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How do I? ...Can Fruits

Selecting, Preparing and Canning Fruit

Syrups for Canning Fruit

Adding syrup to canned fruit helps to retain its flavor, color, and shape. It does not prevent spoilage of these foods. The guidelines for preparing and using syrups (Table 1) offer a new "very light" syrup, which approximates the natural sugar content of many fruits. The sugar content in each of the five syrups is increased by about 10 percent. Quantities of water and sugar to make enough syrup for a canner load of pints or quarts are provided for each syrup type.

Procedure: Heat water and sugar together. Bring to a boil and pour over raw fruits in jars. For hot packs, bring water and sugar to boil, add fruit, reheat to boil, and fill into jars immediately.

Other sweeteners: Light corn syrups or mild-flavored honey may be used to replace up to half the table sugar called for in syrups. For more information see Canned Foods for Special Diets.

Table 1. Preparing and using syrups.
  Measures of Water and Sugar  
Syrup Type Approx. % Sugar For 9-Pt Load (1) For 7-Qt Load Fruits Commonly packed in syrup (2)
    Cups Water Cups Sugar Cups Water Cups Sugar  
Very Light 10 6-1/2 3/4 10-1/2 1-1/4 Approximates natural sugar levels in most fruits and adds the fewest calories.
Light 20 5-3/4 1-1/2 9 2-1/4 Very sweet fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if your family likes it.
Medium 30 5-1/4 2-1/4 8-1/4 3-3/4 Sweet apples, sweet cherries, berries, grapes.
Heavy 40 5 3-1/4 7-3/4 5-1/4 Tart apples, apricots, sour cherries, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums.
Very Heavy 50 4-1/4 4-1/4 6-1/2 6-3/4 Very sour fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if your family likes it.
  1. This amount is also adequate for a 4-quart load.
  2. Many fruits that are typically packed in heavy syrup are excellent and tasteful products when packed in lighter syrups. It is recommended that lighter syrups be tried, since they contain fewer calories from added sugar.


This document was extracted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA (Revised 2009).

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