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Selecting, Preparing and Canning Fruit


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Syrups for Canning Fruit

Adding syrup to canned fruit helps to retain its flavor, color, and shape. It does not prevent spoilage of these foods. The guidelines for preparing and using syrups (Table 1) offer a new "very light" syrup, which approximates the natural sugar content of many fruits. The sugar content in each of the five syrups is increased by about 10 percent. Quantities of water and sugar to make enough syrup for a canner load of pints or quarts are provided for each syrup type.

Procedure: Heat water and sugar together. Bring to a boil and pour over raw fruits in jars. For hot packs, bring water and sugar to boil, add fruit, reheat to boil, and fill into jars immediately.

Other sweeteners: Light corn syrups or mild-flavored honey may be used to replace up to half the table sugar called for in syrups.

Home Canning: Canned Foods For Special Diets

The cost of commercially canned special diet food often prompts interest in preparing these products at home. Some low-sugar and low-salt foods may be easily and safely canned at home. However the color, flavor and texture of these foods may be different than expected and be less acceptable.

Canning Without Sugar

In canning regular fruits without sugar, it is very important to select fully ripe but firm fruits of the best quality. Prepare these as described for hot-packs for each fruit, but use water or regular unsweetened fruit juices instead of sugar syrup. (For more information see additional publications for individual fruits.) Juice made from the fruit being canned is best. Blends of unsweetened apple, pineapple, and white grape juice are also good for filling over solid fruit pieces. Adjust headspaces and lids and use the processing recommendations given for regular fruits. Add sugar substitutes, if desired, when serving.

Canning Without Salt (reduced sodium)

To can tomatoes, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood, follow the normal procedures for canning, but omit the salt. In these products, salt seasons the food but is not necessary to ensure its safety. Add salt substitutes, if desired, when serving.

Table 1. Preparing and using syrups.
  Measures of Water and Sugar  
Syrup Type Approx. % Sugar For 9-Pt Load (1) For 7-Qt Load Fruits Commonly packed in syrup (2)
    Cups Water Cups Sugar Cups Water Cups Sugar  
Very Light 10 6-1/2 3/4 10-1/2 1-1/4 Approximates natural sugar levels in most fruits and adds the fewest calories.
Light 20 5-3/4 1-1/2 9 2-1/4 Very sweet fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if your family likes it.
Medium 30 5-1/4 2-1/4 8-1/4 3-3/4 Sweet apples, sweet cherries, berries, grapes.
Heavy 40 5 3-1/4 7-3/4 5-1/4 Tart apples, apricots, sour cherries, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums.
Very Heavy 50 4-1/4 4-1/4 6-1/2 6-3/4 Very sour fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if your family likes it.
  1. This amount is also adequate for a 4-quart load.
  2. Many fruits that are typically packed in heavy syrup are excellent and tasteful products when packed in lighter syrups. It is recommended that lighter syrups be tried, since they contain fewer calories from added sugar.



Canning Fruits and Fruit Products

  • Apple Juice
  • Apple Butter
  • Apple Butter, Reduced Sugar
  • Apples-Sliced
  • Applesauce
  • Apple Rings-Spiced
  • Apricots-Halved or Sliced
  • Berries-Whole
  • Berry Syrup
  • Cherries-Whole
  • Cherry (Sweet) Topping
  • Crabapples-Spiced
  • Crabapples-Spiced II
  • Cranberries
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Figs
  • Fruit Purees
  • Grape Juice
  • Grapes Whole
  • Grapefruit and Orange Sections
  • Lemon Curd, Canned
  • Mango Sauce
  • Mangoes, Green
  • Mayhaw Juice
  • Mayhaw Syrup
  • Mixed Fruit Cocktail
  • Nectarines-Halved or Sliced
  • Papaya
  • Peaches-Halved or Sliced
  • Peach Fruit Topping
  • Pears, Asian
  • Pears-Halved
  • Pie Fillings
  • Pineapple
  • Plums-Halved or Whole
  • Rhubarb-Stewed
  • Zucchini-Pineapple
  • These documents were adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009 &
    From "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.