E-319: Home Canning of Fruits
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Home Canning of Fruits


Guide E-319
Martha Archuleta, Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences New Mexico State University.


Selection and Care of Fruit

Select fresh, recently harvested, ripe but firm fruit that is free of blemishes, bruises, or diseases. Prepare only the amount of fruit that can be processed quickly. A canner load is a recommended amount to prepare and can at one time. A load is usually 9 pints or 7 quarts.

Table 1. Average amounts per canner load.

Fruit 9 Pints 7 Quarts
  lb lb
Apples 12-1/04 19
Apricots 10 16
Berries 8 12
Cherries 11 17-1/2
Figs 11 16
Grapes 9 14
Nectarines 11 17-1/2
Peaches 11 17-1/2
Pears 11 17-1/2
Pineapple 13 21
Plums 9 14
Rhubarb 7 10-1/2

Preserve Natural Color and Flavor

Preserve the fruit’s natural color and flavor by limiting exposure to air, packing hot into jars, observing the recommended headspace, processing quickly, and storing correctly.

To prevent discoloration of apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches, white cherries, and grapes that have been peeled, sliced, pitted, or stemmed, dip them in a solution of 3 grams of ascorbic acid (3000 milligrams) to 1 gallon of cold water. One level teaspoon of the pure powdered form ascorbic acid is 3 grams. Six 500-milligram tablets of vitamin C also can be used.

Both ascorbic acid and citric acid, available in several forms, are sold in supermarkets and drug stores. Ascorbic acid mixtures are more effective than citric acid mixtures. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when using the commercial mixtures.

Sweeteners

Sugar and syrups help fruits retain flavor, color, and shape, but do not prevent spoilage. Sweetness is determined by the amount of sugar used: less sugar yields a lighter syrup with less calories. Sweeter syrups should be used with tart fruits. A 10% syrup is closest to the natural sugar content of fruit. See table 2 for information on making sugar syrups.

Honey or light corn syrups can be substituted for up to half of the sugar in a syrup, if desired. Make enough syrup to fill the jars in one canner load.

Table 2. Sugar syrup for a canner load.

Syrup % of Sugar For 9-pint load For 7-quart load
Water Sugar Water Sugar
-------- cups -------- -------- cups --------
Very light 10% 6-1/2 3/4 10-1/2 1-1/4
Light 20% 5-3/4 1-1/2 9 2-1/4
Medium 30% 5-1/4 2-1/4 8-1/4 3-3/4
Heavy 40% 5 3-1/4 7-3/4 5-1/4
Very heavy 50% 4-1/4 4-1/4 6-1/2 6-3/4

Canning Without Sugar

Fruits can also be canned without sugar. Plain boiling water, unsweetened apple juice, pineapple juice, white grape juice, or a combination of these can be substituted for sugar syrups. For best results it is recommended that sugar substitutes be used at serving time only, not in canning.

Hot Packing Fruits

Hot packing is heating food to the boiling point, simmering for 2–5 minutes, and filling hot jars loosely with hot food and liquid (juice, syrup, or water).

Hot packing removes air from fruit, shrinks it so that more fits in the jar, reduces fruit’s tendency to float in the canning liquid, and improves shelf life.

General Canning Procedures

Use regular and wide-mouth Mason jars with self-sealing lids held in place by screw-on metal bands. The bands hold the lids in place during the processing and cooling periods.

Mason jars are made from tempered glass to resist high temperatures. Jars are available in 1/2 pint, pint, 1-1/2 pint, and quart sizes. Larger jars are not recommended for home canning.

Inspect jars carefully for cracks or chips and discard faulty ones. Wash jars in hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly or in the dishwasher. Keep jars hot in the dishwasher, a sink of hot water, or in a warm oven until they are filled.

Check metal screw bands for signs of rust or dents. Discard badly corroded or dented bands. Use only new lids and follow manufacturer’s directions for preparing lids for canning.

Fill hot jars with food, allowing headspace as directed in the recipe for each fruit. A wide-mouth food funnel keeps jars cleaner when filling. Remove air bubbles by carefully inserting a plastic or wooden spatula along the inside of the jar. Add food or liquid to achieve the recommended headspace. Wipe the top rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth or paper towel. Place lid on rim and tighten screw band comfortably tight. DO NOT touch screw band until jar has been processed and cooled.

