Stainless Steel stovetop unit and had never been used. :D I was very pleased with myself, I used it before Xmas to boil my Xmas pudding in. We are also on a Solar Powered System.
18-01-2006, 06:33 AM
Thats great you are planting your 15 acres! I'm green with envy as i only have 1/2 acre i'm trying to plant with fruit and veg. Its a hard decision of which varieties in such a small space!
Well done on your find of a FV unit too! What sort of things have you bottled so far?
Have you found that you can successfully preserve with your stove top unit even though the water level may not cover the lids?? It intrigues me why with the electric ones out now they say to cover the lids...
if you don't mind me asking, what sort of Xmas pudding recipe did you use and what size jars? i have seen somewhere FV tapered sides pudding jars, though i can imagine they'd be a rare secondhand find.
18-01-2006, 07:33 AM
Congratulations Elsie! For both securing your as new Fowler Vacola unit as such a good price and for wanting to plant out an orchard and veggie patch :D
Our apricots were from our own tree :)
18-01-2006, 01:05 PM
I bought 12, No 28 jars from Ebay, these are the ones with the tapered sided. I paid $80.00 for the 12 but they are so hard to find. I was bidding on 15 a couple of days proir to that, I gave up at $90.00. The final price was $202.50, a bit rich for me. The ones I bought were put on a buy it now, and I was browsing the FV listings and they appeared so I hit the buy it now button staight away. I intend to do a test run with Xmas Pudding in the jars when it cools down a bit. The one I made before Xmas was a cloth wrapped one, but in the past I have had difficulty with it because I have not had a pot big enough for the pudding. I suppose I could have halved the recipe but then there is none for "afters" when everyone has gone home. I have not bottled anything yet as the apricots to buy in the Supermarkets are$9.00 - $10.00 kg. I was fortunate enough to call into a local fruit shop and they had 5kg trays for $10.00, they were not big ones but who cares. I made Apricot Jam and Apricot CHutney. My Trees with be a couple of years yet as they have only been planted recently. Friend has some Plums and Apples coming on so will have some fun then.
18-01-2006, 04:12 PM
Hey aussiebottler Check out home hardware and mitre 10 stores as over here they sell all the gear and jars new. We pay$5 a jar for No 31 (were 4's)
28-01-2006, 10:10 PM
It's probably a bit late, or early, depending on how you look at it, but has anyone done their Christmas pudding using the FV method?
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