• When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown berries for the best quality and nutritional value. Determine when fresh berries are available where you live with this seasonal food guide.

1. Selection

Blackberries, blueberries, currants, dewberries, elderberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, loganberries, mulberries, raspberries

  • An average of 12 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 8 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A 24-quart crate weighs 36 pounds and yields 18 to 24 quarts - an average of 1¾ pounds per quart.
  • Choose ripe, sweet berries with uniform color.

Recipes

If this is your first time canning or it has been awhile, it is recommended that you read Using Boiling Water Canners and General Canning Information before beginning

2. Ingredients

  • 12 pounds of berries (makes 7 quarts)
  • 8 pounds of berries (makes 9 pints)
  • Packing liquid, any of the following:
    • Commercial, unsweetened apple or white grape juice  
    • Water 
    • Water + sugar (for syrup)- see table below for ingredients needed for preparing syrup 
Measure of Water and Sugar for Syrup
Syrup Type For 9 Pints       (or 4 Quarts) For 7 Quarts
  Cups Water Cups Sugar Cups Water Cups Sugar
Very Light 6-1/2 3/4 10-1/2 1-1/4
Light 5-3/4 1-1/2 9 2-1/4
Medium 5-1/4 2-1/4 8-1/4 3-3/4
Heavy 5 3-1/4 7-3/4 5-1/4

 

3. Equipment

  • Water bath canner: Large covered pot (with a tight-fitting cover and a rack) that is deep enough to cover the rack and canning jars by 1 to 2 inches of boiling water. (At least 10 inches deep for pint jars, and 12 inches deep for quart jars.)
  • Canning jars: Use standard canning jars without cracks or chips (see recipe for sizes)
  • Lids and bands: Bands can be reused if they are in good shape, but lids must be new to ensure a proper seal
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Bowl (for anti-darkening solution)
  • Colander (for draining fruit)
  • Wide-mouth funnel
  • Jar lifter (for moving jars into/out of canner)
  • Lid wand (magnetic tool used to transfer lids to jars)
  • Bubble freer, or a plastic or rubber knife-like utensil (for removing air from food)
  • Ruler for measuring headspace (some bubble freers include this feature)
  • Large covered pot (for hot pack syrup)
  • Medium pot for extra boiling water
  • Towels or wire rack for cooling jars
  • Paper towels
  • Hot pads
  • Cutting board
  • Knives
  • Timer or clock

4. Prepare Canning Equipment

Water Bath Canner-

  • Assemble and wash equipment and containers.
    • Wash canning jars in soapy water, rinse, and keep hot. (This can be done in a dishwasher or by placing jars in the water that is heating in your canner.)
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for preparing lids.
  • Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner. Fill the canner approximately half full with clean warm water for a canner load of pint jars. For other sizes and numbers of jars, you will need to adjust the amount of water so it will be 1 to 2 inches over the top of the filled jars.
  • Center the canner over the burner and preheat the water to 140 degrees F for raw-packed foods and to 180 degrees F for hot-packed foods.
  • In medium pot, boil some extra water to use later, as needed, to cover the jars or fruit.
  • Begin preparing food for your jars while this water is preheating.

5. Prepare Ingredients

For raw pack-

  • Wash berries in cold or ice water to firm fruit.  
  • Drain, cap, and stem if necessary. For gooseberries, snip off heads and tails with scissors.
  • Bring to a boil juice, water or syrup to cover fruit. Refer to table above in Ingredients section.

For hot pack-(Best for blueberries, currants, elderberries, gooseberries and huckleberries) 

  • Wash berries. 
  • In a large pot, heat to boiling about 1 gallon water for each pound berries. 
    • Blanch berries in boiling for 30 seconds. Drain.
  • Bring to a boil juice, water or syrup to cover fruit. Refer to table above in Ingredients section.

6. Pack Jars

Raw pack –

  • Add 1/2 cup boiling juice, water or syrup to each jar.
  • Fill jars with any of the raw berries, shaking down gently while filling.
  • Cover with hot juice, water or syrup, leaving ½-inch headspace.
  • Remove air bubbles.
  • Add more liquid, if needed, for ½-inch headspace.
  • Wipe rim with clean, wet paper towel.
  • Place lid on jar and add screw band. Screw the band down fingertip tight- not too loose nor too tight. Follow lid manufacturer's directions for tightening the jar lids properly.

Hot pack – (Best for blueberries, currants, elderberries, gooseberries and huckleberries) 

  • Add 1/2 cup boiling juice, water or syrup to each jar.
  • Fill jars with fruit, leaving ½-inch headspace.
  • Remove air bubbles.
  • Add more liquid, if needed, for ½-inch headspace.
  • Wipe rim with clean, wet paper towel.
  • Place lid on jar and add screw band. Screw the band down fingertip tight- not too loose nor too tight. Follow lid manufacturer's directions for tightening the jar lids properly.

7. Process Jars

Water Bath Canner-

  • With jar lifter, place jars on canning rack in large pot, which is filled with hot water. Jars should not touch each other.
  • Add or remove boiling water as needed until jars are covered by 1" - 2".
  • Turn heat to high and bring to a vigorous boil.
  • Set timer for correct processing time. Refer to the tables below for processing time for your elevation and jar size.
  • Cover canner with lid and lower heat setting to maintain a gentle boil throughout processing time.
  • When processing time is up, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars to allow contents to settle.
  • Using a jar lifter, remove jars one at a time. Do not tilt jars. Place jars on a cooling rack or towel, leaving at least one inch space between. Avoid placing jars on a cold surface or near a cold draft.
  • Allow the jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing lid seals.
  • Once cool, remove the screw bands and check the seal.
  • If any jars did not seal, treat as if 'fresh' and do any of the following:
    • Eat the food immediately.
    • Refrigerate food and use within a week.
    • Freeze.
    • Reprocess. If reprocessing, must repeat the entire canning process.

8. Store

    Wipe the jars clean and label with the date and processing method.
  • Store in a cool, dark place, where there is no danger of freezing.
  • Stored properly, canned fruits should retain their quality for about 1 year.

Not sure of your elevation? Click here

Boiling water bath (raw pack)-PINTS
0-1,000 ft 1,001-3,000 ft 3,001-6,000 ft 6,001-9,000 ft
15 minutes 20 minutes 20 minutes 25 minutes
Boiling water bath (raw pack)-QUARTS
0-1,000 ft 1,001-3,000 ft 3,001-6,000 ft 6,001-9,000 ft
20 minutes 25 minutes 30 minutes 35 minutes
Boiling water bath (hot pack)-PINTS or QUARTS
0-1,000 ft 1,001-3,000 ft 3,001-6,000 ft 6,001-9,000 ft
15 minutes 20 minutes 20 minutes 25 minutes