The unfilled space between food or liquid in the jar and the lid is the headspace. This space allows for boiling and expansion of air in foods. The higher the temperature, the greater the expansion. The space also creates a vacuum as food cools. Headspace for home-canned fruit is generally 1/2 inch, but may vary. Recommended headspace for each fruit is located in the canning directions in table 3.

Follow These Steps for Successful Boiling-Water Canning

  1. Fill the canner halfway with water.
  2. Preheat water to 140° F for raw-packed foods and to 180° F for hot-packed foods.
  3. Load filled jars, fitted with lids, into the canner rack and use the handles to lower the rack into the water; or fill the canner, one jar at a time, with a jar lifter.
  4. If necessary, add more boiling water so the water level is at least 1 inch above jar tops.
  5. Turn heat to its highest position until water boils vigorously.
  6. Set a timer for the minutes required for processing the food.
  7. Cover with the canner lid and lower the heat setting to maintain a gentle boil throughout the process schedule.
  8. Add more boiling water, if needed, to keep the water level above the jars.
  9. When jars have been boiled for the recommended time, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid.
  10. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars and place them on a towel, leaving at least 1-inch spaces between the jars during cooling.

Test for Jar Seals

Remove screw bands when jars have cooled and test for vacuum seals by these methods:

  • Press the lid center with finger. If the lid springs up when released, it is not sealed.
  • Tap the lid with a teaspoon. A sealed jar lid will make a ringing sound.
  • Hold the jar at eye level and look across the lid. A sealed jar lid curves down slightly in the center.

Reprocessing Unsealed Jars

Remove lids from unsealed jars and discard. Check the sealing surface of jar for tiny nicks or cracks. If the jar has defects, discard it and replace it with another jar. If not, add a new lid and process for the same amount of time within 24 hours. Unsealed jars can be kept in the refrigerator and the food used within 3–4 days or remove about an inch of the contents and freeze.

Storing Canned Food

Clean the outsides of sealed, cooled jars. Label with date and contents and store in a cool (50–70° F), dark, dry place away from sun, light, or dampness. Canned products are best if eaten within one year.

Accidental Freezing

Freezing may cause food in jars to spoil if the jars become unsealed. Freezing and thawing cause food to soften and lose eating quality. Protect jars from freezing by wrapping with layers of newspapers.

If Canned Food Spoils

Examine jars carefully before tasting fruit. Check lids for a vacuum seal. NEVER taste food from an unsealed jar.

Signs of food spoilage are streaks and dried food at the top of the jar, swollen lids, broken jar seals, rising air bubbles, and any unnatural color. Other indicators include bad or unnatural odor; spurting liquid; white, blue, green, or black mold; or foaming.

Dispose of any food you suspected of being spoiled. For safety, spoiled canned food and containers may need to be detoxified before disposal. Contact your county Extension office for detoxification instructions.

Altitude Adjustments

All communities in New Mexico are above sea level, varying from 3,000 to 10,000 feet with differences even within a county.

Use the chart on the last page of this guide to determine the elevation of your community and then select safe processing times for canning your fruit. The boiling temperature of liquids is lower at higher elevations, therefore food must be processed longer at high altitudes.

Table 3. Canning fruit in a boiling-water canner.

Food Pack Directions Head-
space
(inch)
Jar size Processing time
at altitudes of
3001–
6000 ft
(minutes)
Over
6000 ft
(minutes)
Apple slices Hot Wash, peel, core, slice apple. Drop into water with ascorbic acid as stated above. Drain. Boil 5 minutes in water or light syrup (1 pint liquid per 5 pounds sliced apples). Stir occasionally. Fill jar with apple, syrup, juice, or water, leaving headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/2 Pints
or
quarts
30 35
Apple sauce Hot Wash, peel, core apples. Slice into water with ascorbic acid. Drain. Simmer in small amount of water until soft. Stir to prevent sticking. Run through sieve or colander. Sauce may be canned with or without sugar. Add sugar if desired. Reheat to boiling and fill jar with hot sauce, leaving headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/2 Pints

Quarts

20

30

25

35

Apricot
halves
Hot Wash. (Peel if desired. Dip 30 to 60 seconds in boiling water until skins loosen. Dip in cold water. Slip off skins.) Cut in half, remove pits. Drop into water with ascorbic acid. Drain and drop into syrup, juice, or water and bring to a boil. Fill jars with hot fruit and hot liquid to cover, leaving headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/2 Pints

Quarts

30

35

35

40

Berries:
Blueberries
Blackberries
Elderberries
Mulberries
Raspberries
Hot




Raw

Blueberries and elderberries only: Wash, cap, stem. Prepare and boil preferred syrup; add 1/2 cup syrup, juice, or water to each jar. Heat berries in boiling water for 30 seconds and drain. Pour hot berries and liquid into jars, leaving headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids, and process.

