Beginner's Guide to Fruit Canning

Canned fruit jars

Summer is around the corner, and as we are preparing for all of those abundant farm stands and orchards, we should also keep in mind how to best manage summer's plentiful bounty. One of the most time-tested and favorite ways to keep summertime overflow useable all year round is to preserve through canning.

When peach trees, berry bushes, and apple trees begin to bow with the weight of their delicious fruits, there is no better way to save the magic than by canning. Whether you have your own fruit trees or you take trips to pick several bushels, canning fruits is an excellent and easy way to help your harvest last all year. Learn How to Compost at Home

Though canning fruits can seem a little daunting, our beginner’s guide can help you navigate the art. From jams to jellies and whole fruits, there are no bounds to the creativity of fruit canning. Roll up your sleeves!

Step by Step Guide to Water Bath Canning

Canning jars in a boiling pot of water

An easy method of canning fruits is called water bath canning. This is the easiest way to make shelf-stable jams, jellies, and fruits in the comfort of your own home. Water bath canning is the best way to learn home canning as it is simple and straightforward.
Do take note that water bath canning is appropriate for preserving high-acid foods such as most fruits and pickles. However, be sure to always check your specific canning recipe, just in case, to be sure it calls for water bath canning and not pressure canning.

Canning Materials

All the materials you would need to start canning on a kitchen countertop

It's easy to find canning kits at your local gardening center, hardware store, or online, but you likely have most of your basic canning needs already in your kitchen. The most important canning material is the correct jars.
A good place to start is the high-quality Mason or Ball Jar with two-piece lids, which are the gold standard in the pickle and preserve world. These sturdy and trusty glass jars are some of the best available to ensure successful canning. Be sure to only use previously unused lids, as the seal might otherwise be compromised and could lead to issues down the line.
Check the weight-to-jar ratio in your recipe before selecting the number of jars you will need. Common ratios include 1½ pounds of raw fruit per pint jar and 2½ pounds of raw fruit per quart jar.
You will also need the following materials for the canning process:

  • A large pot that's tall enough for your jar(s) to sit inside with ease
  • A canning rack to fit inside the pot, so your jar isn't directly on the heat from the pot

Other helpful items that will make your canning experience even easier include a ladle, a canning funnel, a timer, a jar lifter or tongs, clean towels, and a knife or chopstick. You will need these materials to first sterilize the jars and then to properly vacuum seal them after you fill them with fruits.

Types of Fruits

Close-up image of peaches with a couple canned jars of fruit in the background

As mentioned above, you can easily preserve most fruits with this method. Every fruit requires a slightly different protocol, and there are a variety of recipes for fruits so you can preserve them to your liking. No need to be overwhelmed by all this information!

Once you find your rhythm and recipe, you will quickly see how easy and straightforward the process is.
Some favorite fruits to can are peaches, apples, apricots, berries, pears, and grapes. It is best to can the fruits soon after picking to preserve nutritional content. If possible, pick fruits early in the morning when they are top quality. Do no use overly ripe fruits or fruits. Instead, save these for immediate eating or baking, and only use near-perfect condition fruits for canning to ensure canning success.

The step by step to fruit canning is ultimately quite simple: prepare your fruits, boil to sanitize jars (do not boil the lids!), add prepared fruits, close jars with lids and rims, and boil to vacuum seal jars.

Keep an eye on your jars to confirm that they're upright, so that your fruit doesn't touch the lids. Check your recipe to see how long the jars need to process. Canning recipes usually call for around 10 minutes of full boil.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.