Canning berries is a great way to have access to the nutrients and flavor that they offer without the need to freeze them for long-term storage. The process is really easy, and the major thing that you need to think about is whether you want to can them in heavy or light syrup. Follow the steps below and you can put together a delicious batch in no time.
Berries that are ideal for canning include blueberries, elderberries, blackberries, mulberries, raspberries, huckleberries and currants. You should not use strawberries with this recipe.
Water bath canner
Seals and lids
Tongs or a jar lifter
Two large spoons
Choosing the Right Syrup
You can pack the berries in heavy, medium or light syrup, or you can pack them in plain water as well. The heaviness of the syrup is proportional to the amount of sugar you mix with your water. For heavy syrup, this recipe calls for 4 ¾ cups of sugar to 6 ½ cups of water. For medium syrup, use 3 cups of sugar to 5 ½ cups of water. For light syrup, use 2 cups of sugar to 5 cups of water.
The first step is to clean and sterilize your canning jars, lids and seals. You also want to rinse the berries, remove stems and discard any berries that are damaged. Remember that the quality of the finished product relates directly to the quality of the berries that you are processing.
Place the desired amount of berries into a pot and add ¼ cup of sugar for every quart of berries that you will be canning. Let the berries rest with the sugar for at least two hours before cooking. Place on the stove and bring up the heat to a simmer. Cook until the berries start oozing their juices. Remove from heat and pour the berries into the jars of your choice and then add the syrup. Fill until a ½ inch of headspace remains.
Clean the rims, attach the lids and seals and process by placing the jars on a rack in the large stockpot and fill with water until it reaches two inches above the jars. Cook pint or quart jars for 20 minutes at altitudes below 1000 feet. For altitudes between 1000-3000 feet, cook for 25 minutes. For altitudes between 3000-6000 feet, cook for 30 minutes. Altitudes of 6000-8000 feet require 35 minutes and altitudes between 8000-10000 feet need 40 minutes to properly cook. Make sure the water is continually boiling and constantly covers the tops of the jars. Start timing the process after the water begins to boil.
Remove the jars from heat and place on a towel on a hard surface when finished. Allow them to cool to room temperature. Test the seals to ensure they are intact before labeling and dating the jars and storing them in a cool, dark place.
You can also prepare the berries by cold packing them, and this works well for softer varieties. Instead of soaking them in sugar for two hours, simply can, seal and boil them for 15 minutes plus the additional times listed above to account for altitude.
In both cases, this process will allow you to keep berries for anywhere between one and two years as long as they are properly sealed and stored. This is a great way to ensure that you and your family are getting vital nutrients that berries contain in addition to their sweet and delicious flavor. Make sure to include berries as well as other fruits in your food stockpile, and process enough that will meet your family’s needs for the next year or so.