Basics of Canning Fruit

Learn the basics of canning fruit and preserving it without refrigeration.

Canning fruits isn’t much different than canning vegetables and you can preserve your harvest without it having to be refrigerated for months. There are just a few things you need in order to can fruit.


You will need a water bath canner which is a large metal pot in which the jars are put along with water to be boiled. Canners must be deep enough to place the jars in and completely cover and it must have a tight fitting cover usually one that clamps on. This is not a pressure canner although you can use one without applying the pressure leaving the petcock wide open so steam can escape. There should be a rack on the bottom to keep the jars directly off the bottom of the pot.

You need jars, lids, and rims. You can always reuse jars and rims but never reuse the flat lids. Those must always be purchased new. Jars come in Quarts and Pints so use what ever you desire. Jars need to be washed with hot soapy water and rinsed well before using. You can also place jars in the dishwasher and let it go. It is best that jars are warm when ready to fill with fruit. Some lids have to be covered with hot water or boiled in water before using so they seal. Make sure to read manufacturers directions before you use them.


Never use fruit that is over ripe. Try to use fruit that is picked fresh from the tree or vine. If it has been laying around for a week or so, it isn’t good enough to be canned. Wash fruits well and dry before canning.

Some fruits need to be peeled or cut and have a tendency to darken when exposed to air. There are a few things you can do to prevent this. Purchase ascorbic acid and follow the instructions. Or you can just use lemon juice. Add ¾ cup fresh lemon juice to 1 gallon of water and emmerce the fruit into it while you are preparing it. Once you are done drain the fruit and continue with the canning process.

To Sweeten or Not to Sweeten

Fruit does not need sugar to prevent spoilage. Sugar does however help the fruit to keep its color and flavor. The canning process is the same for sweetened or unsweetened fruit. You do not just sprinkle sugar on the fruit before canning. Instead you make a syrup that is poured over the fruit in the jar. The following is for 9 pints.
  • Light Syrup – combine 6-1/2 cups of water with ¾ cup sugar
  • Medium syrup – combine 5-3/4 cup with 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • Heavy Syrup – combine 5-1/4 cup water with 2-1/2 cups sugar
  1. In a sauce pan heat the water and sugar until sugar dissolves.
  2. Skim if necessary. Place fruit in jars leaving a ½” headspace and pour syrup in up to the headspace. This is called Raw Packing.
You can mix the sugar in with the fruit but you have to heat it before putting it in the jars. Add ¼ to ½ cup sugar to each quart of fruit and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes then pack in jars leaving ½ inch head space. This is called Hot packing.

The Canning Process

  1. Slide a plastic spatula or wooden spoon between the fruit and side of jar to extract any bubbles (don’t use metal as it will change the taste of the fruit).
  2. Wipe jars clean to avoid any bacteria.
  3. Place lids and rims on and tighten.
  4. Place on rack in water bath that has been half filled with hot water (140° F for Raw Packed and 170° for hot packed).
  5. Once jars are in pour more boiling water from a kettle into the canner. Avoid pouring right on the jars. Make sure water comes an inch or two over the tops.
  6. Turn heat on and make sure it boils vigourously and boil for recommended amount of time. You can add more boiling water if it goes below the level of the tops of the jars.
  7. Turn heat off and remove canner lid.
  8. Using a jar lifter remove and place jars on a dry towel or rack or even on newspaper. Allow them to cool and as they do you will hear a pop and sucking sound. This means they are sealed. It takes about 12 to 24 hours before they are completely done.
You can can peaches, pears, apples, applesauce and many other fruits so you can preserve the flavor all year round and not just during the summer.

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