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Preparing and Using Syrups for Preserving Fruits

Syrup cooking for canning

William Schafer

Liquids Used to Can Fruit

Fruits may be canned in water, juice, or a sweet syrup. The sweet syrup does not preserve the fruit but helps the fruit maintain its shape, color, and flavor. Commercial unsweetened apple juice, pineapple juice, or white grape juice make good canning liquids. These maybe used directly or diluted with water. Juice can also be extracted from some of the fruit that is being canned or from fresh apples, pineapple, or white grapes. To extract the juice, crush ripe, unbruised fruit. Heat to simmering over low heat. Strain through cheesecloth or a jelly bag.

Preparing and Using Syrups

The following guidelines for preparing and using syrups 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. The lighter the syrup, the fewer the calories it contains. Quantities of water and sugar make enough syrup for a canner load of pints or quarts. They are included for each syrup type.

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.


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. See canning quick reference chart for processing times.

Other Sweeteners

Light corn syrups or mild-flavored honey may be used to replace up to half the table sugar called for in syrups. Artificial sweeteners should be added just before serving the fruit. Saccharin-based sweeteners can become bitter and aspartame-based sweeteners may lose their sweetening power during processing.

Measure of water and sugar

For 9 pt. or 4 qt. load For 7 qt. load
Approx %
Fruits commonly packed in syrup
Very light 10 ¾ 10½ Very sweet fruits
Light 20 9 Sweet fruits
Medium 30 Sweet apples, sweet cherries, berries
Heavy 40 5 Tart apples, apricots, sour cherries, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums
Very Heavy 50 Very sour fruits


National Center for Home Food Preservation. 2009. Selecting, Preparing and Canning Fruit. Syrups for Canning Fruit.

Related Resources

Revised by Suzanne Driessen 2016

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