Wash, cap, stem. Prepare and boil preferred syrup; add 1/2 cup syrup, juice, or water to each jar. Fill jars with raw berries; shake gently while filling. Cover with hot water, juice, or syrup, leaving headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2




1/2

Pints
or
quarts


Pints

Quarts

20




20

30

25




25

35

Cherries,
sweet or
sour
Hot





Raw

Stem and wash cherries; if desired remove pits. Place pitted cherries in ascorbic acid solution. If unpitted, prick skins with clean needle. Add 1/2 cup water, apple juice, grape juice, or syrup for each quart of drained fruit. Bring to boil. Fill jars with cherries and hot liquid, leaving headspace. Wipe jar rims, a djust lids, and process.

Stem, wash, pit cherries. Add 1/2 cup water, juice, or syrup to each jar. Fill jar with drained cherries and shake jar. Add hot liquid if needed, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2





1/2

Pints

Quarts



Pints
or
quarts

20

30




35

25

35




40

Figs Hot Do not use overripe or cracked figs. Wash figs. Drain. Do not peel or remove stems. Cover with water and boil 2 minutes. Drain. Boil gently in light syrup 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart jar. Fill jars with hot figs and hot liquid, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/2 Pints

Quarts

55

60

60

65

Fruit puree
of any fruit
except figs
and tomatoes
Hot Stem, wash, drain, peel, and remove pits if necessary. Measure fruit into large saucepan, crushing slightly if desired. Add 1 cup hot water for each quart of fruit. Cook slowly until fruit is soft, stirring frequently. Press through sieve or food mill. If desired for flavor, add sugar to taste. Reheat pulp to boil, or until sugar dissolves if added. Fill hot jars leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/4 Pints
or
quarts
20 25
Grape juice Hot An average of 24-1/2 pounds is needed per 7- quart canner load. An average 16 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. Select firm, mature, sweet, well-colored, ideal quality fruit.

Stem and wash grapes. Place in a saucepan and add boiling water to cover grapes. Heat and simmer until skin becomes soft. Strain through damp jelly bag or double layers of cheesecloth. Refrigerate juice 24–48 hours. Do not mix. Carefully pour off liquid into another container and save. Discard sediment. For clearer juice, strain through coffee filter. Place juice in saucepan and sweeten to taste. Stir in sugar and heat until juice begins to boil. Fill hot, sterilized jars immediately, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/4 Pints
or
quarts
10 15
Grapes




Hot



Raw

Quality: Choose unripe, tight-skinned preferably green seedless grapes harvested 2 weeks before they reach optimum eating quality.

Stem, wash, and drain grapes. Prepare very light syrup. Blanch grapes in boiling water 30 seconds. Drain. Fill jars with grapes and hot syrup, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

Fill jars with grapes and hot syrup, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.




1



1




Pints
or
quarts

Pints

Quarts




15




20

30




20




25

35

Mixed fruit
cocktail
(Yield:
about 6
pints)
Raw 3 lb peaches, ripe but firm
3 lb pears
1-1/2 lb slightly under-ripe seedless green grapes
10 oz jar of maraschino cherries
3 cups sugar
4 cups water

  1. Stem and wash grapes. Keep in ascorbic acid solution.
  2. Dip peaches, a few at a time, in boiling water 1 to 1-1/2 minutes to loosen skins. Place in pan of cold water and take off skins. Cut in half, remove pit, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in ascorbic acid solution with grapes.
  3. Peel, halve, core, and cut pears into 1/2-inch cubes. Place into ascorbic acid sol ution with grapes and peaches.
  4. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  5. Drain fruit, add cherries to fruit, and mix gently.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of hot syrup to each jar and gently add mixed fruit and more hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.
1/2 1/2-
pints
or
pints
30 35
Peaches or
nectarines,
halved or
sliced
Hot





