Properly canned peaches, pears and plums are superior in quality to the same fruits when frozen. Fruit can be safely canned in either sweet syrup, water, or fruit juice. Fruit canned in syrup holds its shape, color and flavor, even after canning. Fruit canned in water or juice helps reduce the sugar content of the canned fruit.
To avoid spoilage, fruits must be heat processed. Always use sterilized, standard canning jars, and new lids for the best seal. Correct time and temperature processing in a boiling water canner is critical for a safe, high quality product.
For the best quality, canned fruit, use tree-ripened, undamaged fruits. Choose fruit ripe enough to eat. Under-ripe fruit lacks flavor and sweetness. Do not use overripe, bruised, moldy or damaged fruit, because an unsafe product may result.
The cut surfaces of fruits such as apples, apricots, peaches and pears darken quickly when exposed to air. There are several ways to prevent darkening:
- dipping in a solution of vitamin C - 1500 mg per quart of water,
- sprinkling with a commercial ascorbic acid mixture as the package directs, or
- dipping in a solution of bottled lemon juice - 3 tablespoons per quart of water.
Canned fruits must be processed to inactivate yeasts, molds, and possible acid-tolerant bacteria. Botulism is not a concern because the high acidity prevents its growth. The quickest way to process fruits is in a boiling-water bath. The processing times listed in this publication are for a maximum altitude of 2000 feet found in Minnesota. Individuals living at a known altitude below 1000 feet may process for 5 minutes less than indicated and be assured of producing a safe product.
Pressure canners are also acceptable for processing fruit, but it is much more time consuming. However, some home food preservers still prefer to use this method.
The sugar in sugar-based syrups helps canned fruit hold its shape, color and flavor. Reliable canning resources provide options for different syrup concentrations, with the amount of sugar and water for each. To make sugar syrup, mix sugar with water or fruit juice. Use syrup suited to the fruit's natural sweetness and your taste. Fruit canned in lighter syrup has fewer calories and is more economical. Many fruits that are typically packed in heavy syrup are excellent and tasteful products when packed in lighter syrups.
Reviewed by Deb Botzek-Linn, University of Minnesota Extension educator, 2010.