Syrups for Preserving Fruits

This information has been reviewed and adapted for use in South Carolina by E.H. Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. (New 05/99)

HGIC 3164

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Fruits may be canned or frozen in water, juice or a sweet syrup. Adding syrup to canned or frozen fruit helps to retain its flavor, color and shape. It does not prevent spoilage of these foods. The guidelines for preparing and using syrups (see the  table below) 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.

To Make Syrup

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. Commercial unsweetened apple juice, pineapple juice or white grape juice also makes good packing liquids for many fruits. They may be used as-is or diluted with water. Juice can also be extracted from the fruit that is being canned or from fresh apples, pineapples or grapes.

Artificial Sweeteners: It is best to add these just before serving. Saccharin-based sweeteners can turn bitter during processing. Aspartame-based sweeteners lose their sweetening power during processing.

Contact the manufacturer of the sweetener for information for preserving foods. The artificial sweeteners are not interchangeable between recipes. Each recipe must be developed and tested for that specific sweetener.

Preparing and Using Syrups for Preserved Fruits
Syrup Type Approx. % Sugar Measures Of Water And Sugar Fruits Commonly Packed in Syrup Type2
For 9-Pt. Load 1 For 7-Qt. Load
Cups Water Cups Sugar Cups Water Cups Sugar
1This amount is also adequate for a 4-quart load.

2Many 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.
Very Light 10 ¾ 10½ Approx. natural sugar levels in most fruits and adds the fewest calories
Light 20 9 Very sweet fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if you like it.
Medium 30 Sweet apples, sweet cherries, berries, and grapes.
Heavy 40 5 Tart apples, apricots, sour cherries, goose- berries, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums.
Very Heavy 50 Very sour fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if you like it.

For more information on home canning, contact your local Extension agent.


  1. Reynolds, Susan and Paulette Williams. So Easy to Preserve. Bulletin 989. Cooperative Extension Service, the University of Georgia. Revised by Judy Harrison. (1993)
  2. USDA. Complete Guide to Home Canning, Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539. (1994)

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