Raw

Wash. Dip 30–60 seconds in boiling water until skins loosen. Dip in cold water. Slip off skins. (Skins of nectarines do not have to be removed.) Cut in half and remove pits. Drop into water with ascorbic acid. Drain and place into syrup, juice, or water. Bring to boil. Fill jars with hot fruit and hot liquid, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

Fill jars with raw fruit, cut side down. Add hot water, juice, or syrup leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2






1/2
Pints

Quarts



Pints

Quarts

30

35



35

40

35

40



40

45

Pears Hot Wash and peel pears. Cut lengthwise in halves. Core. Drop in ascorbic acid solution until ready. Drain. Boil in water, apple juice, white grape juice or desired syrup 5 minutes. Fill jars with hot fruit and hot liquid, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/2 Pints

Quarts

30

35

35

40

Pineapple Hot Wash. Peel and remove eyes and any fiber. Slice or cube. Simmer 10 minutes in water, juice, or syrup. Fill jars with hot pineapple and hot liquid, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/2 Pints

Quarts

20

30

25

35

Plums Hot




Raw

Stem and wash plums. Prick skins of whole plums with clean needle. Halve and pit free-stone varieties. Simmer plums 2 minutes in desired syrup. Cover pan and let stand 20–30 minutes. Fill jars with hot plums and liquid, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

Fill jars with raw plums. Pack firmly. Add hot syrup, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2




1/2

Pints

Quarts



Pints

Quarts

30

35



30

35

35

40



35

40

Rhubarb,
stewed
Hot Select young, tender, well-colored stalks from spring or late fall crop. Trim off all leaves and discard promptly as leaves are toxic. Wash and cut stalks into 1/2-inch pieces. Add 1/2 cup sugar to each quart of fruit in large saucepan. Let stand. When juice appears, heat to boiling. Fill jars with rhubarb juice without delay, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process. 1/2 Pints
or
quarts
20 20
Zucchini &
pineapple
(Yield: 8 to
9 pints)
Hot 4 qt cubed or shredded zucchini
46 oz canned, unsweetened pineapple juice
1-1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
3 cups sugar

Peel zucchini and cut into 1/2-inch cubes or shred. Mix with other ingredients in large saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Fill jars with hot mixture and cooking liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process
1/2 1/2-
pints
or
pints
20 25

Elevations of Cities and Towns in New Mexico

City/Town Elevation (ft) City/Town Elevation (ft)
Alamogordo 4,350 Las Vegas 6,450
Albuquerque 5,000 Logan 3,830
Artesia 3,350 Lordsburg 4,250
Aztec 5,650 Los Alamos 7,400
Bayard 5,800 Los Ranchos de Albuquerque 4,950
Belen 4,800 Lovington 3,900
Bernalillo 5,050 Magdalena 6,556
Bosque Farms 4,864 Melrose 4,599
Carlsbad 3,100 Mora 7,200
Carrizozo 5,450 Mosquero 5,550
Chama 7,900 Mountainair 6,500
Cimarron 6,450 Portales 4,010
Clayton 5,050 Raton 6,650
Cloudcroft 8,650 Reserve 5,749
Clovis 4,300 Rio Rancho 5,290
Columbus 4,020 Roswell 3,600
Corona 6,664 Roy 5,900
Corrales 5,005 Ruidoso 7,000
Cuba 7,000 San Jon 4,200
Deming 4,300 Santa Fe 7,000
Dexter 3,500 Santa Rita 6,300
Eagle Nest 8,250 Santa Rosa 4,600
Elida 4,345 Silver City 5,900
Española 5,600 Socorro 4,600
Estancia 6,100 Springer 5,800
Farmington 5,400 Taos 7,000
Fort Sumner 4,050 Texico 4,150
Gallup 6,500 Tierra Amarilla 7,460
Grants 6,450 Truth or Consequences 4,250
Hobbs 3,650 Tucumcari 4,100
Hurley 5,700 Tularosa 4,500
Jemez Springs 6,200 Vaughn 5,950
Las Cruces 3,900 Wagon Mound 6,200

This publication is intended for use by individuals with a basic understanding of canning procedures. For more detailed information consult the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, which is available through your local county Extension office.


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Reprinted and electronically distributed April 2005, Las Cruces, NM.