E319.html

Home Canning of Fruits


Guide E-319
Revised by Nancy C. Flores and Cindy Schlenker Davies
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University


Authors: Respectively, Extension Food Technology Specialist, Department of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences; and County Program Director/Extension Home Economist, Bernalillo County Extension Office, New Mexico State University. (Print friendly PDF)

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 (Table 1). A load is usually 9 pints or 7 quarts.

Table 1. Average Amounts Per Canner Load

Fruit

9 Pints

7 Quarts

Pounds of fruit

Apples

12 1/4

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 (3,000 milligrams) to 1 gallon of cold water. One level teaspoon of the pure powdered form of ascorbic acid is 3 grams. Six 500-milligram tablets of vitamin C can also be used. One part lemon juice to four parts water can be used as a holding solution to prevent browning.

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.

Photo of Plums

(© Teresa Kasprzycka | Dreamstime.com )

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 fewer 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 syrup 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 means 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.

Canning Requirement List

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Peeler/corer
  • Mixing spoons
  • Tongs
  • Measuring cup and spoon sets
  • Canning jars
  • Canning lids and screw bands
  • Re-sealable plastic bags for leftovers
  • Pot holders x 2
  • Paper towels
  • Cloth towels x 2
  • Dish soap and scrubber
  • Cooking pots in 1-quart and 5-quart sizes
  • Large strainer
  • Mixing bowl set in 2-, 3-, and 5-quart sizes
  • Canning set
    - Jar lifter
    - Magnetized lid lifter
    - Funnel
    - Plastic spatula (to release air bubbles in jars)
  • Pressure canner with rack for proper elevation OR
  • Water bath canner with rack

General Canning Procedures

Use regular or 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, and can be removed and reused after cooling. 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. Do not reuse glass jars or bottles from commercially processed products such as mayonnaise because these jars will not withstand the water bath or pressure canner heating process.

Inspect jars carefully for cracks or chips and discard faulty ones. Wash jars in hot, soapy water and rinse thor- oughly or clean using a dishwasher. To sterilize jars, keep jars hot in the dishwasher, a sink of hot water, or in a warm 180°F oven until they are filled. Check metal screw bands for signs of rust or dents. Discard corroded or dent- ed bands. Use only new lids and follow the manufacturer’s directions for preparing lids for canning. Do not use lids that are missing any gasket compound, dented, deformed, or older than five years from date of manufacture.

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. See Figure 1 illustrating these steps for jar filling.

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 (Table 3).
  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 between the jars during cooling.

Illustration showing procedure for filling canning jars before processing.

Figure 1. Procedure for filling canning jars before processing (illustrations adapted from USDA, 2009, for New Mexico State University by Susan B. Portillo).

Table 3. Canning Fruit In a Boiling-water Canner

Food

Pack

Directions

Headspace (inch)

Jar size

Processing time at elevations of

3,001–6,000 ft (minutes)

Over 6,000 ft (minutes)

Apple sauce

Hot

Wash, peel, and core apples. Slice into water with ascorbic acid then 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

20

25

Quarts

30

35

Apple slices

Hot

Wash, peel, core, and slice apples. Drop into water with ascorbic acid, then drain. Boil 5 minutes in water or light syrup (1 pint liquid per 5 pounds sliced apples). Stir occasionally. Fill jar with apples, syrup, juice, or water, leaving headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2

Pints

or

quarts

30

35

Apricot halves

Hot

Wash. Peel if desired. (Dip 30–60 seconds in boiling water until skins loosen. Dip in cold water. Slip off skins.) Cut in half and remove pits. Drop into water with ascorbic acid, then drain. Add apricot halves to 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

30

35

Quarts

35

40

Berries

(blueberries, blackberries, elderberries,
mulberries, and raspberries)

Hot

Blueberries and elderberries only. Wash, cap, and 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.

1/2

Pints

or

quarts

20

25

Raw

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

1/2

Pints

20

25

Quarts

30

35

Cheeries (sweet or sour)

Hot

Stem and wash cherries; remove pits if desired. 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, adjust lids, and process.

