Fruits have naturally high-acid, which makes this easy to preserve. The main concern in home canning fruits is to control molds, yeasts, and enzymes. These problems are destroyed or deactivated at a temperature of 212oF, which is reached when processing using the basic boiling water method.
Here are some simple guidelines for canning fruit. Adjustments need to be made for altitude, personal tastes, desired sugar levels, and such, so please use fruit-specific recipes to ensure your quality of canning. A good source for recipes can be found at the Ball and Kerr canning web site, www.homepreserving.com.
Harvest or purchase only top-quality fruit at its peak of flavor, texture, and color. Do not use overripe or diseased fruit.
Fruits may be packed in sweetened syrup, water, their own juice, or a flavored liqueur. Fruits may be canned in a combination of two or more fruits. Some recipes require peeling, cutting, pitting, or slicing, while others may recommended the fruit be canned whole without pitting.
Fruits may also be preserved as sauces, or as juice.
Fruits may be canned with or without a sweetener. Most often a syrup, sweetened with sugar or a combination of sugar and honey or even corn syrup is used. Sugar helps fruit retain a bright color and firm texture. The amount of sugar needs to be adjusted to meet dietary needs and personal preference. Corn syrup or honey may also be used for a portion of the sugar. Other natural or artificial sweeteners may be used, but check with the manufacturers web site; some sweeteners can break down, or cause fruit to turn brown. Water, as well as fresh juice or bottled juice, may also be substituted for syrup.
To make syrup, measure sugar and liquid into a saucepot. Cook until syrup is hot throughout. Keep syrup hot until needed, but do not let it boil down.
Usually 1 – 1 ½ cups of syrup is needed for each quart jar of fruit.
Types of syrup:
Light colored fruit, such as apples, apricots, peaches, and pears, tend to darken while being prepared or after canning. To prevent darkening, use a commercial ascorbic acid such as Fruit Fresh, or citric acid such as lemon juice, according to manufacturer’s directions.
Foods canned following tested recipes, correct processing methods, and processing time can be safety stored for one year. After one year, natural chemical changes may occur that could lessen the quality, such as browning or loss of firm texture. The flavor and nutritional value may also be decreased. This is not mean the food is unsafe, but may be unappetizing.
Label all home canned fruit with the date of canning, as well as the type and variety of the fruit. Use older cans first.
Before storing sealed jars, remove the bands and wash the lids and entire surface of the jars to remove any food residues and syrups. Rinse and dry.
Store foods out of sunlight, in a cool but not cold area, ideally between 50 – 70 oF. Light also hastens oxidation, destroys vitamins, and causes color to fade, so keep jars out of direct sunlight.