1/2

Pints

20

25

Quarts

30

35

Raw

Stem, wash, and 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

Pints

or

quarts

35

40

Figs

Hot

Do not use overripe or cracked figs. Wash and drain figs. Do not peel or remove stems. Cover with water and boil 2 minutes, then drain. Boil gently in light syrup for 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

55

60

Quarts

60

65

Fruit purée 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, or 16 pounds per 9-pint canner load. Select firm, mature, sweet, well-colored, ideal quality fruit.

1/4

Pints

or

quarts

10

15

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 headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

Grapes

Hot

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

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

1

Pints

or

quarts

15

20

Raw

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

1

Pints

20

25

Quarts

30

35

Mixed fruit cocktail

(Yield: about 6 pints)

Raw

1 1/2 lb slightly under-ripe seedless green grapes

3 lb peaches, ripe but firm

3 lb pears

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 for 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 solution 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 headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2

1/2 pints

30

35

Peaches or

nectarines (halved or

sliced)

Hot

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.

1/2

Pints

30

35

Quarts

35

40

Raw

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

1/2

Pints

35

40

Quarts

40

45

Pears

Hot

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

1/2

Pints

30

35

Quarts

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

20

25

Quarts

30

35

Plums

Hot

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.

1/2

Pints

30

35

Quarts

35

40

Raw

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

1/2

Pints

30

35

Quarts

35

40

Rhubarb, stewed

Hot

Select young, tender, well-colored stalks from spring or late fall crop. Trim off all leaves and discard promptly since 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 and juice without delay, leaving headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2

Pints

or

quarts

20

20

Zucchini and pineapple

(Yield: 8 to 9 pints)

Hot

4 qt zucchini, cubed or shredded

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 headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process.

1/2

1/2 pints or pints

20

25

Test for Jar Seals

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

  • Press the lid center with your 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 if 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 (http://aces.nmsu.edu/county/ ) for detoxification instructions.

Elevation 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 Table 4 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 (Table 5), and food must therefore be processed longer at high elevations.

Table 4. 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

6,555

Bosque Farms

4,865

Melrose

4,600

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

5,750

Clovis

4,300

Rio Rancho

5,290

Columbus

4,020

Roswell

3,600

Corona

6,665

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

 

Table 5. Changes in Boiling Temperature of Water with Elevation

Elevation

Boiling Temperature of Water

Sea level

212°F

2,000 ft

206°F

4,000 ft

204°F

6,000 ft

201°F

8,000 ft

197°F

10,000 ft

194°F

References

http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can2_fruit.html

http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/general/identify_handle_spoiled_canned_food.html

For more on this topic, see the following publications:

E-316: Home Canned Fruit Pie Fillings
http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_e/E316/welcome.html

E-321: Freezing Fruit Basics
http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_e/E321/welcome.html

E-326: Home Canned Sweet Spreads Made with Green Chile
http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_e/E326/welcome.html

All Food and Nutrition Publications
http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_e/

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 at http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html, or through your local county Extension office (http://aces.nmsu.edu/county/).

 

Original author: Priscilla Grijalva, Food and Nutrition Specialist. Subsequently revised by Alice Jane Hendley, Extension Food Specialist; and Martha Archuleta, Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist.

 


Photo of Nancy Flores.

Nancy Flores is the Extension Food Technology Specialist in the Department of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences at NMSU. She earned her B.S. at NMSU, M.S. at the University of Missouri, and Ph.D. at Kansas State. Her Extension activities focus on food safety, food processing, and food technology.


 


Photo of Cindy Schlenker Davies.

Cindy Schlenker Davies is the County Program Director and Extension Home Economist at NMSU’s Bernalillo County Extension Office. She earned her B.S. at Eastern New Mexico University and her M.A. at NMSU. Her Extension and public outreach work focuses on food processing and preservation and food safety.


To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on the World Wide Web at aces.nmsu.edu

Contents of publications may be freely reproduced for educational purposes. All other rights reserved. For permission to use publications for other purposes, contact pubs@nmsu.edu or the authors listed on the publication.

New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Revised November 2015